B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Illinois State Law Requires Drivers to Stop Whenever a Pedestrian Has Entered a Crosswalk

Urbanized Melodrama
Urbanized Melodrama

Have you noticed those newish stop signs at crosswalks? Cars apparently keep running them over…

The stop signs have been installed citywide at 220 locations since mid-2012 to increase compliance with a 2010 state law requiring drivers to stop whenever a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk.

The law amended a previously existing law, which safety officials considered vague, requiring drivers only to yield to pedestrians. It also applies to all intersections across Illinois, sign or no sign.

More than 3,000 accidents and an average of 30 pedestrian deaths a year in the city are caused by vehicles hitting people, according to the Chicago Police Department. This year’s death toll is 29, authorities said Friday.

Chicago police officers issued 1,933 tickets to drivers who violated the must-stop law during 86 enforcement stings this year at intersections where pedestrian crashes have occurred or where the public has complained about drivers failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, police said Friday.

In the enforcement operations, a plainclothes officer attempts to cross at a crosswalk. Drivers who fail to stop are pursued by squad cars and issued $120 tickets.

(click here to continue reading Most stop-for-pedestrian signs hit by cars, city data shows – Chicago Tribune.)

State Law - Stop For Pedestrians Within Crosswalk

To be honest, I missed the fact that this law has changed. And when I’m a pedestrian, I think most Chicago drivers missed that the law changed too…

Seriously, if the police start really enforcing this law, they could easily do nothing but write tickets all day and all night. Many cars speed up if you step foot in a crosswalk, few slow down, fewer stop. I walk the city streets a lot, in many different neighborhoods, in my quest to photograph everything interesting at least once, and I can count the times a car stopped for me in a crosswalk on my left hand. Not many times, in other words.

Wanderer And Shadow
Wanderer And Shadow

Written by Seth Anderson

November 24th, 2014 at 10:32 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , ,

For the Monarch Butterfly, a Long Road Back

Frostpocket Monarch Butterfly
Frostpocket Monarch Butterfly

If I had a garden of my own, and didn’t live in urban squalor, I’d plant as many native milkweeds as I could: I find them a beautiful plant, plus I love the majesty of the Monarch Butterfly. Also yet another Monsanto product with devastating effects on our planet…

In recent years amateur conservationists have sought to replenish drastic declines in milkweed, the only plant female monarchs lay eggs on. But the most widely available milkweed for planting, the scientists say, is an exotic species called tropical milkweed — not the native species with which the butterflies evolved. That may lead to unseasonal breeding, putting monarchs at higher risk of disease and reproductive failure.

But in the Midwest, which produces half of Mexico’s wintering monarchs, the scores of wild milkweed species among grasslands and farms are fast disappearing.

Nearly 60 percent of native Midwestern milkweeds vanished between 1999 and 2009, the biologists Karen Oberhauser and John Pleasants reported in 2012 in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity. The loss coincided with increased applications of the weedkiller Roundup on expanded plantings of corn and soybeans genetically altered to tolerate the herbicide. Meanwhile, monarch reproduction in the Midwest dropped more than 80 percent, as did populations in Mexico.

With the loss of native milkweeds that die in the fall, monarchs are encountering tropical milkweeds that are still thriving.

“There’s this huge groundswell of people planting tropical milkweed, and we don’t know what it’s doing to the butterflies,” said Francis X. Villablanca, a biology professor at California Polytechnic University. “We’re all in a rush to figure it out.”

Dr. Altizer fears that when monarchs encounter lush foliage in the fall, they may become confused, start breeding and stop migrating.

“It’s sad, because people think planting milkweed will help,” she said. “But when milkweed is available during the winter, it changes the butterfly’s behavior.”

Butterfly enthusiasts shouldn’t feel bad for planting tropical milkweed, monarch researchers say. But they should cut the plants back in fall and winter. Or even better, replace them with natives. There are native plant societies across the country that can offer advice.

(click here to continue reading For the Monarch Butterfly, a Long Road Back – NYTimes.com.)

Green-flowered Milkweed in Yurtistan
Green-flowered Milkweed in Yurtistan

Without Warning
Without Warning

Swarming Horde
Swarming Horde

Written by Seth Anderson

November 23rd, 2014 at 11:54 am

Posted in environment,science

Tagged with ,

Walmart Black Friday protest 2014 in Chicago

Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Market, 570 W Monroe St.

Black Friday is a scourge on our nation, imo. Celebrating shopping as religion is anathema to me. If your life is so empty and meaningless that you have to fill it with cheaply made consumer goods manufactured in sweat shops in third world countries, I feel sorry for you.

[A] group that wants Wal-Mart1 to pay higher wages is again planning several protests at Wal-Mart stores on Black Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

OUR Walmart said this year’s protests will be the group’s “biggest Black Friday mobilization ever,” with major protests planned in cities including Chicago. The protests are the latest round of actions aimed at Wal-Mart and follow nearly two years of protests against fast-food chains, including McDonald’s.

OUR Walmart, a group of current and former Wal-Mart workers that pays dues to and is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, is calling on Wal-Mart to raise hourly wages to $15 and provide more consistent hours and full-time jobs.

The group said it is planning big protests in cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Tampa, Fla. In Chicago, it plans to protest at 9 a.m. Nov. 28 at the Wal-Mart at Presidential Towers, 570 W. Monroe St.

(click here to continue reading Chicago among cities picked for Walmart Black Friday protest – Chicago Tribune.)

Also, if Walmart paid a living wage to its employees, our society as a whole would benefit. As it is, the Walton family are gazillionaires, having more money than most countries, and yet pay their employees so little that the employees have to resort to tax-payer funded welfare programs to stay alive. The Waltons would do well to change things for their workers, you never know when a 21st C.E. Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre will arise, and send the gazillionaire class to the guillotine, gilded truffle cake in hand. 

From Our Walmart’s press release:

Calling for better jobs, Walmart workers and community supporters across the nation are holding 1500 protests against the mega-retailer today, in one of the largest mobilizations of working families in recent history. As part of the protests already underway, workers, faith leaders and community supporters are risking arrest in at least nine major metropolitan cities, outraged that with $17 billion in profits, Walmart continues to pay many workers poverty wages. Workers and supporters are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, for Walmart to publicly commit to paying $25,000 a year and to provide more full-time work.

Workers and supporters are set to take peaceful civil disobedience in major cities from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle, Dallas, Sacramento, Secaucus, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. The group has been emboldened by revelations from Walmart’s CEO that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000, while the Walton family’s wealth totals over $144 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.

“We refuse to live in fear. And we refuse to accept scraps. That’s why there have been so many strikes and protests this month,” said Dorothy Halvorson, a Walmart employee in Placerville, California, who has worked at the store for 11 years and plans to take part in civil disobedience today. “We know that we are closer to change at Walmart than ever before – and it’s clear that Walmart knows it too. We won’t stop protesting until we get change. This Black Friday is historic, and we will only grow stronger from here.”

(click here to continue reading PROTESTS FOR BETTER JOBS AT WALMART SWEEP STORES NATIONWIDE – ForRespect.)

Footnotes:
  1. I don’t know why this old spelling of Walmart persists, but I’m leaving the error []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 22nd, 2014 at 2:05 pm

1105 W Fulton Might Be A Medical Cannabis Dispensary

I Think I Saw It On Fulton Street
I Think I Saw It On Fulton Street.

Interesting. And a block from the big Sterling Bay rehab of the Fulton Market Cold Storage building, set to be a regional headquarters for Google, Inc., et al…

Prospective medical marijuana dealers made their pitches to the Zoning Board of Appeals to set up in various neighborhoods, touting their security and financial plans.

Perry Mandera, owner of a Near North Side strip club called VIP’s, A Gentleman’s Club, got the go-ahead for a permit to operate a cannabis dispensary in the meatpacking area of the West Town neighborhood, at 1105 W. Fulton Market.

The approval came despite opposition from three area residents who live around Fulton Market and said they worried about safety because of cash pickups at the dispensary, and additional congestion because of the heavy truck traffic and limited parking available near where Mandera wants to operate.

(click here to continue reading Panel approves 6 more marijuana dispensaries, denies 1 for Wicker Park – Chicago Tribune.)

Of course, the licensing has not yet been granted to anyone in Illinois, as far as I know. 

Greater Fulton Market
Greater Fulton Market

I probably have a photo from this specific block of Fulton somewhere, but am too lazy to find at the moment.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 22nd, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Some Will Come and Some Will Surely Go was uploaded to Flickr

South Loop, Chicago

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/pcLhEE

I took Some Will Come and Some Will Surely Go on November 30, 2013 at 04:18PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on November 22, 2014 at 03:03PM

Written by eggplant

November 22nd, 2014 at 10:15 am

Lean on The Wind was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/pSjtwT

I took Lean on The Wind on December 08, 2013 at 12:27PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on November 22, 2014 at 03:09PM

Written by eggplant

November 22nd, 2014 at 10:15 am

Impeachment Proceedings

Obama Man
Obama Man Grinning.

This was a parenthetical statement in a troll-baiting OpEd from Peter Schuck

Impeachment proceedings against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton involved criminal conduct more egregious than Mr. Obama’s policy unilateralism.

(click here to continue reading The Impeachment of Obama on Immigration May Be Legal — But It’s Wrong – NYTimes.com.)

Really? Really? I was never a supporter of Mr. DLC Triangulation, a/k/a Bill Clinton, even going so far as voting for the Green Party candidate1 in 1996, but the whole impeachment travesty over testifying about receiving oral sex from Monica Lewinsky was not equal to Richard Nixon’s criminal conduct. Was there some other criminal conduct besides that perjury? Or just a man trying to keep his blowjobs out of the news media?

As to the more immediate question, will Congress actually impeach Obama? Can they? and should they? Is Obama guilty of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors? What exactly does misdemeanor mean in this context? I guess we’ll see soon enough, as the Republican Party is gearing up to lead the US down the banana republic road…

House Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president’s executive authority.

The lawsuit — filed against the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Treasury — focuses on two crucial aspects of the way the administration has put the Affordable Care Act into effect.

The suit accuses the Obama administration of unlawfully postponing a requirement that larger employers offer health coverage to their full-time employees or pay penalties. (Larger companies are defined as those with 50 or more employees.)

House Republicans struggled to find a law firm willing to take their case. Two withdrew, but on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner hired Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University.

(click here to continue reading House G.O.P. Files Lawsuit in Battling Health Law – NYTimes.com.)

Footnotes:
  1. Ralph Nader []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 22nd, 2014 at 10:02 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Google Experimenting With Removing Google Ads for a Fee

Cougle, Google's neighbor
Cougle, Google’s neighbor in the West Loop.

Almost sounds a little back-alley-ish: “hey, I’ve been deluging you with these ads for decades, but for a small fee, I’ll remove them, in certain circumstances…”

On Thursday, Google started experimenting with a new way to let users contribute to web sites in exchange for removing – or at least reducing – the number of ads. The service, called Contributor by Google, has users give between $1 and $3 a month to sites like The Onion and Mashable.

Once they pay, the ads that normally show will be replaced with a banner that says “Thank you for being a contributor.”

For Contributor, Google is only working with 10 sites, and it will take a small cut of the contributions. The sites may not be completely ad free: Google only has the power to remove ads it has served, so it should probably be described as a way to see “fewer ads” rather than no ads.

(click here to continue reading Google Experimenting With Removing Ads for a Fee – NYTimes.com.)

The only way I could see this working would be for low-traffic websites with a loyal leadership – it seems Google shares a slice of that fee with the publisher. I notice Google doesn’t disclose what the percentages actually are, it could be a 90-10 split for all we know, with Google retaining $2.70 of a $3 contribution. I doubt I’d ever use Contributor By Google, but you never know. Is the occasional visit to Urban Dictionary or The Onion worth $36 a year? Meh. Especially since I use Ghostery to block most ads in the first place, so the savings would be negligible, plus Google would be able to accumulate more data about me for their data mills.

Sophism Becomes You
Sophism Becomes You

I used to have Google Ads displayed over there on the right column, and when this blog sucked less1 and got more daily traffic, the ads paid me a few hundred dollars a year. That was quite a while ago though, certainly before Twitter and other social media soaked up my bandwidth, and the tumbleweeds started accumulating here. In fact, I removed the Google Ads several years ago, probably when Google started frequently being a bully and a thief.2

Footnotes:
  1. when Bush was in the White House []
  2. In the eyes of Steve Jobs at least []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 21st, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

House Passes Bill That Makes It Harder For Scientists To Advise The EPA

 Fragile Handle With Care

Fragile Planet, Handle With Care.

How simply ridiculous. Was this an ALEC bill? A Koch Industry bill? Which industrial baron insisted upon this travesty?

the House on Tuesday quietly passed a bill that environmentalists say would hamper the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to use the best scientific information when crafting regulations to protect public health and the environment.

The House voted 229-191 to pass H.R. 1422, which would change the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA Administrator.

Also called the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, the bill would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to serve on the SAB, prohibit independent scientists from talking about their own research on the board, and make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board. The purpose of the bill, according to Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), is to increase transparency and accountability to the EPA’s scientific advisors. Burgess said on the floor Tuesday that the board “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” With this bill, Burgess said the inclusion of industry interests would erase “any appearance of impropriety on the board.”

But scientists, environmental groups, and health experts have said that the bill compromises the scientific independence of the SAB, and makes it harder for the Board to do its job, thereby increasing the amount of time it takes to implement EPA regulations.

“The supposed intent [of the bill] is to improve the process of selecting advisors, but in reality, the bill would allow the board to be stacked with industry representatives, while making it more difficult for academics to serve,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) on the House floor on Tuesday. “It benefits no one but the industry, and it harms public health.”

(click here to continue reading House Passes Bill That Makes It Harder For Scientists To Advise The EPA | ThinkProgress.)

Meagre Results for Lost Souls
Meagre Results for Lost Souls

not to mention there is also HR 4012, the so-called “Secret Science” Reform Act, which is another effort to destroy the EPA, or at least delay it from doing its job:

Under HR 4012, some of the best real-world public health research, which relies on patient data like hospital admissions, would be excluded from consideration because personal data could not, and should not, be made public. Demanding public release of full raw data the agency cannot legally disclose is simply a way to accuse the agency of hiding something when it has nothing to hide. What matters is not raw data but the studies based on these data, which have gone through the scientific process, including rigorous peer review, safeguards to protect the privacy of study participants, and careful review to make sure there’s no manipulation for political or financial gain.

As many politicians have taken pains to point out, they are not scientists, so they should listen to scientific advice instead of making spurious demands for unanalyzed data.

HR 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, sponsored by vocal EPA adversary Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, would similarly erect pointless roadblocks for the agency. The Science Advisory Board, composed of some of our nation’s best independent scientists, exists not to advocate any particular policy, but to evaluate whether the best science was used in agency decisions. This bill would make it easier for experts with ties to corporations affected by new rules to serve on the SAB while excluding independent scientists from talking about their own research.

In other words, academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.

(click here to continue reading Congress Must Block These Attacks on Independent Science | Commentary : Roll Call Opinion.)

So Easily Misunderstood
So Easily Misunderstood

Rep.Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) writes:

Over the past few years, the Republican party has engaged in an unrelenting partisan attack on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They have harassed the administrator, attempted to delay every new regulation, questioned the integrity of academic and EPA scientists, and sided with industrial polluters over the American people. Later this week, the Republican Majority in the House will continue this assault by considering H.R. 4012 and H.R. 1422.

H.R. 4012, the Secret Science Act of 2014, is an insidious attack on the EPA’s ability to use the best science to protect the health of Americans and the environment. Republicans will claim that H.R. 4012 increases EPA’s transparency, but in reality it is an attempt to prevent EPA from using the best science to protect public health and the environment. This bill would prohibit EPA from relying on scientific studies that involve personal health information or other data that is legally protected from public disclosure.

Any effort to limit the scope of science that can be considered by EPA does not strengthen scientific integrity, but instead undermines it. It would also increase the likelihood of litigation because EPA’s actions would be based on inadequate and incomplete science, leaving any regulation open to legal challenges which would delay the implementation of important public health protections. The true intent of H.R. 4012 is to delay EPA action because that is what industrial polluters want. H.R. 4012 is not only bad for public health, but it is also bad for the taxpayer. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill as reported would cost American taxpayers as much as $1 billion dollars over four years.

(click here to continue reading Another attack on the EPA and public health | TheHill.)

I Know Deep Down You Are Not To Blame
I Know Deep Down You Are Not To Blame

So happy that 18% of the electorate is able to set pollution policy for the entire nation. I mean, who would want clean air or water? Or lakes and streams one could actually fish in? No, much better to destroy our planet and wait for The Rapture…1

Footnotes:
  1. I’m being sarcastic, in case this is not obvious. You cannot see my smirk after all []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2014 at 10:37 am

Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff

Apple Store in Soho
Apple Store in Soho.

Apparently this ridiculousness is still going on, we blogged about it last month, and previously

The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.

 …

Apple executives thought the dead-child scenario was inflammatory. They told the government officials law enforcement could obtain the same kind of information elsewhere, including from operators of telecommunications networks and from backup computers and other phones, according to the people who attended.

Technology companies are pushing back more against government requests for cooperation and beefing up their use of encryption. On Tuesday, WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc., said it is now encrypting texts sent from one Android phone to another, and it won’t be able to decrypt the contents for law enforcement.

AT&T Inc. on Monday challenged the legal framework investigators have long used to collect call logs and location information about suspects.

In a filing to a federal appeals court in Atlanta, AT&T said it receives an “enormous volume” of government requests for information about customers, and argued Supreme Court decisions from the 1970s “apply poorly” to modern communications. The company urged the courts to provide new, clear rules on what data the government can take without a probable cause warrant.

(click here to continue reading Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff – WSJ.)

Law enforcement officials are clever, they can find ways to get data in other ways, like this, for instance…

PRISM
PRISM

And good for Tim Cook – he suggests that Apple Inc. should not be in the business of enabling the police in their quest to snoop on our phones without first getting warrants. You know, like if we were living in a constitutional Democracy with a Bill of Rights again?

In June 2013, Mr. Snowden provided reporters with documents describing a government program called Prism, which gathered huge amounts of data from tech companies. At first, tech-company executives said they hadn’t previously heard of Prism and denied participating. In fact, Prism was an NSA code word for data collection authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Tech companies routinely complied with such requests.

 More than a year later, tech executives say consumers still mistrust them, and they need to take steps to demonstrate their independence from the government.

Customer trust is a big issue at Apple. The company generates 62% of its revenue outside the U.S., where it says encryption is even more important to customers concerned about snooping by their governments.

These days, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook stresses the company’s distance from the government.

“Look, if law enforcement wants something, they should go to the user and get it,” he said at The Wall Street Journal’s global technology conference in October. “It’s not for me to do that.”

In early September, Apple said the encryption on its latest iPhone software would prevent anyone other than the user from accessing user data stored on the phone when it is locked. Until then, Apple had helped police agencies—with a warrant—pull data off a phone. The process wasn’t quick. Investigators had to send the device to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, and backlogs occurred.

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2014 at 11:10 am

Bill to Restrict NSA Data Collection Blocked by Senate Republicans

Nokia AT&T phone
Relic of a simpler time. 

So the Senate Republicans blocked legislation ((S.2685: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014)) that could theoretically protect us from government overreach. What a surprise!

 Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk.

But Tuesday’s vote only put off a debate over security and personal liberties until next year. While a Republican-controlled Senate is less likely to go along with the kinds of reforms that were in the bill, which sponsors had named the U.S.A. Freedom Act, the debate could further expose rifts between the party’s interventionist and more libertarian-leaning wings.

Under the bill, which grew out of the disclosures in June 2013 by Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor, the N.S.A. would have gotten out of the business of collecting Americans’ phone records. Instead, most of the records would have stayed in the hands of the phone companies, which would not have been required to hold them any longer than they already do for normal business purposes, which in some cases is 18 months.

The N.S.A., Mr. Snowden revealed, was systematically collecting such telephone metadata …from major American phone companies. The program began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, based on an assertion of unilateral executive power by President George W. Bush. In 2006, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had secretly brought the program under its authority and started issuing orders under the Patriot Act to the companies for their records.

The proposed legislation would still have allowed analysts to perform so-called contact chaining in which they trace a suspect’s network of acquaintances, but they would been required to use a new kind of court order to swiftly obtain only those records that were linked, up to two layers away, to a suspect — even when held by different phone companies.

(click here to continue reading Bill to Restrict N.S.A. Data Collection Blocked in Vote by Senate Republicans – NYTimes.com.)

For all their chants about eliminating Big Gov’ment, Senator Mitch McConnell and his team secretly love expansion of federal reach. For the GOP: expanding government surveillance is good, controlling women’s uteruses is better, expanding defense contractors weaponry program is best. The only kind of government programs the GOP doesn’t like are things like SNAP, EPA, and so on. You know, the stuff that might actually help someone.

Also of note: Senator Rand Paul, Mr. Libertarian himself, voted no on this bill. Wonder how his acolytes will spin it? Especially since Senators Ted “Calgary” Cruz, Dean Heller, Mike Lee and Lisa Murkowski all voted yes…

Transformers 3 Soldier extra
Soldier making NSA tracked call

From Bloomberg Businessweek, the tech industry was pushing for this bill:

The bill was an attempt to force spy agencies to collect only information sought through a court order and exclude the use of broad searches like by ZIP codes. A coalition of Internet and technology companies, which include Google Inc. and Twitter Inc., supported the Senate bill while saying the Republican-backed House version passed in May would still allow bulk collection of Internet user data.

U.S. Internet and technology companies say they’ve already lost contracts with foreign governments over the issue. Forrester Research Inc. estimates the backlash against NSA spying could cost as much as $180 billion in lost business. Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc.  are among the companies pushing for limits.

Americans learned of the spying in June 2013 when Snowden, a former NSA contractor revealed a program under which the U.S. uses court orders to compel companies to turn over data about their users. Documents divulged by Snowden also uncovered NSA hacking of fiber-optic cables abroad and installation of surveillance tools into routers, servers and other network equipment.

(click here to continue reading Senate Blocks Vote on Curbing NSA’s Bulk Data Collection Program – Businessweek.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2014 at 9:49 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Calls Keystone XL Vote An Act Of War

Skies of Much Oblige
Skies of Much Oblige

You’d think the Koch Industries lackeys in Congress would understand declarations of war, but maybe not since this is more of a “talking” war instead of a “bombing brown-skinned people” kind of war.

As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this week on a bill to force approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which the House of Representatives already passed on Friday, American Indian groups who would be directly impacted by the tar sands project are converging on Washington D.C. to voice their opposition.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, whose territory in South Dakota lies along the proposed route of the pipeline, released a statement last week calling Congressional approval of the project an “act of war against our people.”

In a call with reporters on Monday, President Cyril Scott of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe vowed to fight back should the pipeline win government approval.
“Did I declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline? Hell yeah, I did,” said Scott. “I pledge my life to stop these people from harming our children and grandchildren and way of life. They will not cross our treaty lands. We have so much to lose here.”

Scott arrives in D.C. on Tuesday and plans to “rattle the doors” on Capitol Hill ahead of the evening vote. He said he hopes to draw special attention to the fact that the pipeline would cross one of North America’s largest fresh water sources, an aquifer that provides water for a full quarter of the nation’s farmland.

“I’m going to talk to every senator and anybody who will talk to me,” he said. “I will tell them, ‘It’s not a matter of if the pipeline will contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer, but when. And if you contaminate the aquifer, we can’t drink, we can’t grow crops. Where are we going to get our water, from Congress?’”

Besides the environmental threat of the pipeline, which Scott called an “atrocity against all humans,” the Rosebud Sioux say the U.S. government has not met its treaty obligations to ask the tribe for approval of projects that cross their territory. “The U.S. government does not consult us,” he said, noting that concerns brought to the Department of Interior and to the Department of State have been so far ignored. “We have a sovereign nation. We have our own constitution and laws here. But they violated my people’s treaty rights once again.”

(click here to continue reading American Indian Tribe Calls Keystone XL Vote An ‘Act Of War’ | ThinkProgress.)

Moving in Circles - Velvia 100F
Moving in Circles – Velvia 100F

and from the Summit County Voice:

Of course the U.S. government has hardly ever taken Native American concerns seriously, so it would be a surprise if that happened now, but Rosebud Sioux (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) Tribal President Scott said his nation has yet to be properly consulted on the project, which would cross through tribal land. Concerns brought to the Department of Interior and to the Department of State have yet to be addressed, he said in a statement.

“The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren,” Scott said. “We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people,” he said.

In February of this year, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other members of the Great Sioux Nation adopted tribal resolutions opposing the Keystone XL project.

“The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land,” Scott said. “We feel it is imperative that we provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to tribal members but to non-tribal members as well. We need to stop focusing and investing in risky fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. We need to start remembering that the earth is our mother and  stop polluting her and start taking steps to preserve the land, water, and our grandchildren’s future.”

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, along with several other South Dakota Tribes, are unified in opposition to risky and dangerous fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL. The proposed route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline crosses directly through Great Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) Treaty lands as defined by both the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties and within the current exterior boundaries of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

(click here to continue reading Environment: South Dakota Native Americans describe House vote on Keystone XL pipeline as an ‘act of war’ | Summit County Citizens Voice.)

Dreams of the Lattice Work
Dreams of the Lattice Work

From Wikipedia’s entry on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie:

The Treaty of Fort Laramie (also called the Sioux Treaty of 1868) was an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation[1] signed on April 29, 1868 at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory, guaranteeing to the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Powder River Country was to be henceforth closed to all whites. The treaty ended Red Cloud’s War.

In the treaty, the U.S. included all Ponca lands in the Great Sioux Reservation. Conflict between the Ponca and the Sioux/Lakota, who now claimed the land as their own by U.S. law, forced the U.S. to remove the Ponca from their own ancestral lands in Nebraska to poor land in Oklahoma.

The treaty includes an article intended to “ensure the civilization” of the Lakota, financial incentives for them to farm land and become competitive, and stipulations that minors should be provided with an “English education” at a “mission building.” To this end the U.S. government included in the treaty that white teachers, blacksmiths, a farmer, a miller, a carpenter, an engineer and a government agent should take up residence within the reservation.

Repeated violations of the otherwise exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors led to the Black Hills War. Migrant workers seeking gold had crossed the reservation borders, in violation of the treaty. Indians had assaulted these gold prospectors, in violation of the treaty, and war ensued.

(click here to continue reading Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

 

Sioux Reservation map

Sioux Reservation map

–updated with a comment by Meteor Blades of Daily Kos

The splitting up of the Great Sioux Nation is a violation of the 1851 and 1868 treaties, something the Lakota have been battling since before Custer got his comeuppance. The pipeline crosses lots of the territory covered in those treaties:

Inside the blue line is the original 1868 Treaty land for the Sioux (the 1851 Treaty allocated somewhat more).

The Black Hills were taken in 1877, the same year Crazy Horse surrendered and was soon killed in captivity. 1889 and 1910 losses were due to allotments. You can see what happened: All those dark dots in the southern part of South Dakota are allotments still owned by individual Sioux. All the light spaces are land ceded as “surplus” after allotment, bought by the federal government from the tribes or sold off by individual Indians to non-Indians after the expiration of the period during which the land could not be sold.

It was just another of the land rip-offs. The General Allotment Act reduced Indian land from 138 million acres in 1887 to 48 million acres by 1934 when allotment ended.

Don’t tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

by Meteor Blades

(click here to continue reading Congress Commits an Act of War Against the Great Sioux Nation.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

White Way Sign files for bankruptcy protection

I trust White Way Sign will survive this bankruptcy, I couldn’t imagine Chicago without White Way Signs populating our common urban space, nor my Flickr feed either…

White Way Sign, a century-old company behind some of the most historic signs in Chicago, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The family-owned company has had a hand in everything from the landmark Chicago Theatre and Wrigley Field marquees to the U.S. Cellular Field and United Center scoreboards, iconic signage that has helped define the city’s image and evolution.

Marathoners race past the Chicago Theatre. White Way Sign didn’t build the original Chicago Theatre sign, but it fabricated and installed the most recent version of the canopy within the past decade, according to the company. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune) The company moved from Chicago to Mount Prospect in 2007, and recently has focused more on maintenance than manufacturing after divesting its North Clybourn Avenue facility. The filing Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago lists less than $10 million in assets and up to $50 million in liabilities.

“We expect to survive this,” said Jim Morgan, a Chicago bankruptcy attorney representing White Way. “We just need to retool and we will continue to provide the same service.”

White Way Sign was founded in 1916 by Thomas Flannery, an Irish immigrant who started the company by servicing electric signs. It made its mark by fabricating and maintaining marquees for such theaters as the Chicago Theatre and the Oriental Theatre. The company took its name from the New York theater district, which was known as the Great White Way for its brightly lighted marquees.

(click here to continue reading White Way Sign files for bankruptcy protection – Chicago Tribune.)

A few examples of White Way Signs I’ve snapped photos of over the years:

(Central) Camera - since 1899

(Central) Camera – since 1899

Ballin'
Ballin’

Fela - Oriental Theatre
Fela – Oriental Theatre

Meier's Tavern Package Liquors
Meier’s Tavern Package Liquors

Las Vegas Showgirls
Las Vegas Showgirls

Homosexuals at Biograph
Homosexuals at Biograph

Oriental Ford
Oriental Ford

Explosions In the Sky
Explosions In the Sky

Vintage Neon: Chicago Park
Vintage Neon: Chicago Park

Ramova Neon
Ramova Neon

There are probably more White Way Signs photos in my Flickr Signs Album, but you get the idea…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in Business,Chicago-esque,Photography

Tagged with ,

Congress Extends Itself Tax Extender Style

Relentless
Relentless

Gail Collins provides a good elevator pitch description of a tax policy tool called tax extenders…

One of the very, very few things the current Congress seems determined to deal with before it vanishes into the night is the problem of “tax extenders.” Extenders are strange but much-loved little financial mutants. Sort of like hobbits or three-legged kittens.

Congress, in its wisdom, has created a raft of temporary tax breaks for everybody from teachers to banks that make money overseas. Most are really intended to be permanent. But calling them short-term measures tricks the Congressional Budget Office into underestimating how much they cost.
“If you pass a new tax cut, you’ve got to find offsetting spending cuts. But these are in a sense free,” said Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center.

After the election, both parties appeared inclined to just extend all the tax cuts for two years while making principled mumbling about reform down the line.

But then the Koch brothers roared into the picture. They feel that it’s wrong for the government to give a special benefit to an industry that’s one of their competitors. Especially a government that they and their associates devoted nearly $60 million to getting into office. Politico reported that their representatives have been meeting with Speaker Boehner’s staff.

And you know, they have a point. If Congress actually wanted to do serious reform, it should get rid of special tax breaks for the wind and solar energy sectors. While, of course, also removing all the tax breaks for drilling oil.

(click here to continue reading Congress Extends Itself – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 17th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

The Diabolical Cunning of The Reagan Revolution

Nixon - Reagan (Rick Perlstein) #doubleExposure
Nixon – Reagan (Rick Perlstein) #doubleExposure

An excerpt from an interview/conversation between Thomas Frank and Rick Perlstein, which contains this illuminating exchange about the death of Democratic Party populism; how the working class Democrat morphed into Reagan Democrats, who now listen to Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and so on…

Rick Perlstein: And, just to kind of rewind, I was very fascinated to read a book of Mike Royko columns. You know, Mike Royko is this great liberal hero, a real champion of the little guy and the kind of columnist we don’t see anymore. This white working-class populist kind of guy.

Thomas FrankAlthough they didn’t use that term populist back then. They would have just said “liberal” right?

RP–No. They would have probably called him a populist, I think. But I was struck by how many of his columns.… One of his genres was how cruel they’re being to the little guy. One of his genres was the lives of colorful Chicago characters. But a lot of his columns were about how incompetent government was, and he would write about how hard it is to get a refund when the bus token machine doesn’t work, or the lines at the DMV. And, by the same token, when you read the toughest political journalism of the day by someone like Garry Wills, who was writing amazing stuff for Esquire Magazine, it’s so iconoclastic.

TF: How do you mean?

RP: He was so good at knocking politicians off their pedestals and showing them up to be phonies. One of Garry Wills’ favorite rhetorical strategies was to find out what a politician’s favorite book was, according to his campaign rhetoric, and then ask him about the book and prove that, you know, he had no idea what was in there.

So the point is, there was just all kinds of suspicion of government circulating in the culture. It was in the air. I mean, why wouldn’t there be after Vietnam? After Watergate? After the failure of Keynesianism? And one of the sort of diabolical, cunning accomplishments of Ronald Reagan and the Reaganites was to take that free-floating rage, rage about the failures of government and turn it to the advantage of the Masters of the Universe.

TF: Yeah. That’s the story of our time in some ways.

(click here to continue reading Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan’s secret tragedy: How ’70s and ’80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America – Salon.com.)

Sadly, this rings true. The GOP has long been the party of oil barons, media moguls, defense contractors, yet the rank and file of the Tea Party ranks are filled with working class and middle class voters, who consistently vote against their own economic interest. How does tax breaks for General Electric and ExxonMobil help a dude working at a muffler repair shop? It doesn’t, and yet…

Circuit Court of Cook County
POW/MIA Flag, Circuit Court of Cook County

The interview morphs into a discussion about the creation of the POW/MIA myth as a cynical Nixon ploy – 

They were quite heroic and the story holds up on its own terms. Unfortunately, the Pentagon distorted it — for example, made up things that weren’t true about prisoners being hung by their wrists and having their arms permanently broken. Well, that was easily checked once they came back, and their arms weren’t permanently broken. But I have the smoking gun, which is Nixon’s Secretary of State, William Rogers, saying the POWs are serving their purpose to basically —you can get the quote from the book — putting the military on a new footing, where they should be—to kind of redeem American militarism.

Illinois still has a POW-MIA remembrance day. So the cynicism is that, generally speaking, when a pilot would get shot down over dense jungle and they didn’t recover the body, they were classified as “body not recovered.”

…Presumed killed in action, basically. And one of the things Nixon did — and the Nixon Pentagon did — was reclassify them as Missing In Action, which served a very important rhetorical purpose: If they were missing in action, maybe they were alive. And if they were alive maybe the enemy had them alive. And so it created this sort of negotiating point. Nixon could accuse them of negotiating in bad faith unless they promised to return these soldiers that they were supposedly holding back. And that turned out to be the sorcerer’s apprentice, because he would always talk about the 1,700 Americans held prisoner or missing in action. And after the war ends and these 600 men come back…

TF That’s how many POWs there were?

Approximately. 592, I think, was the number. People would say “where are the other 1,100?” And their families would say, “where are the other 1,100?” And, basically, this preexisting group that Admiral [James] Stockdale’s wife had started up, the National League of Families of Prisoners of War, the White House basically turned it into their own front group and plumped [it] up into something much bigger than it had been. But then it takes this independent life of its own harassing the government for not more actively looking for their missing family members. So they played with the feelings of these absolutely traumatized families for political gain, and it eventually backfired.

(click here to continue reading Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan’s secret tragedy: How ’70s and ’80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America – Salon.com.)

There’s more, and you should read it…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 16th, 2014 at 9:57 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,