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Trumpcare = Blood Money

It is very hard for a government to take away a “right” already granted.

When you look at Revolutions in Third World countries, you find some common themes. The Governments of those dictatorships or quasi-dictatorships are controlled by a group representing the interests of a small minority of the population, typically the wealthy. The Government uses increasingly Draconian measures to force the population’s compliance. Here in America, Republicans are doing just that. Examples of those measures to suppress dissent include laws in several state which allow Chumph supporters to run down and murder protesters, and an attempt by Republicans in some states (including DC, which the Republican majority House now controls) to criminalize dissent though the abuse of felony laws to punish protesters for nonviolent protest.

When you start locking up your detractors in prisons…you have paved the way for violent revolution. When facing a felony conviction or death for waiving a sign on the public streets – there is very little difference in the punishment for blowing up buildings. The white-wing Republican government in America isn’t far from that line.

The Trump(don’t)care legislation is another example of abuse of the majority for the benefit of the rich. A lot of those folks who will be getting abused voted Republican. While the Second Amendment whackos are too consumed by racism to care…There are a lot of poor Republican Soccer Moms and caretakers of the sick and elderly out there who do.

Democrats have one chance to get this right. They need to do smething to stop this steamroller besides pretty speches.

 

 

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Why Can’t America Build Anymore?

Before Raygun, America was known as a country of engineering marvels. The worlds tallest buildings, the Hoover Dam, the best highway system, soaring bridges…

Not anymore.

You want to see engineering marvels anymore – you have to go to China or Europe.

We got nothing.

The reason for that isn’t “little fish in creeks” which might go extinct…It is conservatives. People who bought into the idea that everything is free. You don’t need taxes, you don’t need bonds – no money at all, because the rich folks are going to take care of it.

In China and Japan – the commuter trains between major cities run 200 MPH. There are a couple which run 300 MPH. In the US – the fastest train runs 125 MPH…over about 50 miles of track, the rest of the time it is running well under 80 MPH.

Rode the TGV in France a few years back from Paris to Marselles. 482 miles in 3 hours or less at 200 MPH with stops. The TGV is capable of speeds of over 320 MPH in perfect track conditions.

The funny thing is, a lot of the engines and engine parts for these super-fast trains are made right here in the USA by General Electric – even though GE is more known for building Freight Engines. GE builds about 80% of the world’s electric motors. GE also owns Alstom, the French Company that makes the TGV.

So the only reason you don’t see those beautiful Orange liveried babies taking you from DC to Boston in 2 hours, or NYC to Chicago in 3 hours…Is political will, and mostly right wing perfidy.

Now Trump, despite Hillary wiping the floor with him in the first debate, made on very good point. Why is it that it costs billions and trillions of dollars to build these weapons systems for the Military anymore…Only to keep winding up with failures?

The new F-35 Fighter jets cost over $200 million apiece to build. One of the aircraft it was supposed to replace was the A-10 Thunderbolt (AKA “Warthog”)…which cost $18.6 million. And, besides being too expensive to lose – the F-35 can’t do the job. Need we discuss tens of billion on the Coast Guard’s new fleet…Which won’t float?

Here are some of the other failures.

What we need here is a new vision. Something similar to President Eisenhower’s Interstate road system… Hopefully the grown-ups will be in control once again after this next election…

And the Yellowback Democrats don’t make another disastrous appearance.

China plans world’s deepest high-speed rail station, right under the Great Wall

Ancient China’s greatest feat of engineering, meet modern China’s.

The Chinese government plans to build the world’s deepest and largest high-speed railway station under a popular section of the Great Wall, as part of plans to link the capital with the site of the 2022 Winter Olympics, state mediareported Thursday.

The station will be situated at Badaling, 50 miles northwest of Beijing, which is already the most popular spot on the Great Wall. It received 30,000 tourists in just one day during the Chinese New Year holiday week, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

The new high-speed rail line will cut the journey time between Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the site of the Winter Olympics, to 50 minutes, from more than three hours now.

Passenger Trains being readied for service in China – capable of speeds over 200 MPH

“The Badaling station will be located 102 meters below the surface, with an underground construction area of 36,000 square meters, equal to five standard soccer fields, making it the deepest and largest high-speed railway station in the world,” Chen Bin, director in charge of construction for China Railway No 5 Engineering Group, told state media.

China’s superlatives rest on some semantic fine-tuning, however. The planned station would be the deepest high-speed rail stop, China says, but not the farthest underground station for passenger rail. In Kiev, for example, the Arsenalna subway platform is billed at more than 105 meters, or 344 feet, below the surface.

Badaling will be one of 10 stations on the 110-mile route, designed to cope with maximum speeds of 215 miles an hour. There will also be a branch line to Chongli, which will host skiing events during the Olympics.

Image result for US Passenger Train

US Passenger train…80 MPH

There was controversy earlier this month when it was revealed that authorities had laid concrete over a crumbling section of the Great Wall in a restoration project criticized as “crude” and “ugly.”

But railway engineers said they will be careful to ensure this construction project does not damage the Unesco world heritage site.

“It will run through mountains where the Great Wall is winding, so we adopted some of the world’s advanced explosion technologies to guarantee it would not affect the Great Wall,” said Luo Duhao, chief engineer of the railway group for the Badaling section.

China has in the midst of an ambitious program of railway construction that is supposed to see it invest $400 billion to build in a 10,000-miles network by 2020.

 

 

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Poverty Porn

I have been a volunteer to assist after several natural disasters, as well as traveled to 3rd world countries in my life and career. Went to help after the earthquake in Haiti. Left my big cameras home. There really is no need to document disaster, and unless you are a seriously twisted individual – you really don’t want to relive, or even remember the really bad shit you see.

Met a few photographers taking pics for the world media, mostly concentrated around the worst of the worst, some for the NGO’s pleas for money.

My second or third trip did involve bringing cameras to document the “why” of the damage done by the earthquake. So I have hundreds of  pics of structural failures in destroyed buildings and geographical features… And a few dozen of the de rigor pics with politicians and other players. Somewhere there are pics of me with a group of Mayors from a local newspaper. I’m not even sure I still have it. Two or three of the type of portraits I prefer taking of people, providing a still view of character, and perhaps their lives. I have none of post-Katrina.

Then there are the folks who come loaded with cameras to ghoulishly document the carnage… The following author defines that as “Poverty Porn”. I think that is an apt description.

The dangers of poverty porn

It’s the time of year when social media is inundated with posts about the importance of being thankful for family, friends and well-being because there are starving children in Africa who wish they had a quarter of your good fortune.

Cue the images of an emaciated child with flies buzzing around his face, protruding rib cage, runny nose, and extended hands toward the camera — also known as poverty porn.

Poverty porn is a tactic used by nonprofits and charity organizations to gain empathy and contributions from donors by showing exploitative imagery of people living in destitute conditions.

It leaves many of us feeling uncomfortable, disconnected and guilty — conflicted between turning a blind eye and reposting these pictures in hopes that sharing images of human suffering will enlighten others about poverty.

“There is a human tendency, by some more than others, to want to be helpful,” retired photographerChester Higgins Jr. said. “The ads make it easier. You call a phone number, donate and you’ve done a thing.”

How many of us have considered the possibility that rather than help others, poverty porn does considerable damage?

Higgins, a former New York Times photographer, said it’s time to change the visual conversation. He has been traveling to Africa since 1971. For the last 20 years, he’s taken trips along the Blue Nile, through Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to “make photos,” live and create relationships.

Oftentimes when he see pictures of African people, they are “theft pictures,” which means the pictures were made without the consent of the subjects.

“A photograph never lies about the photographer,” Higgins said.

A distinct mark of poverty porn advertisements and photographs made by non-African photographers is the lack of decency, dignity, virtuous character, or that it shows the subjects’ most vulnerable moment, he said.

He refers to photographers, charities and nongovernmental organizations that exploit the situations of people in dire need as “poverty pimps.”

Save the Children, one of the most-well known aid organizations, operating in more than 120 countries, has come under scrutiny for controversial advertisements some have deemed poverty porn.

A 2014 Save the Children commercial features a woman giving birth at a clinic in Liberia to an unresponsive baby. As the mother moans and shakes, a midwife cleans and rubs the blue newborn, Melvin, to kick-start his lungs. The graphic and distressing scene are followed by text: “For a million newborns every year, their first day is also their last.”

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children UK, said in a statement that the organization has robust guidelines for the images and stories used, and their priority is safeguarding the children.

“Our image guidelines ensure all our communications reflect the truth, balancing the huge child suffering we witness with stories of hope and progress,” Forsyth said.

The idea that only impoverished Africans, South Americans, Asians and Middle Easterners need Western aid detracts from the impact poverty has in our own backyard, say some experts.

Mark Rank, professor of social welfare at Washington University in St. Louis, said poverty is an issue that touches the majority of Americans.

Compared to other Western industrialized countries, the United States has by far the highest rates of poverty, as well as the highest rates of income and wealth inequality, he said.

Approximately 60% of Americans will experience at least one year in poverty between the ages of 20 and 75, said Rank, who included this statistic in his book “One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All.”

Rank said poverty porn is a graphic way of portraying extreme economic distress, and we mimic this practice in the United States to some extent.

“We focus a lot of time on … inner-city, minority groups living in dilapidated housing as an image of poverty in this country,” he said. “But the majority of folks who experience poverty do not fit that image. In fact, they’re more likely to be the person down the block going through a spell of unemployment.”

In 2014, 17.4 million U.S. households didn’t have reliable access to food, according to the USDA Household Food Security in the United States report.

According to 2013 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 40.2% of SNAP food aid recipients are white, 25.7% are African-American, 10.3% are Hispanic, 2.1% are Asian and 1.2% are Native American.

Rates of infant and maternal mortality/morbidity in the United States, some of the highest among industrialized nations, are also concerning, said Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the Division of Reproductive Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The successes of modern technology can only go so far. There is still high burden of premature birth,” Barfield said. “They’re not just small babies; their entire organ systems are immature (and) until they are full-term they run risks of complication.”

The risk factors for premature birth include being African-American, stress, multiple births, obesity and diabetes, Barfield said.

It’s not only mothers in Africa, like the one in the Save the Children ad, who are at risk of infant mortality, but that’s the prevailing narrative, that all Africans are in need of saving.

Twitter user Diana Salah helped jump-start the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShows to showcase the continent’s diversity on social media. Users post images of grand architecture, fashion, cuisine, culture, engineering, universities, diamond mines and female heads of state.

So, now that we’ve heard a few of the problems associated with poverty and poverty porn, what are some solutions?

Barfield said people can help support the health of infants and pregnant women in their communities by joining organizations like the March of Dimes, which has state chapters to help educate the public and community about risks of preterm births.

Communities can help support families and children by educating them about opportunities to get good nutrition, and making sure young girls grow up into healthy women.

Demanding transparency from NGOs and charities is crucial to differentiate legitimate causes from “poverty pimps,” Higgins said.

To avoid being duped, Higgins said potential donors should ask questions like:

  • How much of the money is transferred to local causes?
  • Can the charity/NGO provide an audit?
  • Are the locals given agency to handle their problems with the money raised?
  • Is the charity or NGO building local infrastructure?
  • Are skills being transferred to locals so they have the ability to use your money to do good?
  • Is the programming respectful of the cultural norms and local perspectives in the country it serves?

Don’t donate money to a charity or NGO based on emotions; instead ask for a measurement of what good they’re doing, because “good” is a variable word, he added.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in American Greed

 

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American Corruption and the Courts

Over there the corrupt wear military uniforms ...

... adorned with spiffy medals...

...Here they wear black robes

Those of you that know me have heard me talking abut working on the Haitian Reconstruction for a year now.  Now I’m not a politician, not a mover and shaker as far as changing the government or solving any of the myriad of political problems, nor do I claim to have a hall pass to see the High and Mighty as they come in, and go out of Haiti on any of their state missions.

But I have met some great people, and gotten to see, if not from the inside, at least close up what it takes to rebuild a failed state. And it isn’t as easy as just taking one guy out and replacing him.

One of the first steps in changing a country is an honest judiciary. If the Judiciary is corrupt – there isn’t ever likely going to be any solution to a country’s woes short of a “stand them up against the wall and shoot them and let God sort it out”  revolution.

Watching, second handed, some decent folks in perhaps the most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere struggle to end corruption and return the rule of law has made me take a hard look at what is, and has been going on in our own Judiciary.

Let’s take as an example an unnamed 3rd world dictatorship. In privatizing the former government owned telephone company the Government decides to take bids. Giant company #1, for whom the Dictator’s son works, wins the “hotly contested” bid to provide cell phone service. Within a month, the “Parliament” passes a law that international donors can make anonymous contributions to any charity they wish in the country, and the government has no right to ask where the money came from. 3 months later, the Dictator’s wife’s Charity, “Beautifying the Palace” receives an anonymous donation of $550,000 from “a major international donor”…

I think most folks would conclude, correctly – that the bribe was paid.

Unfortunately that isn’t an unnamed 3rd World Country – that is right here in the USA. With Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife being the beneficiary of the mysterious largesse of two anonymous donors for her work on conservative causes.

Quite frankly, our Judiciary is as corrupt as any 3rd World nation.  What started as a reasonable cause by conservatives to select conservative judges (which used to be called strict constructional) has turned into a circus of selecting judges for purely adherence to ideological whim – even if that means ignoring the Constitution.

Worse, the rot extends all the way up to the Supreme Court, with two of the justices, Scalia and Thomas serving as nothing but high paid whores to wealthy corporate and conservative interests. And thy are just the tip top of the iceberg.

President Obama said that one of his objectives was to root out corruption in this country. My question is – “How are you going to do that when the folks in charge of judging the guilty are as corrupt as the people you are prosecuting?”

The Battle For The Judiciary

What These Criminals Should Be Wearing at "Club Fed".

Yesterday, White House Counsel Bob Bauer said during an American Constitution Society panel that judicial nominees are caught in a “cold war” of obstructionism. If there is a war over the judiciary, the Constitution and other laws designed to protect ordinary Americans have too often been the casualties. Ever since President Bush turned corporate America’s top Supreme Court litigator into the Chief Justice, the Court has transformed into a wasteland where only the rich and the powerful can receive a fair hearing. In recent years, the Supreme Court stripped thousands of women and older workers of their right to be free from workplace discrimination. It has slammed the courthouse doors on millions of consumers and workers, and has given corporations a free pass to buy elections. Yet, for all his disregard of the law, Chief Justice John Roberts pales in comparison to the many radicals on the lower courts.

VINSONS EVERYWHERE: On Monday, Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson handed down a massively overreaching health care decision which wrote out an entire provision of the Constitutionbutchered constitutional history, heavily relied on a brief filed by an anti-gay hate group, and somehow determined that the Boston Tea Party renders the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. While Vinson’s tea partying opinion clearly places him at odds with the Constitution, he is not an extreme outlier. Last year, a Republican judge in DC declared all federal stem cell funding illegal — a position which even George W. Bush rejected. When a volcano of oil erupted in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, conservative judges were much more concerned with protecting the oil industry from regulation than they were with preventing another disaster from occurring. Three sitting U.S. Court of Appeals judges currently serve on the board of an infamous “junkets for judges” organization that treats federal judges to free trips to western resorts if they also attend seminars on how to decide cases in ways that corporations want. DC Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown once compared liberalism to “slavery” and Social Security to a “socialist revolution.” Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Enron and then wrote a key opinion reducing Enron’s taxes by $15 million when she sat on the Texas Supreme Court. In other words, Judge Vinson does not need to look far to find colleagues who share his twisted vision of the law, and these black-robed tea partiers are all working hard to write their agenda into the law.

 

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America Joins the 3rd World

This looks like something I’ve seen in Haiti…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

30,000 queue for housing assistance in Atlanta

Some 30,000 people lined up outside a local shopping centre in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday in the hope of receiving public housing assistance. The authorities were unprepared for the throng, which was unruly at times. Amid sweltering conditions, 62 people were hurt and 20 needed hospital care. Only 455 rent assistance vouchers and 200 public housing spaces were on offer – while 13,000 applications were taken.

Some had lined up since Sunday for the possibility of discounted rent.

It was the first time in eight years that the housing authority in East Point, a municipality in south-west Atlanta, had accepted applications for public housing and rent subsidies, known as Section 8 vouchers. Authorities estimate it will be six months before any vacancies become available for the small number of successful applicants. Most of the 16 other local housing authorities in Atlanta have closed their waiting lists. But Section 8 vouchers are portable, so people flocked from across the city for a chance to receive housing aid.

Atlanta is an economically polarized city: it has the fastest growing number of millionaires in the US but also has the third-highest proportion of people living below 50% of the poverty line.

“People are desperate. They are really willing to do whatever it takes to get into housing,” James Fraser, a public housing expert at Vanderbilt University, told the BBC.

Welcome to America after 30 years of conservatism. One of the favorite stitch’s of a black conservative buckdancer from Atlanta is to berate the City of Detroit. The line goes that Liberalism and Unions killed manufacturing in the North, as companies sought lower wage Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2010 in American Genocide, Great American Rip-Off

 

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