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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 72,832

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Pro-theocracy candidates running for Texas bd of ed, governor


Candidates for the Texas State Board of Education want to bring big changes to the state’s schools -- regardless of whether or not those changes are constitutional.

A survey released earlier this month by Texas Values, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group, shows that four of the Republican candidates running for the SBOE believe that the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public schools, and three of them believe that students should learn about intelligent design.

The survey was released as part of a comprehensive voter guide for state Republican voters. It includes results from questionnaires given to a number of Republican politicians, among them candidates in the races for governor and attorney general. Texas Values did not survey candidates in races with only one Republican challenger.

According to the survey, Lady Theresa Thombs, Eric Mahroum and incumbent Patricia Hardy, all running for the SBOE spot in the state’s 11th District, and David Bradley, incumbent candidate from the 7th District, believe the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public schools and that Islamic law is a threat to America. Thombs, Mahroum and Bradley also believe it is not the government’s responsibility to educate children, and that biology textbooks should only be adopted if they describe the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/18/texas-sboe-survey_n_4811174.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013



From California to Chicago, A Call for Unionized Universities


from Dissent magazine:


From California to Chicago, A Call for Unionized Universities
By Elizabeth Tandy Shermer - February 18, 2014


[font size="1"]Student support for the University of Illinois Chicago faculty union (UICUF/Facebook)[/font]

Editors’ note: As of the morning of Tuesday, February 18, faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago are on strike over a contract dispute.

One of the twentieth century’s great public intellectuals, Tony Judt, once wrote:

By far the best thing about America is its universities. Not Harvard, [or] Yale . . . though marvelous, they are not distinctively American; their roots reach across the ocean to Oxford, Heidelberg, and beyond. Nowhere else in the world, however, can boast such public universities. You drive for miles across a godforsaken midwestern scrubscape, pockmarked by billboards, Motel 6s, and a military parade of food chains, when like some pedagogical mirage . . . there appears . . . a library! And not just any library: at Bloomington, the University of Indiana boasts a 7.8-million-volume collection in more than nine hundred languages . . . . A little over a hundred miles northwest across another empty cornscape there comes into view the oasis of Champaign-Urbana: an unprepossessing college town housing a library of over ten million volumes.


A hundred-odd miles further north lies another landmark in the American public higher education system: the University of Illinois Chicago. With 28,000 students, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area, public or private. It is also the first major public university in Illinois with a unionized faculty—whose current battle with the administration puts UIC on the front lines of the present-day crisis in higher education, economic justice, and democratic governance.

The state research university, that hallmark of America’s egalitarian promise, is at a crossroads. Looming ahead is a market-oriented university ever more beholden to the whims of cost-cutting corporate benefactors. But there is an alternative path, toward a social democratic university responsive to the needs of students, faculty, and surrounding communities—that is to say, the public that actually owns these institutions. That way forward, recalling the founding mission of America’s great public universities, demands a unionized staff front and center.

The contemporary crisis in state higher education did not result from an absolute scarcity of money, but rather from an unwillingness to safeguard, manage, and fund this most basic public good. That is why staff, graduate students, and faculty must embrace militancy and advocacy—the ingredients of the sort of self-governance and common ownership at the heart of social democracy—to demand fully unionized universities. A voice and a vote in university affairs should not lie merely in student councils or faculty senates but in staff, graduate student, and faculty unions, whose rights are protected by state and federal law and whose necessity is clear at a moment when public higher education is increasingly run for and like a business. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/from-california-to-chicago-a-call-for-unionized-universities



The battle for mass transit’s soul: How will tomorrow’s greatest cities travel?


from Salon:


The battle for mass transit’s soul: How will tomorrow’s greatest cities travel?
Urban planners are in the throes of an ideological struggle that could fundamentally change the way cities look

Henry Grabar




Just after noon on Thursday, Feb. 6, at New York City’s Centre for Social Innovation, Jarrett Walker was three hours into his course on transit design and presiding over a scene redolent of a high school classroom. In a typically modest gesture, he held up his hand for attention, but the students chattered on. Only the hushes of their more alert peers brought the room to attention.

On the minds of these 30 urban affairs professionals was Newport, a U-shaped, peninsular city of Walker’s creation that looks something like an upside-down San Francisco. Their task that morning had been to design Newport a rudimentary bus system. Split into six groups, they hunched over poster-sized maps, plotting and rubbing out bus routes in colored sharpies on plastic tracing sheets. When the exercise concluded, the maps — laced with red, blue and green (bus frequencies of seven, 15 and 30 minutes, respectively) — were hung side by side on the wall. As Walker perused the six networks, the atmosphere grew tense, each group poised to defend the quirks of its design: an entire section of the city left out on one map, a lack of high-frequency lines on another, no downtown-airport connection on a third.

Over the past three years, Walker has taught his Interactive Course in Transit Network Design more than a dozen times, in four countries, and its hundreds of graduates are sprinkled across city governments, transit agencies and nonprofits in the U.S. and beyond. (The New York course, hosted by the Transit Center, gathered students from as far away as Barcelona and Prague; two more courses are scheduled for March, in Australia.) The material is linked to the contents of his 2011 book, “Human Transit,” and both are based on his experience as a consultant, helping cities from Sydney to Seattle get people from place to place. Last year, Walker spent one in three nights on the road, teaching, advising, speaking and so forth – the itinerant preacher of transit know-how. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2014/02/15/the_battle_for_mass_transits_soul_how_will_tomorrows_greatest_cities_travel/



Recent Storms and Major Development Could Revive Discussion of State Money for MARTA (audio link)


Listen: http://wabe.org/post/recent-storms-and-major-development-could-revive-discussion-state-money-marta-other-transit


In the last couple of weeks, metro Atlanta has seen two snowstorms. While traffic was gridlocked for more than a day in some places during the first storm, MARTA's trains ran relatively well. MARTA did see a service suspension for hours during the second storm emergency. But then came word of plans for a giant new mixed-use development in Dunwoody, with State Farm as the principal tenant. A key element of the plan was its link to the Dunwoody MARTA station. All of this raises the question of whether Georgia officials might take another look at state funding for MARTA, which gets no direct state money right now. WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Rep. Mike Jacobs, a Brookhaven Republican who chairs the MARTA Oversight Committee.




Dean Baker: Corporate Cronyism: The Secret to Overpaid CEOs


Corporate Cronyism: The Secret to Overpaid CEOs

Monday, 17 February 2014 10:59
By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed


It's hardly a secret that the heads of major corporations in the United States get mind bending paychecks. While high pay may be understandable when a top executive turns around a failing company or vastly expands a company's revenue and profit, but CEOs can get paychecks in the tens or hundreds of millions even when they did nothing especially notable.

For example, Lee Raymond retired from Exxon-Mobil in 2005 with $321 million. (That's 22,140 minimum wage work years.) His main accomplishment for the company was sitting at its head at a time when a quadrupling of oil prices sent profits soaring. Hank McKinnel walked away from Pfizer in 2006 with $166 million. It would be hard to identify his outstanding accomplishments.

But you don't have to be mediocre to get a big paycheck as a CEO. Bob Nardelli pocketed $240 million when he left Home Depot after six years. The company's stock price had fallen by 40 percent in his tenure, while the stock of its competitor Lowe's had nearly doubled.

And then we have the CEOs in the financial industry, heads of huge banks like Lehman's, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch, or the insurer AIG. These CEOs took their companies to the edge of bankruptcy or beyond and still walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in their pockets. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21908-corporate-cronyism-the-secret-to-overpaid-ceos



Nixon still runs the GOP: How the white South dominates the party


from Salon:


Nixon still runs the GOP: How the white South dominates the party
Many believe that Reagan or Goldwater founded modern conservatism. But it's Nixon whose legacy truly lives on

Robert A. Slayton


[font size="1"]Richard M. Nixon arrives at the airport in Atlanta, Ga. with his wife, Patricia, May 31, 1968. (Credit: AP)[/font]


The issue of who founded modern conservatism is important not just to the historical community, which lives to debate the origins of anything and everything. It has deep significance for any politician who seeks to invest himself with such august symbolism, as with anyone who tries to fathom American politics today.

Barry Goldwater is a logical candidate. Despite his failure in the presidential lists, he advocated conservative principles long before any other national political figure, making him a prophet before his time. Pat Buchanan dubbed him no less than “the father of us all.” Daniel McCarthy, in The American Conservative, believed that “his place in conservative history, and conservatives’ hearts, is settled … each branch of the conservative movement can plausibly trace itself back to some tendency… in the Goldwater effort.” And Phyllis Schafly called the Arizona senator “the undisputed original leader of the modern conservative movement … It is hard to overestimate the importance of Barry Goldwater.”

Ronald Reagan is the current favorite. Fox Nation quoted Nile Gardiner of Britain’s conservative paper the Telegraph that the former actor created “the greatest U. S. presidency of the 20th century.” The Heritage Foundation pronounced Reagan “the second most popular and consequential Republican president after Abraham Lincoln … he is credited with reviving the national economy, recovering the nation’s optimism about the future, and taking the pivotal steps to end the Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union.” The social conservative champion Family Research Council noted that, “Every Republican presidential candidate claims the mantle of Ronald Reagan … As they jockey for the … presidential nomination, they invoke Ronald Reagan: ‘I believe as Ronald Reagan believed …’”

.....(snip).....

In the late 1960s, Nixon enacted the Southern Strategy, a plan to shift states below the Mason-Dixon Line from Democratic to Republican. The standard analysis is that this plan was based on racist claims, that he labeled the Dems the party of civil rights, and appealed to Southern voters who fought these advances. Top strategist Lee Atwater denied this, claiming victories because Republicans appealed, not only to regional issues like states’ rights and forced busing, but to economic issues like taxes and the size of the federal government. Regardless of this argument, the results are clear: The South is now a blaze of red states. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2014/02/18/gops_southern_domination_why_nixon_is_modern_conservatisms_true_creator/



Dean Baker: Corporate Cronyism: The Secret to Overpaid CEOs


Corporate Cronyism: The Secret to Overpaid CEOs

Monday, 17 February 2014 10:59
By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed


It's hardly a secret that the heads of major corporations in the United States get mind bending paychecks. While high pay may be understandable when a top executive turns around a failing company or vastly expands a company's revenue and profit, but CEOs can get paychecks in the tens or hundreds of millions even when they did nothing especially notable.

For example, Lee Raymond retired from Exxon-Mobil in 2005 with $321 million. (That's 22,140 minimum wage work years.) His main accomplishment for the company was sitting at its head at a time when a quadrupling of oil prices sent profits soaring. Hank McKinnel walked away from Pfizer in 2006 with $166 million. It would be hard to identify his outstanding accomplishments.

But you don't have to be mediocre to get a big paycheck as a CEO. Bob Nardelli pocketed $240 million when he left Home Depot after six years. The company's stock price had fallen by 40 percent in his tenure, while the stock of its competitor Lowe's had nearly doubled.

And then we have the CEOs in the financial industry, heads of huge banks like Lehman's, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch, or the insurer AIG. These CEOs took their companies to the edge of bankruptcy or beyond and still walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in their pockets. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21908-corporate-cronyism-the-secret-to-overpaid-ceos



Chris Hedges: Our Sinister Dual State


from truthdig:


Our Sinister Dual State

Posted on Feb 16, 2014
By Chris Hedges


On Thursday the former National Security Agency official and whistle-blower William E. Binney and I will debate Stewart A. Baker, a former general counsel for the NSA, P.J. Crowley, a former State Department spokesman, and the media pundit Jeffrey Toobin. The debate, at Oxford University, will center on whether Edward Snowden’s leaks helped or harmed the public good. The proposition asks: “Is Edward Snowden a Hero?” But, on a deeper level, the debate will revolve around our nation’s loss of liberty.

The government officials who, along with their courtiers in the press, castigate Snowden insist that congressional and judicial oversight, the right to privacy, the rule of law, freedom of the press and the right to express dissent remain inviolate. They use the old words and the old phrases, old laws and old constitutional guarantees to give our corporate totalitarianism a democratic veneer. They insist that the system works. They tell us we are still protected by the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Yet the promise of that sentence in the Bill of Rights is pitted against the fact that every telephone call we make, every email or text we send or receive, every website we visit and many of our travels are tracked, recorded and stored in government computers. The Fourth Amendment was written in 1789 in direct response to the arbitrary and unchecked search powers that the British had exercised through general warrants called writs of assistance, which played a significant part in fomenting the American Revolution. A technical system of surveillance designed to monitor those considered to be a danger to the state has, in the words of Binney, been “turned against you.”

We live in what the German political scientist Ernst Fraenkel called “the dual state.” Totalitarian states are always dual states. In the dual state civil liberties are abolished in the name of national security. The political sphere becomes a vacuum “as far as the law is concerned,” Fraenkel wrote. There is no legal check on power. Official bodies operate with impunity outside the law. In the dual state the government can convict citizens on secret evidence in secret courts. It can strip citizens of due process and detain, torture or assassinate them, serving as judge, jury and executioner. It rules according to its own arbitrary whims and prerogatives. The outward forms of democratic participation—voting, competing political parties, judicial oversight and legislation—are hollow, political stagecraft. Fraenkel called those who wield this unchecked power over the citizenry “the prerogative state.”

The masses in a totalitarian structure live in what Fraenkel termed “the normative state.” The normative state, he said, is defenseless against the abuses of the prerogative state. Citizens are subjected to draconian laws and regulations, as well as arbitrary searches and arrests. The police and internal security are omnipotent. The internal workings of power are secret. Free expression and opposition political activity are pushed to the fringes of society or shut down. Those who challenge the abuses of power by the prerogative state, those who, like Snowden, expose the crimes carried out by government, are made into criminals. Totalitarian states always invert the moral order. It is the wicked who rule. It is the just who are damned. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_sinister_dual_state_20140216



William Greider: Why the Federal Reserve Needs an Overhaul


from The Nation:


Why the Federal Reserve Needs an Overhaul
This 100-year-old antique is undemocratic, too close to elite banking interests and often blind to the economic conditions that affect most Americans.

William Greider
February 12, 2014


The Federal Reserve is celebrating its 100th birthday with due modesty, given the Fed’s complicity in generating the recent financial crisis and its inability to adequately resuscitate the still-troubled economy. Woodrow Wilson signed the original Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913. Eleven months later, the Federal Reserve System’s twelve regional banks opened for business. But in a sense the central bank was born in the autumn of 1907, when another devastating financial crisis swept the nation, destroying banks, businesses and farmers on a frightening scale.

J.P. Morgan and his fraternity of New York bankers intervened with brutal decisiveness in the efforts to halt the Panic of 1907, choosing which banks would fail and which would survive. Afterward, Morgan was hailed in elite circles as a heroic figure who had saved the country and free-market capitalism. The nostalgia for Morgan was misplaced, however: as insiders knew, the real story of 1907 was that Washington intervened to save Wall Street—the twentieth century’s own inaugural bailout.

.......(snip).......

A hundred years later, the country seems to have circled back to the very same arguments. We are confronted again by the financial destructiveness the Fed was supposed to eliminate. Despite some worthy reforms that centralized power in Washington, bankers still run wild on occasion, ignoring restraints and spreading misery in their wake. The Fed still rushes to their rescue with lots of money—public money. And people at large still pay a terrible price for official indulgence of this very privileged sector.

So this is my brief for fundamental reform: dismantle the peculiar arrangement and democratize it. The Federal Reserve has always been a glaring contradiction of democratic values. After a century of experience, we should be able to conclude from events that the system simply doesn’t work. Or rather, it does very well for bankers, but not for ordinary citizens. The economy does require a governing authority—Fed advocates are right about that—but it suffers from the Fed’s incestuous relationship with Wall Street bankers. My solution: throw open the doors, let the people into the conversation and the decision-making. The untutored ranks of citizens are as fallible as any economist, but they often know things about economic reality well before the experts. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thenation.com/article/178366/why-federal-reserve-needs-overhaul



William Greider: Why the Federal Reserve Needs an Overhaul


from The Nation:


Why the Federal Reserve Needs an Overhaul
This 100-year-old antique is undemocratic, too close to elite banking interests and often blind to the economic conditions that affect most Americans.

William Greider
February 12, 2014


The Federal Reserve is celebrating its 100th birthday with due modesty, given the Fed’s complicity in generating the recent financial crisis and its inability to adequately resuscitate the still-troubled economy. Woodrow Wilson signed the original Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913. Eleven months later, the Federal Reserve System’s twelve regional banks opened for business. But in a sense the central bank was born in the autumn of 1907, when another devastating financial crisis swept the nation, destroying banks, businesses and farmers on a frightening scale.

J.P. Morgan and his fraternity of New York bankers intervened with brutal decisiveness in the efforts to halt the Panic of 1907, choosing which banks would fail and which would survive. Afterward, Morgan was hailed in elite circles as a heroic figure who had saved the country and free-market capitalism. The nostalgia for Morgan was misplaced, however: as insiders knew, the real story of 1907 was that Washington intervened to save Wall Street—the twentieth century’s own inaugural bailout.

.......(snip).......

A hundred years later, the country seems to have circled back to the very same arguments. We are confronted again by the financial destructiveness the Fed was supposed to eliminate. Despite some worthy reforms that centralized power in Washington, bankers still run wild on occasion, ignoring restraints and spreading misery in their wake. The Fed still rushes to their rescue with lots of money—public money. And people at large still pay a terrible price for official indulgence of this very privileged sector.

So this is my brief for fundamental reform: dismantle the peculiar arrangement and democratize it. The Federal Reserve has always been a glaring contradiction of democratic values. After a century of experience, we should be able to conclude from events that the system simply doesn’t work. Or rather, it does very well for bankers, but not for ordinary citizens. The economy does require a governing authority—Fed advocates are right about that—but it suffers from the Fed’s incestuous relationship with Wall Street bankers. My solution: throw open the doors, let the people into the conversation and the decision-making. The untutored ranks of citizens are as fallible as any economist, but they often know things about economic reality well before the experts. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thenation.com/article/178366/why-federal-reserve-needs-overhaul




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