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Gender: Male
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 72,229

Journal Archives

Bill O'Reilly can't beat the box (cartoon)


Winter, don't go away mad. Winter, just go away. (cartoon)


With State Senate’s Approval, Right to Work Looks All But Certain in Wisconsin

(In These Times) MADISON, WISCONSIN—Against the wishes of thousands of angry constituents in two days of protests outside the state capitol building this week, the Wisconsin state senate late Wednesday night voted 17 to 15 in favor of a “right-to-work” law. Only one Republican, a former union member from the northern woodlands of the state, joined all Democratic senators in voting against the anti-union law that the Republican leadership has rushed through an “extraordinary session.”

If the Assembly approves the bill next week—and with a GOP margin of 63 to 36, larger than in the Senate, it is almost certainly expected to do so—Gov. Scott Walker has promised to sign it, giving a former union stronghold the dubious distinction of becoming the 25th state to pass such legislation.

The law will make it illegal for unions and employers to negotiate “union security“ agreements. Such contract provisions typically require all employees in a bargaining unit to pay dues, or some fair share of the regular dues, to pay for the work the union does on behalf of all workers in collective bargaining and representing them in the grievance and discipline processes.

After Congress authorized such state laws in 1947, they were largely confined to the extremely anti-union South, where business owners fought to keep wages low and cultural hostility to collective action ran strong. The ranks of right-to-work states grew irregularly after the 1950s, but the political right has sensed a chance to make progress in the traditionally well-unionized industrial Midwest states and elsewhere since 2012, when states like Michigan and Indiana passed right-to-work laws.

If—or, more accurately at this point, when—the Wisconsin law is approved, the right-to-work campaign will have reached a critical mark: half the states in the U.S. and just under half the private workforce will be under right-to-work rules.

Even supporters concede there is little chance of stopping the law in Wisconsin. ...............(more)


"Is it apathy, or resignation?"

from truthdig:

That’s All, Folks

Posted on Mar 1, 2015
By Peter Z. Scheer


When I started this job nine or so years ago, George W. Bush was in his second term and the U.S. was plainly stuck in two costly, deadly, seemingly endless wars. America was torturing people. Our government routinely lied about pretty much everything. Bush’s attorney general, who tried to eliminate all traces of marijuana and boobies from the national landscape, was replaced by a guy who was somehow worse. The people of New Orleans were drowning and waiting to be saved by the horse enthusiast who was in charge of FEMA. In those times, running Truthdig was a lot easier. The targets were clearly marked.

In a period when the press at large had mostly failed in its duty, Truthdig would avoid quibbling about the obvious and dig for lesser-known truths about the day’s events. We would mine these truths from experts, on-the-ground reports and the small crevices of the Internet and broadcast them as far as our readers, friends and online allies would carry them.

Now, as I write this, an original print of Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster sits behind me, Barack Obama’s eyes overseeing everything I type. How appropriate given what we now know about the NSA. I cannot think of a greater disappointment than President Obama—like so many millions of other Americans, I completely fell for it. I remember sitting in a Nevada home surrounded by volunteers from California, Chicago and elsewhere. Among those migrants were disaffected Republicans who may have more clearly recognized a fellow traveler in the candidate. I thought then that they were the dupes. I was wrong. Regardless, we were united by a common desire for profound change, and we seemed to have found a vehicle for it in Obama. Of course he would go on to squander it all. Truthdig covered the hell out of Obama’s fall from grace. It wasn’t easy, or popular.


Don’t get me started on the national security state. It is baffling to me to think that Richard Nixon’s presidency was brought down by a burglary, while the NSA and other intelligence agencies continue to stampede the Constitution without repercussion. They want to know who you are, what you do, what you say and what you think, and will put you in prison if you dare let anyone know the full extent of what they’re up to. That’s America now, and the collective reaction is “Meh.”


I have two friends who would like to be artists. Instead, one is now a graphic designer, the other makes Internet ads. I have a friend who loves to act; he’s a lawyer. Journalism is now a training camp for PR. The best mathematicians go to work for Wall Street investment firms. Many of these people are shackled to what is estimated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. By law, they are not allowed to default. In 1972, the year Jobs dropped out of college, the average annual cost for a four-year education, including fees, room and board, was $2,031, according to the Digest of Education Statistics. In 2013 it was $23,872. That’s an increase of more than 1,100 percent. Reed College, which Jobs attended for six months, now costs $59,960 a year for tuition, room and board, a figure greater than the net worth of the typical American household. Not including books, transportation and other expenses, that’s $239,840 for a bachelor’s degree, which is significantly less valuable in the marketplace now than it was in 1972.


When the best and brightest are chained to a monthly loan payment that leaves them just enough for food, housing and some minor consumer distraction to get them back on the hamster wheel, they’re never really going to do anything about global warming, or Ebola, or Syria, or poverty, or hunger, or the war in the Congo that killed 5.4 million people while no one was paying attention. Those things will exist on Twitter, where great ideas, thought up in stolen moments at work, go to shrink and die. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/thats_all_folks_20150301

Chris Hedges: Tariq Ali: The Time Is Right for a Palace Revolution

from truthdig:

by Chris Hedges

PRINCETON, N.J.—Tariq Ali is part of the royalty of the left. His more than 20 books on politics and history, his seven novels, his screenplays and plays and his journalism in the Black Dwarf newspaper, the New Left Review and other publications have made him one of the most trenchant critics of corporate capitalism. He hurls rhetorical thunderbolts and searing critiques at the oily speculators and corporate oligarchs who manipulate global finance and the useful idiots in the press, the political system and the academy who support them. The history of the late part of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st century has proved Ali, an Oxford-educated intellectual and longtime gadfly who once stood as a Trotskyist candidate for Parliament in Britain, to be stunningly prophetic.

The Pakistani-born Ali, who holds Pakistani and British citizenships, was already an icon of the left during the convulsions of the 1960s. Mick Jagger is said to have written “Street Fighting Man” after he attended an anti-war rally in Grosvenor Square on March 17, 1968, led by Ali, Vanessa Redgrave and others outside the U.S. Embassy in London. Some 8,000 protesters hurled mud, stones and smoke bombs at riot police. Mounted police charged the crowd. Over 200 people were arrested.

Ali, when we met last week shortly before he delivered the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture at Princeton University, praised the street clashes and open, sustained protests against the state that erupted during the Vietnam War. He lamented the loss of the radicalism that was nurtured by the 1960s counterculture, saying it was “unprecedented in imperial history” and produced the “most hopeful period” in the United States, “intellectually, culturally and politically.”

“I cannot think of an example of any other imperial war in history, and not just in the history of the American empire but in the history of the British and French empires, where you had tens of thousands of former GIs and sometimes serving GIs marching outside the Pentagon and saying they wanted the Vietnamese to win,” he said. “That is a unique event in the annals of empire. That is what frightened and scared the living daylights out of them (those in power). If the heart of our apparatus is becoming infected, (they asked) what the hell are we going to do?” ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/tariq_ali_the_time_is_right_for_a_palace_revolution_20150301

Seattle: Sound Transit Reaches Record Ridership in 2014

Sound Transit once again set all-time annual records in 2014 for boardings on its trains and buses. The latest numbers, reported at the Feb 26 Sound Transit Board meeting, reflect an increase of more than 8 percent over 2013, bringing average weekday boardings to more than 109,000 for 2014 and total boardings to an estimated 33 million.

"Each year more and more people hop aboard Sound Transit's trains and express buses," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "These gains mean not only happier and more productive commuters, but fewer cars on our congested roads."

Sound Transit's rate of ridership growth was more than four times that of transit ridership nationally. The latest American Public Transportation Association numbers show 1.8 percent growth from third quarter 2013 to third quarter 2014. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12049578/sound-transit-reaches-record-ridership-in-2014

With Chicago Tired of “Mayor 1%,” Chuy García Could Actually Win His Runoff with Rahm Emanuel

from In These TImes:

With Chicago Tired of “Mayor 1%,” Chuy García Could Actually Win His Runoff with Rahm Emanuel
While money poured into the recent mayoral and aldermanic elections, voters showed that they are tired of business as usual.


“He’s like a helium balloon,” Marcos Muñoz told me last week, speaking about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “He keeps rising and rising, and he doesn’t even know he’s popped.”

Muñoz was with Cesar Chavez in the Central Valley in California in 1965, part of a seminal labor movement demanding rights and respect for farmworkers. After a stint organizing for the United Farmworkers in Boston, where he met his wife, Muñoz settled four decades ago in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. That’s where he met Jesus “Chuy” García, a political activist with the vibrant, independent movement then pushing for immigrants rights, labor rights and basic services in black and Latino neighborhoods.

Muñoz described how he was skeptical of García at first, but was won over when García joined the grassroots brigade of locals who would sweep the alleys of trash and broken glass.

Last night García made history, forcing Emanuel into the Chicago’s first-ever mayoral election run-off by winning 34 percent of the vote to Emanuel’s 45 percent.

This moment can be seen as a victory not only for Cook County Commissioner García, a Mexican immigrant who still lives in Little Village, but for Muñoz and the countless other Chicagoans who make the city what it is through their hard work, their creativity, their very existence. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17685/chicago_election_runoff_chuy_rahm

Sea Level Rise Threatens to Drown Miami Even Faster Than Feared

Living in Miami in 2015 and harboring any doubts about sea level rise is roughly equivalent to being a volcano truther in Pompeii circa 79 AD. The catastrophe is happening. The only question is just how quickly climate change will sink parts of South Florida.

The answer, according to new work by a University of Miami researcher: even more quickly than we thought.

"People ask me all the time: 'When is it going to happen? When will we start seeing sea level rise?'" says Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. "We've already passed that. It's happening."

To chart that rise, McNoldy recently crunched nearly two decades' worth of data from a tidal monitoring station on Virginia Key. First, he looked at the heights of high, low, and mean sea level measured at the station from 1996, when it was set up, until today. .........................(more)


Atlantic Surging, Virginia Sinking

from the American Prospect:

Atlantic Surging, Virginia Sinking
Rising sea level in Norfolk threatens the town, the Navy, and a state in denial.

Nathalie Baptiste

[font size="1"]The Norfolk Naval Station: At the world's largest naval installation, the carriers will float, but the base could go under.[/font]

Standing at the Elizabeth River looking at the Naval Shipyard and neighboring Portsmouth, the climate change carnage looming over Norfolk, Virginia, may not be immediately noticeable. The water is calm, and on this mild day in November, dedicated boaters cruise downstream. Nestled between the river, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean, Norfolk is paradise for anyone who loves living near the water.

But paradise comes with a price. The combination of sea level rise, tidal flooding, and subsidence—the sinking ground—has made Norfolk a prime example of what climate is going to do, and has already done, to our coastal cities. The city and surrounding region is on the front line in the battle against climate change, but opinions within city limits on just how bad the flooding is and what to do about it appear to be mixed.

The stakes are high in Norfolk, which is home to the headquarters of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. Ignoring the problem will prove costly and dangerous, but for some, tidal flooding and sea level rise are problems for a future generation. The more serious form of denial on climate change is not that of the science-deniers; it’s the everyday denial on the part of ordinary people, communities, and leaders who can’t or won’t acknowledge what is lapping at their feet, because the reality is so frightening and the required scale of change is so immense.

In the 1970s, Norfolk averaged less than two flooding events per year. That number has since tripled. But even when the water isn’t making roads impassable, the signs of climate change are still there: the rusted base of a street sign, debris lines that form when the water carries litter onto the grass, salt patches where nothing grows, and a walkway that’s underwater so often that no one bothers to use it anymore. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://prospect.org/article/atlantic-surging-virginia-sinking

The "Mega-Drought Future," Disappearance of Coral Reefs and Our Unwillingness to Listen

The "Mega-Drought Future," Disappearance of Coral Reefs and Our Unwillingness to Listen

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

Scientists are now mapping a world that is changing rapidly in often terrifying ways. Climate disruption and world leaders' unwillingness to act have put us at risk of experiencing mega-droughts, the disappearance of coral reefs and other ecological impacts of an anthropogenically warming planet.

The UN World Meteorological Organization recently announced that 14 of the 15 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000. Ponder that for a moment before reading further.

In what is perhaps eerily prophetic timing, this February marked the 50th anniversary of US President Lyndon B. Johnson's warning about carbon dioxide. In a 1965 special message to Congress, he warned about the buildup of carbon dioxide and said, in what would become the harbinger warning of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD):

Air pollution is no longer confined to isolated places. This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

The potential consequences of this warming are also multiplying, as witnessed by a recent NASA study that shows that the United States is "at risk of (a) mega-drought future." The research shows that the Southwest and Central Plains are both on course for super-droughts, which have not been witnessed in over 1,000 years.

In this month's climate dispatch, we document a wide range of research along similar lines: Scientists are now mapping a world that is changing rapidly in often terrifying ways. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/29317-the-mega-drought-future-disappearance-of-coral-reefs-and-our-unwillingness-to-listen

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