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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,439

Journal Archives

Thom Hartmann: United Airlines Adopts the Walmart Welfare Model


Published on Jul 23, 2014

Thom Hartmann discusses a plan by United Airlines to pay gate agents just enough so they can still qualify for food stamps.

Juan Cole: Gaza and Soweto

By Juan Cole

On June 16, 1976, some 20,000 students rose up to protest in the slum of Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Here is a summary of the June 18 NYT article on the repression of the protests:

“Rioting continues for 3d day in Soweto, black township outside Johannesburg, with rioters, mostly young, directing fury at govt bldgs and vehicles. Death toll continues to mount as more than 1,000 armed policemen move into township sts. Official casualty toll put at 58 dead and 788 injured. Only 2 of dead and 5 of injured are white. Rioting is most serious in nation since Sharpeville massacre in ’60. There is widespread feeling that repercussions could be even greater.Gen W H Kotze, police comdr, sees no end to violence. Battle between police and rioters described.”

The students were protesting (white people said “rioting”) because the minority white government had decided that they suddenly would have to study not in English but in Afrikaans, a form of Dutch. Most of them did not know that language and did not want to know it, then seeing it as the tongue of hated colonialists who had deprived them of citizenship in a state and left them stateless.

The summary for the lead article by John F. Burns on Saturday June 19 reports, “Prime Min Vorster says there is ‘no reason for panic,’ TV and radio speech. Declares Govt will not be intimidated. Says instructions have been given to maintain law and order at all costs.” Already 60 had been killed and more than 800 wounded according to the government, but officials admitted that the toll on day 3 was likely far higher. It ends, “Fact that almost all of black leaders who might have influence with radical elements among rioters have been imprisoned under special detention laws is problem for Govt.”


One tactic of the Apartheid South African regime was to consign black Africans to Bantustans, territories that were subordinate to Pretoria. In this way their citizenship could be revoked but they did not gain an actual new state. Gaza is very much like a Bantustan of Israel, surrounded by it and kept weak and disrupted. But in this way the nearly 2 million Palestinians displaced there from their original homes in what is now southern Israel can be denied citizenship in Israel while also being kept stateless with regard to their “Palestine” Bantustan. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/gaza-and-soweto.html

Thom Hartmann: United Airlines Adopts the Walmart Welfare Model


Published on Jul 23, 2014

Thom Hartmann discusses a plan by United Airlines to pay gate agents just enough so they can still qualify for food stamps.

More than 2.5m Sea Level Rise by 2040?

More than 2.5m Sea Level Rise by 2040?

A warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold (which may have been no more than several degrees above pre-industrial temperatures). This resulted in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland, raising global sea levels some 4.5-6 meters, found a recent study by Reyes et al. Due to melting elsewhere, global mean sea level then was 6 to 13 metres above the present level. Indeed, melting of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet can add a further 6-meter rise in sea levels. If the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) were to melt as well, sea levels would rise by around 70 metres.

Sea level is now rising by 3.1mm (0.122 inch) per year. Much of this rise is due to rising temperatures, but there are also other factors. One quarter of the rise results from groundwater depletion, while run off from melting ice and glaciers adds another quarter and the remainder is attributed to thermal expansion of sea water. Furthermore, as temperatures rise, feedbacks start to kick in, e.g. the kinetic energy from stronger waves and more intense storms can speed things up.

Clearly, a rapid multi-meter rise would be devastating as it would flood many coastal cities, as well as much of the land now used to grow food. By how much have sea levels been rising recently and how fast can they be expected to rise in the near future?

Sea levels have risen by some 60 mm over the past 20 years, as above NASA image shows, which has a linear trendline added. The question is whether a linear trendline is the most appropriate trendline, given that it suggests that a similar rise could be expected over the next 20 years. A polynomial trendline appears to fit the data better, as the animation below shows. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/07/more-than-25m-sea-level-rise-by-2040.html

Chris Hedges on Gaza "It Is Not A War - It Is Murder!"

FBI Using Dubious Entrapment to Arrest Terrorism Suspects

(The Progressive) A new report by Human Rights Watch and the Columbia Law School focuses on the dubiousness of federal terrorism sting tactics.

The 214-page study, “Illusion of Justice,” is a detailed examination of twenty-seven terrorism cases—and the questionable methods that prosecutors employed.

“For years, Human Rights Watch has documented human rights violations in the U.S. criminal justice system,” Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director of Human Rights Watch and a co-author of the report, tells The Progressive. “We thought it was important to look specifically at the treatment of terrorism suspects in U.S. federal courts, and also to document the impact abusive counterterrorism policies have on American Muslim communities.”

The report underscores how hard it is to demonstrate that suspects have been entrapped by the feds—and how anti-foreigner and anti-Islam prejudice makes it all the more difficult.

“U.S. law requires that to prove entrapment a defendant show both that the government induced him to commit the act in question and that he was not ‘predisposed’ to commit it,” the report states. “This predisposition inquiry focuses attention on the defendant’s background, opinions, beliefs, and reputation—in other words, not on the crime, but on the nature of the defendant. This character inquiry makes it exceptionally difficult for a defendant to succeed in raising the entrapment defense, particularly in the terrorism context, where inflammatory stereotypes and highly charged characterizations of Islam and foreigners often prevail.” .........(more)

- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/07/187798/fbi-using-dubious-entrapment-arrest-terrorism-suspects#sthash.Dew1V4cL.dpuf

Amy Goodman: A Venerable Jewish Voice For Peace

from truthdig:

A Venerable Jewish Voice For Peace

Posted on Jul 30, 2014
By Amy Goodman

The Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip has entered its fourth week. This military attack, waged by land, sea and air, has been going on longer than the devastating assault in 2008/2009, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. The death toll in this current attack is at least 1,300, overwhelmingly civilians. As this column was being written, the United Nations confirmed that a U.N. school in Gaza, where thousands of civilians were seeking shelter, was bombed by the Israeli Defense Forces, killing at least 20 people. The United Nations said it reported the exact coordinates of the shelter to the Israeli military 17 times.

Henry Siegman, a venerable dean of American Jewish thought and president of the U.S./Middle East Project, sat down for an interview with the “Democracy Now!” news hour. An ordained rabbi, Siegman is the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress and former executive head of the Synagogue Council of America, two of the major, mainstream Jewish organizations in the United States. He says the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories must end.

“There is a Talmudic saying in the ‘Ethics of the Fathers,’” Siegman started, “‘Don’t judge your neighbor until you can imagine yourself in his place.’ So, my first question when I deal with any issue related to the Israeli-Palestinian issue: What if we were in their place?”

He elaborated, “No country and no people would live the way Gazans have been made to live ... our media rarely ever points out that these are people who have a right to live a decent, normal life, too. And they, too, must think, ‘What can we do to put an end to this?’” .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_venerable_jewish_voice_for_peace_20140730

New York Fed Worried About Gambling in Casablanca, Um, Ethics Problem at Big Banks

from Naked Capitalism:

New York Fed Worried About Gambling in Casablanca, Um, Ethics Problem at Big Banks
Posted on July 29, 2014 by Yves Smith

This story would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that the New York Fed woke up out of its usual slumber and realized that the crisis has changed nothing and that banks still (are in the business of looting) have unaddressed ethics issues.

From the Financial Times:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is stepping up pressure on the biggest banks to improve their ethics and culture, after investigations into the alleged rigging of benchmark rates led officials to conclude bankers had not learnt lessons from the financial crisis…

Fed officials were surprised that some of that reported behaviour occurred after the 2008 crisis, leading them to believe bankers had not curbed their poor conduct.

To make sure the biggest banks are paying enough attention to ethics and culture, NY Fed bank evaluations have begun incorporating new questions emphasising such issues. Topics include whether the right performance structure is in place to punish bad behaviour, especially when it comes to compensation.

The NY Fed does not have the authority to write regulations, but it plays a crucial role in the regulatory landscape, overseeing banks in its jurisdiction that include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Barclays and Deutsche Bank. It assesses banks through evaluations, which often do not contain specific criteria but which provide guidance for standards.

NY Fed general counsel Thomas Baxter has also been meeting bank executives to emphasise that when it comes to ethics and culture the tone needs to be set at the top, people familiar with the efforts said. The agency will also hold a workshop on bank ethics and culture in the autumn…

“Banks are taking the Fed’s message very seriously,” a banking industry source said. “We just want to make sure we know what the rules are.”

The steps taken by the NY Fed come after its president, William Dudley, gave a surprisingly scathing speech in November saying tougher capital requirements may not solve the problem of banks’ “apparent lack of respect for law and regulation”.

This is simply ludicrous. How do you get bankers to behave in an ethical manner? You have serious consequences if they don’t, particularly for those in supervisory and executive positions.

The cute notion that the tone is set at the top (or more vividly, the fish rots from the head) is true but meaningless, since everyone knows that no one senior suffered any meaningful punishment for the colossal damage done in the crisis. It was the New York Fed, for instance, that was unwilling to renegotiate pay deals in the AIG Financial Products Group, the unit that booked the credit default swaps that led to the certain failure of the giant insurer had the Fed not rescued it.

As we pointed out, the authorities had the perfect mechanism for punishing bank executives, which was Sarbanes Oxley, passed in the wake of the Enron bankruptcy. It was meant to put an end to the “I’m the CEO and I know nothing” excuse. It requires that the CEO and the CFO personally certify the accuracy of the financial statements and the adequacy of internal controls. For financial firms, that includes risk controls. The fact that major banks and what were then investment banks would have all keeled over save for the munificence of the authorities and ultimately the American taxpayer is prima facie evidence that risk controls were seriously deficient. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/new-york-fed-worried-about-bank-ethics.html

Paris Launched a Kid-Friendly Bike Share. Could the U.S. Be Next?

from YES! Magazine:

Paris Launched a Kid-Friendly Bike Share. Could the U.S. Be Next?
The city's mayor says the move will boost cycling in decades to come, creating a greener and more sociable city.

by Yessenia Funes
posted Jul 14, 2014

Mini aspiring cyclists in Paris can now be seen biking alongside their parents—or at least trying to—while rocking a red, green, or pink helmet adorned with a playful “P’tit Vélib’” logo on the side.

P’tit Vélib’, launched June 16, is an extension of Vélib’, one of the world’s largest bike-sharing services—public programs where people can cheaply and easily rent a bike for getting around the city.

Though the programs in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Hangzhou are larger, Vélib’ is the first bike share in the world to include tiny bikes for toddlers.

The program aims to create young cyclists who will one day choose a bike lock over a car key, according to a statement by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. “By introducing the very young to the most eco-friendly and sociable means of transport, we are preparing for the future of Paris,” she wrote. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/paris-launched-a-kid-friendly-bike-share-could-the-u-s-be-next

How Many People Did the CIA Process at Its Stare Kiejkuty “Black Site,” and Where Are They Now?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I’m fascinated to see the Stare Kiejkuty story come alive, because I did some posting on it, back in my salad days, eight years or so ago, back when we were fresh and new and thought electing more and better Democrats was important because they opposed stuff like extraordinary rendition and torture because such things were wrong, not because their guy wasn’t the one doing it (leaving aside the occasional honorable outlier like Ron Wyden). Anyhow, the Stare Kiejkuty story came alive again last week. Reuters:

The CIA ran a secret jail on Polish soil, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday, piling pressure on Poland, one of Washington’s closest allies, to break its long silence about the global programme for detaining al Qaeda suspects.

The court said it had been established that the CIA used a facility in a northern Polish forest, code named “Quartz”, as a hub in its network for interrogating suspected al Qaeda operatives rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. …..

Thursday’s ruling was the first time that a court in Europe had said that the CIA operated one of the secret jails – often referred to as “black sites” -on the continent.

The court case was brought by lawyers for two men, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who are now both inmates at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military’s prison on Cuba.

They alleged they were flown in secret to a remote Polish airfield, then transferred to the CIA-facility near the village of Stare Kiejkuty where they were subject to treatment they said amounted to [was] torture. …

The court found Poland violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to prevent torture, ensure the right to liberty, and properly investigate allegations a crime had been committed on its territory.

The ruling from Strasbourg may have implications for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons: similar cases have been lodged with the court in Strasbourg against Romania and Lithuania. …

Let’s not worry about the other torture camps we apparently littered the European landscape with, and focus only on Stare Kiejkuty. Here is the press release from European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and here are the two decisions: Al Nashiri v. Poland and Abu Zubaydah v. Poland. They are lengthy and very detailed. Kevin Gosztola has good background here. (Note that Poland may appeal.)

Now, presumably Ron Wyden is, at some point in the not too distant future, going to manage to get the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s 6300-page report on CIA torture released, either by declassifying it after White House censorship, or, as Mike Gravel suggests, by simply publishing it, uncensored, using the speech and debate clause of the Constitution everybody tells me we still operate under. And although that report will surely include material on Stare Kiejkuty, I don’t see a need to speculate about what’s in it, assuming it’s going to be released anyhow. However, there are two very obvious questions raised by the European Court of Human Rights decision, and I’d like to raise them now, because when the report does come out, they are the questions I’d like to look into first. They’re in the headline:

How many people were processed through Stare Kiejkuty?
Where are they now?

Because, when you think about it: (1) Surely more than two people, Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, were processed, so how many? And if more than two, (2) surely it’s a more than a little remarkable that nobody talked? So where are they? ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/many-people-cia-process-stare-kiejkuty-black-site.html

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