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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,442

Journal Archives

Matt Taibbi: While Deflategate and Chaitgate Rage, America Quietly Robs Its Elderly

(Rolling Stone) Remember the Matthew McConaughy scene in Wolf of Wall Street? The one where the Lincoln man is doing that weird pound-the-sternum chant and blasting coke and martinis over lunch while he gives Leo de Caprio his famous "Fuck the client!" speech?

That's the scene where Leo's whacked-out boss talks about the three keys to success on Wall Street: jerking off, cocaine and "revolutions," i.e. keeping the client on the investment Ferris wheel indefinitely, while you burn him for fees. On and on it goes, the park is open, 24/7, 365 days a year…

"He thinks he's getting rich, which he is, on paper," McConaughy says. "But you and I are making cold hard cash – on commission, motherfucker!"

A graphic demonstration of that scene, and the financial-services industry ethos it describes, just hit the news in the form of a wild new report on the wide-scale scamming of ordinary investors. The "Ferris wheel" of conflicted payments, unnecessary fees and other shady practices apparently beats retirees for up to $17 billion a year, according to an internal White House memorandum.

Bloomberg's Dave Michaels and Margaret Collins did an excellent report on the topic. They wrote that back on January 13th, Jason Furman, the Chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, issued a scathing memo about shady broker practices and how they impact ordinary savers, especially working people who use brokers to manage their retirement funds. .........(more)


When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild

from Rolling Stone:

When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild
Over the past five years, police in Albuquerque have shot and killed 28 people and brutalized many others

By Nick Pinto | January 29, 2015

Looking west from the scrub and boulders of the Sandia Mountains, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sprawls across the valley of the Rio Grande, surrounded by the vast openness of the high desert. On the city's eastern edge, the winding roads and cul-de-sacs of tony subdivisions in the Northeast Heights abruptly give way to the foothills of the mountains, whose sharp red peaks tower over the city.

On the afternoon of March 16th, 2014, Albuquerque police received a 911 call from this part of town, a man complaining that someone was illegally camping in the foothills. Two Albuquerque officers responded and, sure enough, encountered James Matthew Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia. Boyd was clearly not well, ranting, telling police that he was an agent for the Defense Department.

Unauthorized camping is a petty misdemeanor. The officers could have told Boyd to move along and left it at that. But as Officer John McDaniel approached, Boyd wouldn't show his hands and McDaniel drew his gun. When the officers moved to pat him down, Boyd pulled out two small knives; the cops stepped back and called for backup, setting off a spectacular circus, with as many as 40 police officers reportedly joining the standoff. Among them were uniformed cops and members of the SWAT team, the tactical K-9 unit and the Repeat Offender Project squad.

Not present, Boyd's family would later allege in a complaint, was anyone clearly in charge. Keeping Boyd surrounded, often with guns drawn, officers tried to get him to surrender his knives. Finally, after three hours, Boyd prepared to come down from the hills. "Don't worry about safety," he told the police. "I'm not a fucking murderer." But as Boyd packed his stuff, both hands full of possessions, Detective Keith Sandy — who hours before, on arriving at the scene, boasted on tape that he was going to shoot "this fucking lunatic" with a Taser shotgun — tossed a flash-bang grenade, a nonlethal weapon designed to disorient and distract. Another officer fired a Taser at Boyd, and a third released a police dog on him. Boyd drew his knives again. Advancing on him, officers ordered Boyd to get down on the ground. Boyd began to turn away, and Detective Sandy of the ROP squad and Officer Dominique Perez of the SWAT team each fired three live rounds at him, hitting him once in the back and twice in his arms. Boyd collapsed, face down, crying out that he was unable to move. "Please don't hurt me," he said. Another officer fired three beanbag rounds from a shotgun at Boyd's prone body. The K-9 officer again loosed his German shepherd on Boyd, and the dog tore into his legs. Finally, officers approached and handcuffed him.


Albuquerque is hardly an outlier when it comes to police impunity. Brandenburg's announcement resonated far beyond New Mexico, as the pendulum seems to be swinging against police departments' use of violence to enforce the law. The U.S. Justice Department in the past five years has launched 22 investigations into civil rights violations by police departments — more than twice the number it had begun in the previous five years. Surprisingly, there are no reliable national statistics on the hundreds of fatal police shootings each year, or how many officers have been charged and convicted for such killings. "My guess is that the number of criminal convictions of officers each year would be on the fingers of one hand," says Franklin Zimring, the William G. Simon Professor of Law at UC Berkeley. ................(more)

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/when-cops-break-bad-albuquerque-police-force-gone-wild-20150129#ixzz3QJZwOjm0

Richard Wolff with Thom Hartmann: Why the Greek Anti-Austerity Party Won

Greg Palast: Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony

Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony

Posted on Jan 29, 2015
By Greg Palast, To Xoni

This piece first appeared at the website of the Greek newspaper To Xoni.

Europe is stunned, and bankers aghast, that the new party of the Left, Syriza, won Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Greece.

Syriza won on the promise that it will cure Greece of leprosy.

Oddly, Syriza also promises that it will remain in the leper colony. That is, Syriza wants to rid Greece of the cruelty of austerity imposed by the European Central Bank but insists on staying in the euro zone.

The problem is, austerity run wild is merely a symptom of an illness. The underlying disease is the euro itself.
For the last five years, Greeks have been told that, if you cure your disease—that is, if you dump the euro—the sky will fall. I guess Greeks haven’t noticed, the sky has fallen already. With unemployment at 25 percent, with doctors and teachers eating out of garbage cans, there is no further to fall. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/trojan_hearse_greek_elections_and_the_euro_leper_colony_20150129

Australian Open (spoiler)

Everything Old Is New Again

The Collapse of Europe?: The European Union May Be on the Verge of Regime Collapse

from TomDispatch:

The Collapse of Europe?
The European Union May Be on the Verge of Regime Collapse

By John Feffer

Europe won the Cold War.

Not long after the Berlin Wall fell a quarter of a century ago, the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States squandered its peace dividend in an attempt to maintain global dominance, and Europe quietly became more prosperous, more integrated, and more of a player in international affairs. Between 1989 and 2014, the European Union (EU) practically doubled its membership and catapulted into third place in population behind China and India. It currently boasts the world’s largest economy and also heads the list of global trading powers. In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for transforming Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

In the competition for “world’s true superpower,” China loses points for still having so many impoverished peasants in its rural hinterlands and a corrupt, illiberal bureaucracy in its cities; the United States, for its crumbling infrastructure and a hypertrophied military-industrial complex that threatens to bankrupt the economy. As the only equitably prosperous, politically sound, and rule-of-law-respecting superpower, Europe comes out on top, even if -- or perhaps because -- it doesn’t have the military muscle to play global policeman.

And yet, for all this success, the European project is currently teetering on the edge of failure. Growth is anemic at best and socio-economic inequality is on the rise. The countries of Eastern and Central Europe, even relatively successful Poland, have failed to bridge the income gap with the richer half of the continent. And the highly indebted periphery is in revolt.

Politically, the center may not hold and things seem to be falling apart. From the left, parties like Syriza in Greece are challenging the EU’s prescriptions of austerity. From the right, Euroskeptic parties are taking aim at the entire quasi-federal model. Racism and xenophobia are gaining ever more adherents, even in previously placid regions like Scandinavia. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175948/tomgram%3A_john_feffer%2C_europe%27s_end/#more

Scene from the film "The International" ..... Truth.

M-1 Rail construction to ramp up this year in Detroit

(Detroit Free Press) An M-1 Rail official is predicting a busy 2015 as construction ramps up on the Woodward Avenue streetcar line this year.

The 2015 construction schedule, which includes the resumption of track installation beginning in March, is "very aggressive" to get in and get out and limit the impact, said Sommer Woods, director of external relations for M-1.

"It's going to be a lot of orange cones," Woods said, noting that efforts will be made to allow as much movement as possible along the 3.3-mile route, keep cross streets open and maintain access to medical centers. The streetcar is expected to be operational in late 2016 and run from Campus Martius in downtown Detroit to the New Center area.

Woods was speaking during the first of six community update meetings scheduled this month and next. The meetings are open to the public and are a chance to provide information to stakeholders in specific neighborhoods that are part of the rail corridor.

During the meeting at the M-1 Rail office in downtown Detroit, Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United, noted that bus riders on the SMART system are confused by detours on parts of Woodward that remain in place even though the area is currently open to traffic. Detroit Department of Transportation buses resumed travel along the route after last year's construction ended. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/01/27/construction-busy/22408755/

Downtown Living Doesn't Stop for Storms

CT: Downtown Living Doesn't Stop for Storms


When planners promote what is known as transit-oriented development, it's situations like Tuesday's winter storm they have in mind.

In some Bridgeport neighborhoods, where a growing number of people are able to live a life less dependent on cars, events that severely limit options for everyone else can be more or less shrugged off.

"With the bodegas and small grocers every couple of blocks, it's easy to bundle up and head down the street if your fridge needs replenishing," Becca Bryan, who lives in the South End and works downtown, said in an email. "The colder the weather, the cozier the neighborhood becomes."

As described by the Regional Plan Association, transit-oriented development "is a strategy for growth that produces less traffic and lessens impact on roads and highways. Households located within walking distance of transit own fewer cars, drive less and pay a smaller share of their income on transportation-related expenses."

With roads out of the city not an option during the height of the storm, most people not living in a dense neighborhood were stuck. The state told people not to drive after 9 p.m. and bus and rail service were suspended. But that didn't mean downtown was closed. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11819809/downtown-living-doesnt-stop-for-storms

NY: MTA Had Plan to Keep Subways Running Despite Heavy Snow

The MTA has a winter playbook it turns to when it comes to snowstorms, detailing just how much service it can safely provide. And speaking at a lunchtime press conference on Monday, as what looked like a blizzard bore down on the East Coast, the agency's chief said it was time to put one piece of it into action.

"We're going to put a Plan V in effect," MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast said, "which occurs when we have a storm of this magnitude."

Plan V is meant to prevent debacles like the December 2010 storm which blanketed the city in 20 inches of snow. During that storm, hundreds of buses were left spinning their wheels on unplowed city streets. Worse still, some 40 subway trains were stuck — including an A train near JFK Airport in Queens, which stranded hundreds of passengers for nearly ten hours without food, water, or heat. Some of them later sued the MTA, and the agency vowed to up its snow game. So it revised and expanded its winter operations plan.

According to that 360-page document, a copy of which was obtained by WNYC, Plan V governs operations during a declared snow emergency. To protect the fleet, subway cars are to be stored on underground express tracks, reducing service. Some lines which duplicate service, like the B or the Z trains, may be suspended. Lines that run outdoors — such as the N or the A lines in Brooklyn and Queens -- may run less frequently. The plan also details specific crew actions, and even talks about where to position diesel trains in the event that a regular subway car gets stuck in the snow. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/anatomy-mta-shutdown/

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