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marmar

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Gender: Male
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 71,719

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Michigan: Right-to-work challenge alleging OMA violation will move forward


from the Detroit Free Press:



MASON — An Ingham County judge this morning rejected Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by labor supporters who allege Michigan’s new right-to-work laws were passed in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Judge William Collette said in Ingham County Circuit Court a coalition of labor unions presented enough evidence to warrant the legal challenge but he fell short of declaring whether any open meetings violation actually occurred when the Capitol was closed in December 2012 as lawmakers took up right-to-work legislation for the first time.

“I don’t know if you have a good case,” Collette told attorneys for the labor unions. “You have a real uphill battle but there are some haystacks on fire around the field.”

Collette also criticized the state, questioning Assistant Attorney General Michelle Brya about whether Republican leadership ordered staff aides to take up seats in the House gallery Dec. 6 to prevent the public from observing initial action on right-to-work legislation. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20130403/NEWS06/130403006/Judge-considers-lawsuit-against-Michigan-right-to-work-law



GOP seeks to "relax" overtime pay rules.......





WASHINGTON -- House Republicans are planning to introduce legislation that could loosen the nation's 75-year-old law governing overtime in the workplace, allowing employers and workers to choose taking compensatory time off rather than the traditional time-and-a-half pay.

Cast by Republicans as a reform toward workplace flexibility, the proposal would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, a bedrock labor law of the New Deal era, to ostensibly give workers more options in how to use their accrued overtime. Democrats and labor leaders, however, will likely oppose the measure on the grounds that it could weaken protections of the traditional 40-hour work week.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) first hinted at the measure in early February, when he delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that was seen as part of the GOP's wider rebranding efforts toward a more caring party. Cantor noted that many public employees are already allowed to convert earned overtime into comp time, and he argued that extending that option to the private sector would be a boon to working people.

"If you’re a working parent, you know there’s hardly ever enough time at home to be with the kids,” Cantor said. “Federal laws dating back to the 1930s make it harder for parents who hold hourly jobs to balance the demands of work and home. An hourly employee cannot convert previous overtime into future comp-time or flex-time." ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/overtime-laws-gop-proposal_n_3006658.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Fiduciary Duty to Cheat? Jim Chanos Reveals the Perverse New Mindset of Financial Fraudsters


AlterNet / By Lynn Stuart Parramore

Fiduciary Duty to Cheat? Stock Market Super-Star Jim Chanos Reveals the Perverse New Mindset of Financial Fraudsters
American business has always had cheaters and crooks, but today they are escaping prosecution and are incentivized to cheat more.

April 1, 2013 |


Editor's note: This article is the first in a new AlterNet series, "The Age of Fraud."


Hustlers. Cheaters. Crooks. American business has always had them, and sometimes they’ve been punished. But today, those who cheat and put the rest of us at risk are often getting off scot-free. The recent admission of Attorney General Eric Holder that systemically dangerous megabanks may escape prosecution because of their size has opened a new chapter in fraud history. If you know your company won’t be prosecuted, a perverse logic says that you should cheat and make as much money for shareholders as you can.

Jim Chanos is one of America’s best-known short-sellers, famed for his early detection of Enron’s fraudulent practices. In deciding which companies to short (short-sellers make their money when the price of a stock or security goes down), Chanos acts as a kind of financial detective, scrutinizing companies for signs of overvaluation and shady practices that fool outsiders into tlhinking that they are prospering when they may be on shaky financial footing. Chanos teaches a class at Yale on the history of financial fraud, instructing students in how to look for signs of cheating and criminal activity. I caught up with Chanos in his New York office to ask what’s driving the current era of rampant fraud, who is to blame, what can be done, and the ways in which fraud costs us financially and socially.

Lynn Parramore: You’re often characterized as a short-seller. How does fraud become a concern in that context?

Jim Chanos: One of things we like to say is that in virtually all cases of major financial market fraud over the past 20 years, the only people who really brought forth the fraud into the light were either internal whistleblowers, the press, and/or short-sellers. It was not the normal guardians of the marketplace – regulators, law enforcement, external auditors or people like that -- that did it. It was people who had an incentive to come forward either for personal reasons or for profit to point out what was going on at the Enrons and the Sunbeams and Worldcoms. Short-sellers played an important role in the marketplace not only in terms of capping, sometimes, irrational exuberance in terms of prices, but also in ferreting out wrongdoing.

LP: Researchers have created all kinds of tools, like software to detect speech patterns associated with lying, to try to detect fraud. What are some of the best tools for catching financial fraudsters?

JC: There’s no single tool that works all the time, and some of them are kind of interesting, like the voice detection, or Bedford’s law, which looks at numbers and repetition patterns in accounting. But we have seen some models that we work with and I teach in my class-- frameworks of fraud and fraud analysis – that have been helpful in looking down through the years where we’ve seen patterns continue. One is a wonderful checklist, the Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse in an organization. Some are clearly intuitive, such as a board full of one’s cronies or an obsession with making earnings forecasts. But some are not so obvious, for example, doing good to mask doing bad. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/economy/fiduciary-duty-cheat-stock-market-super-star-jim-chanos-reveals-perverse-new-mindset



Richard Cebull, Federal Judge Who Sent Racist Obama Email, Retires


U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, the federal judge in Montana who sent an email last year suggesting that President Barack Obama's mother had sex with a dog, has retired following an investigation into his conduct.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit announced Tuesday that Cebull had submitted his retirement letter, effective May 3. A special committee had conducted a "thorough and extensive investigation" and submitted their report to the circuit's Judicial Council, which issued a confidential order and memorandum on March 15, according to the court.

In the email forwarded by Cebull, a young Obama asks his mother why he's black and she is white. "Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!" his mother replies. Cebull told recipients of his email that he hoped it "touches your heart like it did mine." .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/richard-cebull-retires_n_3006753.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Magic Johnson's Son Goes Public With Boyfriend For First Time


Magic Johnson's gay son is going public with his romance.

Earvin Johnson III, one of Magic's three children, stepped out hand-in-hand with his unidentified boyfriend on Los Angeles's Sunset Strip on Monday night, TMZ reports.

Although this is reportedly the first time Earvin, also known as EJ, and his boyfriend have been seen together publicly, there is nothing to suggest that he was not open about his sexuality prior to this.

EJ is a 20-year-old student at New York University and Magic and his wife, Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly, couldn't be prouder of him. "Cookie and I love EJ and support him in every way," Magic told TMZ. "We're very proud of him." .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/earvin-johnson-iii-magic-johnson-gay-son-boyfriend_n_2998117.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular



DC: Capital Bikeshare set a record Saturday — and is embarking upon a major expansion


from the WaPo:



By Tim Craig, Published: April 2




The Washington region’s Capital Bikeshare program set a ridership record Saturday, and the District is gearing up to restart a major expansion that should greatly increase the numbers of stations and red bikes on city streets.

With throngs of tourists in town for the Easter holiday, there were a record 9,669 Capital Bikeshare rides Saturday. And for the first time since its inception three years ago, the majority of those rides were taken by day-trippers instead of annual members, said Chris Holben, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation bicycle program.

The milestone underscores how rapidly Capital Bikeshare has become a key transportation option downtown and around the Mall.

“As you can imagine, Cherry Blossom weekend, the most beautiful day of spring, a lot of out-of-towners are using the system,” Holben said. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/capital-bikeshare-restarts-expansion-plans/2013/04/02/3c2f2acc-9bc8-11e2-a941-a19bce7af755_story.html



Feds Posit Ambitious Plan for Northeast High Speed Rail

from Transportation Nation:



Feds Posit Ambitious Plan for Northeast High Speed Rail
By Kate Hinds | 04/02/2013


[font size="1"]The shoot-for-the-moon, Level D plan: a second Northeast Corridor "spine," Long Island-to-New England service, and 220-mph rail (image via NEC FUTURE)[/font]


Over a dozen plans for improving rail in the Northeast Corridor are under consideration by the federal government, ranging from minor improvements to a future with 220-mile-per-hour bullet trains between Washington and Boston — not to mention new service between Long Island and New England.

These various options are detailed in a new report released Tuesday by the Federal Railroad Administration. NEC FUTURE sketches out 15 alternatives representing different levels of investment through the year 2040 in the 457-mile corridor.

The options, in turn, have been grouped into four separate categories which grow progressively more ambitious: while those in Level A focus on achieving a state of good repair, Level D would build a separate high-speed rail line between Boston and D.C. and bring new service in the region, primarily in Long Island, New England and the Delmarva peninsula.

The report aims to jump-start public debate about how rail capacity should be shaped in the region. “It is intended to be the foundation for future investments in the Northeast Corridor, a 150 year-old alignment that has guided the growth of what is now one of the most densely populated transportation corridors in the world,” said Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, NEC FUTURE program manager for the Federal Railroad Administration. “(It) will further the dialogue about the rail network in the Northeast and how it can best serve us over for the years ahead.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://transportationnation.org/2013/04/02/64607/



Maryland County Approves Millions More for Troubled Transit Center


Maryland County Approves Millions More for Troubled Transit Center
By Martin Di Caro | 04/03/2013 – 9:18 am


Maryland’s Montgomery County Council approved an additional $7 million to pay for construction work already completed at Silver Spring Transit Center, which is already two years behind schedule and about $80 million over budget.

The $7 million approved by county lawmakers has nothing to do with major design and construction problems detailed in a county report released two weeks ago.When it comes to who will pay to repair those problems, county officials say it will likely be determined in litigation with the project’s contractors.

“We will move expeditiously to make sure that we make the necessary repairs and that the taxpayers of Montgomery County will not have to pay for the flaws of the contractor,” says County Executive Ike Leggett, who has threatened to cancel the county’s contract with Foulger Pratt and other contractors and sue to recover any funds paid to fix the transit center’s construction issues, like inadequately thick concrete.

“Whatever we spend we will get back because we are going to pursue to the ultimate degree of the law and the legal process to make sure the county is reimbursed for anything we may have to put out in advance,” says Leggett. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://transportationnation.org/2013/04/03/maryland-county-approves-millions-more-for-troubled-transit-center/



Guantanamo Bay prison plans expansion, while CIA official linked to torture cover-up gets promoted


from Rolling Stone:



By John Knefel
April 2, 2013 3:00 PM ET


During the George W. Bush years, two of the most controversial elements of what was then called the Global War on Terror were the CIA's rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program and the creation of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay. The RDI program included waterboarding and other forms of torture, as well as so-called black site prisons where detainees were held incommunicado after being abducted by the CIA, and sometimes tortured by members of the host country's security forces.

Guantanamo Bay and the RDI program are both back in the news now, each for their own unsavory reasons, and their reemergence should be a reminder of how fully the Obama administration has embraced the logic underpinning the Bush regime's response to 9/11. The Pentagon is now requesting nearly $200 million for Guantanamo Bay infrastructure upgrades, including $49 million for a new unit for "special" prisoners – likely the so-called high-value detainees currently housed at Camp 7, which include self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The Pentagon's reasoning is that neither the president nor Congress have any plans to close the prison anytime soon, so these repairs are necessary.

This massive capital request comes as detainees are engaged in an increasingly dire hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention and to signal their lack of hope for transfer or release. Instead of closing Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration stands poised to do the very opposite – pour more money into what is already the country's most expensive prison.

Meanwhile, participation in the CIA's controversial RDI program has resulted for at least one person not in prosecution or professional sanctions, but rather in a promotion. For the last several weeks, an unnamed woman has been acting director of the National Clandestine Service – the part of the CIA that runs spying and covert operations, including the CIA's drone program – as first reported by the Washington Post. This is the first time a woman has held that position. But this particular woman was a major figure in the RDI program, once ran a black site prison, and has been linked to the destruction of interrogation tapes that almost certainly documented the CIA's use of torture. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/symbols-of-bush-era-lawlessness-flourish-under-obama-20130402#ixzz2POyrcFZk



Fiduciary Duty to Cheat? Jim Chanos Reveals the Perverse New Mindset of Financial Fraudsters


AlterNet / By Lynn Stuart Parramore

Fiduciary Duty to Cheat? Stock Market Super-Star Jim Chanos Reveals the Perverse New Mindset of Financial Fraudsters
American business has always had cheaters and crooks, but today they are escaping prosecution and are incentivized to cheat more.

April 1, 2013 |


Editor's note: This article is the first in a new AlterNet series, "The Age of Fraud."


Hustlers. Cheaters. Crooks. American business has always had them, and sometimes they’ve been punished. But today, those who cheat and put the rest of us at risk are often getting off scot-free. The recent admission of Attorney General Eric Holder that systemically dangerous megabanks may escape prosecution because of their size has opened a new chapter in fraud history. If you know your company won’t be prosecuted, a perverse logic says that you should cheat and make as much money for shareholders as you can.

Jim Chanos is one of America’s best-known short-sellers, famed for his early detection of Enron’s fraudulent practices. In deciding which companies to short (short-sellers make their money when the price of a stock or security goes down), Chanos acts as a kind of financial detective, scrutinizing companies for signs of overvaluation and shady practices that fool outsiders into tlhinking that they are prospering when they may be on shaky financial footing. Chanos teaches a class at Yale on the history of financial fraud, instructing students in how to look for signs of cheating and criminal activity. I caught up with Chanos in his New York office to ask what’s driving the current era of rampant fraud, who is to blame, what can be done, and the ways in which fraud costs us financially and socially.

Lynn Parramore: You’re often characterized as a short-seller. How does fraud become a concern in that context?

Jim Chanos: One of things we like to say is that in virtually all cases of major financial market fraud over the past 20 years, the only people who really brought forth the fraud into the light were either internal whistleblowers, the press, and/or short-sellers. It was not the normal guardians of the marketplace – regulators, law enforcement, external auditors or people like that -- that did it. It was people who had an incentive to come forward either for personal reasons or for profit to point out what was going on at the Enrons and the Sunbeams and Worldcoms. Short-sellers played an important role in the marketplace not only in terms of capping, sometimes, irrational exuberance in terms of prices, but also in ferreting out wrongdoing.

LP: Researchers have created all kinds of tools, like software to detect speech patterns associated with lying, to try to detect fraud. What are some of the best tools for catching financial fraudsters?

JC: There’s no single tool that works all the time, and some of them are kind of interesting, like the voice detection, or Bedford’s law, which looks at numbers and repetition patterns in accounting. But we have seen some models that we work with and I teach in my class-- frameworks of fraud and fraud analysis – that have been helpful in looking down through the years where we’ve seen patterns continue. One is a wonderful checklist, the Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse in an organization. Some are clearly intuitive, such as a board full of one’s cronies or an obsession with making earnings forecasts. But some are not so obvious, for example, doing good to mask doing bad. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/economy/fiduciary-duty-cheat-stock-market-super-star-jim-chanos-reveals-perverse-new-mindset



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