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marmar

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Gender: Male
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 72,205

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Jim Hightower: Why Pay for Illegal Spying if it Doesn't Work?


from the Progressive:


Why Pay for Illegal Spying if it Doesn't Work?
By Jim Hightower, Feb. 5, 2014


President Obama's support for NSA's domestic spying program prompted a critic to say: "Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: 'trust us, we won't abuse the data we collect.'"

Oh wait, that wasn't a critic speaking – it was Obama himself! He was trying to shush critics by insisting that the threadbare slipcover of reforms he was throwing over the massive spy machine should satisfy us that all is well, so please, people, just go back to sleep.

Less than a week later, however, a blaring alarm went off in Washington, shattering any drowsiness that Obama had hoped to induce. The alert came from a small, little-known federal agency called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, set up by Congress back in 2007 to be an independent monitor of the spook establishment's privacy infringements. In a stunningly-blunt, 238-page report, the five-member panel of legal experts concluded that NSA's bulk data collection is illegal, probably unconstitutional under the First and Fourth Amendments, a serious, ongoing threat to Americans' privacy and liberties – and essentially useless at stopping terrorist acts.

"As a result," wrote the board's majority, "the board recommends that the government end the program." ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://progressive.org/why-are-we-paying-for-an-illegal-spying-program-that-doesnt-work



Deteriorating relations between United Airlines and the Flight Attendants union


(In These Times) As United Airlines moves to aggressively cut the size of its workforce, labor relations between the company and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) union are taking a turn for the worse.

On January 15, United managers announced their intention to put nearly 700 attendants on “involuntary furlough” starting April 1. It’s a move that circumvents the collective bargaining process and will harm AFA members, union spokesperson Christopher Clarke tells Working In These Times.

Currently, AFA has about 13,000 members at United, with those numbers continuing to fall. In 2010, the company merged with Continental Airlines, which led to a reduction in the total workforce of the combined airlines. But according to Clarke, United began cutting flight attendant numbers even before the merger. In fact, he says, the company has been steadily eliminating attendant jobs for the last five years.

In the past, however, Clarke claims United worked with the union to negotiate strategies—including voluntary retirements and position-sharing plans—that would soften the blow to workers’ livelihoods. Now, he says, United has unilaterally declared involuntary furloughs in defiance of the union contract. Though the attendants are technically eligible to be recalled, such a prospect seems unlikely considering United’s shrinking employee numbers. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16229/united_airlines_gets_tough_on_flight_attendants_union/



The Populist Moment


The Populist Moment

Tuesday, 04 February 2014 11:24
By Richard Eskow, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed


Of all the myths that circulate in Washington, perhaps none is more prevalent or intractable than the one that says that the United States is a "moderate" nation – and that the "center" of public opinion lies somewhere between the views of conservative Democrats and those of less extreme Republicans (a relative term at best). The polling data shows conclusively that this is wrong, but the mythology refuses to die.

According to the myth, the rise of populism is to be condemned as "polarization," a situation that the capital's insider subculture routinely laments – even when it involves something that in other historical moments would be described as "a debate."

In this worldview, "populists" are as extreme as Tea Party radicals and are to be treated with equal disdain. At best they're useful naïfs who can be trotted out to stir up the base at election time, then to be conveniently sidelined again for the next four years. And that worst they're childlike ideologues, to be condescended to and dismissed.

In this worldview, anyone who labels himself a "liberal" or "progressive" is pushing a hopelessly sentimental ideology that has been thoroughly rejected by an increasingly conservative public. If only these "extremists" on both sides would get out of the way, so the legend goes, then conservatively inclined Democrats could get together with their more pragmatic Republican colleagues to carry out the kinds of policies the American people want: deficit reduction, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, privatization, and other grown-up initiatives. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21649-the-populist-moment



Fast Track to Income Inequality


Fast Track to Income Inequality

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:35
By Lori Wallach, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed


Corporate interests were fiercely lobbying for President Obama to dedicate serious time in this State of the Union speech to pushing fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to try to overcome growing congressional and public opposition to both, but instead he made only a brief passing reference.

No doubt one explanation is that there is no upside to generating public debate: Poll after poll shows that Democrats, GOP and Independents oppose TPP and fast track. With almost no House Democratic support for fast track, a bloc of GOP “no” votes and public opposition making congressional phones ring off the hook, we can expect much of the president’s push for fast track to occur under the radar.

But also the White House had come under considerable pressure from congressional Democrats and base groups not to raise these issues, given the stark conflict with the main theme of Obama’s speech. Implementing TPP – a NAFTA-on-steroids with 11 nations – would undermine Obama’s efforts to battle income inequality.

The day after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made public his opposition to fast track, sending an important signal to Democrats that preserving Congress’ constitutional trade authority is the right thing to do even when a Democratic is in the White House. And, his statement helped solidify the sense among U.S. TPP negotiating partners that the administration’s blithe promises that fast track was easy and forthcoming may not be quite accurate. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21672-fast-track-to-income-inequality



More proof that "Idiocracy" was a documentary .......





Live from Tennessee, it's a "Saturday Night Live" actor running for office.

Victoria Jackson, who went from "SNL" ride-alongs with Toonces the Driving Cat to card-carrying conservative pundit, has filed paperwork to run for a seat as a Williamson County Commissioner in a district just outside of Nashville. Although Jackson has labeled herself a Tea Party loyalist, she has filed to run as an independent candidate.

She announced the news on her personal website: "I want to be an example to other moms, and regular folk to get involved in their local government. It's the only way we will save America."

Jackson, a Not Ready for Prime Time Player from 1986 to 1992, tells The Tennessean she's running as an independent for one of the commission's two open seats because she's "very disappointed with the Republican Party," adding "I had a political awakening in 2007. I'm tired of complaining. I want to do something." ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/seeking-to--save-america----snl--alum-victoria-jackson-runs-for-local-office-193453159.html



Why Super Bowl Transit Math Didn't Add Up





The Monday morning quarterbacking of New Jersey Transit's game day performance has stretched into the week.

Despite billing the game early on as the "first mass transit Super Bowl," officials seemed caught off guard by the numbers of people who took the train to the game. The NFL had estimated that NJ Transit's Secaucus-to-the-Meadowlands rail link would take 16,000 people to and from MetLife stadium. It wound up taking 29,000 people there and 34,000 home, leading to huge crowds and long waits to board the train.

One reason behind the disconnect: many more people bought parking permits and seats on shuttle buses than actually used them — about 18,000 people, all of whom moved over to rail.

At the end of the night, NJ Transit wound up deploying buses to get people home, which led some transportation experts to wonder: why not use a combination of rail and bus from the get go? Especially since the stadium is just minutes away from the Lincoln Tunnel, with its dedicated bus lane capable of getting tens of thousands of people into the city each hour. ..............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-super-bowl-transit-math-didnt-add/



That $25 Checked Bag Service Only Costs Airlines $2


(Time) Airlines say that they must charge passengers baggage fees because more checked luggage means more costs incurred by the carrier. But how much extra jet fuel is burned due to luggage? Maybe $2 per bag tops.

That’s according to some analysis conducted by the Detroit Free Press, after extrapolating the costs (and savings) of lighter-weight equipment mentioned in an American Airlines report. Neither American nor airline industry groups refuted the estimate. “Your numbers I guess are correct,” an American Airlines spokesman said.

So how does the airline justify charging $25 for a service that costs the company only $2 in jet fuel? “It’s not directly linked to that,” he said, referring to the fuel costs incurred. “It’s a revenue stream.”

And a pretty impressive revenue stream at that! For every checked baggage fee paid to the tune of $25—fees that travelers increasingly deem to be “reasonable,” and that sometimes cost far more than $25—the airline only coughs up around $2 out of pocket. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: Checked Bag Fees: You Pay $25, But Service Costs Airline $2 | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2014/02/05/that-25-checked-bag-service-only-costs-airlines-2/#ixzz2sT1KKpfd




The Populist Moment


The Populist Moment

Tuesday, 04 February 2014 11:24
By Richard Eskow, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed


Of all the myths that circulate in Washington, perhaps none is more prevalent or intractable than the one that says that the United States is a "moderate" nation – and that the "center" of public opinion lies somewhere between the views of conservative Democrats and those of less extreme Republicans (a relative term at best). The polling data shows conclusively that this is wrong, but the mythology refuses to die.

According to the myth, the rise of populism is to be condemned as "polarization," a situation that the capital's insider subculture routinely laments – even when it involves something that in other historical moments would be described as "a debate."

In this worldview, "populists" are as extreme as Tea Party radicals and are to be treated with equal disdain. At best they're useful naïfs who can be trotted out to stir up the base at election time, then to be conveniently sidelined again for the next four years. And that worst they're childlike ideologues, to be condescended to and dismissed.

In this worldview, anyone who labels himself a "liberal" or "progressive" is pushing a hopelessly sentimental ideology that has been thoroughly rejected by an increasingly conservative public. If only these "extremists" on both sides would get out of the way, so the legend goes, then conservatively inclined Democrats could get together with their more pragmatic Republican colleagues to carry out the kinds of policies the American people want: deficit reduction, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, privatization, and other grown-up initiatives. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21649-the-populist-moment



Fast Track to Income Inequality


Fast Track to Income Inequality

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:35
By Lori Wallach, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed


Corporate interests were fiercely lobbying for President Obama to dedicate serious time in this State of the Union speech to pushing fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to try to overcome growing congressional and public opposition to both, but instead he made only a brief passing reference.

No doubt one explanation is that there is no upside to generating public debate: Poll after poll shows that Democrats, GOP and Independents oppose TPP and fast track. With almost no House Democratic support for fast track, a bloc of GOP “no” votes and public opposition making congressional phones ring off the hook, we can expect much of the president’s push for fast track to occur under the radar.

But also the White House had come under considerable pressure from congressional Democrats and base groups not to raise these issues, given the stark conflict with the main theme of Obama’s speech. Implementing TPP – a NAFTA-on-steroids with 11 nations – would undermine Obama’s efforts to battle income inequality.

The day after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made public his opposition to fast track, sending an important signal to Democrats that preserving Congress’ constitutional trade authority is the right thing to do even when a Democratic is in the White House. And, his statement helped solidify the sense among U.S. TPP negotiating partners that the administration’s blithe promises that fast track was easy and forthcoming may not be quite accurate. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21672-fast-track-to-income-inequality



Noam Chomsky | Prerogatives of Power


Noam Chomsky | Prerogatives of Power

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:00
By Noam Chomsky, Truthout | Op-Ed


As the year 2013 drew to an end, the BBC reported on the results of the WIN/Gallup International poll on the question: “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?”

The United States was the champion by a substantial margin, winning three times the votes of second-place Pakistan.

By contrast, the debate in American scholarly and media circles is about whether Iran can be contained, and whether the huge NSA surveillance system is needed to protect U.S. security.

In view of the poll, it would seem that there are more pertinent questions: Can the United States be contained and other nations secured in the face of the U.S. threat? .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21671-noam-chomsky-prerogatives-of-power



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