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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,646

Journal Archives

Over A Quarter of the Streetcar Systems Taking Shape In the U.S. Are in Midwest Cities



According to the American Public Transportation Association, a public transit advocacy group, there are more than 90 cities in the United States that are actively considering implementing streetcar systems. Of those 90, over a quarter are in the Midwest. Though all in different stages of planning, development, and construction, a handful are well underway, with service beginning as early as 2016.


Kansas City and Cincinnati are both in the process of live testing their newly manufactured cars, while Milwaukee debates expanding its current plans.

Though hundreds of cities across the country once had streetcars, by the 1960s most had been dismantled with the rise of the private automobile and public bus systems. The current renaissance of streetcar construction is often attributed to cities interested in bolstering downtown transit options, and encouraging more ecologically sustainable modes of transportation.

Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may be the first of the new Midwest streetcar lines to open in early 2016. Dubbed the RideKC Streetcar, the light blue electric trolleys will services a 2.2-mile street along Main St. The system will have four cars running between 16 stops for 18 hours a day. Similarly to streetcars of the past, electricity will be drawn from overhead wires. Unlike past services, the new cars will be wi-fi enabled and free to ride. This first leg of construction is being positioned as a first step in a much larger plan to link the entire Kansas City region with multi-model integrated transit system.

[font size="1"]DETROIT’S M-1 RAIL (M-1 RAIL)[/font]

Detroit’s new streetcar system will be unique in that it was masterminded by a private non-profit organization. The M-1 Rail, to open by 2017, draws on the economic power of small and large businesses along its route, philanthropic institutions, and a close tie with city government to realize a complex funding and administrative system for the public-private venture. At one point the project was envisioned to expand to a 9 mile route, with more involvement from regional transit partnerships. After multiple feasibility studies it was found that, for economic reason, the 3.3 mile current route was more viable, with possibilities of expansion in the near future. .................(more)


TPP Threatens Security and Safety by Locking Down U.S. Policy on Source Code Audit

from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:


TPP Threatens Security and Safety by Locking Down U.S. Policy on Source Code Audit

Multiple recent reports on serious security vulnerabilities in cable modems and routers paint a dire picture of the state of security of the devices that millions of users depend upon to connect to the Internet. Such vulnerabilities can be exploited to disable our access, snoop on our personal information, or launch malicious attacks on third parties. Other devices that are equally important for our security, or even to our physical health and safety—such as home alarm systems and, terrifyingly, a cardio server used in hospitals—have also been the subject of recent vulnerability disclosures.

One tool that security researchers can use to more quickly uncover and eliminate such vulnerabilities is having access to the source code of the software embedded in these devices. Of course, that can usually only be done if the source code is made available to them by the supplier. Many router manufacturers do make at least some of their devices' source code available, and often they do so because they are legally compelled to do this by the terms of the GNU General Public License, which applies to some of the core software upon which such devices are frequently based.

But that's not the only way that the manufacturers of critical devices could be compelled to release their code for public or peer review. There's also the option that a law or regulation could be made requiring the disclosure of such code, perhaps as a condition of the licensing of the products under applicable law. In fact, in October, 260 cybersecurity experts called upon the Federal Communications Commission to impose just such a requirement.

The TPP's Ban on Code Audit

Which brings us to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement—which would prohibit such open source or code audit mandates being introduced in the future. Article 14.17 of the text of the Electronic Commerce chapter provides, “No Party shall require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition for the import, distribution, sale or use of such software, or of products containing such software, in its territory.” .................(more)


Clinton Voices Confidence in Rahm Emanuel as Chicago Mayor

Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said she still has confidence in the embattled mayor of the city where she was born: Rahm Emanuel of Chicago.

"I do," Clinton told reporters Friday evening in Fort Dodge, Iowa. "He loves Chicago and I'm confident that he's going to do everything he can to get to the bottom of these issues and take whatever measures are necessary to remedy them."

Earlier this week, Clinton called for an independent federal inquiry into the Chicago Police Department's tactics following the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white police officer. That position had initially puts her at odds with Emanuel, until he relented.

The city has been engulfed in turmoil following the release last week of a video showing the teenager being shot at repeatedly last year, with many of the bullets unleashed after he was already on the ground. ..............(more)


Keiser Report: Modern financial system vs flying toilet

Published on Dec 3, 2015

Check Keiser Report website for more: http://www.maxkeiser.com/

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the flying toilet that is Wall Street where rather than have their bad debts stink up their home, bankers package the toxic garbage (or ‘sacks of bleep’ as Goldman Sachs called it) into derivatives which are hurled into the furthest, deepest pension and passive investment funds around the world. In the second half, Max continues his interview of journalist and author, Nick Kochan, about ISIS - the most well financed terrorist organisation ever. They look at the role of Turkey in the terrorist oil business before moving on to look at the banking fraud sector.

Court Ruling Against Chicago Sheriff Proves Thuggish Anti-WikiLeaks Blockade Was Unconstitutional

(The Intercept) The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued an excellent written ruling on Monday that has broad implications for rights of free speech and political activism in the U.S. The court ruled that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart violated the First Amendment rights of Backpage.com, an online classified ad site, by pressuring Visa and MasterCard to prohibit payments to the site on the ground that the sheriff dislikes some of the site’s “adult” (i.e. sex) ads, which he believes promote prostitution. Writing for the court, Judge Richard Posner explained that Sheriff Dart previously attempted to prosecute Craigslist for such sex ads and failed, and thus decided to destroy Backpage using a different strategy:

Noting the serious harm to an entity from having a public official suffocate its sources of revenue not through prosecution but extra-judicial coercion, the court ordered the sheriff immediately to cease the threatening behavior and to notify Visa and MasterCard of the ruling, explaining that “the loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”

Beyond the positive outcome in this specific case — What kind of person would become sheriff of Chicago and then choose to spend his time worrying about adult sex ads? — the 7th Circuit’s ruling is crucial for protecting free speech rights generally. That’s because corrupt public officials have realized that they can abuse their power to pressure corporations to “suffocate” private actors whom they dislike but who are breaking no laws.

The most notorious, most dangerous case was in late 2010, when Joe Lieberman blatantly abused his power as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to implicitly threaten and coerce companies like Amazon to terminate website hosting and payment processing services to WikiLeaks, which had just published the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and diplomatic cables. That quickly led other companies, including Visa, MasterCard, Bank of America and PayPal, to terminate credit card processing for the group, driving them close to bankruptcy. In other words, Joe Lieberman almost completely destroyed a media and political organization group he disliked not through prosecution but with nothing more than thuggish threats to the companies that serviced it. .................(more)


U.S. First Shields Its Torturers and War Criminals From Prosecution, Now Officially Honors Them

(The Intercept) As vice president, Dick Cheney was a prime architect of the worldwide torture regime implemented by the U.S. government (which extended far beyond waterboarding), as well as the invasion and destruction of Iraq, which caused the deaths of at least 500,000 people and more likely over a million. As such, he is one of the planet’s most notorious war criminals.

President Obama made the decision in early 2009 to block the Justice Department from criminally investigating and prosecuting Cheney and his fellow torturers, as well as to protect them from foreign investigations and even civil liability sought by torture victims. Obama did that notwithstanding a campaign decree that even top Bush officials are subject to the rule of law and, more importantly, notwithstanding a treaty signed in 1984 by Ronald Reagan requiring that all signatory states criminally prosecute their own torturers. Obama’s immunizing Bush-era torturers converted torture from a global taboo and decades-old crime into a reasonable, debatable policy question, which is why so many GOP candidates are now openly suggesting its use.

But now, the Obama administration has moved from legally protecting Bush-era war criminals to honoring and gushing over them in public. Yesterday, the House of Representatives unveiled a marble bust of former Vice President Cheney, which — until a person of conscience vandalizes or destroys it — will reside in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol. ..................(more)


Chris Hedges and Kevin Zeese: TPP -- The Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History

Published on Nov 16, 2015

In this episode of Days of Revolt, host Chris Hedges and organizer Kevin Zeese break down the terms of the Trans­Pacific Partnership (TPP). The two deconstruct how the TPP and other associated trade deals like TiSA and TTIP, if approved, will lead to the irreversible privatization of public services, the dismantling of people’s judiciary rights, and the further corporatization of pharmaceuticals, labor, and natural resources. Zeese highlights the importance of direct action in combatting these injustices, specifically detailing upcoming demonstrations he has organized with PopularResistance.


Rahm Emanuel, Laquan McDonald and Black Rebellion in Chicago

Rahm Emmanuel, Laquan McDonald and Black Rebellion in Chicago

Beneath a carefully constructed pretense of concern for racial justice, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long been a dedicated corporatist “law and order” enemy of Black America. During his time as a top political operative in the arch-neoliberal Bill Clinton White House, the notorious bully Emanuel (later to be nicknamed “Rahmbo”) was a driving force behind the 1994 federal “three strikes” Clinton crime bill.

That draconian measure helped make Bill Clinton “the incarceration president” and contributed to a significant increase in the monumental hyper-imprisonment and criminal marking of Black Americans. Among other terrible things, the law put 100,000 more officers on the streets, allocated $10 billion for new prison construction, and eliminated Pell Grant funding for inmates pursuing college degrees while in prison.

Prior to that outrage, Emanuel joined up with Bill Daley to lead Clinton’s passage of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) – a critical investor rights measure that helped capital drain millions of jobs away from industrial regions where impoverished Black populations desperately needed paid employment.

NAFTA-encouraged deindustrialization notwithstanding, Emanuel was a leading force behind Clinton’s vicious 1996 “welfare reform.” The “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act’s” elimination of poor families’ former entitlement to basic family cash assistance has wreaked havoc on Black families stuck in jobless ghettoes ever since.

As Barack Obama’s original White House chief of staff, Emanuel consistently steered policy rightward, towards the interests of the nation’s predominantly white 1% and contrary to those of America’s disproportionately nonwhite lower and working class. ..................(more)


‘I Put in White Tenants’: The Grim, Racist (and Likely Illegal) Methods of One Brooklyn Landlord

from New York magazine:

‘I Put in White Tenants’: The Grim, Racist (and Likely Illegal) Methods of One Brooklyn Landlord
By DW Gibson

For the past three years, I've traveled around the city, talking with New Yorkers as they experience gentrification. There is little consensus on the topic — even the word itself is defined differently by each of us. I've spoken with tenants, activists, lawyers, investors, architects, construction workers, real-estate agents, drug dealers, business owners. Many people occupy several of these spaces at once, a fact that underscores just how quickly this conversation becomes complicated.

Ephraim is both developer and landlord. His thick beard and heavyset frame make him look much older than his 26 years. He is a Hasid, and he started buying buildings a few years ago, in the wake of the housing crash.

A real-estate agent introduced us. "Anything for that guy," Ephraim told me when I asked if I could interview him. We met in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens where I found him sitting in his parked car with the engine running. I hopped into the passenger seat and went for an afternoon ride-along through the neighborhoods where he does most of his business: Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights.


If there’s a black tenant in the house—in every building we have, I put in white tenants. They want to know if black people are going to be living there. So sometimes we have ten apartments and everything is white, and then all of the sudden one tenant comes in with one black roommate, and they don’t like it. They see black people and get all riled up, they call me: “We’re not paying that much money to have black people live in the building.” If it’s white tenants only, it’s clean. I know it’s a little bit racist but it’s not. They’re the ones that are paying and I have to give them what they want. Or I’m not going to get the tenants and the money is not going to be what it is.

The scary part about doing this is, if the black guys start to realize how much the property will sell for. This is a new thing now, the past year. A million, two million dollars—it’s crazy, crazy numbers. None of them realize yet—some of them do—the amount of money you can get. The scary part is they’re going to realize they can get the same exact house in East New York for $400,000, $500,000 and they can get paid $1.5 million for their home in Bed-Stuy, they’re going to start dumping houses on the market and the market’s going to be flooded and it’s going to cool down. It’s already cooling down. ..................(more)


A new federal transportation bill rejects the long-standing consensus on revenue but preserves ....

A new federal transportation bill rejects the long-standing consensus on revenue but preserves the policy status quo

(The Transport Politic) It’s a big achievement. At least, that’s what members of the U.S. House and Senate are telling themselves this week, now that they’ve passed a major long-term transportation reauthorization bill with overwhelming majorities from both sides of the aisle. President Obama will sign the bill in the coming days.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST”) will not fix America’s surface transportation, but it will provide $305 billion in spending over the next five years for our highway, transit, and railroad networks, most of which will be distributed to state departments of transportation and local transit agencies.

From a policy standpoint, FAST is little different from 2012’s MAP-21, the federal transportation legislation that came before it, preserving the general principle, for example, of funding highways and transit at roughly a four-to-one ratio. Nationally, transit will get about $50 billion over five years. This is the status quo that U.S. transport funding has stuck to since the early 1980s.

The details of the legislation are worth examining, but the general policies that undergird the federal involvement in transportation remain stuck in place. States have wide authority to choose how they spend their money on highways, and most of that is distributed by population-weighted formula. Transit agencies are provided money to spend on capital investments—generally distributed based on ridership—and they’re mostly prevented from spending on operations. Tolling existing highways is virtually banned. Overall funding is adjusted up, but not by much. ....................(more)


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