Archive for International

Apr
29

Monday Readaround

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Screenshot 2013-04-29 at 8.18.08 AMKudos to the doggedly determined Tom Burnet, who’s been pushing for an improvement to Beecham’s Curve for going on ten years. The weird 90-degree on Haywood Road has been a confunction for as long as anyone can remember, and it’ll soon be home to a great little traffic light. Without Burnet’s efforts, NCDOT wouldn’t have had a plan ready to go.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will be appointed by President Obama to be the next US Secretary of Transportation. I’m guessing this’ll change the way the NC General Assembly approaches seizing Charlotte’s airport. If all goes well, it may affect the way our own airport situation unfolds. Due to shoddy bill drafting, the transfer of the asset from Asheville to an independent authority is held up by the Federal Aviation Administration. Some would like to blame Asheville for “foot dragging”, but the fault lies in a poorly written piece of legislation. Secretary Foxx might want to have a look at it.

Speaking of transportation, that guy who’s been holding out on selling land to connect French Broad River Park with Carrier Park has finally struck a deal with the city. This is an important connection, and it brings us one step closer to the multimodal transportation network we need in order to provide affordable transportation options as well as economic development. Y’all know the Swamp Rabbit Trail down in Greenville? “A scholarly study in 2012 estimated that more than 350,000 people annually used the trail and that area businesses increased their sales from 30 to 85%”.

As we await Art Pope’s tax plan for North Carolina, keep this in mind: “Families with moderate and low incomes pay more sales and property taxes, as a share of their incomes, than higher-income families because they spend a higher proportion of their earnings on taxable goods and housing.  Thus, increased sales and property taxes would shift a larger share of the responsibility for paying for schools, health care, and other services onto those with relatively less ability to afford it.”

Massive rollback of environmental regulations is in the pipeline for North Carolina.

We’re also moving toward the end of public education as we know it, with your tax dollars funding the shift.

“Senate Bill 337 and a parallel bill in the House would strip the State Board of Education of its responsibility for overseeing charter schools and set up an 11-member governing board mostly of charter school advocates appointed by the governor and the legislature.”

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Since the board would not be bound by conflict of interest laws, members would include profit-making charter school operators who would then be in a position to shape policies favoring their own private economic interests, including the blocking of applications from potential competitors.

The legislation would allow charters to hire fewer teachers with professional credentials – scoffing at the concept of teacher professionalism that has been a point of pride among successful charter schools. It would further jeopardize the status of teachers who, thanks to the Republican legislature, are already staring at the loss of tenure, shorter contracts and fewer teaching assistants.

In addition to disenfranchising college students, the elderly, and minorities, the NCGOP’s voter suppression efforts will also smack NC’s transgendered citizens in the face: “Some transgender citizens might present poll workers with IDs that do not match their current gender, and poll workers could decide that the ID does not pass muster. Those citizens would not have their votes counted.”

North Carolina’s Big Government Conservatives.

In the aftermath of the Bangladesh garment factory disaster, Matthew Yglesias caught a world of criticism for these comments in Slate:

It’s very plausible that one reason American workplaces have gotten safer over the decades is that we now tend to outsource a lot of factory-explosion-risk to places like Bangladesh where 87 people just died in a building collapse.* This kind of consideration leads Erik Loomis to the conclusion that we need a unified global standard for safety

I think that’s wrong. Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it’s entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States.

The reason is that while having a safe job is good, money is also good [and] in a free society it’s good that different people are able to make different choices on the risk–reward spectrum.

Yglesias ignited a firestorm. But targeting him or any individual actor for similar comments misses a larger point.

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[Updated Below]

“How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this … What does it take to get you to move towards even a hearing? Even considering shutting down banking operations for money laundering?”

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Where is the line? Sorry, that’s Justice. Treasury will not even speculate. Treasury has no opinion. Not their job to even have one.

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Mar
01

Sequester Deadline Open Thread

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The world will not actually end tonight when all of these forced budget cuts come down the pike. They have to be phased in by the end of the year if nothing happens between now and then and, as with all things, once it goes from the hyper-partisan theater of Congress to the agencies responsible, actual thought can be put into play to soften the blow to the average person, save as many jobs as possible, and generally make do, as we Americans are supposed to be so good at. Read More→

Categories : Corporatocracy, Economy
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Feb
26

When Enforcing Laws Is Outlawed…

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Only Law Enforcement Officers Will be Outlaws

(UPDATED below: The Zombie Apocalypse is here.)

Via Crooks and Liars,

A Texas state representative says that a bill banning the enforcement of any new gun control laws is constitutional because it would only prosecute police and other state officials.

Texas is the asylum. Guess who’s running it?

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Feb
16

Collateral Blood

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I’m aghast at the culture of corruption that seems widespread here and abroad. As if the entire world is becoming post-Soviet Russia run by criminal oligarchs, their sycophants, and their apologists. And that’s just the financial sector. What about drone strikes? Same difference. “Cold-blooded,” suggests Bill Moyers. Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone:

It’s been amazing, watching the histrionics and mental gymnastics some people have resorted to in their efforts to defend this infamous drone program. Extralegal murder is not an easy thing to manufacture consent around, and the signs of strain in the press have been pretty clear all around.

Bush had his fraudulent invasion, torture, rendition and illegal wiretaps. And his corps of apologists. Obama’s got his drone program and his “kill list.” Taibbi writes, “What kind of a people kills children by remote control?”

On the finance side, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren questioned bank regulators this week. It was stunning to see the reaction to her asking federal regulators when the last time was that they brought Wall Street bankers to trial. She concluded:

“You know, I just want to note on this. There are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds. And taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial,” she said. “That just seems wrong to me.”

The audience applauded. Wall Street sneered.

Matt Taibbi lays out how banking giant HSBC systematically laundered drug and terrorist money and pursued elaborate end-runs around the law, and how the LIBOR banks defrauded, hell, every person on the planet involved in financial transactions involving banks. Meanwhile, as street thugs with three strikes get life in California, federal regulators lie down at the banks’ feet in supplication:

This is the government admitting to being afraid to prosecute the very powerful – something it never did even in the heydays of Al Capone or Pablo Escobar, something it didn’t do even with Richard Nixon. And when you admit that some people are too important to prosecute, it’s just a few short steps to the obvious corollary – that everybody else is unimportant enough to jail.

And unimportant enough to kill, too.

Categories : Democrats, International
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Go figure. The federal budget deficit is not “the economic equivalent of a giant meteor hurtling toward America, about to hit any day,” says the Los Angeles Times.

“… the fight over deficits and spending has become a surrogate for battles over basic political and ideological disagreements over the role of government and, behind the scenes, over how the economic pie should be divided.”

Wow. It took how long to figure that out?

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Because at this special time of year every all-American kid dreams of being an assassin.

Semiauto handgun? Check. Bushmaster? Check. (Picked it up at Walmart’s everyday low prices.) High-capacity magazines? Check. Silencers? Doh!!

Not to worry, though. The NRA — yes, Wayne LaPierre’s NRA — is hoping to get silencers deregulated as wholesome, kid-friendly, essential firearm accessories. As seen in Newtown! Salon reports:

In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, the gun lobby’s grand strategy rests grotesquely on fake concern for child hearing health. Among the opening shots in the campaign was a feature in the February 2011 issue of Gun World, “Silence is Golden,” penned by the veteran gun writer Jim Dickson. “One only has to look at children in the rest of the world learning to shoot with silencers, protecting their tender young ears, to see what an innocent safety device we are talking about here,” writes Dickson. “To use an overworked propaganda phrase, legalize silencers ‘for the sake of the children.’” [Emphasis Salon's]

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Or these test subjects. VIDEO: 2009 ABC News Experiment Demonstrates More Guns Unlikely to Stop Mass Shootings

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WTVD: “The Tea Party in Asheville is being criticized for a fundraising raffle for two guns, including one similar to one used in the school shootings in Connecticut.”
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“Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper says he’s surprised by the tea party’s timing, when the National Rifle Association took down its Facebook and Twitter accounts after the shooting.

Jane Bilello with the Asheville Tea Party says the fundraiser was planned before the shooting. But she stands by the group’s position that gun control does not work.

The raffle includes an AR15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a .22 Magnum pistol.”

Asheville Tea Party and Asheville Tea PAC Board Members’ email addresses:

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