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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 73,488

Journal Archives

New Study Shows More Than Half of Abortion Clinics Face Threats

Before Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, was shot to death by an anti-abortion extremist in 2009, he faced persistent threats and intimidation. Anti-abortion radicals stalked him and his family, harassed him at home and at his church (where he was eventually killed) and plastered "wanted" posters—featuring his name, photo and address—all over town.

At that time, a little more than one-quarter of abortion clinics reported similar kinds of threats and intimidation by anti-abortion extremists. But now, according to data from the Feminist Majority Foundation's 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey, those numbers have shot up to nearly 52 percent of clinics.

"The spike in serious threats and coordinated intimidation by extremists is of grave concern," says duVergne Gaines, director of the Feminist Majority Foundation's National Clinic Access Project. "We know there is a connection between threats like wanted-style posters, residential targeting of physicians and serious violence, because these types of threats preceded the murders of doctors in the '90s and Dr. Tiller in 2009."

The survey of 242 clinics by FMF (publisher of Ms.) shows that nearly 18 percent of clinics found that their doctors' pictures and personal information had been posted online, while 8.7 percent of clinics reported that doctors had been stalked.
Twenty-eight percent of responding clinics reported that pamphlets featuring photos of their doctors and clinic staff had been distributed, including some titled "TheKillers Among Us," and the use of wanted-style posters was reported by7.7 percent of clinics. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28713-new-study-shows-more-than-half-of-abortion-clinics-face-threats

Midtown Detroit: Professional Plaza Saved: Rehab Plan Calls For 75 Apartments


Professional Plaza has been saved. Long targeted for demolition by the new medical building rising next door, the Free Press reports that Professional Plaza was snatched from the fire by Roxbury Group, which plans a renovation into a 75-unit apartment building called The Plaza. Of course, there will also be street-level retail.

When the demolition plan was first announced in 2013, tipsters speculated that Professional Plaza's original glass facade had been neglected to the point of needing total replacement. Turns out, they were right: The plan calls for a brand new glass facade, which should make the Plaza Apartments an especially shiny place to live.

Overall, the rehab plan is an undeniable win over the original vision, which saw the mid-century landmark demolished to make room for a three-story parking garage. Total costs are pegged at $20M, and we're told to look for construction sometime closer to mid-year.

Slavoj Žižek: The Urgent Necessity of a Syriza Victory in Greece

from In These Times:

Slavoj Žižek: The Urgent Necessity of a Syriza Victory in Greece
Only a split from the European Union by Greece can save what is worth saving in the European legacy: democracy, trust in people and egalitarian solidarity.

BY Slavoj Žižek

Critics of our institutional democracy often complain that, as a rule, elections do not offer a true choice. What we mostly get is the choice between a center-Right and a center-Left party whose program is almost indistinguishable. Next Sunday, January 25, this will not be the case—as on June 17, 2012, the Greek voters are facing a real choice: the establishment on the one side; Syriza, the radical leftist coalition, on the other.

And, as is mostly the case, such moments of real choice throw the establishment into panic. They paint the image of social chaos, poverty and violence if the wrong choice wins. The mere possibility of a Syriza victory has sent ripples of fear through markets all around the world, and, as is usual in such cases, ideological prosopopoeia has its heyday: markets have begun to “talk,” as if they are living people, expressing their “worry” at what will happen if the elections fail to produce a government with a mandate to continue with the program of fiscal austerity.

An ideal is gradually emerging from this European establishment’s reaction to the threat of Syriza victory in Greece, the ideal best rendered by the title of Gideon Rachman’s comment in the Financial Times: “Eurozone’s weakest link is the voters.” In the establishment’s ideal world, Europe gets rid of this “weakest link” and experts gain the power to directly impose necessary economic measures; if elections take place at all, their function is just to confirm the consensus of experts.

From this perspective, the Greek elections cannot but appear as a nightmare. So how can this catastrophe be avoided? The obvious way would be to return the fright—to scare the Greek voters to death with the message, “You think you are suffering now? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet—wait for the Syriza victory and you will long for the bliss of the last years!” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17561/zizek_greece_syriza

The Chilling First Amendment Implications of Journalist Barrett Brown's Five-Year Sentence

The Chilling First Amendment Implications of Journalist Barrett Brown's Five-Year Sentence

Friday, 23 January 2015 12:17
By Candice Bernd, Truthout | News Analysis

Barrett Brown, dressed in a bright yellow prison jumpsuit, gave a quick, approving nod to the writer who shouted, "Stay strong, Barrett!" in a Dallas courtroom Thursday, just after a federal judge sentenced the 33-year-old journalist and transparency activist to 63 months in prison on three federal charges, in a case which has chilling implications for journalists and researchers across the US.

Some would argue the reporter who called out to Brown crossed the blurry line between journalistic observer and active participant. But her gesture of solidarity serves as a fitting illustration of a couple of the key questions raised in a case which has lingered for more than two years before finally coming to a close Thursday: Who is "really" a journalist, and what constitutes crossing that increasingly precarious line?

It's an issue even I encountered, in a small way, on my way into the courtroom, as the security guard on the 15th floor of the Earle Cable Federal Building looked me over tentatively, shifting his eyes down toward the plastic press badge I wore around my neck.

"What's that?" he asked. "My press badge," I responded. "Even I could make something like that at home," he said, skeptically. My smile softened. I offered no response, instead handing over my jacket and notebook to be scanned. But the implications of his comment were clear enough - much like the implications of Brown's sentencing. The distinction of a being a "real" journalist is bestowed by those in power. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28699-the-chilling-first-amendment-implications-of-journalist-barrett-brown-s-five-year-sentence

Professor Richard Wolff Explains Our Staggering Level of Inequality

The wealthy elite are getting even richer, and a new report says that by 2016, the top one percent will control more than half of the world's wealth. What explains this staggering level of inequality, and is there any way to buck this trend?

For LaGuardia, an AirTrain that will save almost no one any time

from the Transport Politic blog:

For LaGuardia, an AirTrain that will save almost no one any time
Yonah Freemark

LaGuardia Airport is the New York City airport closest to the nation’s largest business district in Midtown Manhattan. Getting there, however, is inconvenient and slow for people who rely on transit and expensive — and often also slow — for those who receive rides in cabs or shuttles. In other words, the experience of reaching the airport leaves something to be desired.

The New York region’s two other major airports — Newark and J.F.K. — each have dedicated AirTrain services that connect to adjacent commuter rail (and Subway services, in the case of J.F.K.). These lines were built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the 1990s and 2000s to improve transit access to these airports, leaving only LaGuardia without a rail link of its own.

This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped in, claiming to have solved the problem. His “Opportunity Agenda” for 2015, which includes a number of worthwhile projects such as Penn Station Access for Metro-North commuter trains, includes an AirTrain line to LaGuardia. As proposed, the project would do next to nothing to improve access to the airport. In fact, compared to existing transit services, most riders using the AirTrain would spend more time traveling to LaGuardia than they do now.

There is no hope that this AirTrain will “solve” the access to LaGuardia problem.

Governor Cuomo’s AirTrain, at least according to his press releases, would be built by the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and cost $450 million. Though funding for the project has not yet been identified, it could come from “existing sources,” though it is unclear what exactly that means. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2015/01/21/for-laguardia-an-airtrain-that-will-save-almost-no-one-any-time/

David Sirota: Big Tax Bills for the Poor, Tiny Ones for the Rich

from truthdig:

Big Tax Bills for the Poor, Tiny Ones for the Rich

Posted on Jan 23, 2015
By David Sirota

American politics are dominated by those with money. As such, America’s tax debate is dominated by voices that insist the rich are unduly persecuted by high taxes and that low-income folks are living the high life. Indeed, a new survey by the Pew Research Center recently found that the most financially secure Americans believe “poor people today have it easy.”

The rich are certainly entitled to their own opinions—but, as the old saying goes, nobody is entitled to his or her own facts. With that in mind, here’s a set of tax facts that’s worth considering: Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local tax rates than the wealthy. In all, a comprehensive analysis by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).

ITEP researchers say the incongruity derives from state and local governments’ reliance on sales, excise and property taxes rather than on more progressively structured income taxes that increase rates on higher earnings. They argue that the tax disconnect is helping create the largest wealth gap between the rich and middle class in American history.

“In recent years, multiple studies have revealed the growing chasm between the wealthy and everyone else,” Matt Gardner, executive director of ITEP, said. “Upside-down state tax systems didn’t cause the growing income divide, but they certainly exacerbate the problem. State policymakers shouldn’t wring their hands or ignore the problem. They should thoroughly explore and enact tax reform policies that will make their tax systems fairer.” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/big_tax_bills_for_the_poor_tiny_ones_for_the_rich_20150123

Greece’s Solidarity Movement: ‘A Whole New Model—and It’s Working’

via truthdig:

There are accounts of Greeks pulling together to support themselves and each other ahead of an election that polls predict will result in a leadership firmly opposed to austerity policies imposed by the European Union.

The Guardian takes stock of the damage done during the post-2008 recession:

Few in Greece, even five years ago, would have imagined their recession- and austerity-ravaged country as it is now: 1.3 million people – 26% of the workforce – without a job (and most of them without benefits); wages down by 38% on 2009, pensions by 45%, GDP by a quarter; 18% of the country’s population unable to meet their food needs; 32% below the poverty line.

And just under 3.1 million people, or 33% of the population, without national health insurance.

Community medical facilities staffed by professionals who suffered reduced employment in the crisis are among the organizations Greeks have formed in a vacuum of help from official leaders:

The Peristeri health centre is one of 40 that have sprung up around Greece since the end of mass anti-austerity protests in 2011. Using donated drugs – state medicine reimbursements have been slashed by half, so even patients with insurance are now paying 70% more for their drugs – and medical equipment (Peristeri’s ultrasound scanner came from a German aid group, its children’s vaccines from France), the 16 clinics in the Greater Athens area alone treat more than 30,000 patients a month.

The clinics in turn are part of a far larger and avowedly political movement of well over 400 citizen-run groups – food solidarity centres, social kitchens, cooperatives, “without middlemen” distribution networks for fresh produce, legal aid hubs, education classes – that has emerged in response to the near-collapse of Greece’s welfare state, and has more than doubled in size in the past three years.

When members of the ascendant, radical-left Syriza party were first elected to the legislature in 2012, 72 MPs voted to give 20 percent of their monthly salary to a fund that would help finance Solidarity for All, a group that provides logistical and administrative support to the popular movement. Theano Fotiou, a member of Syriza’s central committee who is standing for re-election in the capital’s second electoral district, told The Guardian in the presence of a dozen or so exceedingly enthusiastic young volunteers, “The only real way out of this crisis is people doing it for themselves.” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/greeces_solidarity_movement_a_whole_new_model_--_and_its_working_20150123

Thailand: Thousands of Fish are Being Evicted From This Abandoned Mall



Over the years, abandoned malls have become a genre of ruin porn in itself. The deserted New World shopping mall in Bangkok, however, stands out from the rest, simply because of the thousands of fish that have miraculously taken shelter in its flooded grounds. The story goes that a decade ago, after the illegally-built structure was shuttered and partially demolished, some locals purposely introduced the fish into the roofless building as a form of mosquito control. And as the Internet discovered more recently, it's become a surreal and incredible sight to behold. That is, until now. CityLab reports that local authorities have finally begun removing the some 3,000 carp, tilapia, and catfish from the crumbling building.

Using fishing nets and plastic tubs, workers are rounding up the fish one by one. From there, the fish will go to Thailand's Department of Fisheries labs before getting released into various bodies of water around the country. The government seems determined to shut the spectacle down once and for all. The building's flooded water will be drained, and officials are also demanding about $306K in demolition costs from the property owners.



Syriza stretches poll lead as Greek election campaign ends

Greece’s anti-austerity party of the left, Syriza, has stretched its election lead to six points, putting it on course for a historic victory in Sunday’s crucial elections.

With the incumbent prime minister, Antonis Samaras, warning of economic catastrophe if Syriza prevails, and Europe looking on nervously, the shortest election campaign in Greek postwar history concludes on Friday.

Barely four weeks after the failure of parliament to elect a president, triggering the ballot, Greece’s fate now lies in the hands of 9.8 million voters. All the polls show, with growing conviction, that victory will go to Syriza. A poll released by GPO for Mega TV late on Thursday gave the far leftists a six-percentage-point lead over Samaras’s centre-right New Democracy, the dominant force in a coalition government that has held power since June 2012. A week earlier, GPO had the lead at four percentage points.

Buoyed by such figures, Alexis Tsipras, the young firebrand who has overseen Syriza’s meteoric rise from the margins of Greek political life, pledged “historic change” as he gave a triumphant speech to thousands of supporters in central Athens on Thursday night. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/23/syriza-poll-lead-greek-elections-alexis-tsipras-antonis-samaras

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