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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
December 1, 2013

Does Metro-North Have a Catastrophic Curve?

(WNYC) Sunday's deadly Metro-North commuter train crash happened less than 2,000 feet from the the site of another derailment earlier this year along the same stretch of curving riverside track in the southern Bronx.

The Spuyten Duyvil section of track is considered a "slow zone" by the Metropolitan Transit Agency because of the tight curves, two of which come in quick succession flanked by the river on one side and steep rocks on the other.

In July a CSX fright train carrying tons of garbage toppled over in a ravine close to where the rail right-of-way narrows from four tracks to two, which limited re-railing and recovery efforts. You can see a close up of the site of that crash as seen from Google Maps in our previous post. It's just where the large Columbia University 'C' is painted on the rocky cliffs. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/does-metro-north-have-catastrophic-curve/

December 1, 2013

Pentagon Approves Record Sale of Advanced Arms to Countries at War

Selling weapons used to be a cut-throat business. With a no-questions-asked policy, it has led in the past, to the selling of weapons to support African conflicts, leaving Angola, Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic Congo awash with AK-47 semi-automatic rifles and very little else.

Today’s high-tech weapons manufacturers are enjoying record sales. The State Department’s Military Assistance Report stated that it approved $44.28 billion in arms shipments to 173 nations in the last fiscal year. One of the more controversial is the Defense Department’s plans to sell Saudi Arabia $6.8 billion and the United Arab Emirates $4 billion in advanced weaponry, including air-launched cruise missiles and precision munitions. The trouble is – has anyone asked where these weapons will ultimately end up?

Boeing Co. (BA) and Raytheon Co. (RTN) sent a message of support from the Obama administration for setting up the deal with these two close allies in the Middle East.

This historic deal will be the first U.S sales of new Raytheon and Boeing weapons that can be launched at a distance from Saudi F-15 and U.A.E. F-16 fighters. But this is just part of Saudi Arabia’s military shopping list. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/20347-pentagon-approves-record-sale-of-advanced-arms-to-countries-at-war

December 1, 2013

Al Gore is a vegan now — and we think we know why

from Grist:

Al Gore is a vegan now — and we think we know why
By Ben Adler

Republican caricatures of Al Gore notwithstanding, the former vice president was never a stereotypical woolly environmentalist. A practicing Southern Baptist, Gore attended divinity school and, though he opposed the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the military rather than protesting it. Gore rose in the 1980s as a moderate “New Democrat,” who was friendly to business, hawkish on foreign policy and, yes, excited about the possibilities of technological innovation. As vice president, he set about the earnest work of “reinventing government” to make it more efficient.

Gore’s attraction to environmentalism, much like that of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s, is that of a serious wonk, not a dirty hippie who finds water conservation a convenient excuse not to bathe.

And so it is actually quite remarkable that, as Forbes reported in this week’s issue and The Washington Post confirmed with a source close to Gore on Monday, he has gone vegan. Forbes merely tossed in a throwaway line referring to Gore as “newly vegan,” in a story about investors looking at ways of replacing eggs with plant-based formulas. The Post was unable to get any further details beyond confirmation from an unnamed Gore associate.

Perhaps, as the Post’s Juliet Eilperin suggests, Gore was worried about his health. Former President Bill Clinton, who was famously fond of McDonald’s, became a vegan in 2011. (He had a quadruple bypass in 2004.) Gore, as conservatives never tire of pointing out, put on a few pounds after leaving office. ...............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/food/al-gore-is-a-vegan-now-and-we-think-we-know-why/

December 1, 2013

"Somebody Had to Do It First": The Story of Shirley Chisholm

"Somebody Had to Do It First": The Story of Shirley Chisholm

Sunday, 01 December 2013 00:00
By Eleanor J Bader, Truthout | Book Review

"Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change," by Barbara Winslow, Lives of American Women Series, Westview Press, 192 pages, $2013, $20.00 paperback.

Barbara Winslow's "Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change" profiles the first black - or woman - presidential candidate, a person who prided herself on being "unbossed and unbought."

Historian Barbara Winslow's fascinating portrait of trailblazer Shirley Chisholm (1926-2005) offers activists and organizers an inside look at one woman's political ascent. Although little of the material in the book is new, Winslow's synthesis and attention to race, class and gender dynamics makes it an excellent introduction to a woman who prided herself on being "unbossed and unbought." What's more, Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change acknowledges the limitations of individual achievement and credits "the great social movements of the twentieth century - including some outside the United States" for helping to boost Chisholm's influence and power.

But let's start at the beginning. Shirley St. Hill - Chisholm was her first husband's surname - was born in Brooklyn, New York, to working-class immigrants from Barbados. As the Great Depression worsened, her parents sent her and two sisters back "home," where they were reared on land owned by their grandmother, a domestic servant. Because grandma left at sun-up and did not return for 15 hours, the girls essentially were raised by their teenage aunt. "Grandmother's large house sat on a plot that provided the family's food: Sweet potatoes, yams, corn, tomatoes and root vegetables," Winslow writes. "The waters around the island provided abundant seafood, including the Barbadian staple flying fish." The girls had chores on the farm but also had access to sea, sand and an array of animals. School - one room - lasted eight hours a day and included corporal punishment. Lessons were focused exclusively on academics and religious and moral instruction. Discipline was prized. But being taught by black teachers allowed Chisholm to see people of color as competent and professionally successful, something she might not have witnessed had she remained in New York.

By the time she returned to Brooklyn, however, there was much she needed to adjust to. Not only did the weather fluctuate between brutally hot and brutally cold, the streets, buses and subways were filthy, crowded and noisy; she was terrified. Kids, however, are resilient, and Shirley quickly adapted, excelling in school and declaring that she wanted "to spend her life in the service of education."

She graduated from Brooklyn's Girls' High in 1942. "And even though she was offered scholarships to attend Vassar and Oberlin colleges, her family could not pay for room and board at an out-of-state school. Somewhat reluctantly, she applied to Brooklyn College and was admitted," Winslow writes. Tuition was free, a great boon to countless working-class and poor youths from the five boroughs. And because Chisholm could live at home and get to class by public means, she savored the opportunity. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20168-somebody-had-to-do-it-first-the-story-of-shirley-chisholm

December 1, 2013

Miami Police Carried Out Daily Racial Profiling, Harassment and Humiliation—All Caught on Tape

AlterNet / By Janet Allon

Miami Police Carried Out Daily Racial Profiling, Harassment and Humiliation—All Caught on Tape—Outside a Black-Owned Store
Officers knew they were being filmed, and they harassed and brutalized customers anyway. Now the store owner has filed a federal civil rights suit.

November 28, 2013 | Outside the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store in the suburban city of Miami Gardens, surveillance cameras have caught a lot of action. Only, the crimes that have been committed, on a regular basis, have been committed by cops, who appear to have made a sport out of harassing and humiliating the largely African American clientele of the store.

Curiously, the Miami Herald reports, the officers have known they were being filmed. "They not only knew, the videos show, but in some cases, they relished it, taunting the store’s owner by waving open beer cans and cups, taken from customers, directly in front of the cameras as if the cans were trophies," writes reporter Julie K. Brown. Fed up, and loaded to the gills with videos for evidence, the store owner and a group of his customers and employees filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the local police of racial profiling, illegal search and seizure, harassment and intimidation of the store’s largely African American employees and customers.

The videos show officers roughly confronting an elderly woman, dumping the contents of her purse on the sidewalk and intentionally scattering the items, handcuffing an older man and forcing him to sit on the sidewalk despite his inability to do so because of a bad back, officers grabbing drinks just purchased and tossing them. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/investigations/miami-police-carried-out-daily-racial-profiling-harassment-and-humiliation-all-caught

December 1, 2013

Anti-Bullying as a Civil Right

from Consortium News:

Anti-Bullying as a Civil Right
December 1, 2013

Even as more Americans accept gay marriage and reject discrimination against people over sexual orientation, bullying remains a serious problem in the nation’s schools where teachers do not do enough to protect LGBT students, write Laura Finley and Joseph Schroer.

By Laura Finley and Joseph Schroer

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) youth are among the most vulnerable to bullying and harassment, both in and out of schools. The Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducts a biennial National School Climate Survey in which they measure how frequently bullying of LGBT students occurs in schools and the responses to it.

The 2011 survey includes responses from 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20. Students were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and from 3,224 unique school districts. Results indicated that eight out of 10 LGBT students (81.9 percent) experienced harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, three-fifths (63.5 percent) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and nearly a third (29.8 percent) skipped a day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.

Further, the majority of students in this study who were harassed or assaulted (60.4 percent) did not report it because they believed nothing would change or that the situation might worsen. Of those who did report, 36.7 percent said school officials did nothing. This finding reinforces research that has continually shown that many teachers and administrators do little to counteract homophobic attitudes, including studies in 2003 and in 2010.

There have been very little (and in some instances no) improvements in the quality of the learning environment for LGBT youth. Similar studies 10 to 15 years ago found virtually the same results as those reported by GLSEN. And, a study reported in the UK’s TES magazine for educators found that gay teachers are even less likely to respond out of fear for their own job security. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/12/01/anti-bullying-as-a-civil-right/

December 1, 2013

Geo-Engineering ‘Could Upset Rainfall’

This piece first appeared at Climate New Network.

LONDON—Geo-engineering – the confident technocrat’s last resort solution to catastrophic climate change – could create damaging conditions of its own, according to new research.

Simone Tilmes of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, in the US and an international team of colleagues report in Geophysical Research Letters: Atmospheres that at least one deliberate technological strategy to limit global warming could reduce seasonal rainfall, including the monsoons of Asia that provide a lifeline to hundreds of millions.

Senior scientists have in the last decade tentatively considered technological responses to climate change on the basis that economies, politicians and consumers show no sign of making the dramatic reductions in fossil fuel use that would cut the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Among these responses is a relatively simple one. If greenhouse gases go on increasing, then more solar heat will be trapped in the atmosphere. So, the world should think of a way to reduce solar radiation instead: spray sulphate particles into the stratosphere to block incoming sunlight, or even place arrays of mirrors into orbit to reflect a proportion of the sunlight away from the Earth. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/geo-engineering_could_upset_rainfall_20131201

December 1, 2013

World Aids Day 2013: War on the epidemic is being won, but discrimination against sufferers is .....

(Independent UK) The battle against Aids is being won, with deaths down, record numbers of people being treated, and new cases among children down by more than half.

But ongoing discrimination against sufferers is the biggest obstacle to winning the war, according to the head of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS).

Speaking to The Independent on Sunday on the eve of World Aids Day, UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé said: "We are winning against this epidemic, we are seeing a decline in new infections, an increase in people treated... we have broken the conspiracy of silence."

For the first time, he said, authorities can see "an end to an epidemic that has wrought such staggering devastation around the world". .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/world-aids-day-2013-the-war-on-the-epidemic-is-being-won-but-discrimination-against-sufferers-is-still-rife-8975117.html

December 1, 2013

When the holiday shopping stories have run their course, turn to holiday travel back home !!!!

I tuned into HLN hoping to see more about the Metro-North derailment, and that's what I saw. I can't take any more. I'm reminded of why I don't watch CNN or HLN anymore. ..... AlJazeera is doing a much better job.

December 1, 2013

"Is there any possibility that this could have been terrorist-related"

CNN just now on the MetroNorth derailment. I fucking hate CNN.

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