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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

Journal Archives

Yet another right-wing whackjob emerges from the cave

A new candidate for a Michigan seat on the Republican National Committee wants gays "purged" from the GOP and claims homosexuality is a "perversion" created by Satan himself.

Mary Helen Sears of Houghton County in the state's Upper Peninsula, elected vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party's 1st District last year, posted a rant in April on the Schoolcraft County GOP website -- preceded by a warning asking readers to "please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog."

In the post, Sears claimed that homosexuals prey on children, argued that "Satan uses homosexuality to attack the living space of the Holy Spirit" and advocated that Republicans "as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent."

Michigan's representatives on the Republican National Committee have lately stirred other controversy, mostly due to Dave Agema, a former state lawmaker who has regularly made anti-gay comments and has been condemned by fellow Republicans, including Gov. Rick Snyder. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/mary-helen-sears-michigan-gop_n_4740426.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

Chris Hedges Part I: Crisis Cults and the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Published on Feb 6, 2014

Abby Martin features an exclusive interview with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, concerning areas of extreme poverty that he refers to as 'sacrifice zones', as well as the reasons behind the collapse of complex societies.

What Will Reversing Inequality Really Take?

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

What Will Reversing Inequality Really Take?
February 2, 2014

In the fierce debate over our top-heavy distribution of income and wealth, egalitarians have vanquished both inequality’s deniers and defenders. Now the debate is shifting to the most pivotal question of all.

By Sam Pizzigati

America’s ongoing debate over economic inequality may be turning a new page.

In the debate’s first chapter, starting the 1980s, scholars, pundits, and policy makers did battle over whether the United States was becoming more unequal.

We still have some “denialists” floating around in right-wing think tank circles. But this debate has essentially ended. No serious analyst any longer argues that the gap between America’s rich and everyone else hasn’t jumped substantially.

The debate’s second chapter — over the impact of 21st-century America’s grand concentrations of private wealth — is still playing out. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/what-will-reversing-inequality-really-take/#sthash.8PHiYhSx.dpuf

The Rise of "Insourcing" Gives Internet Companies a New Way to Exploit Workers

The Rise of "Insourcing" Gives Internet Companies a New Way to Exploit Workers

Friday, 07 February 2014 10:32
By Lydia Bowers, Next New Deal | Op-Ed

It’s about time we talked about pay. The disparity between the top and bottom wage-earners combined with the inability for most minimum-wage workers to earn a livable income is one of the largest causes of economic stagnation and social justice concern of our time. I couldn’t be more thrilled that it appears we are making moves to raise the national minimum wage to be more in line with a living wage. This raise would have a direct impact on the 3.6 million workers with wages at or below the federal minimum and would have far-reaching positive consequences for our economy and society.

But there is a new, fast-growing class of low-wage workers that would not see the benefit of this decision. These new “insourced” workers are individuals who contract with large Internet-based companies like Uber and Taskrabbit to perform services here in the United States, either at a rate set by the larger company or in a free-for-all bidding war. As contractors, these workers receive very little protection in terms of minimum wage laws or unions, let alone benefits or insurance for the work they do. And their ranks are growing fast.

Taskrabbit, founded in 2008, outsources household errands and skilled tasks so you can find time to do what you love, according to its website. Members of the site, or “taskrabbits,” place bids to perform services for “task posters.” Need your laundry done or someone to paint your apartment? Post it on Taskrabbit.

While this may at first seem like a modern-day update of the community bulletin board for odd jobs, it is in fact a much more insidious shift in how individuals find work, as many who are unemployed due to the recession turn to the website as a primary form of income. With little in the way of health insurance or other protections in work environments that are frequently dangerous (painting, carpentry, factory packing, and bike delivery) and a stream of work that is impossible to guarantee or even estimate, taskrabbits have it rough. Add that to the “lowest bidder almost always wins” formula for Taskrabbit services and the workers in this emerging industry face a bleak picture for economic stability. I briefly worked as a taskrabbit in 2013 as a way to gain additional income, and while it was a fun side-gig for someone employed full-time, I can’t imagine sporadic $15 delivery tasks becoming a viable way to support myself. But this is the emerging reality for many Americans. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21719-the-rise-of-insourcing-gives-internet-companies-a-new-way-to-exploit-workers

Beyond Superwoman: Justice For Black Women Too

from Dissent magazine:

Beyond Superwoman: Justice For Black Women Too
By Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd - Winter 2014

On June 18, 2007, Tommy Poindexter coaxed a woman out of her apartment in West Palm Beach, Florida by telling her that her car had a flat. Then he and nine other young black men forced her back into her home in the Dunbar Village public housing community, where they not only robbed her but engaged in three hours of rape, beatings, and torture. The female victim, a Haitian immigrant, was raped vaginally, orally, and anally, sometimes with bottles or a firearm, while they beat her twelve-year-old son in another room. In an effort to cover up their crimes, they told both the woman and her son to clean off and then forced the mother and son to have sex with each other. Finally, the assailants poured alcohol into the woman’s anus, ammonia on both her and her son’s eyes, stuffed a bar of soap into the woman’s vagina, and tried to light the mother and child on fire as they lay naked in a bathtub.

This horrific crime gained little media attention outside the West Palm Beach area. Sadly, black political leaders assisted in that neglect. Instead of rallying to the aid of the woman and her child, the Reverend Al Sharpton and officials from the Palm Beach chapter of the NAACP appeared at a press conference with the defendants’ families. They argued it was unfair not to offer bail to the men, citing a rape case involving white defendants in another Florida jurisdiction, men who had drugged and raped two underage women. Fliers were passed out at the press conference that portrayed the defendants as “voiceless, vulnerable, victims” and “Young African-American Males [who are] An Endangered Species.” Richard McIntyre, communications director for the national office of the NAACP, told a writer for the blog What About Our Daughters that “black on black crime is not part of our mission.”

Eventually, both Sharpton and the NAACP revised their positions, but only after being lambasted in the black feminist blogosphere. One critic, Shecodes, whose open letter was posted at What About Our Daughters, voiced the concerns of other bloggers: “Right-thinking black people everywhere are stunned by the recent betrayal of Al Sharpton and the NAACP in a situation that is just too outrageous to ignore.” Other bloggers added that both Sharpton and the leading civil rights group should “interpret this protest as a golden opportunity for critical self reflection, as a new line of dialogue, and as a chance to move into better alignment with the will of the very people that they exist to serve.”

To date, despite the best efforts of those who tried to bring this case to light, only four of the ten assailants have been charged, tried, and sentenced. The mother and son will be struggling to heal from that ghastly day for the rest of their lives. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/beyond-superwoman-justice-for-black-women-too

Selling Your Secrets: The Invisible World of Software Backdoors and Bounty Hunters

from TomDispatch:

Selling Your Secrets
The Invisible World of Software Backdoors and Bounty Hunters

By Pratap Chatterjee

Imagine that you could wander unseen through a city, sneaking into houses and offices of your choosing at any time, day or night. Imagine that, once inside, you could observe everything happening, unnoticed by others -- from the combinations used to secure bank safes to the clandestine rendezvous of lovers. Imagine also that you have the ability to silently record everybody’s actions, whether they are at work or play without leaving a trace. Such omniscience could, of course, make you rich, but perhaps more important, it could make you very powerful.

That scenario out of some futuristic sci-fi novel is, in fact, almost reality right now. After all, globalization and the Internet have connected all our lives in a single, seamless virtual city where everything is accessible at the tap of a finger. We store our money in online vaults; we conduct most of our conversations and often get from place to place with the help of our mobile devices. Almost everything that we do in the digital realm is recorded and lives on forever in a computer memory that, with the right software and the correct passwords, can be accessed by others, whether you want them to or not.

Now -- one more moment of imagining -- what if every one of your transactions in that world was infiltrated? What if the government had paid developers to put trapdoors and secret passages into the structures that are being built in this new digital world to connect all of us all the time? What if they had locksmiths on call to help create master keys for all the rooms? And what if they could pay bounty hunters to stalk us and build profiles of our lives and secrets to use against us?

Well, check your imagination at the door, because this is indeed the brave new dystopian world that the U.S. government is building, according to the latest revelations from the treasure trove of documents released by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175803/tomgram%3A_pratap_chatterjee%2C_the_wild_west_of_surveillance/#more

New Jersey Transit takes heat for Super Bowl chaos

NJ: Surviving the Super Bowl's Transit Logjam

Julia Terruso
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Created: February 5, 2014

Feb. 05--Ron Katz has visited six of the last 13 Super Bowl host cities, traveling to the home stadiums for teams in Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, San Diego and New Orleans -- twice.

He was excited to add New York and East Rutherford, N.J., to the list, but came away fatigued and disheartened.

"They should never, ever have another Super Bowl here," said Katz, 50, of Denver. "The area is one of the most, if not the most, amazing places in the country, but based on the logistics that I saw -- and the disregard for fan comfort and safety -- never again."

Katz was one of more than 30,000 people who took NJ Transit to the game at MetLife Stadium. Many complained of hours of stuffy, crowded, and confused mass transit, although the MetLife stands were full by game time. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11305708/nj-transit-under-fire-for-super-bowl-service

UK: Cornwall and parts of Devon could be without rail links to London for a while


Our engineers are working to restore rail services in Devon and Cornwall
05 February 2014

The railway between Exeter and Penzance is shut after damage at several locations caused by storm force winds, heavy seas and flooding.

Severe damage

On the coast at Dawlish, around 80m of both tracks has been severely damaged by the sea, washing away ballast and the foundations on which the track is built. There is also severe damage to the sea wall and the track and platforms at Dawlish station.

Exeter - Plymouth services suspended

We're on site at a number of locations in the south west of England and are making repairs where the weather conditions permit. It is hoped that these repairs will enable some services on the main line between Plymouth and Penzance to resume today 5 February 2014, however the line between Exeter and Plymouth will remain closed until further notice because of the damage at Dawlish.

We'll carry out an initial assessment of the damage at Dawlish as soon as the weather subsides to help us identify the extent and scope of repairs required to enable trains to run safely.

Check before you travel

Before setting off, check with your train operator or National Rail Enquiries for the latest information on how the weather is impacting rail journeys .

Revisiting an N train extension to Laguardia

from the 2nd Ave. Sagas blog:

Revisiting an N train extension to Laguardia
By Benjamin Kabak

With the news that the Port Authority will spend at least $1.5 billion to send PATH trains to Newark Airport, the most rail-accessible airport in New York, I started thinking about Laguardia again. It is frustrating close and seemingly so far away. For anyone taking transit to the airport, the trip involves a circuitous subway-and-bus combination, and it’s been over a decade since anyone has mentioned a direct rail connection, monorail or subway, to the terminal geographically closest to Manhattan. They why of it involves a typical tale of New York NIMBYs and frustrating political processes.

The Fiorello H. LaGuardia Airport in Queens is one of the nation’s most infuriating urban airports. In Queens, it’s tantalizingly close to the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn — and of course, the subway — but it’s so far away because traffic congestion frequently creates trips to Queens that last an hour and 30 minutes from Midtown’s West Side. The only public transit options that delivery riders directly to the terminals are a handful of local buses and a a new Q70 limited bus. On a good day, for example, the M60 — recently denied Select Bus Service status — goes from 125th St. and Lexington to the airport in a half an hour.

Over the last few decades, city officials have become quite intimate with the problems plaguing LaGuardia, and many have tried to fix it. The N train, whose northern terminus is less than three miles away from the LaGuardia terminals, is so tantalizing close to the airport and yet so far away. With the PATH extension back in the news, many are asking why we haven’t focused more on improving access to Laguardia. It isn’t for lack of trying as 16 years ago, city and MTA officials were heavily invested in a plan to extend the N to LaGuardia. In the face of other pressing transit needs, such as the Second Ave. Subway, and widespread community opposition, the agency eventually shelved this much needed link to LaGuardia.

So what then were the plans that engendered widespread community outrage and still cause politicians to chime in now and then, over a decade after the MTA discarded the idea? Let’s hop in the Wayback Machine and explore some Giuliani Era transit developments. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://secondavenuesagas.com/2014/02/06/revisiting-an-n-train-extension-to-laguardia/

'Transit deserts' in Chicago region's mass transit system: report

(Chicago Tribune) The Chicago area’s mass transit agencies are doing a poor job of serving the commuting needs of the region -- portions of which are “transit deserts” — while planning efforts are haphazard, a new report says.

Even major suburban job centers, such as the bustling I-90 Corridor from O’Hare to Schaumburg; the crowded Oak Brook area and booming Naperville, “are not well-served by transit,” and most jobs in the region can’t be reached in a 90-minute commute, the analysis found.

The region will fail to meet a goal of doubling transit use by 2040, so efforts “must be refocused with customer satisfaction as the primary objective,” said a draft report prepared for the Northeastern Illinois Transit Task Force.

Gov. Pat Quinn created the 15-member task force last August to suggest reforms for the transit system after controversy erupted over Metra’s ouster of its CEO. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-report-areas-mass-transit-system-not-on-pace-to-reach-2040-goal-20140205,0,6565285.story

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