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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 72,525

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Vacant Olde Building Suddenly Aglow, $4M Rehab Begins


from Curbed Detroit:

Aside from the presence of a roll-off dumpster, the corner of Griswold and Lafayette looks like its normal, abandoned self during the daytime. But if you swing by at night—in late December, that's pretty much anytime after 1 pm— be ready for an unusual sight: The vacant Olde Building has been completely lit up.

It would appear the long-awaited rehab of the Olde Building is underway. First publicized in April, the vision involves carving out a restaurant space on the ground floor and "office space for tech companies" upstairs. Basco of Michigan, the owner/renovator, has also posted a sign declaring its new name to be The 751.

Back when it was still on the market, we heard that original interior goodies—the marble staircase, ornate ceiling, and basement vaults—were still hiding inside. Albert Kahn is said to have designed the building, which opened as a bank in the 1920s. Basco snagged it for just $800K a couple years ago.

[font size="1"]The building before it sold in 2013.[/font]

[font size="1"]Rendering of upstairs office space.[/font]

[font size="1"]The lobby.[/font]

Chris Hedges: Americans Are Living An Unsustainable Fantasy

Keiser Report: De-Fiatisation of the World

Published on Dec 27, 2014

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the ‘Give Us Back Our Gold’ movement across Europe as governments seek to have their gold held domestically as fear spreads about the integrity of our fiat and debt world. Max describes the de-fiatisation of the world as the American empire makes way for the emerging power of China.

Atlanta Stagehands Fight ‘Labor Pimps’ Pushing Temp Work, Low Wages

(In These Times) When singers like Beyoncé take the stage, thousands of eyes are glued to her and her alone. But behind the singer at every concert is an army of workers handling everything from lighting to exploding confetti cannons. And while those performances net entertainers and concert venues massive amounts of money, the backstage workers like the ones who made Beyoncé’s live performance July 15 in Atlanta possible can’t say the same. Those employees are now attempting to organize a union, hoping to reverse the trend of eroded wages and benefits for the stagehands and others who make these performances so profitable.

Anger over the mistreatment of entertainment workers in the Atlanta area has been brewing for years, according to Daniel Di Tolla, an organizer with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Entertainment companies have embraced the use of temporary labor contractors for hiring stagehands, electricians, audio technicians, and riggers for the short-term jobs at their concerts, often seeking out the lowest-cost anti-union contractors available.

Some angered workers call these contractors “labor pimps,” Di Tolla says, because they hoard the profits from the lucrative concerts while many employees are paid wages that are sometimes half that of a unionized stagehand crew. The workers are now engaged in a fight to unionize what workers say is one of the prime offenders of this business model, a company called Crew One Productions.

Billing itself as “the largest tech staffing source in the Southeast,” Crew One has grown into a major force in the music industry in the region and is undermining IATSE’s traditional membership base, Di Tolla says. The union has a longstanding presence in Atlanta—IATSE Local 927 currently represents stage workers at the Atlanta Civic Center, the Fox Theater and elsewhere—but non-union staffing agencies have come to dominate the pop music concerts sector in Atlanta. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17498/atlanta_stagehands_fight_labor_pimps_pushing_temp_work_low_wages

Saudis Tell Shale Industry It Will Break Them, Plans to Keep Pumping Even at $20 a Barrel

When the Saudis announced their intention not to support oil prices when they were sliding towards $90 and plunged quickly through that level, we deemed the move to be a masterstroke. It served to damage both economic and political enemies. On the economic front, the casualties would include renewables, Canadian tar sands, and the US shale gas industry. On the geopolitical front, the casualties would include Iran, Syria, Russia.... and the US.

Even though Riyadh is nominally still an ally, relations with the US are fraught. The Saudis are mighty unhappy with America over its failure to get rid of Assad, its refusal to indulge Saudi demands of attacking Iran (our leaders may be drunk on power, but they haven't quite gone over the deep end) and or indirectly working with Iran against ISIS (which started out as Prince Bandar's private army and may still have the kingdom as a stealth patron). So the Saudis are not at all unhappy if the US suffers as a result of the whackage of its energy industry. First, that's an inevitable outcome if the Saudis are to succeed in maximizing the value of their oil assets, which is a survival issue for the royal family. Second, since relations between the US and Riyadh are frayed right now, it is an opportune time to show that the kingdom is not to be treated casually.

Yesterday, the Saudis made it even more clear that they are not pulling out of their game of chicken with other energy producing nations. The Saudis will keep pumping and by implication, will force production cuts on others. But in its clever formulation, which has the advantage of being true but misleading, the Saudis insist that all they are doing is preserving market share. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/28282-saudis-tell-shale-industry-it-will-break-them-plans-to-keep-pumping-even-at-20-a-barrel

Robert W. McChesney: "Capitalism as We Know It Has Got to Go"

Robert W. McChesney: "Capitalism as We Know It Has Got to Go"

Tuesday, 30 December 2014 10:32
By Robert McChesney, Monthly Review Press | Book Excerpt

The following is the first chapter of Blowing the Roof Off, "America, I Do Mind Dying":

Please, mister foreman, slow down that assembly line
I don't mind working but I do mind dying.

—JOE L. CARTER, "Please, Mister Foreman," blues song, 1965

THESE ARE PERILOUS TIMES for capitalism, the reigning political economic system of the United States and the world. The economy is stagnating, and Mother Earth is gravely ill. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, we face widening economic inequality, plutocratic governance, endless militarism and mounting planetary ecological degradation.

Not many years ago, this would have sounded hyperbolic to many people. But today, it is not just radicals who are sounding alarm bells. Nobel Prize–winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been writing about secular stagnation in the past year in remarkably alarmist terms, arguing that the rich economies may be caught in decades of slow growth. No less an establishment figure than former World Bank Chief Economist and U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers warned the International Monetary Fund in 2013 that the United States and the advanced economies may be facing a generation of stagnation.(1)

Moreover, some of our leading social and natural scientists have recently established the magnitude of the difficulties we face with cutting-edge research. There is now wide agreement on what the influential French economist Thomas Piketty has demonstrated, which is that growing economic inequality is built into the core logic of the capitalist system.(2) His research also suggests that a new oligarchy of inherited wealth has come to dominate society and the state, and the process is accelerated by stagnation. According to Krugman, writing on Piketty's discoveries, "We're going to look back nostalgically on the early 21st century when you could still at least have the pretense that the wealthy actually earned their wealth. And, you know, by the year 2030, it'll all be inherited." Indeed, "we are seeing not only great disparities in income and wealth, but we're seeing them get entrenched. We're seeing them become inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagine we're nothing like."3)

In other acclaimed new empirical research, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page examined 1,800 policy decisions made by the U.S. government between 1981 and 2002:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. . . . Ordinary citizens might often be observed to "win" (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.(4)

In short, when organized wealth wants one thing and the mass of the people wants another, money wins—always. "Democracy" has been reduced to powerless people rooting for their favored billionaire or corporate lobby to advance their values and interests, and hoping such a billionaire exists and that they get lucky. Doesn't that sound like the oligarchy that was explicitly rejected in this nation's founding in Philadelphia in 1776, and reaffirmed in Lincoln's speech at the bloodstained earth of Gettysburg some four score and seven years later? ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/28273-robert-w-mcchesney-capitalism-as-we-know-it-has-got-to-go

U.S. Media Dangerously Regurgitated Government Claims About North Korea and Sony

via truthdig:

By reflexively and uncritically repeating the Obama administration’s unsubstantiated claim that North Korea was behind the hack of Sony Pictures, the U.S. establishment press once again revealed itself to be a mouthpiece for—rather than a check on—power, and thus a danger to public security, Glenn Greenwald wrote at The Intercept on Thursday.

Greenwald began his critique by quoting President Obama’s Dec. 19 announcement that “we can confirm that North Korea engaged in this attack,” that the U.S. “will respond,” and that “we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”

Two days before the announcement, The New York Times “corruptly” granted anonymity to “senior administration officials” to “disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability.

“With virtually no skepticism about the official accusation, reporters David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth deemed the incident a ‘cyberterrorism attack’ and devoted the bulk of the article to examining the retaliatory actions the government could take against the North Koreans. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/us_media_dangerously_regurgitated_government_claims_about_north_20150102

"A hawk cannot become a dove, nor can a friend of Wall Street become a foe."

(Truthdig) It’s not often that name recognition is a bad thing. But from a marketing standpoint, Hillary Clinton is stuck in a rut.

Like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, her name is known worldwide. But it’s doubtful that either of those brands would, like Hillary, consistently register unfavorability ratings among American consumers in the range of 40 percent.

When familiar entities unveil new products, shoppers are notoriously discerning. Diet Coke worked, but Vanilla Coke flopped.

But when a politician suddenly adopts a new position, voters can be even more skeptical. A hawk cannot become a dove, nor can a friend of Wall Street become a foe.

Hillary’s core problem, in other words, is that she’s simply too familiar to American voters, who after two terms of one leader tend to want something “new.” And there’s very little she can do to reposition herself in the marketplace. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_devil_you_know_20141230

Social Democracy in America?

from Dissent magazine:

Social Democracy in America?
Rich Yeselson ▪ Fall 2014

Social Democratic America
by Lane Kenworthy
Oxford University Press, 2014, 248 pp.

Recently, a group of conservative policy intellectuals and writers captured the attention of the media and even of a few Republican politicians. These “reformocons,” including Ross Douthat of the New York Times, Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, and Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute, believe it is time for the Republican Party to propose public policy solutions to domestic issues like health care and education, rather than provoke the cultural resentments of the party base, what Douthat has called the politics of “white identity.”

The reformocons chief policy entrepreneur Yuval Levin, editor of its flagship publication National Affairs, challenged the left in the National Review in June:

They (liberals) imagine that there is some kind of coherent liberal agenda that speaks to middle-class concerns…. But where is that agenda? What does it consist of? What did President Obama run on in 2012? What is the next Democratic candidate supposed to run on? Doubling down on head start and the minimum wage plus a carbon tax? To me, one of the most extraordinary features of this moment in our politics is that many serious liberals seem genuinely not to grasp the intellectual exhaustion of the left.

Levin has a point. Likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton—presumably an exponent of gender equality and family-friendly policy—can’t even be moved to endorse paid family leave: “I don’t think, politically, we could get it now,” she said to an interviewer recently. Not exactly a rousing call to arms. Minimum wage increases are a good idea as far as they go, but how far do they go, really? Is this the future of liberal domestic economic and fiscal policy in the United States?

In Social Democratic America, Lane Kenworthy says it doesn’t have to be this way. Kenworthy, a political scientist at the University of Arizona, writes with an almost eerily calm clarity. You want policies? He’s got them—a comprehensive expansion of the social insurance state combined with fewer regulations on businesses, what the Scandinavians call “flexicurity.” You’ve got questions about whether these policies can work in a U.S. context, or whether they can ever become law? He anticipates and answers them, marshalling the latest studies on each question. This is not a book of hortatory uplift—romantic, enraged radicals will not get their fix of romance and rage. It contains practically nothing about foreign policy, gender and sexuality, or racism; while this sharpens the book’s focus, it limits its consideration of how these factors affect fiscal and economic policy. It is a crisp, clean manifesto: a call to expand American social insurance in the most straightforward way possible—via enormously increased government transfer payments and programs, not mandates on businesses or means-tested entitlements. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/social-democracy-in-america

Cities Without Traffic

from the Flat Iron Bike blog:

Cities Without Traffic
Posted on December 26, 2014 by Zane Selvans

It’s an underlying axiom, a chanted mantra, a litany:

More people means more cars.
More cars means more traffic.
More traffic means more congestion.
We hate congestion, ergo:

The litany was recently recited by John D. English in his Daily Camera guest opinion, imploring Boulder to “preserve our quality of life” by protecting the right of motorists to drive in the city without encountering traffic congestion. But cars are not inextricably linked to people, and the freedom to drive everywhere is not quality of life. Equating these things stalls infill development in the name of auto dependence, and keeps half the city trapped in late-20th century office park purgatory. It preserves not quality of life, but underused asphalt oceans, impenetrable superblocks, and sad bike lanes painted on the side of roads that might as well be freeways.

The assumption that more people must inevitably mean more cars means different things to different people. To the member of traditional Motordom with an interest in infill development, it means we need to build more regional road capacity (induced demand be damned!). To auto-dependent neighborhood activists who cannot stomach the thought of Change in Our Fair Town, it means infill is unacceptable.


Parking is a ridiculously powerful policy knob. If you build a city with zero parking, you can be sure there will be zero cars. It’s an impossible to ignore, durable physical mandate. Do we need to turn this particular knob all the way up to eleven to keep congestion under control while our population grows? Probably not. But it’s there in our back pockets, and it’s a much more powerful and economical stick than any of the carrots we have left at our disposal.

Does this sound like some harebrained utopian scheme? Zürich, Switzerland already does it. They haven’t built a new parking space in the city since 1996. The city is consistently ranked as one of the cities with the highest quality of life in the world. To quote John D. English: people are “free to move about their community with ease.” They just don’t do it with cars. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://flatironbike.com/2014/12/26/cities-without-traffic/

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