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marmar

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 66,804

Journal Archives

Drought face-lift: California paints lawns green


Escondido (United States) (AFP) - The heat is stifling, the soil dry as a bone, and a new law in drought-stricken California restricts sprinklers.

But far from saying farewell to their beloved lawn, some Californians are coping with the drought by... painting it green.

With a simple squeeze of a spray gun, dried-out yellow grass regains its lush green color before the eyes of its proud owners.

It is a kind of make-over which is becoming increasingly common among home-owners in California, which is now in the fourth year of a historic drought. .................(more)

http://news.yahoo.com/drought-face-lift-california-paints-lawns-green-030903306.html




Charter School "Flexibility" Linked to Major Failures; More Than $3.3 Billion in Taxes Spent


Charter School "Flexibility" Linked to Major Failures; More Than $3.3 Billion in Taxes Spent

Monday, 18 May 2015 10:16
By Jonas Persson, PR Watch | Report


Arne Duncan is calling for a 48% increase in the US Department of Education's (ED) quarter-billion-dollar-a-year ($253.2 million) program designed to create, expand, and replicate charter schools - an initiative repeatedly criticized by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for suspected waste and inadequate financial controls.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has issued a series of Freedom of Information Act requests for information about charter spending from ED as well as from states, and the findings shed new light on the deep flaws in the design, implementation and oversight of the federal program.

For ED "Accountability" Means Very Little Real Accountability

CMD's review of state applications for the federal charter schools program shows that, in some cases, states are rewarded precisely because they lack statutory authority to hold charter school and their authorizers accountable as these states tend to score high on one of the rubrics used to evaluate applications: "flexibility offered by state law."

But grant applications are also judged based on the degree of "authorizer accountability" afforded by the state. How does this paradox play out in practice?

One ED reader reviewing a 2010 application from Florida notes how schools and authorizers are held to the highest standards of accountability in the state:"(Florida) provides ample examples to illustrate its commitment to continuously improve upon its already strong processes and procedures to hold accountable their authorizing LEAs … No weaknesses noted (Score) 20/20." Another reader joins in the chorus by remarking how the Florida Department of Education "has taken smart steps to oversee the authorizers in the state." .................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30830-charter-school-flexibility-linked-to-major-failures-more-than-3-3-billion-in-taxes-spent




Northeast Corridor: America's Premier Rail Superhighway is Slowly Falling Apart





NEW YORK (AP) — The trains that link global centers of learning, finance and power on the East Coast lumber through tunnels dug just after the Civil War, and cross century-old bridges that sometimes jam when they swing open to let tugboats pass. Hundreds of miles of overhead wires that deliver power to locomotives were hung during the Great Depression.

The rails of the Northeast Corridor are decaying, increasingly strained — and moving more people than ever around the nation's most densely populated region.

The railroad's importance became all the more apparent after Amtrak Train 188 derailed Tuesday as it sped around a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight passengers and injuring more than 200.

The wreck closed part of the corridor all week. On a normal weekday, 2,000 trains run by Amtrak and eight other passenger rail systems carry 750,000 riders on railway between Washington and Boston, making it a vital link for both intercity travelers and suburban commuters. ....................(more)

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11970785/americas-premier-rail-superhighway-is-slowly-falling-apart




Send in the Clowns


Send in the Clowns

Monday, 18 May 2015 00:00
By Donald Kaul, OtherWords | Op-Ed





As the 2016 presidential candidates belatedly get worked up about inequality, they're losing touch with reality.


Hardly a day goes by that another candidate doesn't announce his or her intention to run for the presidency. One day it's Carly Fiorina, the next it's Mike Huckabee, Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton, even.

It's like the circus — when the little car rolls into the center ring and a clown gets out, then another, then two more, and on and on until the ring is overflowing with 1,000 clowns, or so it seems.

We won't get up to 1,000 politicians yearning to lead the "free world," or what's left of it. But we should reach two dozen presidential aspirants who are asking us voters to take them seriously before we're done.

It's still early, but it looks as though the major message of this election is going to be about closing the cavernous gaps between the rich and the poor. Democrats have always suspected that the poor are being victimized by our economic system, but now it seems that the Republicans are singing that song too. ...........(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30834-send-in-the-clowns




Northeast Corridor: America's Premier Rail Superhighway is Slowly Falling Apart


NEW YORK (AP) — The trains that link global centers of learning, finance and power on the East Coast lumber through tunnels dug just after the Civil War, and cross century-old bridges that sometimes jam when they swing open to let tugboats pass. Hundreds of miles of overhead wires that deliver power to locomotives were hung during the Great Depression.

The rails of the Northeast Corridor are decaying, increasingly strained — and moving more people than ever around the nation's most densely populated region.

The railroad's importance became all the more apparent after Amtrak Train 188 derailed Tuesday as it sped around a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight passengers and injuring more than 200.

The wreck closed part of the corridor all week. On a normal weekday, 2,000 trains run by Amtrak and eight other passenger rail systems carry 750,000 riders on railway between Washington and Boston, making it a vital link for both intercity travelers and suburban commuters. ....................(more)

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11970785/americas-premier-rail-superhighway-is-slowly-falling-apart




Attack on Medicare added to TPP Fast Track bill


Senate Democrats Work with Republicans to Throw Medicare Under the Bus as Part of TPP Fast Track Sausage-Making

Posted on May 17, 2015 by Lambert Strether
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


I got an email blast on Medicare and TPP from Democracy for America, so I immediately discounted it because DFA, and besides, there wasn’t any linky goodness, but then I thought “This could be really bad,” so I looked into it. Here’s the paragraph in question from DFA:

There’s a big — brand new — attack on Medicare that’s just been added in the Senate to the Fast Track bill for the TPP. The bill would cut a whopping $700 million from Medicare, hurting seniors who need access to health care.

That’s right, Republicans insisted on cutting Medicare spending to pay for a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that Democrats got added to the bill in order to support workers who lost their jobs due to trade deals like the TPP.


This would be execrable sausage-making for both Democrats and Republicans. For Democrats, Medicare is one of the remaining reasons to think they’re committed to social insurance; and for Republicans, their base — remember “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”? — skews old.

So my questions are:

1) Has Trade Adjustment Assistance been added to the TPP Fast Track bill?

2) Has $700 million been cut from Medicare as a result?

3) Does Trade Adjustment Assistance serve any public purpose? ...................(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/senate-democrats-work-with-republicans-throw-medicare-under-the-bus-part-tpp-fast-track-sausage-making.html




Will the TransPacific Partnership Agreement Go into the Deep Freeze?


Will the TransPacific Partnership Agreement Go into the Deep Freeze?
Posted on May 16, 2015 by Yves Smith


Yves here. It’s been discouraging to see a significant portion of members of the commentariat take a “These awful trade deals are inevitable, lie back and think of England” attitude as far as fighting the trade deals are concerned, and are unwilling to make even the small investment of time required to call their Senators and Representative to put their opposition on record.

The battle is going far better than the opposition expected. Obama had planned to have Fast Track authority sail through the Senate so as to prove to the House, where he faces a real fight, that the bill has bipartisan support, Majority Leader John Boehner has made clear that he is not going to pass a bill without having meaningful Democratic party air cover, and he hasn’t seen enough evidence of that in whip counts. The fact that Obama got a visible black eye in the Senate and has lost time in moving the bill forward has strengthened the position of opponents and called more public attention to the process. It also has underminded Obama’s plan to make approval of Fast Track authority seem uncontroversial and inevitable.

This post explains why merely delaying Obama so that he does not get the bill passed in May throws a likely fatal wrench into the entire deal. The Administration is already about as late as it can be in getting the deal done, given the moving parts overseas and the President moving into lame duck territory. One thing the author gets wrong is when Congress goes out of session. The last day for business this month for the House is this Thursday, the 21st, and for the Senate, Friday the 22nd. .................(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/will-the-transpacific-partnership-agreement-go-into-the-deep-freeze.html




Senate Dems Work with Repubs to Throw Medicare Under the Bus as Part of TPP FastTrack Sausage-Making


Senate Democrats Work with Republicans to Throw Medicare Under the Bus as Part of TPP Fast Track Sausage-Making

Posted on May 17, 2015 by Lambert Strether
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


I got an email blast on Medicare and TPP from Democracy for America, so I immediately discounted it because DFA, and besides, there wasn’t any linky goodness, but then I thought “This could be really bad,” so I looked into it. Here’s the paragraph in question from DFA:

There’s a big — brand new — attack on Medicare that’s just been added in the Senate to the Fast Track bill for the TPP. The bill would cut a whopping $700 million from Medicare, hurting seniors who need access to health care.

That’s right, Republicans insisted on cutting Medicare spending to pay for a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that Democrats got added to the bill in order to support workers who lost their jobs due to trade deals like the TPP.


This would be execrable sausage-making for both Democrats and Republicans. For Democrats, Medicare is one of the remaining reasons to think they’re committed to social insurance; and for Republicans, their base — remember “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”? — skews old.

So my questions are:

1) Has Trade Adjustment Assistance been added to the TPP Fast Track bill?

2) Has $700 million been cut from Medicare as a result?

3) Does Trade Adjustment Assistance serve any public purpose? ...................(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/senate-democrats-work-with-republicans-throw-medicare-under-the-bus-part-tpp-fast-track-sausage-making.html




Class of 2015 (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/student_loan_20150517


Chris Hedges: The Pathology of the Rich White Family


from truthdig:


The Pathology of the Rich White Family

Posted on May 17, 2015
By Chris Hedges


The pathology of the rich white family is the most dangerous pathology in America. The rich white family is cursed with too much money and privilege. It is devoid of empathy, the result of lifetimes of entitlement. It has little sense of loyalty and lacks the capacity for self-sacrifice. Its definition of friendship is reduced to “What can you do for me?” It is possessed by an insatiable lust to increase its fortunes and power. It believes that wealth and privilege confer to it a superior intelligence and virtue. It is infused with an unchecked hedonism and narcissism. And because of all this, it interprets reality through a lens of self-adulation and greed that renders it delusional. The rich white family is a menace. The pathologies of the poor, when set against the pathologies of rich white people, are like a candle set beside the sun.

There are no shortages of acolytes and propagandists for rich white families. They dominate our airwaves. They blame poverty, societal breakdown, urban violence, drug use, domestic abuse and crime on the pathology of poor black families—not that they know any. They argue that poor black families disintegrate because of some inherent defect—here you can read between the lines that white people are better than black people—a defect that these poor families need to fix.

Peddle this simplistic and racist garbage and you will be given a column at The New York Times. It always pays to suck up to rich white families. If you are black and parrot this line, rich white people are overcome with joy. They go to extreme lengths to give you a platform. You can become president or a Supreme Court justice. You can get a television talk show or tenure at a university. You can get money for your foundation. You can publish self-help books. Your films will be funded. You might even be hired to run a company.

Rich white families, their sycophants opine, have tried to help. Rich white families have given poor people numerous resources and government programs to lift them out of poverty. They have provided generous charity. But blacks, they say, along with other poor people of color, are defeated by self-destructive attitudes and behavior. Government programs are therefore wasted on these irresponsible people. Poor families, the sycophants tell us, will not be redeemed until they redeem themselves. We want to help, rich white people say, but poor black people need to pull up their pants, stay in school, get an education, find a job, say no to drugs and respect authority. If they don’t, they deserve what they get. And what the average black family ends up with in economic terms is a nickel for every dollar held by the average white family. ......................(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_pathology_of_the_rich_white_family_20150517




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