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Gender: Female
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 01:04 PM
Number of posts: 85,373

Journal Archives

Washtenaw County asks judge to freeze big discrimination verdict while it pursues appeal


Washtenaw County is appealing a nearly $1.2 million verdict in favor of a Muslim man who said he was called a terrorist and repeatedly passed over for promotions. The verdict was returned in 2014 but it took more than a year to settle post-trial issues in the case of Ali Aboubaker.

Detroit federal Judge Denise Page Hood declined to overturn the result. Washtenaw County now wants her to freeze the case while it appeals the award.

Aboubaker worked for Washtenaw County for 17 years until 2008. The native of Tunisia says he was demoted and bypassed for promotions despite having engineering skills and college degrees.

Aboubaker says the treatment got worse after 9/11. The county denies any bias and says Aboubaker wasn't qualified to be drain inspector.

This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind

Eleven years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry, the Supreme Court on April 28 will hear arguments about whether to extend that right nationwide. The case comes amid a wave of gay marriage legalization: 28 states since 2013, and 36 overall. Such widespread acceptance in a short amount of time isn't a phenomenon unique to gay marriage. Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event—often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity—triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.

We looked at six big issues—interracial marriage, prohibition, women’s suffrage, abortion, same-sex marriage, and recreational marijuana — to show how this has happened in the past, and may again in the very near future.

GRAPHICS AT LINK: http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-pace-of-social-change/

How Two Billionaires Are Remaking Detroit in Their Flawed Image


Jerome Robinson only got to live in the home of his dreams for five years before he was told to leave... when a Section 8-funded apartment in a Downtown building for the elderly opened up in 2007, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought, This is where I’m going to live until I die,” Robinson said. “I have bad eyes. I can’t drive. But I could go anywhere in the city I wanted from there. The bus was down the street, my bank was around the corner.”

Downtown Detroit is home to dozens of vacant buildings, but in 2013 developers set their eyes on 1214 Griswold, where Robinson and more than 100 other seniors lived. The developers, Broder & Sachse, wanted to convert the building into luxury condos. They told the residents they had to be out within the year.

As Detroit’s government has been hollowed out by forces beyond its control—emergency management, a fleeing tax base, cuts to federal funding—a small group of rich investors have descended on the city, filling in public sector gaps with personal funds, and remaking Detroit in their image. On top of this, local politicians—like Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan and Republican Governor Rick Snyder—as well as national media, have become enamored with these men, painting them as philanthropists on a mission to rescue Detroit.

Dan Gilbert, billionaire chairman of the mortgage company Quicken Loans, owns over 70 buildings Downtown and has been heralded as Detroit’s “new Superhero” and “missionary.” Mike Ilitch, the billionaire owner of Little Caesars Pizza, convinced the state to give him hundreds of millions for a new hockey arena because he has the “boldest” and “most innovative” plans for Detroit in decades (not because he’s grifting a poor state for personal profit).

If you read these stories, and only these stories, you’d be convinced that just months after emerging from a bankruptcy in which city workers had their pensions slashed and city department budgets were cut even further to the bone, Detroit is back. But beyond the new and restored gleaming skyscrapers of Downtown Detroit, and the puff pieces they inspire, is a grimmer reality. The rest of Detroit has become a wasteland. Areas like Jefferson Chalmers, Delray, and 8 Mile have been ravaged by foreclosures on houses with mortgages that banks should’ve never made; pockmarked by foreclosures on houses owned by people who owe just a few hundred dollars in taxes to the county, which is just now beginning to clamp down on past-due bills, threatening residents with evictions; and slowly left to rot by corporations who couldn’t figure out how to pay people a living wage and remain in business. As Downtown and Midtown gleam and bustle, residents of Detroit’s outer neighborhoods are fleeing. And instead of helping these people, the city seems to be courting those who need help the least—the Gilberts and the Ilitches, moneyed barons who can afford to buy up Detroit without regard for the people who made the Motor City what it is.

What Detroit is doing is not about indifference to the poor, but to the active support of projects that stand to benefit the rich the most. MORE

Peter Moskowitz is a writer based in New York. He’s writing a book about gentrification.

10 things I want to teach my autistic son before he goes to college


Since he was old enough to walk, my son, Archer, has gone in circles. He was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 2; his earliest symptoms included a tendency to spin his toys. When he became ambulatory, Archer started spinning his own body — not in a "whirl around until dizzy" way, but in quick jumps and turns, while pacing back and forth and talking to himself in a barely audible singsong.

Archer is 13 now, taller than his mother, and he's still half-walking and half-running in tight ovals, carrying on hushed conversations with himself. At first glance, most anyone would see Archer as a typical teen. In the back seat of my car on the way to school, he sprawls out, iPad or iPhone in hand, looking like a loosely assembled collection of limbs. Then he hops out, straps on his backpack, and does an awkward half-sprint to the junior high courtyard, in the unselfconsciously uncool way common to so many of the autistic and people with Asperger's.

A few weeks ago I picked him up after class, and we went through our regular routine, where he tells me, period by period, what he did that day. One advantage to having a communicative, detail-oriented autistic child is that my wife and I hear a lot more about what happens at school than most parents of teenagers do...

Here's number one: at some point I have to tell him he can't pace and spin and mumble in public or people will think he's crazy....Autistic spectrum disorders present as a collection of tics and social handicaps, which vary from person to person. The severely autistic are often nonverbal, and can spend hours each day rocking back and forth and humming, in their own worlds. But even the "high-functioning" — like my son — exercise self-stimulating behavior called "stimming." Some flap their hands, or fidget with a favorite object. Others make guttural noises, producing vibrations in their heads that drown out other sounds.


Ann Arbor Priest confirms on social media post that parish will not hold further gun classes


Concealed pistol classes at Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor have been cancelled, according to the parish priest.

Rev. Ed Fride is still not talking to the media but he made several posts on Facebook, confirming that he would follow the directive of the Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing.

Fride encouraged parishioners to arm themselves after the recent threat of violence at a school near the church. He followed up his message from the pulpit with a 7-page follow-up that was sent by email to members of the congregation.

Holding the class on church property had generated some controversy within the parish community. This week local, national and international media picked up on the story. USA Today featured the Detroit Free Press story. The Daily Mail of London has a big splash online as well.

Fride did not respond to my phone call or email yesterday but a statement attributed to Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing late Monday afternoon made it clear that Father Ed had overstepped his bounds. In a post on his Facebook page Tuesday, Fride joked he might become a cloistered monk by sending an application to the Carthusians.

Then later in the day, he posted this message:

I would like to make the following statement in relationship to the CPL controversy currently in the media:

The Lord Jesus has blessed us greatly in calling Bishop Earl Boyea to serve us as the fifth Bishop of Lansing. I have been and continue to be very grateful for his ministry, especially his great work in leading the Diocese in the fulfillment of the Holy Fathers' call to the New Evangelization that all people would hear the message of the saving love of the Lord Jesus Christ. As our Bishop, he is responsible for setting policy for our parishes and he has decided and publically stated that CPL classes are not appropriate on Church property. That is his call to make and we will obviously follow his policy on this and on all decisions he makes as he shepherds this Diocese. No parish is an island unto itself and no priest operates on his own. I am his priest and I will continue to serve him to the best of my ability."

Fr. Ed Fride


Ah, no. The scientists and engineers could foresee the problems just fine

But they aren't the Deciders.

It's the Bean Counters, the Profiteers, that make the safety decisions to "cut this" and "cheapen that" and "eliminate safeguards". With sufficient lying, and payoffs to the politicians and the press, bad things happen.

Too many times the REAL Crooks pass the blame off on the technical staff, but it isn't so. (Disclosure: I'm an engineer by training and genetics from a long line of the technically gifted. I have seen this blame-shifting in my own life, and that of my family)

After all, do you ever hear of GOOD things happening "accidentally"? Only when the Profiteers, crooked Politicians, and paid-off Press don't have a finger in the pie....and the People, the engineers and the scientists get to make the decisions.

Mailman who landed gyrocopter at Capitol sent back to Florida, barred from D.C.


The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said.

Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation.

He was released on his own recognizance Thursday and will be placed on home detention in Florida, prosecutors said...

Well, at least he isn't lying in a pool of his own blood on Pennsylvania Avenue...

Prop. 1 is a "Soak the Poor" Proposition

the effects of sale taxes are always regressive, despite the exemption of food. Poor people pay the freight, not those wealthy enough to afford it without suffering.

And the deception employed: only a portion (less than half, I believe) of the money raised goes to the roads, and some to the schools, and the rest runs through ratholes into special interest pockets.

Furthermore...the first thing to suffer in an economic downturn is the sales tax revenues. So this is a cheap way to look like they are fixing a problem, when in fact, they are making it worse.

The PROPER way to fund any government, especially in a putative democracy, is through progressive taxes on current income (and only that portion which is above a reasonable standard of living), and estate taxes to prevent the formation and growth of an economic aristocracy.

Note how the GOP is hell-bent on eliminating both these funding sources....so the DeVos family can rest easy, like the Fords and such before them....

Hantz Woodlands to plant 5,000 more trees on once-blighted lots in Detroit


More than 1,400 volunteers last May planted 15,000 saplings in a desolate section of Detroit once consumed with blight. This year, the future inner-city forest will expand to include 5,000 more...The land, nearly 180 acres, is a collection of abandoned lots last owned by the city of Detroit following years of foreclosure. Hantz Woodlands, with the blessing of Gov. Rick Snyder, purchased the land, about 1,300 parcels, for just over $500,000 in 2013. Hantz Woodlands cleared the lots, removed debris, overgrowth, trash, tires, more than 50 rotting homes and is now planting trees...

"Join us on May 9 as we continue to transform blight to beauty on Detroit's lower east side with the planting of 5,000 tulip poplar trees," the Facebook page says. "In addition to tree planting, there will be live music, equipment demonstrations, face painting, educational tours and complimentary food."

Volunteers planted about 20 acres in 2014 and will plant another five this year, says Hantz Farms President Mike Score. Hantz Woodlands is the brainchild of business mogul John Hantz, a Detroit resident and the CEO of Hantz Financial in Southfield who said he was sick of looking all of the blight driving to and from his home in Indian Village. The project faced some adversity early on from opponents who saw it as a speculative land grab, but seems to have won over many, including Mayor Mike Duggan and, perhaps most importantly, numerous residents who have told MLive over the last two years their neighborhoods look better than they have in a long time. Score said the for-profit company plans to sell the lumber produced in a couple decades to offset maintenance costs. It will also likely benefit in the long term from increasing land values.

The company mows 180 acres bi-weekly and has about 80 acres left to totally clear in preparation for planting, Score said Friday. He said the plan is to grow the trees for about 10 years in tight rows,causing them to grow taller and straighter, and then "thin" them by transplanting some to other open lots. Score believes community support will continue with the second annual planting event.

"We don't have any goals, we just want people to come out and have a good time," he said. "I think we'll have more than we had last year.

"It wouldn't surprise me if we had about 2,000."


Weekend Economists in the Market for a Change April 17-19, 2015

Well! What a week it was!

I'm talking about the weather, of course. The rest of the world went to hell in a handbasket, but Spring has returned to Michigan, at least the southern part. I saw the swans flying in; they nest on our ponds annually. The Daffodils are in bloom, and the birds are singing away. Ground crews are spiffing up the joint, and I've taken the plastic sheeting off the windows!

I even turned off the heat one night, but the next day was cloudy so there was no solar gain and I needed to turn it back on at night. It's off again, though!

Anyway, let's talk about the market--the Black Market. A Wikipedia definition would be in order:

A black market or underground economy is a market in which goods or services are traded illegally. The key distinction of a black market trade is that the transaction itself is illegal. The goods or services may or may not themselves be illegal to own, or to trade through other, legal channels. Because the transactions are illegal, the market itself is forced to operate outside the formal economy that is supported by the established state power. Common motives for operating in black markets are to trade contraband, avoid taxes, or skirt price controls. Typically the totality of such activity is referred to with the definite article as a complement to the official economies, by market for such goods and services, e.g. "the black market in bush meat".

The black market is distinct from the grey market, in which commodities are distributed through channels which, while legal, are unofficial, unauthorized, or unintended by the original manufacturer, and the white market.

The black market is considered a subset of the informal economy, of which 1.8 billion people worldwide are employed.

The literature on the black market has not established a common terminology and has instead offered many synonyms including: subterranean; hidden; grey; shadow; informal; clandestine; illegal; unobserved; unreported; unrecorded; second; parallel and black.

There is no single underground economy; there are many. These underground economies are omnipresent, existing in market oriented as well as in centrally planned nations, be they developed or developing. Those engaged in underground activities circumvent, escape or are excluded from the institutional system of rules, rights, regulations and enforcement penalties that govern formal agents engaged in production and exchange. Different types of underground activities are distinguished according to the particular institutional rules that they violate. Five specific underground economies can be identified:

  1. criminal drugs
  2. the illegal economy
  3. the unreported economy
  4. the unrecorded economy
  5. the informal economy

The "illegal economy" consists of the income produced by those economic activities pursued in violation of legal statutes defining the scope of legitimate forms of commerce. Illegal economy participants engage in the production and distribution of prohibited goods and services, such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and prostitution.

The "unreported economy" consists of those economic activities that circumvent or evade the institutionally established fiscal rules as codified in the tax code. A summary measure of the unreported economy is the amount of income that should be reported to the tax authority but is not so reported. A complementary measure of the unreported economy is the "tax gap", namely the difference between the amount of tax revenues due the fiscal authority and the amount of tax revenue actually collected. In the U.S. unreported income is estimated to be $2 trillion resulting in a "tax gap" of $450–$500billion.

The "unrecorded economy" consists of those economic activities that circumvent the institutional rules that define the reporting requirements of government statistical agencies. A summary measure of the unrecorded economy is the amount of unrecorded income, namely the amount of income that should (under existing rules and conventions) be recorded in national accounting systems (e.g. National Income and Product Accounts) but is not. Unrecorded income is a particular problem in transition countries that switched from a socialist accounting system to UN standard national accounting. New methods have been proposed for estimating the size of the unrecorded (non-observed) economy. But there is still little consensus concerning the size of the unreported economies of transition countries.

The "informal economy" comprises those economic activities that circumvent the costs and are excluded from the benefits and rights incorporated in the laws and administrative rules covering property relationships, commercial licensing, labor contracts, torts, financial credit and social security systems. A summary measure of the informal economy is the income generated by economic agents that operate informally. The informal sector is defined as the part of an economy that is not taxed, monitored by any form of government, or included in any gross national product (GNP), unlike the formal economy. In developed countries the informal sector is characterized by unreported employment. This is hidden from the state for tax, social security or labour law purposes but is legal in all other aspects. On the other hand, the term black market can be used in reference to a specific part of the economy in which contraband is traded.

Well, that looks like 10 lbs. of **** in a 2 lb. bag, to me.

Let's see if we can tease out the "allegedly illegal" from the "absolutely immoral" and the "Darwinian stupid". Let's find the contracts, express or implied, that underlie "legality" and see if anything is permissible at all....

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