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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
May 13, 2015

Robert Scheer and Chris Hedges: They Know Everything About You (pt. I)

Published on May 12, 2015
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges interviews Truthdig's editor in chief Robert Scheer about his latest book "They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy"

May 13, 2015

America’s Abusive Relationship with Free Trade-Obsessed Politicians

from In These Times:

America’s Abusive Relationship with Free Trade-Obsessed Politicians

America is in an abusive relationship with trade-obsessed politicians and corporations.

Despite their long history of battering the U.S. middle class with bad trade deal after bad trade deal, these lawmakers and CEOs contend workers should believe that their new proposal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), will be different. President Obama and the CEO of Nike, a company that doesn’t manufacture one shoe in the United States, got together in Oregon on Friday to urge Americans to fall once again for a trade deal.

The trade fanatics say everything will be different under the TPP—even though it is based on deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that lured American factories across the border, destroyed good-paying jobs and devastated communities. They plead: “Just come back for one more deal and see how great it will be this time!” And, like all batterers, they say: “Sorry about the terrible past; trust me about the future.”

This is trade abuse.

At the Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, the chief executive officer of Air Jordans told the chief executive passenger of Air Force One that Americans should believe in the TPP because it’ll be like Santa Claus stuffing jobs down chimneys across America. .....................(more)


May 13, 2015

In the Belly of the Chemical Beast: Hawaiian Activists Confront Syngenta on Its Home Turf

In the Belly of the Chemical Beast: Hawaiian Activists Confront Syngenta on Its Home Turf

Wednesday, 13 May 2015 00:00
By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

I first met Malia Chun in late 2013, in front of her home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where she pointed between the houses across the street to a nearby field where the agrichemical giant Syngenta tests and produces genetically engineered corn treated with a considerable amount of pesticide.

I met up with Chun again a year and a half later, this time in Syngenta's front yard in Basel, Switzerland. After a short ride through winding, medieval streets on the city's famously punctual public transit, we took pictures outside the tall office building that serves as Syngenta's global headquarters, where a security guard told us we had no chance of getting inside without an employee escort. Unimpressed, Chun asked two university students sitting nearby if they were familiar with Syngenta. The students said they knew that Syngenta sold pesticides, and that a few weeks ago, demonstrators had hung a sign from the building in protest of chemicals thought to harm bees.

"Are you from Greenpeace?" one of the students asked.

"No," Chun replied. "I am from Hawaii."

Traveling with a small delegation from her island, Chun came halfway around the world to confront Syngenta as both a mother and a practicing teacher of Native Hawaiian culture. Chun and others in her community suspect the pesticides may be responsible for an uptick in health problems such as asthma and birth defects, including several cases where babies were born with their intestines outside of their bodies. "As far as pesticide exposure goes, it's most harmful to children, both born and unborn," Chun said. "It's also a direct desecration of our culture." ......................(more)


May 13, 2015

Green City Vancouver Offers Clean Alternative to Tar Sands Boom

This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—In a country reckoned to have the worst climate policies in the industrialised world, one big city is setting out to defy central government and become 100% carbon neutral.

Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada, wants to establish itself as “the greenest city in the world by 2020” by demonstrating that economic growth and the welfare of its citizens depends on developing renewables, rapid transit systems, and promoting cycling and walking to curb car use.

It is one of dozens of cities worldwide working towards improving the life of their citizens while reducing fossil fuel use, but it claims to have the most ambitious targets.

Many city administrations in Europe have the support of their governments, but in other countries—particularly Australia and Canada, where governments are actively promoting fossil fuels—cities are having to act alone.

A conference in Vancouver, attended by leaders from 45 countries, opens today to help the local government reach its goals.


May 13, 2015

Citizen, you must start shopping, per your corporate overlords

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Sales at U.S. retailers were flat in April as Americans continued to be thrifty shoppers, a trend that's intensified since the end of last summer despite cheaper gas. American spent more at restaurants and Internet sites, but they cut back on purchases of autos, home furnishings, electronic goods and fuel. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted a seasonally adjusted 0.1% increase in retail sales last month. Sales minus autos rose 0.1%, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, but that fell well short of the 0.4% forecast. Sales minus autos and gasoline edged up a tepid 0.2%. In March, sales were revised to show a stronger 1.1% gain instead of 0.9%. Yet sales in the past 12 months have slowed to a 0.9% rate, the smallest year-over-year gain since October 2009 just after the U.S. exited the Great Recession. Retail purchases have been slowing since August, when the annualized pace of sales briefly hit 5% for the first time since mid-2013.


May 13, 2015

How Soaring Housing Costs Impoverish a Whole Generation and Maul the Real Economy

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street.

How many years would it take first-time homebuyers, earning a median household income, to save enough money for the standard 20% down payment on a median home? Are you sitting down?

An impossibly long time in many cities, Lindsay David of LF Economics (and a contributor on WOLF STREET) found in his report on mortgage stress. He looked at 30 large US cities, using their local median incomes and median home prices. It assumed that young households could accomplish the tough feat of saving 5% of their income, year after year, through bouts of unemployment, illness, shopping sprees, family expansions, or extended vacations.

The results are stunning – if just a tad discouraging for first-time buyers.

In my beloved and crazy boom-and-bust town of San Francisco, where a median home (for example, a two-bedroom no-view apartment in a so-so neighborhood) costs $1 million, it would take – are you ready? – 37 effing years.

Given its higher median income, San Francisco is only in second place. The winner by a few months is another Bay Area city, San Jose. In San Diego, it would take 33 years. In Los Angeles, 32 years. First-time buyers might be retired before they scrape their theoretical down payment together. Theoretical, because in reality, too many things change, and they’re chasing after a moving target. ............................(more)


May 13, 2015

Chris Hedges: "Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt"

Published on May 12, 2015

Chris Hedges delivers a talk titled "Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt" to a crowd of about 250 people in Helena, Mont. on March 11, 2015. Among other things, Hedges calls on people to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience in response to a neoliberal, corporate-controlled, militarized American state hell-bent on destroying the public sphere and natural world.

May 13, 2015

CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Speaks Out Upon Sentencing to 3.5 Years in Prison

Published on May 12, 2015

http://democracynow.org - On Monday former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program. In January Sterling was convicted of nine felony counts, including espionage. He becomes the latest government employee jailed by the Obama administration for leaking information. Since he was indicted four years ago, Jeffrey Sterling’s voice has never been heard by the public. But that changes today. We air an exclusive report that tells his story, "The Invisible Man." We are also joined by Norman Solomon, who interviewed Sterling for the piece and attended both his trial and sentencing. Solomon is a longtime activist, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-founder of RootsAction.org, and coordinator of ExposeFacts.org.

May 13, 2015

Marjorie Cohn: Congress Should End Metadata Collection

Congress Should End Metadata Collection

Tuesday, 12 May 2015 00:00
By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis

Just as Congress was debating whether to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the government has used to collect data on every telephone call we make, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck it down in ACLU v. Clapper. Congress has four days left in its current session to decide whether to reauthorize Section 215, amend it or let it die a natural death on June 1, 2015 (the date on which it will sunset if not reauthorized).

Section 215 of the Patriot Act

The controversial section authorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to issue orders mandating phone companies, internet service providers, banks, credit card companies etc. to provide their records to the government if the FISC finds "there are reasonable grounds to believe" the records "sought are relevant to an authorized investigation" aimed at protecting the country "against international terrorism."

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the FISC used Section 215 to issue an order mandating Verizon to provide "on an ongoing daily basis ... all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' ... for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls." The National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting metadata on our phone communications, including the identities of the caller and the person called, the phone numbers of both parties, as well as the date, time, duration and unique identifiers of the communication.

The "data archive" could be accessed only "when the NSA has identified a known telephone number for which ... there are facts giving rise to reasonable, articulable suspicion that the telephone number is associated with [Redacted]." The Court of Appeals speculated that the Redacted portion "presumably" includes "terrorist activity or a specific terrorist organization."

So the government is collecting data that is not "relevant to an authorized investigation," but it argues that it might be of use later when a specific terrorist suspect or terrorist plot is being investigated. .....................(more)


May 12, 2015

Cool time-lapse video of the rebuild of a Toronto intersection and streetcar tracks.....


This Sunday, May 10, streetcars will return to the 510 Spadina route, which has been serviced by buses for the past several weeks while City of Toronto and TTC crews worked to replace streetcar tracks and switches, and improve the road and sidewalks at the College St. and Spadina Ave. intersection.

During this period, the TTC’s five new low-floor, accessible streetcars operated on the 509 Harbourfront route, which became proof-of-payment. Two of the new streetcars will continue to operate on the 509 Harbourfront.

The TTC produced a short, time-lapse video of construction at the intersection over the course of the three-week closure

The TTC and City of Toronto would like to thank businesses, residents and customers for their patience during construction, as the City and TTC work to improve and maintain transit infrastructure.

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