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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 76,334

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Jared (cartoon)


As wildfires rage and budgets dwindle, more funds sought for firefighting

from the LA Times:

The record wildfire season scorching the West is prompting renewed calls for Congress to change how it funds firefighting, a push that comes as the head of the Forest Service said the agency would soon exceed its firefighting budget for the year -- again.

In a letter to regional foresters and other employees, Tom Tidwell, the chief of the Forest Service, said the agency would have to borrow money from other programs the agency runs, a practice that has become increasingly common as wildfires grow in size and intensity and increasingly threaten populated areas. This year, for the first time, the agency is spending more than half its budget to fight wildfires.

“Once again we have to shut down many parts of our mission to fulfill our wildfire suppression responsibilities within the funds available to the agency,” Tidwell wrote this week.

He noted that the agency received $1.01 billion for firefighting this fiscal year but that its projections for costs ranged between $869 million and $1.53 billion. In his letter Tuesday, Tidwell said the agency had only $174 million remaining and “we anticipate the current extreme fire activity to continue through the end of the fiscal year,” which ends Sept. 30. ................(more)


This Market Is a “Wheelbarrow of Dynamite” Waiting to Blow

This Market Is a “Wheelbarrow of Dynamite” Waiting to Blow
by Bill Bonner • August 28, 2015

DELRAY BEACH, Florida – It’s hot in Florida. Steamy hot. Hair curls and bodies go limp.

The “relief rally” continued yesterday. All over the world, stocks gained. So did oil and commodities. (More on that below in today’s Market Insight.) The Dow was up 369 points – a 2.3% move. Chinese stocks were up by about 5%. Why?

U.S. GDP numbers for the second quarter came out higher than expected. The economy grew by an annual rate of 3.7%. And influential New York Fed chief William Dudley said the argument for a rate increase in September was “less compelling.”

A Decline in Excess of 50%

Oh, ye of little faith… fear not! Things are happening just as they should. It is the end of summer. Markets are giving strong hints of things to come in the fall. Like Vesuvius, a plume of smoke rises… and a cloud of dust hangs over the markets. The economic earth rumbles… and animals take flight.

But in come the cronies to tell us not to worry about it.

And who knows what happens next? ...................(more)


NY/NJ: Nightmarish Train Tunnel Delays. Whose Problem Is It?

from WNYC:

NEWS ANALYSIS — On Monday of this week, tunnels under the Hudson were once again choked with delays. So New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been in Manhattan for a television interview about his presidential campaign, took a helicopter over the Hudson to return home.

That's not an option for most New Jersey commuters. Take Nina, a bank worker who didn't want to give her last name at Penn Station recently, because her boss is already upset with her for being late to work so many times.

"It’s sickening," she said as she rushed up the escalator after an ultra-long commute. "It’s impossible to plan your work week with NJ Transit, because you never know when you are going to get into the city. And I was just thinking about it today and I thought, 'Who’s accountable for this?'"

The list of who's accountable is shamefully long. It includes anti-spending Republicans in Congress and a host of local elected officials, starting with Christie. Five years ago, Christie cancelled an already-in-progress tunnel under the Hudson, clumsily named "Access to Region's Core," or ARC. ...................(more)


NYC: City May Replace Times Square Plazas With Traffic

from Transportation Nation:

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has a cure for the costumed characters and painted topless ladies in Times Square. In an interview with 1010 WINS on Thursday, he said the city should dig up the pedestrian plaza installed by the Bloomberg administration and bring back the traffic lanes.

Speaking at an unrelated press event the same day, Mayor Bill de Blasio signaled that he was open to the idea.

“You could argue that those plazas have had some very positive impacts, you could also argue that they come with a lot of problems and a lot of the surrounding business community has certainly cited those problems,” said de Blasio.

The mayor has tapped Bratton and Carl Weisbrod, head of the Department of City Planning, to co-chair a task force to study the situation in Times Square. Weisbrod is credited with leading the clean-up of the Times Square starting in the 1970s and then later in the 1990s as head of New York City Economic Development Corporation.

De Blasio’s decision to create the task force — and its plans to review the pedestrian plaza — appeared to come in response to days of negative headlines focused on the city’s inability to manage a growing cottage industry of street performers and hustlers — with and without their clothes. .....................(more)


Behind the Business Attire, Many Bank Workers Earn Poverty Wages

(In These Times) Walking into a bank, a customer is usually interacting with a teller dressed in business attire. The clothing gives the impression of relatively high, stable wages, maybe even a comfortable perch somewhere in the middle or upper-middle class. But the collared shirts and pressed slacks may be hiding the reality: a significant portion of customer service workers in the retail banking industry make salaries low enough to make public assistance necessary.

The Committee for Better Banks (CBB), a Communications Workers of America (CWA)-affiliated community and labor coalition, was created in 2013 to put an end to that. Cassaundra Plummer, a Maryland-based CBB member currently employed as a bank teller at TD Bank, told In These Times, “A lot of the issues within the banks are not discussed, they’re kept really quiet. As a young woman, I always thought that working at a bank was more of a prestigious job than retail. Once I actually got into banking, I realized that it’s not a whole lot different.”

The CBB, which has grown from eight members in April to approximately 60 active members in six different states today, is hoping to expand and create a critical mass of organized workers by bringing these issues out in the open.

A study released by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) early this month shored up CBB claims, finding that 30.4% of the 1.7 million retail banking employees across the country—more than 500,000 workers—are paid less than $15 an hour. Nearly three-quarters of low-wage bank workers are bank tellers, 84.3% of which are women. ..................(more)


Teacher-Community Unionism: A Lesson from St. Paul

from Dissent magazine:

Teacher-Community Unionism: A Lesson from St. Paul
Mary Cathryn Ricker ▪ Summer 2015

When I was elected president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) in 2005, I thought my own story might help transform the relationship between teachers and administrators as well as improve the image of teachers in the community. I was a veteran middle school English teacher, and I’d been honored for my work. And I had been active in the SPFT as a political and community volunteer as well as the union’s professional representative on local and state committees.

I had also spent enough time in my classroom and in the city to know—and be bothered by—the dominant story told about public school teachers and our union by the mass media, a number of Minnesota legislators, and in many local communities. On a local TV station’s evening news show, a Minnesota Republican state senator, Richard Day, had even declared, “We all know Minneapolis and St. Paul schools suck.” In too many conversations, I got accused of failure unless I quickly told people about the awards I had won for creating a model English/language arts classroom and running a program for my colleagues on how to improve writing in middle schools. If local citizens, especially parents, could learn about our talent, our dedication, and our ideas, I was convinced their perceptions would change.

Students in urban public schools deserve teachers who are both creative and optimistic. Additionally, spending many years of your career teaching in an urban setting can stimulate good ideas about how to improve that work.

In St. Paul, we knew we were doing wonderful things both inside and outside the schools. We applied for grants to teach middle school science to students alongside environmental and historical community activists while rebuilding the historic watershed on St. Paul’s East Side, a largely working-class neighborhood. We held public sessions where students read their essays and stories. We designed geography and history lessons about the immigration patterns of our city and our students. We lobbied our school board to maintain funding for peer mediation programs. We were thrilled to wake up every morning and share our love of these subjects with our students. ..................(more)


Mike Papantonio with Thom Hartmann: Trump the fascist?

Dear Donald Trump: Pissed Off Latinos Are Powerful Latinos

from YES! Magazine:

Dear Donald Trump: Pissed Off Latinos Are Powerful Latinos
History has shown that when Latinos feel threatened, they fight back—with their voices and voting power.

Yessenia Funes posted Aug 28, 2015

As a Latina, a child of parents who weren’t born in the States, I can tell you that this presidential race has become personal.

Donald Trump kicked a journalist out of a press conference in Iowa Tuesday—and not just any journalist. Trump kicked out Jorge Ramos, a Univisión and Fusion anchor I grew up seeing my parents watch on TV. My mom still watches him. So his being told to “go back to Univisión” and then even to “go back to his country” bugged me. A lot.

Again and again, with a flick of his wrist, Trump publicly belittles the Latino community. But you know what? He’s only screwing himself and empowering us. History shows that when Latinos’ rights are threatened by a politician, they push back—hard.

Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, an immigration expert who teaches at UCLA, gave me a quick history lesson. In an interview, he told me Trump isn’t the first to “blame the immigrant.” Not only was this rhetoric common in the 19th and early 20th centuries toward the Irish, Chinese, and many other groups, but it’s been used more recently toward (surprise, surprise) Latin Americans.

A nativist campaign played out in California in the ’90s led by Gov. Pete Wilson. Proposition 187, an anti-immigrant ballot measure, passed in 1994 after Wilson’s re-election. It barred undocumented immigrants from the state’s public education system and even stripped them of access to emergency rooms. .................(more)


How Too Much Electronic Screen Time Is Making Kids ‘Moody, Crazy and Lazy’

via truthdig:

Excessive use of electronic devices by children can have alarming effects that may lead them to become “moody, crazy and lazy,” according to a child psychiatrist.

Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Victoria L. Dunckley argues for an “electronic fast” and offers a look at six physiological mechanisms to explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance:

1. Screen-time disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock. Because light from screen devices mimics daytime, it suppresses melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. Plus, high arousal doesn’t permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.

2. Screen-time desensitizes the brain’s reward system. Many children are “hooked” on electronics, and in fact gaming releases so much dopamine — the “feel-good” chemical — that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use! When reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. Meanwhile dopamine is also critical for focus and motivation. Needless to say, even small changes in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions.

3. Screen-time produces “light-at-night.” Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression even when the animal isn’t looking at the screen. Sometimes parents feel scared to restrict electronics use in a child’s bedroom because they worry the child will enter a state of total despair — but in fact removing light-at-night is protective.

4. Screen-time induces stress reactions. Both acute stress (fight-or-flight) and chronic stress produce changes in brain chemistry and hormones that can increase irritability. Indeed, cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, seems to be both a cause and effect of depression – creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, both hyperarousal and addiction pathways suppress the brain’s frontal lobe, the area where mood regulation actually takes place. ...................(more)


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