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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,624

Journal Archives

MAX, Portland Streetcar Sidelined in Heavy Rainstorm

OR: MAX, Portland Streetcar Sidelined in Heavy Rainstorm


Nov. 02--Leaf-clogged storm drains and flooded streets brought parts of Portland's transit network to its knees on Saturday.

Only one of TriMet's MAX lines could get through downtown Portland to the east side in the worst of the storm, mostly because of a section of track that was under several feet of water. Lines still operating were delayed by as much as 45 minutes.

The effect continues into the work week, as more than a dozen trains have been taken out of service for inspections and repair.

The Portland Streetcar, meanwhile, was shut down for an hour and a half on Saturday because of standing water on all three of its routes.

"In 15 years, I don't recall this ever happening," said Julie Gustafson, a Portland Streetcar spokeswoman. "There were so many leaves on the ground all at the same time, and then the monsoon rains." ...................(more)


So “the Sky is Falling” on California Manufacturing

So “the Sky is Falling” on California Manufacturing(?!)
by Wolf Richter • November 3, 2015

[font color="blue"]“October is, for unknown reasons, the worst month in memory.”[/font]

A month ago, the Institute of Applied Research, which publishes the Purchasing Managers’ Index for the Inland Empire – with about 4 million people, the third-most populous region in California – reported: “We are not yet ready to say that ‘the sky is falling.’”

Back then, they were lamenting that the Inland Empire PMI had dropped below 50 for the second month in a row (below 50 = contraction), hitting 44.1 in September, after having already hit 46.6 in August. But the sky wasn’t falling “yet,” the report pointed out, because, given how volatile the index is, “it takes three months of figures below 50 before a new trend (in this case a trend of contraction rather than growth) is established.”

Alas, on Monday, the IAR released the Inland Empire PMI for October, and it was sharply below 50 for the third month in a row, this time at 45.9.

So is the IAR now “ready to say that ‘the sky is falling?’” We don’t know. The authors didn’t specifically address the issue. We only know that the index is falling – and a lot: back in April, it was still flying high at 60. ................(more)


Kudos to The Intercept for going after the privacy/surveillance issue hard

Facing Growing Encryption, Law Enforcement Recommends More Informants

Court Rejects ACLU’s Plea to End Collection of Telephone Data Early

Privacy Groups Challenge Director of National Intelligence to Uphold Transparency Promise

Tech Companies and Civil Liberties Groups Force Obama To Weigh In On Encryption Debate

Facing Growing Encryption, Law Enforcement Recommends More Informants

(The Intercept) As the widespread use of encryption starts to make surveillance more challenging, one of the nation’s fusion centers has a proposed solution: More informants.

That’s the message behind a new document created by the Wisconsin Statewide Information Center, a designated intelligence fusion center, with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The document, which was obtained by The Intercept, is marked For Official Use Only and titled “Going Dark – Covert Messaging Applications and Law Enforcement Implications.”

The document, dated Sept. 29, 2015, appears to serve as a primer for law enforcement on encryption, examining various encrypted messaging services, such as Silent Circle, Telegram and Wickr. It notes that increasing “public awareness of government surveillance has contributed to the rising consumer demand for covert messaging apps.”

FBI Director James Comey has blasted the growing use of encryption in recent months, claiming simultaneously that it presented an opportunity for terrorists, while also suggesting the FBI could thwart efforts by those people were “going dark.” ..............(more)


US Is Still Stonewalling an Independent Review of Why It Bombed a Hospital

US Is Still Stonewalling an Independent Review of Why It Bombed a Hospital

Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00
By Nazish Kolsy, Foreign Policy in Focus | News Analysis

"Even war has rules," said Doctors Without Borders head Dr. Joanne Liu as part of her response to the devastating US bombing of the organization's hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan earlier this October.

After a series of different explanations and excuses - four separate accounts of the incident over the first four days, by The Guardian's count - the United States still hasn't provided a concrete explanation as to why and how the hospital was targeted, killing 22 doctors and patients. The attack was the worst on any Doctors Without Borders hospital in its 44 years of operating.

But it wasn't all that different from other recent US attacks on civilian infrastructure. Since as far back as 1991, the US has been "accidentally" blowing up medical and humanitarian facilities in a range of places, resulting in high civilian casualties and other "collateral damage."

To name but a few, in 1991 the US targeted an air raid shelter in Baghdad, killing 408 Iraqi civilians. (A US general claimed the shelter was "an active command-and-control center." In 1998 the Clinton administration attacked the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, which the US claimed was associated with the bin Laden network and was "involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons." As a result, according to The Intercept, "tens of thousands of people have suffered and died" from "treatable diseases" in the country since then. In 2001, the US attacked the complex that housed the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul - not once but twice, destroying storage warehouses that held food and supplies for refugees.

The incident in Kunduz, unfortunately, just adds to the list.

While past incidents have often failed to elicit serious calls for accountability, Doctors Without Borders - also known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF - responded with an outraged press release demanding an independent, impartial investigation of the incident. Appalled by the lack of responsibility taken by either the Afghan or US government, MSF characterized the strike as an attack on the Geneva Conventions. "This cannot be tolerated," the statement explained. "These Conventions govern the rules of war and were established to protect civilians in conflicts - including patients, medical workers, and facilities. They bring some humanity into what is otherwise an inhumane situation." .............(more)


NYC: Baby, Baby, Where Did Our Love (or Second Avenue Subway Money) Go?

(WNYC) The wrangling over how to fund the MTA's five-year capital construction plan was prolonged and painful. The prospect of progress on the repeatedly delayed Second Avenue Subway served as both carrot and stick to get the city to give more money to the MTA. But when the final plan was unveiled Wednesday, funding for the project had shrunk to a third of its size.

In May, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast wrote a letter to a deputy mayor, asking the city for more money. Prendergast suggested that $1 billion would be earmarked for phase 2 of the East Side line, bringing it north from 96th Street up to 125th Street.

In July, Prendergast sent another letter, also suggesting the MTA needed that money to complete the 2nd phase.

Then, last month, when the city still hadn't ponied up, Prendergast turned from coaxing to threatening and said the agency was preparing to cut the "urban portion" of the program. (Prendergast later walked that statement back.) ...............(more)


More Denial, More Problems: UN Predicts Millions of Climate Refugees to Come

More Denial, More Problems: UN Predicts Millions of Climate Refugees to Come

Monday, 02 November 2015 09:57
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

[font size="1"]Cars drive through flooded streets in Miami, Florida, in an undated photo. (Photo: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com)[/font]

This year continues on pace to become, by far, the hottest year ever recorded. Thus, it is obvious why the dramatic impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) are becoming increasingly prevalent and obvious.

A recent NASA report reveals that the ice covering Greenland is melting faster than previously thought. If all the ice in Greenland melts completely, it alone would raise the global sea level by 23 feet.

Global sea level increases due to ACD are already a key factor in why we are seeing so many instances of increased coastal flooding. The record flooding in South Carolina is an example of what scientists have been warning us about for quite some time: ACD is causing more moisture to become absorbed into the atmosphere as it warms, leading to record rainfalls, increasingly powerful storms and, hence, record flooding. What happened in South Carolina, which is now the sixth 1,000-year flooding event to happen in the United States since 2010, provides a clue about the nonlinear abrupt climate disruption the planet is now experiencing.

In fact, a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows, stunningly, that 400 US cities are already going to be swamped by rising sea levels no matter what mitigation measures are taken to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. The study also showed that New York City could be unlivable for this reason in a matter of decades. (This tool can be used to help you determine the fate of your city, if you live anywhere near the coast.) ................(more)


Chris Hedges: Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism

from truthdig:

Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism

Posted on Nov 1, 2015
By Chris Hedges

Sheldon Wolin, our most important contemporary political theorist, died Oct. 21 at the age of 93. In his books “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism” and “Politics and Vision,” a massive survey of Western political thought that his former student Cornel West calls “magisterial,” Wolin lays bare the realities of our bankrupt democracy, the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new and terrifying configuration of corporate power he calls “inverted totalitarianism.”

Wendy Brown, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and another former student of Wolin’s, said in an email to me: “Resisting the monopolies on left theory by Marxism and on democratic theory by liberalism, Wolin developed a distinctive—even distinctively American—analysis of the political present and of radical democratic possibilities. He was especially prescient in theorizing the heavy statism forging what we now call neoliberalism, and in revealing the novel fusions of economic with political power that he took to be poisoning democracy at its root.”

Wolin throughout his scholarship charted the devolution of American democracy and in his last book, “Democracy Incorporated,” details our peculiar form of corporate totalitarianism. “One cannot point to any national institution[s] that can accurately be described as democratic,” he writes in that book, “surely not in the highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-biased judicial and penal system, or, least of all, the media.”

Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent. ...............(more)


The Starter Apartment Is Nearly Extinct in San Francisco and New York

(Bloomberg) So you’re looking for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, and you have about $2,000 a month to spend. You know the city’s median rent is more than $4,200 a month, but median means half the apartments cost less. Surely there are larger, more expensive apartments pulling up the midpoint.

Perhaps. But there’s a reason Google employees are sleeping in their trucks.

Ninety-one percent of one-bedroom apartments in San Francisco cost more than $2,000 a month. Perhaps more surprising is the number of apartments that occupy the high end of rental rates: In Manhattan, a fifth of one-bedrooms rent for more than $4,000.

Those figures come from a report on Wednesday from Trulia, which pulled data from rental listings on its website. While we already knew these were expensive places to live, this view of the vertiginous rents in San Francisco, New York, and a handful of other cities paints a somewhat more useful picture of housing affordability.

For instance, the median rent for a two-bedroom in Boston costs $145 a month more than a two-bedroom in Washington, D.C. Only 13 percent of Boston two-bedrooms cost less than $2,000 a month, compared with 23 percent in the nation’s capital. .............................(more)


How Creative Finance Launched Worker-Owned Co-ops In Post-Sandy New York

from YES! Magazine:

In November of 2012, a month after Hurricane Sandy hit Far Rockaway, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, 10,000 residents were still living without power. The neighborhood, located on a peninsula less than a mile wide, with Jamaica Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, was devastated by the storm and more than half of its local businesses remained closed long after Sandy struck.

“It looked like a nuclear bomb had hit. I’d never seen that kind of destruction before,” said Henry Lezama, a construction worker and Far Rockaway resident of 14 years. He took his family to a local church where others had gathered for aid and shelter. That’s where he met organizers from Occupy Sandy and The Working World, an organization that provides low-interest loans and technical support to cooperatives. “They were talking about ways to restore the community,” said Lezama. “They said they could help us start a co-op.”

Lezama was hesitant about the idea at first. He had already attempted to start his own construction business once, but found the paperwork and bureaucratic process difficult and expensive to navigate, leaving him unlicensed and with a limited pool of customers.

A co-op, however, held the promise of job stability and better wages; he would get a say in how many hours the co-op took on and his co-owners would be people from his own community. The Working World gave him and four others the start-up money. They used it to start a construction cooperative called Roca Mia.


[font size="4"]A different form of finance[/font]

Martin refers to traditional lending as “extractive finance”: a system where lenders benefit from projects they are financing without any responsibility to the borrowers. It’s a way for banks to protect themselves from risk; but for new businesses on shaky legs, it means putting everything on the line.

That’s what Martin saw in the early 2000s, when Argentina’s economy had taken a nosedive. A recession had driven out investment and closed the doors of many small businesses and factories. At the worst point, unemployment rose to 20.8 percent. Left without jobs, workers across the country decided to take matters into their own hands and reopen businesses as cooperatives. ................(more)


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