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Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
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Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train

(NYT) CASSELTON, N.D. — Kerry’s Kitchen is where Casselton residents gather for gossip and comfort food, especially the caramel rolls baked fresh every morning. But a fiery rail accident last month only a half mile down the tracks, which prompted residents to evacuate the town, has shattered this calm, along with people’s confidence in the crude-oil convoys that rumble past Kerry’s seven times a day.

What was first seen as a stopgap measure in the absence of pipelines has become a fixture in the nation’s energy landscape — about 200 “virtual pipelines” that snake in endless processions across the horizon daily. It can take more than five minutes for a single oil train, made up of about 100 tank cars, to pass by Kerry’s, giving this bedroom community 20 miles west of Fargo a front-row seat to the growing practice of using trains to carry oil.

“I feel a little on edge — actually very edgy — every time one of those trains passes,” said Kerry Radermacher, who owns the coffee shop. “Most people think we should slow the production, and the trains, down.”

Casselton is near the center of the great oil and gas boom unleashed these last few years. And it has seen up close how trains have increasingly been used to transport the oil from the new fields of Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota, in part as a result of delays in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. About 400,000 carloads of crude oil traveled by rail last year to the nation’s refineries, up from 9,500 in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/business/energy-environment/accidents-surge-as-oil-industry-takes-the-train.html?hp&_r=0

Australian Open Men's Final SPOILER

[font size="10"]STAN THE MAN !!!![/font]

The first player not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray to win a slam since 2009.

Jim Hightower: Lawmakers Are Free Not to Become Narcissistic Jerks

Lawmakers Are Free Not to Become Narcissistic Jerks

Saturday, 25 January 2014 10:42
By Jim Hightower, OtherWords | Op-Ed

Mark Twain spoke for me when he said: “I’m opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”

One danger that such wealth brings is that many who have it become blinded to those who don't. Thus, the news that more than half of our Congress critters are now millionaires explains why it has been striving ceaselessly to provide more government giveaways to Wall Street bankers and other super-wealthy elites, while also striving to enact government takeaways from middle-class and poor families.

[font size="1"]Congress Discovers Inequality in America, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib[/font]

Take the richest House member, Rep. Darrell Issa, with a net worth of $464 million. A right-wing California Republican, he has used his legislative powers to try denying health coverage to poor Americans, even as he tried to unravel the new restraints to keep Wall Street bankers from wrecking our economy again.

Issa and his ilk are proof that a lawmaker’s net worth is strictly a financial measure, not any indication at all of one’s actual value or “worthiness.”

I hasten to note that many millionaires in America have been able to rise above their financial handicap, serving the public interest rather than self or special interests. For example, when Rep. Chellie Pingree was elected to Congress in 2009, she was an organic farmer and innkeeper in rural Maine. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21438-lawmakers-are-free-not-to-become-narcissistic-jerks

Midwest misery: Snow piles up to record levels

USA Today, via the Detroit Free Press:

Hey Midwesterners: If you think it's been a snowy winter, you're right: Because of the ongoing parade of winter storms, several cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, have seen more snow than they typically get for the entire season.

Indianapolis, which has had almost 2 feet of snow this month, may see its single snowiest month in the city's history, where records go back to just after the Civil War. (The snowiest month on record was January 1978, when 30.6 inches fell.)

The snow this month is busting the snow-removal budget in Indianapolis: The costs of salting, plowing and employee overtime are close to exhausting the city's $7.3 million snow-clearing budget, which is supposed to last for all of 2014.

Some of the snowy details from other locations: In Chicago, 45.4 inches of snow have fallen on the city this winter. In a full season, the Windy City typically sees 36.7 inches. In Detroit, 45.9 inches have fallen, more than the full season average of 42.7 inches, and there are at least two months left in winter. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20140125/NEWS06/301250061/Midwest-misery-Snow-piles-up-to-record-levels

Congress calls for USPS to suspend sales of historic post offices

from the Daily Californian:

Congress calls for USPS to suspend sales of historic post offices
By Jane Nho | Staff

[font size="1"]Post Office at 2000 Allston Way in Berkeley[/font]

In response to the controversy surrounding the U.S. Postal Service’s efforts to sell the Berkeley post office and other historic post offices across the country, Congress called for the sales to be suspended in its recently passed $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.

After the Postal Service announced its intent to sell Berkeley’s main post office in the summer of 2012, community members and local lawmakers alike, including Rep. Barbara Lee, rallied in opposition, accusing the USPS of disregarding federal preservation laws and ignoring the voices of the public.

The appropriations bill urges the USPS to halt the sale of historic post offices until the inspector general carries out a complete inspection of the postal system.

While Congress’ suggestion does not come with an enforcement mechanism, in the past, agencies have tended to heed its recommendations, said Carrie Adams, a spokesperson for Lee’s office. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/01/21/congress-calls-usps-suspend-historic-post-office-sales/

Michael Hudson: N is for Neo-Serfdom, O for Offshore Banking

N is for Neo-Serfdom, O for Offshore Banking

January 23, 2014
By Michael Hudson

Part N, O in The Insiders Economic Dictionary.

Neoclassical economics: The school that arose in the last quarter of the 19th century, stripping away the classical concept of economic rent as unearned income. By the late 20th century the term “neoclassical” had come to connote a deductive body of free-trade theory using circular reasoning by tautology, excluding discussion of property, debt and the financial sector’s role in general, taking the existing institutional environment for granted. (See Marginalism and Parallel Universe, and contrast with Structural Problem and Systems Analysis.)

Neoconservatives: Ideologues who oppose government authority and taxation of wealth, except where governments are controlled by the financial and property sectors. Neoconservatives view democratic governments that impose progressive income taxes to finance public infrastructure and other economic welfare as being as reprehensible as the pre-democratic regimes criticized by Adam Smith and other early liberals protesting against governments controlled by autocratic monarchs spending tax revenue largely on the wars and colonial ventures. Neoconservatives in fact tend to support wars to enforce the Washington Consensus throughout the world.

Neoliberalism: The philosophy that public ownership and regulation is inherently less efficient than management by financial operators. The policy conclusion is that the public domain and government enterprises should be privatized and the sales proceeds used to roll back taxes on the highest wealth and income brackets. Unlike the liberalism of Adam Smith and subsequent free-trade economists, neoliberalism endorses an intrusive role of government to protect property and financial fortunes without regard to long-term tendency for the exponential growth of debt to exceed and indeed undercut the economy’s ability to pay. (See Internal Contradiction, Junk Science, Neoconservatives and Social Market.)

Neo-serfdom: The removal of choice from peoples’ lives as interest and rent charges reduce their discretionary income. This expanding rentier overhead is not part of the mode of production, but rather the mode of finance, wealth and economic power. (See Serfdom.) .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://michael-hudson.com/2014/01/n-is-for-neo-serfdom-o-is-for-offshore-banking/

Jobs and Schmidt’s ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ to Suppress Wages


Emails unveiled in federal court suggest Apple founder Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt made a secret and perhaps illegal pact not to hire each other’s workers and to keep salaries low.

RT reports:

According to Pando Daily journalist Mark Ames, the scheme began in early 2005, when the need for Silicon Valley engineers was at an all-time high. The deal’s consequences became so pervasive that the US Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation in 2010, which laid the groundwork for a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 100,000 Silicon Valley employees who allege they were deprived of over $9 billion since 2000.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to throw out the class action suit over the objections of executives at Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe. The emails in question were unsealed Tuesday by Judge Lucy Koh, the same judge who presided over the Samsung-Apple patent lawsuit.

Jobs, who died in 2011, seems to be the principal architect behind the illegal conspiracy. Yet Schmidt, according to an email from Google senior advisor Bill Campbell dated February 27, 2005, “got directly involved and firmly stopped all efforts to recruit anyone from Apple.”

Schmidt is also said to have told his Senior Vice President for Business Operation Shona Brown to only mention the pact “verbally, since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Protestors Brave Sub-Zero Weather in Bid To Freeze Chicago’s Charter Expansion

Protestors Brave Sub-Zero Weather in Bid To Freeze Chicago’s Charter Expansion
BY Matthew Blake

[font size="1"]The CTU vigil outside the Chicago Public School's headquarters lasted until they were removed by the Chicago police at 7a.m. (Chicago Teachers Union Facebook)[/font]

On Tuesday night, a few dozen die-hard Chicago Teachers Union members and students braved the bitter cold to hold an overnight candlelight vigil outside the Chicago Public School’s downtown headquarters, protesting the expansion of charter schools in the city.

“This is the right time for us to be out on the sidewalk, here in 11 degree weather,” announced CTU organizer Christel Williams. “Charter schools are a racket and we know it.”

The protestors circled CPS offices holding candles in one hand and colorful signs with slogans like “Stop Privatizing Our City!” and “Parents Need More Choice? How About a Democratically Elected School Board!” in the other. Currently, the school board is appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In spite of the so-called polar vortex sweeping over the Windy City, a few dedicated souls even camped outside headquarters overnight until the CPS Board of Education arrived Wednesday morning to consider adding 17 new charter school campuses from eight separate charter networks. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16161/sub_zero_weather_has_not_frozen_charter_expansion/

Jamie “I Put Millions Out Of Work” Dimon Gets A Raise

from the Working Life blog:

Jamie “I Put Millions Out Of Work” Dimon Gets A Raise
Posted on 23 January 2014.

Par for the course. Though you would be right to say “you have got to be kidding,” the truth is that the signal has been sent from the White House and from most of Congress that the bankers will not go to jail and they will not bear any personal cost of causing the greatest financial crisis in generations, a crisis that cost millions of people their jobs, their retirement, their dignity and their futures. And the crystal clear example, from the outset, has been Jamie Dimon. He’s getting a big fat raise.

Here you go:

A year after an embarrassing trading blowup led to millions of dollars being docked from Jamie Dimon’s paycheck, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase is getting a raise.JPMorgan’s board voted this week to increase Mr. Dimon’s annual compensation for 2013, hashing out the pay package after a series of meetings that turned heated at times, according to several executives briefed on the matter. The raise — the details were not made public on Thursday — follows a move by the board last year to slash Mr. Dimon’s compensation by half, to $11.5 million.

It is also true that not everyone was happy:

The debate pitted a vocal minority of directors who wanted to keep his compensation largely flat, citing the approximately $20 billion in penalties JPMorgan has paid in the last year to federal authorities, against directors who argued that Mr. Dimon should be rewarded for his stewardship of the bank during such a difficult period. During the meetings, some board members left the conference room to pace up and down the 50th-floor corridor.

But, this is the part that encapsulates the absurdity and moral bankruptcy of Dimon and the entire gang:

Mr. Dimon’s defenders point to his active role in negotiating a string of government settlements that helped JPMorgan move beyond some of its biggest legal problems. He has also solidified his support among board members, according to the people briefed on the matter, by acting as a chief negotiator as JPMorgan worked out a string of banner government settlements this year.

So, let me get this straight: the board (filled with Dimon cronies) wants to reward him for cutting deals costing the bank $20 billion (which will be paid for by shareholders and customers) FOR FUCK-UPS/ILLEGAL ACTS THAT HAPPENED UNDER HIS WATCH!!! ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.workinglife.org/2014/01/23/jamie-i-put-millions-out-of-work-dimon-gets-a-raise/#sthash.hvUfnzH5.dpuf

Spreading Santorum: Slick Rick says Huckabee is the victim of bad semantics

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) said Thursday night that Mike Huckabee made a valid point with his controversial "libido" comment, but just chose the wrong words to express it.

Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said on Thursday that it is the Democrats, not Republicans, who are waging a "war on women" by trying to convince women they need the government to "control their libido."

“I think Governor Huckabee would probably phrase it differently,” Santorum said later on CNN. “Mike speaks off the cuff, as some of us are known to do and probably would choose different words to communicate that message.”

He added, “I think what Governor Huckabee was saying is that we've seen an unprecedented assault by the Democrats against Republicans claiming there was a war on women when, in fact, Republicans have been tremendous in supporting equality of women in the workplace and a whole host of other places.” ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/24/santorum-huckabee-libido_n_4658967.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

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