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marmar

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Gender: Male
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 70,294

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On American ‘Exceptionalism’


from Consortium News:



On American ‘Exceptionalism’
March 2, 2012

American politicians forever talk about the nation’s “exceptionalism,” a special greatness that sets the U.S.A. apart from all others. But this jingoism requires whitewashing much of U.S. history and ignoring much of the present, too, says Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson


Everyone wants to be exceptional, to be special, to be great at something. Parents spend a lot of time assuring their children that they are indeed exceptional, even though they often know that the their offspring will spend their working lives selling mattresses or cars.

When it comes to individuals there is a very wide range of achievements that can make you stand out. Everyone can be exceptional in some way or other. Yet it is not only individuals who need to feel themselves exceptional or great.

It seems that entire nations, working at some level of collective consciousness, yearn for this status as well. This is particularly true of the citizenry of the USA, who are often told by their politicians that their country is exceptional, special, great – the most talented child in the family of nations.

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

The nation that can provide these primary needs for its people is well on its way to greatness. Indeed, the other things that Americans so value, such as freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights or even the right to vote, are only fully convincing as “inalienable rights” when you are not chronically hungry and your kids aren’t dying of curable diseases. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/02/on-american-exceptionalism/



AT&T hastening demise of unlimited data plans


NEW YORK -(MarketWatch)- AT&T Inc. is taking a step closer to doing away with unlimited-mobile data-plans.

Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market.

AT&T has been trying to manage capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless airwaves, or spectrum. The carrier is spending billions to build out a new fourth-generation mobile-broadband network that can handle more data traffic.

A spokesman said the new guidelines were necessary because of confusion among unlimited customers over when their download speeds would be slowed. He declined to say by how much the speeds would be decreased. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/att-hastening-demise-of-unlimited-data-plans-2012-03-01



America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I


from Orion:



America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I
From decline to rebirth

by James Gustave Speth


LIKE YOU AND OTHER AMERICANS, I love my country, its wonderful people, its boundless energy, its creativity in so many fields, its natural beauty, its many gifts to the world, and the freedom it has given us to express ourselves. So we should all be angry, profoundly angry, when we consider what has happened to our country and what that neglect could mean for our children and grandchildren.

How can we gauge what has happened to America in the past few decades and where we stand today? One way is to look at how America now compares with other countries in key areas. The group of twenty advanced democracies—the major countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, the Nordic countries, Canada, and others—can be thought of as our peer nations. Here’s what we see when we look at these countries. To our great shame, America now has

• the highest poverty rate, both generally and for children;
• the greatest inequality of incomes;
• the lowest social mobility;
• the lowest score on the UN’s index of “material well-being of children”;
• the worst score on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index;
• the highest expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP, yet all this money accompanied by the highest infant mortality rate, the highest prevalence of mental health problems, the highest obesity rate, the highest percentage of people going without health care due to cost, the highest consumption of antidepressants per capita, and the shortest life expectancy at birth;
• the next-to-lowest score for student performance in math and middling performance in science and reading;
• the highest homicide rate;
• the largest prison population in absolute terms and per capita;
• the highest carbon dioxide emissions and the highest water consumption per capita;
• the lowest score on Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (except for Belgium) and the largest ecological footprint per capita (except for Denmark);
• the lowest spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of national income (except for Japan and Italy);
• the highest military spending both in total and as a percentage of GDP; and
• the largest international arms sales.


Our politicians are constantly invoking America’s superiority and exceptionalism. True, the data is piling up to confirm that we’re Number One, but in exactly the way we don’t want to be—at the bottom. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6681



Troy mayor recall effort goes on


from the Freep:


The Oakland County Election Commission unanimously approved language Thursday for a recall petition challenging Troy Mayor Janice Daniels' vote against millions of dollars in federal funding to build a transit center near the Troy-Birmingham border.

But the commission denied approval of petition language challenging her views on homosexuality, her behavior during her swearing-in and a possible breach of City Council meeting rules.

Both petitions had been submitted by a group called Recall Janice Daniels, a grassroots organization that describes itself as dedicated to restoring competent leadership to Troy.

"We're extremely excited that we were able to get one petition approved, which means that we can continue to press forward with our campaign," said Matt Binkowski, one of the members of the group in attendance at the meeting. "On the other hand, we're slightly disappointed about the outcome of the other petition. But we still feel supremely confident we can move forward and get the necessary signatures to reach our goal. We've had an incredible amount of support." .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20120302/NEWS03/203020401/Troy-mayor-recall-effort-goes-on?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p



AT&T hastening demise of unlimited data plans


NEW YORK -(MarketWatch)- AT&T Inc. is taking a step closer to doing away with unlimited-mobile data-plans.

Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market.

AT&T has been trying to manage capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless airwaves, or spectrum. The carrier is spending billions to build out a new fourth-generation mobile-broadband network that can handle more data traffic.

A spokesman said the new guidelines were necessary because of confusion among unlimited customers over when their download speeds would be slowed. He declined to say by how much the speeds would be decreased. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/att-hastening-demise-of-unlimited-data-plans-2012-03-01



Bibi to demand that Obama commit to military action if Iran sanctions fail

from the Guardian UK:


Israel is pressing Barack Obama for an explicit threat of military action against Iran if sanctions fail and Tehran's nuclear programme advances beyond specified "red lines".

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is expected to raise the issue at a White House meeting on Monday after weeks of intense diplomacy in which Obama has dispatched senior officials – including his intelligence, national security and military chiefs – to Jerusalem to try and dampen down talk of an attack.

Diplomats say that Israel is angered by the Obama administration's public disparaging of early military action against Iran, saying that it weakens the prospect of Tehran taking the warnings from Israel seriously.

The two sides are attempting to agree a joint public statement to paper over the divide but talks will not be made easier by a deepening distrust in which the Israelis question Obama's commitment to confront Iran while the White House is frustrated by what it sees as political interference by Netanyahu to mobilise support for Israel's position in the US Congress. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/01/israeli-pm-demands-obama-military-action-iran



Lost in Translation





Bill Moyers Essay: Are Immunization Exemptions Fair to All?





Is it fair for parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children on the basis of religion or philosophy? In his trademark essay series, Bill Moyers weighs the value of personal liberty versus the greater public health.


In the Bay Area, Transit Signs are Surprisingly Poor


from Transportation Nation:


In the Bay Area, Transit Signs are Surprisingly Poor
By Julie Caine | 03/01/2012 – 11:12 am





The Bay Area is a densely populated, complex urban environment: Seven million people, nine counties…and 26 different forms of public transportation.

And they all have their own unique, sometimes mysterious ways of guiding you through the system.

When they’re taking public transportation, some of the first things people look for are signs. A sign’s most basic function is to tell you where you are, where you’re going, and what to do next. Yet in the Bay Area, informative signs like that are in surprisingly short supply.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission–or MTC–is trying to change that. The agency’s in the process of revamping all the Bay Area’s transit signs. By the end of this year, you should see new maps, signs, and real-time transit information at 13 BART stations, a variety of Caltrain and light rail stations, the temporary TransBay Transit Center, and the three international airports. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://transportationnation.org/2012/03/01/in-the-bay-area-transit-signs-are-surprising-poor/



Bill Moyers/Michael Winship: The Risk of Contagion Nation

from Consortium News:



The Risk of Contagion Nation
March 1, 2012

Challenges to science are emerging across the political spectrum – from Christian fundamentalists on the Right to skeptics on the Left who question the inherent good of progress – with one result a growing resistance to vaccinations for children, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship note.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship


We haven’t even turned the page on the controversy over contraceptives, health care and religious freedom, when another thorny one arises involving personal conscience and public health. A flurry of stories over the past few days coincided with seeing a movie that inspires more than passing interest in their subject.

Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion came out a few months ago and was inexplicably and completely frozen out of the Oscar nominations. But it is the most plausible experience of a global pandemic plague you’re likely to see until the real thing strikes. With outstanding performances from an ensemble cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne, Contagionis stark, beautiful in its own terrifying way, and all-too-believable.

The story tracks the swift progress of a deadly airborne virus from Hong Kong to Minneapolis and Tokyo to London — from a handful of peanuts to a credit card to the cough of a stranger on a subway. Rarely does a film issue such an inescapable invitation to think: it could happen; that could be us. What would we do?

With Contagion making such a powerful impression, for several days news articles seemed to keep popping up about contagious disease and the conflict between religious beliefs and immunization. There was nothing new about the basics: All 50 states require some specific vaccinations for kids, yet all of them grant exemptions for medical reasons – say, for a child with cancer. Almost all of them grant religious exemptions. And 20 states allow exemptions for personal, moral, or other beliefs. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/01/the-risk-of-contagion-nation/



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