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marmar

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Gender: Male
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 70,185

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'Stay on your own side of the bay' this weekend in the San Francisco region


July 31--After weeks of warning, the time has come. All day Saturday and Sunday, BART will close the Transbay Tube for major track repairs, severing the regional transit system at its backbone and forcing riders onto buses and ferries or into their cars to get between San Francisco and the East Bay.

The shutdown underscores the wear and tear of an aging system that is more popular than ever, and raises questions about whether agency leaders could have done anything to avoid taking the tube offline for a full weekend. But mostly, it's a serious headache for riders.

BART will open for business on Saturday and Sunday, but the stretch of track reaching from downtown Oakland to the Embarcadero Station -- including the Transbay Tube and West Oakland station -- will be closed. The shutdown will be repeated over the three-day Labor Day weekend.

To keep the Bay Area connected, BART will run continuous bus service between downtown Oakland and downtown San Francisco, and ferry service is also being increased. But BART officials warn that delays could add an hour or more to journeys, and traffic across the Bay Bridge, always clogged on weekends, is sure to be a mess. .....................(more)

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/14051901/bart-and-its-riders-prepare-for-weekend-transbay-tube-shutdown




More on the Systemic Risk of Bank IT Systems


from Naked Capitalism:


More on the Systemic Risk of Bank IT Systems
Posted on July 31, 2015 by Yves Smith


As we’ve written about how the complexity of payment systems and the creaky legacy which sits at the core of the transaction processing engines of banks, which perversely run fault intolerant, mission critical operations on such a shaky foundation, the more astute readers, once they get over their incredulity, quickly recognize that this combination isn’t just a Grexit obstacle, but also a source of systemic risk.

Our Richard Smith, who has extensive experience in capital markets IT, first mentioned this looming problem years ago, but it did not seem timely to make it a major focus. But we are seeing more and more evidence that legacy systems are starting to break down at major firms, both from media stories and some private accounts we’ve received.

Members of our audience who have technology experience but have not dealt with either large lumbering corporate and/or major financial firm information technology infrastructure and assert that we are exaggerating how bad things are have revealed that they don’t know what they don’t know. Some comments from recent posts:

[font color="orange"]Arthur Williams[/font]:

What many of you “it’s easy” people fail to understand is that mainframe programming is nothing like today’s coding. COBOL, PL/I etc. do not support modern concepts like objects, polymorphism or anything else. Think assembly language with nicer mnemonics. XML ? Hah, there is virtually no such thing for the mainframe. There’s no git, no mercurial etc. Virtually none of the tools that exist for Wintel/Linux are available to mainframers.

In large organizations there are hugely cumbersome change management processes. Where I am, a simple code change might take a minimum of eight weeks to deploy, and we only have a dozen systems. Actual application changes like envisioned here would take at least six to twelve months for coding and testing, and then another four months for deployment. For large banks, I would expect the timeframes to be even longer because the systems are so critical.

Anyone who says it’s trivial simply has zero knowledge of the large systems environment.


..................(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/07/more-on-the-systemic-risk-of-bank-it-systems.html




Stephen Harper hopes to sign TPP before Canadians boot his ass out of Ottawa


The Conservatives are anxiously hoping to sign off on a massive free-trade deal before kicking off an election campaign that's expected to start as early as Sunday.

The federal government is at the negotiating table in Hawaii, where Trans-Pacific Partnership talks are reportedly in their final stages for a deal that could have political implications during the election campaign.

With voting day set for Oct. 19, the governing Tories want to launch the campaign with the deal in hand — an agreement they could brandish as evidence of their economic stewardship.

The partnership, a pact between 12 countries including Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Japan, is poised to become the biggest trade deal in history once ratified. The government says the countries represent some 800 million people with a combined gross domestic product of roughly 40 per cent of the world's economy. ...............(more)

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/07/30/news/harper-hopes-sign-tpp-deal-federal-election-kickoff




Quarterly Increase in U.S. Worker Pay Smallest on Record


(Bloomberg) Wages and salaries in the U.S. rose in the second quarter at the slowest pace on record, dashing projections that an improving labor market would boost pay.

The 0.2 percent advance was the smallest since records began in 1982 and followed a 0.7 percent increase in the first quarter, the Labor Department said Friday. The agency’s employment cost index, which also includes benefits, also rose 0.2 percent in the second quarter from the prior three months.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues are counting on rising wages to boost the economy and bring inflation closer to their 2 percent goal. The setback may prompt some officials to call for a delay in raising interest rates for the first time since 2006.

“You’re really not building up the tightness that everyone says,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York, who projected the overall ECI would rise 0.5 percent, among the lowest estimates. “For the people who were saying the Fed’s got to raise rates in September, this is a shock,” ..................(more)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-31/worker-pay-in-u-s-rises-0-2-smallest-gain-in-records-to-1982




When fire can eat a rainforest in a relatively cool climate, you know the Earth is beginning to burn


By Subhankar Banerjee, an internationally exhibited photographer and writer. His most recent book is Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point. He won a 2012 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award and has been deeply involved with the native tribes of the Arctic in trying to prevent the destruction of Arctic lands and seas. Originally published at TomDispatch



The wettest rainforest in the continental United States had gone up in flames and the smoke was so thick, so blanketing, that you could see it miles away. Deep in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the aptly named Paradise Fire, undaunted by the dampness of it all, was eating the forest alive and destroying an ecological Eden. In this season of drought across the West, there have been far bigger blazes but none quite so symbolic or offering quite such grim news. It isn’t the size of the fire (though it is the largest in the park’s history), nor its intensity. It’s something else entirely — the fact that it shouldn’t have been burning at all. When fire can eat a rainforest in a relatively cool climate, you know the Earth is beginning to burn.

And here’s the thing: the Olympic Peninsula is my home. Its destruction is my personal nightmare and I couldn’t stay away.

Smoke Gets in My Eyes

“What a bummer! Can’t even see Mount Olympus,” a disappointed tourist exclaimed from the Hurricane Ridge visitor center. Still pointing his camera at the hazy mountain-scape, he added that “on a sunny day like this” he would ordinarily have gotten a “clear shot of the range.” Indeed, on a good day, that vantage point guarantees you a postcard-perfect view of the Olympic Mountains and their glaciers, making Hurricane Ridge the most visited location in the park, with the Hoh rainforest coming in a close second. And a lot of people have taken photos there. With its more than three million annual visitors, the park barely trails its two more famous western cousins, Yosemite and Yellowstone, on the tourist circuit.

Days of rain had come the weekend before, soaking the rainforest without staunching the Paradise Fire. The wetness did, however, help create those massive clouds of smoke that wrecked the view miles away on that blazing hot Sunday, July 19th. Though no fire was visible from the visitor center — it was the old-growth rainforest of the Queets River Valley on the other side of Mount Olympus that was burning — massive plumes of smoke were rising from the Elwha River and Long Creek valleys.


[font size="1"]Fire Information Bulletin Board and Smoke from Fire, Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, Olympic National Park, July 19, 2015.[/font]

By then, I felt as if smoke had become my companion. I had first encountered it on another hot, sunny Sunday two weeks earlier. ................(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/07/paradise-burning-why-we-all-need-to-learn-the-world-anthropogenic.html




Cecil the Lion (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/cecil_the_lion_20150730



Liar Loans Pop up in Canada’s Magnificent Housing Bubble


Liar Loans Pop up in Canada’s Magnificent Housing Bubble
by Wolf Richter • July 30, 2015


For a long time, the conservative mortgage lending standards in Canada, including a slew of new ones since 2008, have been touted as one of the reasons why Canada’s magnificent housing bubble, when it implodes, will not take down the financial system, unlike the US housing bubble, which terminated in the Financial Crisis.

Canada is different. Regulators are on top of it. There are strict down payment requirements. Mortgages are full-recourse, so strung-out borrowers couldn’t just mail in their keys and walk away, as they did in the US. And yada-yada-yada.

But Wednesday afterhours, Home Capital Group, Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lender, threw a monkey wrench into this theory.

Through its subsidiary, Home Trust, the company focuses on “alternative” mortgages: high-profit mortgages to risky borrowers with dented credit or unreliable incomes who don’t qualify for mortgage insurance and were turned down by the banks. They include subprime borrowers.

So it disclosed, upon the urging of the Ontario Securities Commission, the results of an investigation that had been going on secretly since September: “falsification of income information.” Liar loans. ...........(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2015/07/30/canadas-highly-touted-conservative-mortgage-standards-sink-into-liar-loan-scandal/




Quarterly Increase in U.S. Worker Pay Smallest on Record


(Bloomberg) Wages and salaries in the U.S. rose in the second quarter at the slowest pace on record, dashing projections that an improving labor market would boost pay.

The 0.2 percent advance was the smallest since records began in 1982 and followed a 0.7 percent increase in the first quarter, the Labor Department said Friday. The agency’s employment cost index, which also includes benefits, also rose 0.2 percent in the second quarter from the prior three months.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues are counting on rising wages to boost the economy and bring inflation closer to their 2 percent goal. The setback may prompt some officials to call for a delay in raising interest rates for the first time since 2006.

“You’re really not building up the tightness that everyone says,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York, who projected the overall ECI would rise 0.5 percent, among the lowest estimates. “For the people who were saying the Fed’s got to raise rates in September, this is a shock,” ..................(more)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-31/worker-pay-in-u-s-rises-0-2-smallest-gain-in-records-to-1982




Remembering Michael Harrington: The vision of the democratic socialist leader remains a heroic one.


(In These Times) In a lifetime of political engagement, Michael Harrington must have given ten thousand speeches, and of those, probably a thousand in New York City, where he had made his home since his arrival in 1949, age 21. He gave his final speech in the city 40 years later, in May 1989. Suffering from the cancer of the esophagus that would end his life in less than three months, he spoke that day to reporters and editors from the city’s union press.

Dinah Leventhal, a 22-year-old activist, was in attendance. She was about to take on the job of youth organizer for Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the socialist group that Harrington helped found and led, and welcomed the chance to speak with him for a few minutes afterward. Mike reminisced about his own days as a young socialist organizer in the 1950s. “He said,” she recalled, that “he had felt an incredible degree of freedom and learned so much in those years”

He said I should make the most of it, being an organizer and traveling around, getting to see the country and getting to know what the country was all about. He really loved this country, and thought that you had to love the country to be a radical, to be a socialist, and to want to change it.


Over the years, Mike met and worked with many important and famous people, including Dr. Martin Luther King, United Auto Worker president Walter Reuther, Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem, U.S. senator and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, and Prime Minister Olof Palme, leader of Sweden’s ruling Socialist Party, to name but a few. The publication in 1962 of his landmark study of poverty, The Other America, helped spark the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty. He had another best-seller in 1972 with the unlikely title of Socialism, which sold over 100,000 copies in paperback and influenced many readers with its argument that the “real Karl Marx” was a radical democrat, not a would-be dictator. His last book, Socialism: Past and Future, came out shortly before his death. He was an editor of Dissent, a commentator on National Public Radio, a frequent contributor to leading opinion magazines like the Nation and the New Republic. As a public intellectual and a moral tribune, in the 1970s and 1980s, he had few equals on the left, or indeed across the political spectrum. Harrington, Senator Ted Kennedy would write, “has made more Americans more uncomfortable for more good reasons than any other person I know.”

Perhaps Mike’s greatest political impact was on several generations of young radicals coming of age between the 1950s and the 1980s. He spoke before all kinds of audiences, in churches and union halls, and won applause from listeners who had probably never heard a socialist before. But he was most in his element when speaking on college and university campuses. He liked young people; he knew how they thought; he could reach and inspire them. He was, he liked to joke as the decades turned and his hair grew grayer and then white, the nation’s “oldest young socialist” and “a closet youth.” ...........(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17741/michael_harrington



Refusing to Comply With Structural Racism: From Emmett Till to Sandra Bland


Refusing to Comply With Structural Racism: From Emmett Till to Sandra Bland

Thursday, 30 July 2015 00:00
By Zachary Norris, Truthout | Op-Ed


Like Emmett Till before her, Sandra Bland wound up dead not so much for what she did as for what she didn't do: comply to the structurally racist order of things.

On August 28, 1955, two white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, killed 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, after Till reportedly made a flirtatious remark to a white woman. An all-white jury summarily acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam. Just months later, the two men talked with a reporter and admitted to torturing, killing and mutilating Till.

Till's mother Mamie Till Mobley heroically insisted on a public funeral with an open casket to expose to the world the brutality of what happened to her son. The funeral and images focused national and international attention on lynching and the apartheid character of American life under Jim Crow, and ignited the civil rights movement.

The death of Sandra Bland, while hidden behind the walls of a jail cell, is also galvanizing an already active movement for Black lives. ..................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/32150-refusing-to-comply-with-structural-racism-from-emmett-till-to-sandra-bland




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