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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
May 12, 2015

Why Chicago Needs More Transit-Oriented Developments

Why Chicago Needs More Transit-Oriented Developments
Monday, May 11, 2015, by Curbed Staff

[font size="1"]A rendering of an upcoming TOD project near the Paulina Brown Line station[/font]

Corresponding to data released earlier this month highlighting the need for transit-oriented development (TOD) in Lakeview—and the negative effect current zoning restrictions have on the neighborhood—new analysis from Yonah Freemark at the Metropolitan Planning Council shows that, in order for Chicago to keep growing and stay healthy, it needs to focus on growth near transit hubs. Despite Chicago's professional diversity, culture, and global business connections, its growth is slow compared to other cities.


Though aging, Chicago's public transit system is one of its greatest assets, and as the upcoming professional class becomes decreasingly car-reliant and car-centric, the importance of reliable and accessible public transit will continue to grow. For example, Freemark shows that in many of Chicago's north side neighborhoods, which are public transit accessible, there is an increased demand for housing, which subsequently drives up rents and localized incomes. Because many current zoning rules in place limit the construction of new housing, would-be city dwellers are priced out to the suburbs—or to different cities altogether. As one of example of this, Freemark demonstrates that the amount of people living within a half-mile of a CTA or Metra station over the past 60 years has declined from over 52% to a mere 22% today. .......................(more)


May 12, 2015

Why White Americans Don’t Believe in ‘Personal Accountability’ For Police

from In These Times:

Why White Americans Don’t Believe in ‘Personal Accountability’ For Police
Do the nation’s police suffer from the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’?


By a margin of 41 percent to 34 percent, white Americans say police treat African Americans and white people equally, according to a YouGov poll conducted 11 days after Freddy Gray’s death. African Americans, however, overwhelmingly—76 percent to 13 percent—said that cops treat them unfairly.

The responses of white Americans are unsettling in light of the seemingly endless video accounts of racially tinged police violence circulating online, the millions of dollars cities have paid to settle police brutality lawsuits, and the many studies that have demonstrated a racial bias in policing.

A disturbingly large number of white Americans, it seems, willfully dismiss the evidence. Perhaps their own relatively uneventful contact with police provides comfortable distance and deniability. Or maybe white America has been swayed by persuasive and powerful counternarratives, especially from conservative media.

Whatever the explanation, there is a bewildering disconnect between white tolerance of police misconduct—including homicides—and the call for “personal accountability” that has long permeated our national policy discussions. Championed by conservatives and furthered by liberal elites wary of social justice, “personal accountability” has been elevated to a national religion. In the 1990s, with full cooperation by the Clinton administration, this rhetoric was used as a cudgel against the poor in order to pave the way for draconian welfare reforms, packaged as “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” The same dogma helped justify the “three strikes you’re out” and “mandatory minimums” policies that fueled the country’s racist and expensive incarceration frenzy. Today, politicians brandish the term to demand drug testing for poor recipients of public aid and to cut social programs that help the needy. .....................(more)


May 11, 2015

Ronald Goldfarb: Without Edward Snowden, Our System Could Have Failed

from TIME:

Without Edward Snowden, Our System Could Have Failed
Ronald Goldfarb May 8, 2015

Ronald Goldfarb is a veteran Washington, DC attorney, literary agent and author of After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age. He served in the Justice Department in the Robert F. Kennedy administration.

The tripartite nature of American government is on display. Congress is contemplating extending the Patriot Act, allowing it to expire, or reforming it by June 1. A federal court yesterday concluded that the controversial s.215 of the Patriot Act allowing secret meta data gathering of phone records by the government was illegal. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did not specifically rule that the Patriot Act was unconstitutional, though critics of the Act will certainly see the suggestion in this opinion.

In a 97-page unanimous opinion in a case entitled ACLU v. Clapper, et. al., the prestigious 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City reversed an earlier trial court ruling, and held that s. 215’s bulk telephone data program is subject to judicial review. In the core of this opinion, Judge Gerard Lynch wrote that “the program exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” The opinion discussed the history of the earlier Church Committee hearings about historic abusive surveillance practices of intelligence agencies, and the evolution of the FISA Act (1978) allowing secret ex parte proceedings, and the Patriot Act now under review in Congress.

The court decision dealt with the meta data practices of Verizon performed at the government’s order, and revealed by The Guardian with information leaked by Edward Snowden. The order applies to other service providers, as well, by implication.

The government argued that any complaint about its practices had to be made to the FISA court. The 2nd Circuit concluded that its judicial review was appropriate. And I would note that this court was far more “judicial” than the ex parte, secret hearings conducted by FISA “courts.” ......................(more)


May 11, 2015

Chris Hedges: A Nation of Snitches

from truthdig:

by Chris Hedges

A totalitarian state is only as strong as its informants. And the United States has a lot of them. They read our emails. They listen to, download and store our phone calls. They photograph us on street corners, on subway platforms, in stores, on highways and in public and private buildings. They track us through our electronic devices. They infiltrate our organizations. They entice and facilitate “acts of terrorism” by Muslims, radical environmentalists, activists and Black Bloc anarchists, framing these hapless dissidents and sending them off to prison for years. They have amassed detailed profiles of our habits, our tastes, our peculiar proclivities, our medical and financial records, our sexual orientations, our employment histories, our shopping habits and our criminal records. They store this information in government computers. It sits there, waiting like a time bomb, for the moment when the state decides to criminalize us.

Totalitarian states record even the most banal of our activities so that when it comes time to lock us up they can invest these activities with subversive or criminal intent. And citizens who know, because of the courage of Edward Snowden, that they are being watched but naively believe they “have done nothing wrong” do not grasp this dark and terrifying logic.

Tyranny is always welded together by subterranean networks of informants. These informants keep a populace in a state of fear. They perpetuate constant anxiety and enforce isolation through distrust. The state uses wholesale surveillance and spying to break down trust and deny us the privacy to think and speak freely.

A state security and surveillance apparatus, at the same time, conditions all citizens to become informants. In airports and train, subway and bus stations the recruitment campaign is relentless. We are fed lurid government videos and other messages warning us to be vigilant and report anything suspicious. The videos, on endless loops broadcast through mounted television screens, have the prerequisite ominous music, the shady-looking criminal types, the alert citizen calling the authorities and in some cases the apprehended evildoer being led away in handcuffs. The message to be hypervigilant and help the state ferret out dangerous internal enemies is at the same time disseminated throughout government agencies, the mass media, the press and the entertainment industry.


Manufactured fear engenders self-doubt. It makes us, often unconsciously, conform in our outward and inward behavior. It conditions us to relate to those around us with suspicion. It destroys the possibility of organizing, community and dissent. We have built what Robert Gellately calls a “culture of denunciation.”


May 10, 2015

Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Michael Moore and Others in ‘The Legacy of I.F. Stone’



Seekers after truth everywhere will thrill to the message of a new short film that draws a line from one of the 20th century’s most respected independent journalists to the dogged investigators of our day.

Jeff Cohen, founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, called Stone the “Patron Saint of Bloggers.” Stone founded his I.F. Stone’s Weekly in 1953 after losing his job as a mainstream journalist at the height of the McCarthy era and finding no place for his radical, skeptical, liberal reporting through which he sought to present an unvarnished view of the abuse of power by U.S. officials.

Jeremy Scahill says of Stone in the video above, “There are few people I can think of in American history that better represented the best journalism in a democratic society than I.F. Stone.”

Also in the video, Stone describes what he sought to do with his Weekly:

I made no claim to inside stuff … I tried to give information which could be documented so the reader could check it for himself. I tried to dig the truth out of hearings, official transcripts and government documents, and to be as accurate as possible. I also sought to give the Weekly a personal flavor, to add humor, wit and good writing to the Weekly report. I felt that if one were able enough and had sufficient vision one could distill meaning, truth and even beauty from the swiftly flowing debris of the week’s news … the bit of dialogue, the overlooked fact, the buried observation which illuminated the realities of the situation. I tried in every issue to provide fact and opinion not available elsewhere in the press.


May 10, 2015

Obama Administration To Trans-Hudson Tunnel Stakeholders: Get it Together

The existing tunnels carry hundreds of trains between the two states each day — but they were badly damaged during Sandy and are on the verge of collapse. Amtrak has said the only way to make repairs would be to take the tunnels out of service, but doesn't want to do that until new tunnels are built.

Those tunnels, known as the Gateway project, are in the planning stage, but the U.S. Department of Transportation wants both states and the Port Authority to help fund them.

Speaking at a conference designed to call attention to the issue, U.S. DOT undersecretary Peter Rogoff acknowledged that in order to build Gateway, some difficult political choices will need to be made — quickly.

"We really don't have time to appoint commissions to study it," he said. "We don't have time for funding partners to kind of engage in the usual shadowboxing of 'Well, what are you going to put in? Well, what am I going to put in? And what was that percentage and how does that compare that some other partner contributed to another project?'" ..............(more)


May 10, 2015

Court Rules NSA Bulk Spying Illegal: New Vindication for Snowden, and Uncertainty for PATRIOT Act

Published on May 8, 2015

http://democracynow.org - A federal appeals court has ruled the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is illegal. The program was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; the ACLU filed its lawsuit based largely on Snowden’s revelations. In a unanimous decision Thursday, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection "unprecedented and unwarranted." The ruling comes as Congress faces a June 1st deadline to renew the part of the Patriot Act that authorizes the NSA’s bulk data surveillance. Another measure, the USA Freedom Act, would lead to limited reforms of some of the NSA’s programs. We are joined by Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, which filed the case challenging the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records.

May 10, 2015

RTA to unveil regional mass transit planning effort on Tuesday

from Crain's Detroit:

Metro Detroit’s regional transit authority on Tuesday will unveil the initial process of developing a regional master plan to create a public mass transit system for Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.

Details of the process have not been disclosed.

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan will explain what it intends to do at a press conference scheduled for noon Tuesday at Campus Martius Park.

“The process will provide the region with the necessary detail to implement a truly regional public transportation system,” the RTA said in a brief statement.


The RTA has a stated goal of getting a dedicated tax issue on the 2016 ballot to fund what will be laid out in the master plan, which is expected to be a bus rapid transit system that still is in the study phase.

Under a bus rapid transit system, buses operate much like a rail line, with specialized train-like wheeled vehicles with dedicated lanes, priority traffic signaling, and higher speeds. They likely would run along Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan avenues. ..................(more)


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