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ND-Dem's Journal
ND-Dem's Journal
February 27, 2015

Actor's curbside library is a smash for most people

eter Cook used to make lots of trips to the Palms Library to donate books, but then he got a better idea. He'd seen little homemade lending libraries in yards here and there and decided to make his own..."I put in a redwood post and went to a local liquor store and got some wine crates and screwed them into the post, and I wanted them low enough so kids could look at the books," Cook said.

Cook painted "The Tenn-Mann Library" on it and he and his wife, Lili Flanders, a writer and teacher of writing, put five books on the shelves with a message advising anybody to "take one or leave one."

"It has been a smash success, the scope of which I could never have imagined," Cook said when he first emailed me. "More times than not, the library is overflowing with books. Neighbors whom I have seen and recognized over the years but never had any real conversation with now stop by to donate, chat and trade news."

You know, of course, where this story is headed. Yes, it's another chapter in the book of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished." In mid-January, an anonymous grinch left a note on the library.

"Take it down or the city will," said the writer, claiming that police and City Hall had confirmed that the sign was on public property, and that it was illegal. The note was signed, "a neighbor who hates you and your kids." And if that wasn't hostile and creepy enough, an expletive, "[blank] America," was scrawled on the back of the note...


February 27, 2015

Spanish company buying US utility serving northeast for $3B

MADRID (AP) — Spain's leading electricity and natural gas company, Iberdrola, will buy the northeastern U.S. utility UIL Holdings Corp. in a deal valued at about $3 billion, the companies said Thursday. The combined company will serve 3.1 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New York.

Shares of Iberdrola USA will be listed in the United States and UIL shareholders will receive a share for each UIL share they own. Iberdrola USA's utilities will be Berkshire Gas, Central Maine Power, Connecticut Natural Gas, New York State Electric & Gas, Rochester Gas & Electric, Southern Connecticut Gas and United Illuminating...

February 27, 2015

US Oil Workers Reject Shell's Contract Offer Prolonging Biggest Refinery Strike since 1980

The United Steelworkers, representing more than 30,000 U.S. oil workers, instructed members to reject a seventh labor contract offered by Royal Dutch Shell Plc as the biggest refinery strike since 1980 dragged on.

The proposal, the first one made by Shell since Feb. 5 on behalf of companies including Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp., “fails to improve safety” in an enforceable way, the USW said in a text message, instructing local units to prepare to join the strike “if called upon.” Ray Fisher, a spokesman for The Hague, Netherlands-based Shell, said the company had no comment beyond saying the two sides met.

Since Feb. 1 more than 5,000 USW workers have walked out of a chemical plant, a cogeneration complex and nine U.S. refineries that account for 13% of the country’s fuel capacity. It’s the biggest strike at U.S. oil refineries since 1980, when a work stoppage lasted three months. The union has members at more than 200 refineries, fuel terminals, pipelines and chemical plants across the U.S.

The national union has called strikes at Tesoro Corp. plants in Martinez and Carson, California, and Anacortes, Washington; Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Catlettsburg complex in Kentucky and Galveston Bay site in Texas; Shell’s Deer Park complex; LyondellBasell Industries NV’s Houston facility; and BP Plc’s Whiting and Toledo refineries in the Midwest.


February 27, 2015

22% (>1/5) of American children now live in poverty.


The state with the highest child poverty rate is Mississippi, with 34% (1/3); next highest is New Mexico, with 31%.


In the US territory of Puerto Rico, 57% of children live in poverty.


Cities with the highest rates of child poverty are Milwaukie (43%), Miami (44%), Memphis (46%), Fresno (48%), Cleveland (54%), Detroit (59%), and San Juan Puerto Rico (62%).


February 26, 2015

ISIS executioner 'Jihadi John' unmasked as Londoner

The masked Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John", who has been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Western hostages, has been named.

He is Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British man in his mid-20s from west London, who was previously known to British security services.

British police declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations.

Emwazi first appeared in a video last August, when he apparently killed the US journalist James Foley.

He was later thought to have been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter.


Not the first time, either. I believe some of the last group of crazed killer dogs the media inundated us with also turned out to have American or british accents. why can't they get locals?
February 26, 2015

Romanian political class rocked by Microsoft bribe scandal

Bucharest, 2. Oct 2014, 19:53

A bit old but the first I'd heard of it, so....

Romania’s political and business class has been rocked by a bribery scandal involving distributors selling Microsoft products, that has incriminated nine former ministers ahead of a crunch presidential election in November. The scandal involves tens of millions of euros which have been allegedly hidden in off-shore accounts linked to politicians ...

Revelations are causing discomfort for presidential candidates Victor Ponta, prime minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and Elena Udrea of the Popular Movement (PMP), as they involve some of their senior party figures and close friends.

The bribe and money laundering system, which began around 2003, allowed the state to circumvent public auctions for IT services and allowed Microsoft to sell their licenses for their operating systems at elevated prices to the state through a third party.

The network also involved the state buying computers and software from private firms for public education at vastly overblown prices. The accusation is that, using a complex network of intermediaries, companies would pay a kick-back to politicians through off-shore accounts...

The same witness statement also accuses senior figures of major IT international brands in Romania of influence peddling. "This case of corruption is significant as it involves all the political class, regardless of colour, at the highest level - and - if witness statements are true - many of the most important IT companies on the international market," says IT&C journalist at Romanian news site Hotnews, Adrian Vasilache.

The investigation is likely to take months - if not years - to complete, according to legal experts.


February 26, 2015

Detroit child poverty rate now at 59%

Detroit continues to have more children living in extreme poverty than any of the nation's 50 largest cities, according to a national report released Thursday.

More than 59 percent of Detroit children lived in poverty in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the national Kids Count report, an annual project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The number of poor Detroit kids increased 34 percent since 2006...

More than a half-million Michigan kids were found to be living in poverty, defined as $23,600 or less a year for according to the report. The number of Michigan children mired in poverty increased 35 percent over six years, to nearly 25 percent...Among African American children, 48 percent were living in poverty statewide.

"It's just stunning to think of the level of deprivation that represents, and what we know (about) how living in poverty over an extended period of time does to children," said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count project director for Michigan at the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Zehnder-Merrell said the negative effects of poverty are exacerbated by steep cuts to social services that coincided with the recession. "It's amazing to think what a double whammy this has been. First you have this recession, and then at the same time you cut social services that used to help people get through the hard times. (Michigan's) response has been to cut services to families."

The side effects of poverty spill over to other measures of well-being included in the study. Reports of child abuse and neglect increased 77 percent in Detroit from 2008-12, with about 15 percent of Detroit children living in homes that have been investigated by child protection workers.

Confirmed neglect or abuse increased 40 percent. The death rate for young people ages 1-19 increased 14 percent between 2004 and 2012, mostly because of increased homicide and suicide among teenagers.

&quot For) a family that is struggling from one day to the next to keep food on the table, to keep their home warm, to keep a roof over their head even though it leaks, making sure a child develops developmentally is a lower priority," said Dr. Herman Gray, vice president of pediatric services at the Detroit Medical Center.

"First and foremost, they're fighting for survival. We also see abuse, both physical and no-physical maltreatment, when you have a family living under extreme stress due to poverty — they are more likely to lash out against their children."

The report showed improvements in some measures of well-being. The number of children in out-of-home care decreased 71 percent in Detroit, and 33 percent statewide. Births to teens ages 15-19 decreased 13 percent in Detroit, and 16 percent across the state. The number of fourth-graders scoring "not proficient" in reading declined 24 percent in Michigan, and 16 percent in Detroit, from the 2008-09 school year to the 2013-14 school year.

Gray, the DMC doctor, noted that the increase in poverty coincides with Michigan's economic recovery. "This has pretty profound implications for public policy because we're not seeing the increase in individual family and child well-being that you would expect to see," Gray said.


February 26, 2015

what does it mean when men "work hard for their looks"?

So, what happens when CrossFit, paleo, and the alleged grooming boom enter the world? Men like O’Hagan, who have been told their entire lives that they don’t need meticulous upkeep, have crises. They even get to write about it in publications like T, telling other men that it’s simply not masculine to try and keep up. “Over-grooming is now a mode of hysteria common to every other man I know, and it isn’t attractive,” he writes. “I believe it feeds off a larger anxiety in the culture, the obligation to self-invent, the demand for constant increase, and it has made the men of my generation into emotional shadows of their former selves.” Perhaps most revealingly, he writes: “There is now an explicit pressure on men to impersonate the women in their lives.”

In other words, Mr. O’Hagan, welcome to what life feels like for women. The pressure to look young, be constantly fit, and be postpartum thin — all while looking effortless — is something women have been going through for ages, perhaps more so now than ever. But, now that the boys are just starting to feel that anxiety, it’s cause for alarm and a two-page article in the nation’s most prominent publication.

“I don’t care if you think it’s sexist: It’s not a man’s job to pluck his eyebrows or plump his lips,” he says. But, then, confusingly, he switches to the gender neutral, saying, “People must do as they wish, of course, but to my mind…” Then, he switches back to speaking specifically about men: “[M]ale beauty loses its essence with premeditation.”

In conclusion, guys shouldn’t have to work hard for their looks. But, women should still be dedicated to their beauty routines, and continue the often archaic upkeep standards imposed on them by society. Also, FYI, he doesn’t care if you think this is sexist. So there.

O’Hagan mistakenly thinks that there’s only one type of masculine beauty. He also thinks he can dictate what that looks like. But, beauty is entirely subjective. Some women (and men, because Refinery29, unlike the writer, does not prescribe to the heteronormative) prefer their men preened, six-packed, and waxed. Others like them tatted and bearded.

But, if all of this obsession with appearances — undoubtedly brought on by our society’s current wellness kick (and, of course, documenting it religiously on Instagram) — makes some men a little uncomfortable, that’s not a bad thing. O’Hagan, and a lot of men, could use a lesson in what it feels like to be critical of one’s appearance; to be judged by your body and age. Maybe then, they’ll be able to better understand the women in their lives, and maybe even apologize for unwittingly fueling the fire that’s burned so many.


I think this article is a crock of shit and actually mystifies what's going on in the culture, but I'd be interested in other people's reactions to it.
February 26, 2015

Kennedy, Malcolm X, MLK, Kennedy -- and Reuther?

Last night I was reading about the Reuther brothers, Walter and Vincent, who were labor leaders of the period from the Depression through the 60s, approximately.

As it turned out, I learned something I'd either not known previously, or had forgotten. Both had several narrow close calls, accidents, and the like, and Walter died in one of those close calls; there was speculation at the time about whether it was strictly accidental.

Walter Philip Reuther (September 1, 1907 – May 9, 1970)

An American labor union leader who made the United Automobile Workers a major force... in the auto industry & in the Democratic Party....a socialist in the early 1930s and...a leading liberal &...supporter of the New Deal coalition. Reuther led several strikes and in 1937 and 1940 was hospitalized after being badly beaten by strike-breakers. He also survived two assassination attempts, and his right hand was permanently crippled in an attack on April 20, 1948.[6]

On May 9, 1970, Walter Reuther, his wife May... Reuther's bodyguard...the pilot and co-pilot were killed when their chartered Lear-Jet crashed in flames at 9:33 p.m. Michigan time.

In October 1968, a year and a half before the fatal crash, Reuther and his brother Victor were almost killed in a small private plane as it approached Dulles... Both incidents are amazingly similar... When Victor Reuther was interviewed many years after... he said "I and other family members are convinced that both the fatal crash and the near fatal one in 1968 were not accidental."

Reuther had earlier survived an April 1948 incident in which he was hit by a shotgun blast through his kitchen window. Reuther happened to turn towards his wife, and was hit in the arm instead of the chest and heart. The crime was never solved.[16]


Victor G. Reuther (January 1, 1912 – June 3, 2004)

A prominent international labor organizer. Along with brothers, Walter... and Roy Reuther, he helped make the labor movement a powerful force in the lives of millions of working people around the world...Victor became the head of UAW's Education Dept. and an organizer on the international level.

Reuther lent his support and leadership to the 1936 General Motors Strike where he faced down the billy clubs and tear gas of the violent pro-company police. He was famous during this strike for driving around Flint in a car with a loudspeaker mounted on the roof, encouraging the striking workers who were occupying the factories. Reuther was 24 years old at the time. General Motors (GM) workers in Flint took action, and the strike eventually spread to over 100 other production facilities. During this strike, 90% of GM production was stopped due to the shortage of parts and labor.

He was a vocal advocate of the recruitment of women, minorities, and young people into leadership positions for the union...

An attempt on his life took place in his own Detroit home, in 1949. While he was reading a newspaper, a shotgun-wielding assassin fired at him through a closed window, hitting Reuther in the face and upper body....Reuther lost an eye and the partial use of one arm, but survived. The gunman was never caught.

Even though the Detroit police had some very good eyewitness accounts and descriptions, they never followed up successfully on any of the leads. His brother Walter had earlier survived an April 1948 incident in which he was hit by a shotgun blast through his kitchen window.

During the separation of the UAW and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) in the mid-1980s, Victor Reuther was fully supportive of the Canadian workers' motivations. He felt that the UAW had been giving too much in the way of concessions to the US corporations, and it was his belief that the Canadian union would set a good example for their US counterpart. He remained active well into his declining years and died in Washington, DC at the age of 92.


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