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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,639

Journal Archives

Goodbye toys and cards. Hello loans and bookies

Goodbye toys and cards. Hello loans and bookies
Britain's chain stores are shutting up shop, and changing the character of the high street

Charlie Cooper Thursday 18 October 2012

(Independent UK) There was a time when you could get everything you needed on your local high street – from groceries and appliances to children's toys and computer games. Nowadays, you are better off staying at home and doing it online.

The British high street has become the domain of the bookmaker and the pawnbroker – at the expense of the gift shop, the specialist store and, shoppers fear, local character.

Four years after the collapse of Woolworths, town centre chain stores are closing at a rate of 20 shops a day, as declining consumer spending and soaring commercial rents combine with the rise of internet shopping to marginalise town centre shopping precincts.

A recent snapshot of 500 UK town centres makes for worrying reading for anyone who prefers a Saturday afternoon shop to hours spent on Amazon. There have been more than 3,600 chain shop closures in the first half of this year, most of them resulting from insolvencies of major brands such as Peacocks, JJB Sports and Clintons. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/goodbye-toys-and-cards-hello-loans-and-bookies-8215751.html

Farmers, Workers, Consumers, Unite! New Visions in Food Justice

from YES! Magazine:

Farmers, Workers, Consumers, Unite! New Visions in Food Justice
How do we make sure that our food contributes to the health of our communities and ecosystems?

by Yvonne Yen Liu
posted Oct 15, 2012

Since its founding in 1996, the Community Food Security Coalition has been the leading voice for people of color and the poor in a food movement that often marginalizes them in favor of well-heeled “foodies.” This summer, the coalition announced that 2012 would be its last year of operation. The announcement left those of us in the food movement reeling.

Although the timing was not deliberate, it seemed fitting that a gathering about the future of the food justice movement, Food + Justice = Democracy, had been planned to take place just months after the coalition’s announcement.

What was next? Would private-sector solutions, such as Wal-Mart’s expansion into urban markets, pick up the mantle? Would well-known personalities in the consumer-driven foodie world, such as Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, develop solutions capable of addressing the needs of those outside of their white middle-class audience? Or would the answer come from somewhere else?

The organizer of the conference, LaDonna Redmond, was clear about her intentions. A former urban farmer in the west side of Chicago, Redmond was inspired to grow vegetables in her backyard because she was unable to buy pesticide-free food in her predominantly black and working-class neighborhood. She is now a senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/farmers-workers-consumers-unite-new-visions-food-justice

Meet the Crawfish-Peeling Guestworkers Who Inspired Walmart Walkouts

from YES! Magazine:

Meet the Crawfish-Peeling Guestworkers Who Inspired Walmart Walkouts
How a few courageous workers in small-town Louisiana sparked nationwide actions demanding better wages and working conditions for those who pick, pack, stock, and sell the mega-retailer’s products.

by Cecilia Garza
posted Oct 11, 2012

In the small town of Breaux Bridge, La., Martha Uvalle and her co-workers at C.J.'s Seafood, a Walmart supplier, faced abuses many Americans imagine only take place in poorer, faraway countries: They were forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours, with no overtime pay; threatened with beatings if their breaks lasted too long; and, on at least two occasions, locked inside the facility to work. Some fell asleep at their workstations from exhaustion.

Uvalle had heard that there were organizations that defended the rights of immigrant workers like her. In 2011, someone had mentioned a group called the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA).

But, for a year, she held on to the number and didn't call. Change seemed impossible.

So when Uvalle gave the NGA's number to her feisty co-worker, Ana Rosa Diaz, it was an act of tremendous courage. Diaz then actually called the NGA to report the working conditions at C.J.'s. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/meet-the-crawfish-peeling-guestworkers-who-inspired-walmart-walkouts

Chris Hedges: Join the Blockade of the Keystone Pipeline

from truthdig:

Join the Blockade of the Keystone Pipeline

Posted on Oct 15, 2012
By Chris Hedges

The next great battle of the Occupy movement may not take place in city parks and plazas, where the security and surveillance state is blocking protesters from setting up urban encampments. Instead it could arise in the nation’s heartland, where some ranchers, farmers and enraged citizens, often after seeing their land seized by eminent domain and their water supplies placed under mortal threat, have united with Occupiers and activists to oppose the building of the Keystone XL tar sand pipeline. They have formed an unusual coalition called Tar Sands Blockade (TSB). Centers of resistance being set up in Texas and Oklahoma and on tribal lands along the proposed route of this six-state, 1,700-mile proposed pipeline are fast becoming flashpoints in the war of attrition we have begun against the corporate state. Join them.

The XL pipeline, which would cost $7 billion and whose southern portion is under construction and slated for completion next year, is the most potent symbol of the dying order. If completed, it will pump 1.1 million barrels a day of unrefined tar sand fluid from tar sand mine fields in Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Tar sand oil is not conventional crude oil. It is a synthetic slurry that, because tar sand oil is solid in its natural state, must be laced with a deadly brew of toxic chemicals and gas condensates to get it to flow. Tar sands are boiled and diluted with these chemicals before being blasted down a pipeline at high pressure. Water sources would be instantly contaminated if there was a rupture. The pipeline would cross nearly 2,000 U.S. waterways, including the Ogallala Aquifer, source of one-third of the United States’ farmland irrigation water. And it is not a matter of if, but when, it would spill. TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline, built in 2010, leaked 12 times in its first 12 months of operation. Because the extraction process emits such a large quantity of greenhouse gases, the pipeline has been called the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet. The climate scientist James Hansen warns that successful completion of the pipeline, along with the exploitation of Canadian tar sands it would facilitate, would mean “game over for the climate.”

Keystone XL is part of the final phase of extreme exploitation by the corporate state. The corporations intend to squeeze the last vestiges of profit from an ecosystem careening toward collapse. Most of the oil that can be reached through drilling from traditional rigs is depleted. The fossil fuel industry has, in response, developed new technologies to go after dirtier, less efficient forms of energy. These technologies bring with them a dramatically heightened cost to ecosystems. They accelerate the warming of the planet. And they contaminate vital water sources. Deep-water Arctic drilling, tar sand extraction, hydraulic fracturing (or hydro-fracking) and drilling horizontally, given the cost of extraction and effects on the environment, are a form of ecological suicide.

Appealing to the corporate state, or trusting the leaders of either party to halt the assault after the election, is futile. We must immediately obstruct this pipeline or accept our surrender to forces that, in the name of profit, intend to cash in on the death throes of the planet. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/join_the_blockade_of_the_keystone_pipeline_20121015/

Is Anarchism an Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Is Anarchism an Idea Whose Time Has Come?
Anarchist thinking appears to be gaining relevance and acceptance among a larger audience.

October 13, 2012 |

It seems that everywhere, these days, people are talking about anarchism. Now Dmitry Orlov joins the discussion with a 3-part series, “In Praise of Anarchy.” Utilizing primarily the work of the 19th century Russian anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, Orlov argues that anarchy, rather than hierarchy, is the dominant pattern in nature, that hierarchical organizations ultimately end in collapse, and that the impending collapse of the capitalist industrial system presents an opportunity for the emergence of anarchism.

Orlov,(aka kollapsnik at Club Orlov ), is probably best-known for his book, Reinventing Collapse , in which he compares the collapse of the Soviet Union with the imminent collapse of the United States. Russian-born Orlov is in a unique position to make such comparisons. He immigrated to the USA when he was twelve years old, and, as an adult, made numerous trips back to the former USSR in the years immediately following the collapse of its political and economic system.

With a wry Russian wit I find immensely attractive, Orlov describes in Reinventing Collapse how people in the USSR were better positioned than are Americans for economic collapse. For example, most Soviet citizens did not own their homes; instead they lived in state-owned dwellings. When the USSR collapsed, they simply remained where they were and nobody evicted them. Compare that with the United States, where people were seduced into signing questionable mortgage agreements for outrageously priced homes, and where, since the economic crisis of 2008, 3 million have been foreclosed upon.

Similarly, few Soviet citizens owned cars, but they could take advantage of a highly developed public transportation system. Most Americans, on the other hand, are car dependent, burdened with the expense car ownership and operation entails. In the USSR, citizens used to inefficient, centrally-planned agricultural policies were already in the habit of growing some of their own food. In recent years, some Americans have wised up to this necessity, but not nearly enough. I’m constantly amazed by the number of people I meet who can’t identify common garden vegetables by their leaves. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/visions/anarchism-idea-whose-time-has-come

To Drive or Not To Drive: Two South American Countries Consider Congestion Pricing

To Drive or Not To Drive: Two South American Countries Consider Congestion Pricing
By Transportation Nation | 10/03/2012 – 3:12 pm

[font size="1"](photo by Alex E. Proimos via flickr)[/font]

(Drew Reed — This Big City) Whether they own a Prius or a Hummer, a Porsche or a Pinto, or anything in between, car owners all over the world can agree on one thing: they don’t want to pay to use the roads they drive on. User fees like toll roads, congestion pricing, or others, are almost always met with scorn. Some of the best know examples of this have been in London and New York, where despite the transit friendly culture the measures have been met with controversy. Not surprisingly, similar proposals made in more car-oriented cities have gone down in flames.

The core rationale for user fees on roadways generally falls into two categories. The first is the idea that, since roads are expensive to build and maintain, the people who directly benefit should help to pay for them. While no form of direct payment for roads is ever going to be immensely popular, this idea is generally well received. People who feel their tolls are being used for something are likely to quietly accept them.

The second rationale for road user fees is that they should be used as a mechanism to promote driving patterns that utilize limited road space and car-related infrastructure in heavily urbanized areas more efficiently. This is often met with outrage. And despite the potential benefits of such measures, some of this outrage is understandable. When people have to pay for something, they like to know what it is they’re paying for. Congestion pricing struggles to convince people it needs to exist. For as much as everyone likes to complain about traffic, they have trouble accepting that they are part of the problem, instead embracing solutions that only apply to everyone else.

This equation changes slightly when applied outside of car-saturated first world countries. A recent congestion pricing project in Santiago, Chile, calls for pay centres placed to cover all vehicle entrances to the business district on the eastern side of the city, and charge a nominal fee to all vehicles entering the district that don’t belong to residents or workers. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://transportationnation.org/2012/10/03/to-drive-or-not-to-drive-two-south-american-countries-consider-congestion-pricing/

Security increased in Shanghai after Federer death threat

BEIJING (Reuters) - Shanghai Masters organizers have increased security for the tournament starting on Saturday after an online threat to decapitate world number one Roger Federer, the Shanghai Youth Daily newspaper reported on Friday.

"On October 6 I plan to assassinate Federer in order to exterminate tennis," read a post by "Blue Cat Polytheistic Leader 07" on a Federer fan website on September 25, the newspaper's website said.

The paper said the post was accompanied by a "very scary" computer modified image showing a decapitated Federer.

Federer may go directly from the airport's VIP arrival hall to his hotel as part of the precautions, Yang Yibin, the tournament director, told the paper in an interview earlier in the week. It said Shanghai police were investigating. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/security-increased-shanghai-federer-death-threat-120806334--ten.html

We’re No. 1! (In climate denier coverage)

from Grist:

We’re No. 1! (In climate denier coverage)
By Stephen Lacey

Cross-posted from Climate Progress

America is unique when it comes to giving a platform to climate deniers and skeptics.

According to a new analysis of data released last year, American newspapers are far more likely to publish uncontested claims from climate deniers, many of whom challenge whether the planet is warming at all and are “almost exclusively found” in the U.S. media. The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers were trying to answer three important questions: Is climate denial and disinformation as prevalent in the newspapers outside America? Is it mostly right-wing papers publishing these pieces? And what types of skeptics are being published in different countries?

In all three categories, the U.S. emerged as a unique leader in promoting climate denial in the press. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/climate-energy/were-no-1-in-climate-denier-coverage/

Americans can be indefinitely detained - NDAA supported by court

Published on Oct 3, 2012 by RTAmerica

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that the US government can indefinitely detain anyone under the National Defense Authorization Act. This comes as a blow to the ruling that was given earlier this year, when US District Court Judge Catherine Forrest ruled that the NDAA was unconstitutional. So what does this mean for journalists and why was it overturned? Carl Mayer, attorney for The Mayer Law Group, joins us with the latest.

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