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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 71,324

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Chicago: CTA: 16 buildings need to be razed for Belmont 'L' overpass

(Chicago Tribune) The CTA unveiled a $320 million proposal Thursday to eliminate one of the worst bottlenecks in its system by building an elevated bypass to untangle trains on the Red, Purple and Brown lines north of Belmont Avenue.

The announcement wasn’t all upside. Sixteen buildings north of the Belmont station in the Lakeview neighborhood would be bulldozed to make way for the flyover structure that would send northbound Brown Line trains up and over the Red and Purple line tracks. Brown Line trains would then descend onto the existing Ravenswood track west of Sheffield Avenue.

The idea of the CTA forcibly purchasing properties — for the second time in a decade along the Brown Line corridor — jolted some people who live and work in the area and learned of the transit agency’s proposal Thursday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged demolition plans weren’t ideal, but said they were necessary to increase and improve train service along all three lines. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cta-16-buildings-need-to-be-razed-to-speed-up-red-brown-purple-lines-20140417,0,5110741.story

Underground Railroad Was One of America’s First Coops: A Black History Tour of Cooperative Economics


from YES! Magazine:

The Underground Railroad Was One of America’s First Co-ops: A Black History Tour of Cooperative Economics
From slavery to Jim Crow to cities today, African-Americans have been leading the cooperative movement.

by Laura Flanders
posted Apr 17, 2014

Cooperative economics and civil rights don't often appear together in history books, but they should. From the mutual aid societies that bought enslaved people's freedom to the underground railroad network that brought endangered blacks to the north, cooperative structures were key to evading white supremacy. And there was vicious backlash when black co-ops threatened the status quo.

"The white economic structure depended on all of these blacks having to buy from the white store, rent from the white landowner. They were going to lose out if you did something alternatively," Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage: A History of African-American Economic Thought and Practice, told Commonomics correspondent Laura Flanders this week.

For more on co-ops in the black community, read our latest piece on late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's vision.

Oklahoma Provides a Win for ALEC’s 50-State Campaign Against Democracy

Oklahoma Provides a Win for ALEC’s 50-State Campaign Against Democracy

April 18, 2014
by Joshua Holland

On Monday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill that prohibits local governments from boosting their minimum wages or enacting laws mandating benefits like paid vacation or sick leave for working people.

Shadee Ashtari reports for The Huffington Post that “opponents of the measure view the move by Oklahoma Republicans as retaliation against an initiative underway in Oklahoma City, where organizers have been gathering signatures to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.” That may well be a factor, but the legislation has the fingerprints of the National Restaurant Association — “the other NRA” — and the American Legislative Affairs Council (ALEC) all over it.

Business-backed groups that oppose living wages and paid leave have a serious problem on their hands: polls show that they’re popular. So-called preemption laws provide them with a solution.

In November, Gordon Lafer, a political economist at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center who authored a report titled, “The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012,” told BillMoyers.com, “In places where people have a chance to vote, not for candidates, but on the actual laws — on minimum wage, on sick leave — there’s very broad support for those measures among Republicans and Democrats, among conservatives and liberals. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://billmoyers.com/2014/04/18/oklahoma-provides-a-win-for-alecs-50-state-campaign-against-democracy/

Richard Wolff: Why No Sustained Protests (Yet)?

Why No Sustained Protests (Yet)?

Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:00
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | Op-Ed

The organized post-1945 destruction of the New Deal coalition - unionists, socialists and communists - and the failure to replace those organizations help explain the muted reaction to the bailouts, austerity and other anti-democratic policies pursued by US governments at all levels.

The post-1945 destruction of the New Deal coalition - unionists, socialists and communists - keeps influencing Americans' lives. Today, its effects help explain why popular actions have been so muted against US economic changes since the 1970s and especially against the bailouts and austerity since the crash of 2008. Those effects also suggest what could reignite sustained protests and demands for change.

First to be destroyed after 1945 were the communists. Coordinated attacks came from business, conservatives, government and media. Most academics and liberals (including many who had supported the New Deal coalition) were complicit in that destruction. Once again we witnessed that old repressive tool: rebranding domestic social movements as mere agents of an evil foreign puppet-master. More important, demonizing the communists served to tar other social criticism that included the capitalist economic system with much the same brush.

Second went the socialists, largely destroyed by being rebranded as fronts, dupes or simply equivalents of communists. In many places, even liberals who rejected socialists and communists were nonetheless equated to them. The persistent purging of the New Deal coalition traumatized the next two generations. By treating criticism of the economic system as "un-American," the purges made blindly uncritical celebration of capitalism proof of one's loyalty. Obligatory for career advancement and personal safety, that celebration disciplined politicians, journalists, and academics alike for the last half-century.

Third to be destroyed were the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and unionism generally (later AFL-CIO etc.). They declined steadily for most of the post-war period. Unions had provided the mass base for the coalition and the New Deal. Union members' votes lay behind Roosevelt's turn toward taxing corporations and the rich to fund Social Security, unemployment compensation, the federal jobs programs and so on. Thus, for employers after 1945, attacking unions complemented their assaults on socialists and communists; all three coalition members had strengthened workers in conflicts with employers. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/23026-why-no-sustained-protests-yet

Insect Population Dwindling in Louisiana Marshlands Four Years After BP Blowout

from Desmogblog via Truthout:

Louisiana State University entomologist Linda Hooper-Bui has been studying the impact of the BP oil spill on insects and spiders for almost four years. She started her study shortly after the Macondo well blew out on April 20, 2010, before any oil washed up on shore. Her work documents the dwindling of the insect population in areas directly hit with the oil.

On April 9th, she returned to Bay Jimmy and Bay Baptiste, areas that were heavily impacted by the oil spill in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

"Insects are the basis of the food chain. They are like nature's Twinkies," Hooper-Bui says.

Her studies also monitor fish and birds, since they eat insects. She sweeps areas designated for her study by walking back and forth waving a net, catching whatever insects are present. She then empties the net into alcohol, preserving the insects for testing. She takes note of the wind speed and temperature at each location and collects a sample of sediment to be tested for hydrocarbons. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/23182-insect-population-dwindling-in-louisiana-marshlands-four-years-after-bp-blowout

Truthdigger of the Week: The Pulitzer Prize Committee

from truthdig:

Truthdigger of the Week: The Pulitzer Prize Committee
Posted on Apr 19, 2014

By Alexander Reed Kelly

What splendid courage! The Pulitzer Prize committee honored the essence of justice by bestowing its most prestigious award—for public service—to The Guardian and The Washington Post for exposing one of the most important stories concerning civil liberties in the history of journalism.

—Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer

Caught in the whirl of our individual lives, it is easy to forget that history is being made every day. Think of the past. What comes to mind? Images of America’s golden age? The cartoons you saw on television as a child? The destruction of the World Trade Center?

9/11 remains fresh in the mind because it was the beginning of a series of events that continue today, 13 years later. In the days that followed, the prioritization by our political leaders of so-called national security over all kinds of personal liberties followed swiftly, but few Americans noticed the deep consequences of the changes being made in the laws laid over them. As a nation, Americans may as well have been like children asleep in bed while the parents worked through the night, planning the days ahead.

Tony Benn, the British Labour politician who died in March, characterized the struggle for a better world as follows: “Every generation has to do it for themselves again; there is no railway station called justice that if you catch the right train you get there. Every generation has to fight for their rights because rights are taken away.”

As rotten as things currently are, the present generation of Americans has been graced with such champions. The most conspicuous among them is former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, but they include all those who have worked in the halls of power and understood that their obligation is ultimately to society, not the institution that sets their schedules and signs their paychecks. They are Pfc. Chelsea Manning, former State Department adviser Jesselyn Radack and retired NSA officers Thomas Drake and William Binney. Their predecessors include Daniel Ellsberg and yes, founding father Benjamin Franklin. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_the_pulitzer_prize_committee_20140418

CNN (cartoon)


Chris Hedges: "DEATH of the Middle Class"

Putting Heroin Users in Jail Won't Help Louisiana's Crime Rate

(Brennan Center for Justice, via Truthout) Louisiana - and our nation - has seen a surge in heroin crime. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, heroin use has climbed steadily since 2007. Law enforcement officials across the nation are reporting an increase of high-purity heroin available at the street level. In Louisiana, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William "Beau" Clark has testified that from 2012 to 2013 heroin deaths jumped seven-fold, from 5 to 35. So far this year he's confirmed seven opiate overdoses with two more pending, a pace equivalent to last year's.

Louisiana is hardly alone. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has declared the opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State address in January to heroin, calling it "a public health crisis."

Note the language. Policymakers are speaking about addiction as a public health problem, not a law enforcement one. Indeed, even U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that strict, mandatory minimum drug sentences should be reserved only for "high-level or violent drug traffickers."

For better or worse, we now know what works in the "war on drugs," a war that even tough-minded former prosecutors such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, have called a "failure." It is not draconian prison sentences for drug offenders that "win" the "war," but addiction treatment. Not only is it cheaper, it reduces recidivism. It also takes less of a toll on the community. One in 28 children currently has a parent behind bars, and one in every five state prisoners nationwide is serving time for a drug offense, which, Holder points out, "is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate." ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/23125-putting-heroin-users-in-jail-wont-help-louisianas-crime-rate

The U.S. Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It

from ProPublica:

The U.S. Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It
One lesson of the Heartbleed bug is that the U.S. needs to stop running Internet security like a Wikipedia volunteer project.

by Julia Angwin
ProPublica, April 15, 2014, 12:50 p.m.

The Heartbleed computer security bug is many things: a catastrophic tech failure, an open invitation to criminal hackers and yet another reason to upgrade our passwords on dozens of websites. But more than anything else, Heartbleed reveals our neglect of Internet security.

The United States spends more than $50 billion a year on spying and intelligence, while the folks who build important defense software — in this case a program called OpenSSL that ensures that your connection to a website is encrypted — are four core programmers, only one of whom calls it a full-time job.

In a typical year, the foundation that supports OpenSSL receives just $2,000 in donations. The programmers have to rely on consulting gigs to pay for their work. "There should be at least a half dozen full time OpenSSL team members, not just one, able to concentrate on the care and feeding of OpenSSL without having to hustle commercial work," says Steve Marquess, who raises money for the project.

Is it any wonder that this Heartbleed bug slipped through the cracks? ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.propublica.org/article/the-u.s.-government-paying-to-undermine-internet-security-not-to-fix-it

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