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Online RE

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Re: What will happen to truck drivers when self-driving vehicles take over?
« Reply #1215 on: November 28, 2013, 10:24:04 PM »
Anyhow, by the time Ray and Company at Google figure all this out, we will long be out of Diesel.  No worries for the OTR Trucker at the moment about being automated out of work.
No, RE, you've got it all wrong... the key is, make the roads a whole lot simpler.  Like, say, one or two tracks to travel along.  And maybe put a couple containers together on a flatbed... and put a whole sting of them together... and then make some really big engines to pull all of them.

I know, it's too crazily futuristic to ever happen....


That is Automating Trains, not Trucks JD.

Railroads are way simpler.  I don't think automating them would be hard at all.

What these folks are talking about is automating Trucks to run on the current road system.  Utterly infeasible IMHO.

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Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: What will happen to truck drivers when self-driving vehicles take over?
« Reply #1216 on: November 28, 2013, 10:56:25 PM »
\That is Automating Trains, not Trucks JD.

Railroads are way simpler.  I don't think automating them would be hard at all.

What these folks are talking about is automating Trucks to run on the current road system.  Utterly infeasible IMHO.
LOL precisely... it's the wrong solution to the wrong problem.  Getting rid of long-distance trucking and just using drivers for short hauls to and from the train stations would solve the labor shortage much better.  The biggest reason railroads are losing out is because the playing field isn't level; if the government footed the bill for the track building and maintenance like they do for highways, the railroad industry would be trouncing trucking.  But of course that ignores the bigger problem that we can't afford the energy to be shipping such massive quantities of everything all over the place.

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Re: What will happen to truck drivers when self-driving vehicles take over?
« Reply #1217 on: November 28, 2013, 11:12:48 PM »
LOL precisely... it's the wrong solution to the wrong problem.  Getting rid of long-distance trucking and just using drivers for short hauls to and from the train stations would solve the labor shortage much better.  The biggest reason railroads are losing out is because the playing field isn't level; if the government footed the bill for the track building and maintenance like they do for highways, the railroad industry would be trouncing trucking.  But of course that ignores the bigger problem that we can't afford the energy to be shipping such massive quantities of everything all over the place.

If Da Goobermint subsidized Railroads instead of Highways, then the Uber-Rich would not have nice smooth Pavement upon which to motor about in their EVs.  They would have to go back to hitching Luxury Train Cars to the Union-Pacific Railroad with E.H. Harriman.


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Coal-fired power plants to be built in Fukushima
« Reply #1220 on: November 30, 2013, 05:08:44 PM »
Coal-fired power plants to be built in Fukushima

Valentin Mândrasescu
30 November 2013


Photo: EPA

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced its intention to build two advanced coal-fired power plants in Fukushima. Company officials claim that the new power plants will help the region recover after the nuclear disaster.

TEPCO promises that the new construction project will help fight unemployment by creating two thousand jobs and a source of cheap energy. The intended capacity of the power plants is 1000 MW. TEPCO estimates that the project will be finished in seven or eight years.

While Japan really needs cheap electric power, the plans to build two new coal-fired power plans in Fukushima prefecture were met with extreme skepticism. There are several issues with the project presented by the TEPCO CEO Yoshiyuki Ishizaki. One of them is the dire state of the company's finances.

TEPCO has incurred huge losses after Fukushima disaster and still has a lot to pay in compensations to victims of disaster and for decontamination services. It also has to decommission the remaining units of the Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant and the costs of this operation will be substantial. A clear estimation of TEPCO's future expenses doesn't exist yet.

The company has been subjected to "stealth nationalization" by the Japanese government in order to prevent its untimely bankruptcy. It is hard to find economic sense in launching an ambitious investment project when the company is unable to service its debts without external help.

However, it is possible that the new power plants are a political project, sponsored and supported by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Building a better and safer Fukushima power plants or at least promising to finalize such a project can increase Abe's approval ratings that have suffered in the aftermath of the Fukushima debacle.

So, while TEPCO doesn't have the expertise and the money required for the project, the Japanese government can provide both or at least ensure that private banks help TEPCO. It doesn't make economic sense, but political expediency often trumps all other considerations.


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Saudi Arabia's foreign labour crackdown drives out 2m migrants
« Reply #1221 on: November 30, 2013, 05:11:26 PM »
Saudi Arabia's foreign labour crackdown drives out 2m migrants

Ethiopian workers face hostility amid 'Saudisation' campaign to control foreign labour and get more Saudi citizens into work

Ian Black in Riyadh
Friday 29 November 2013


Foreign workers waiting to be deported in Riyadh. Photograph: EPA

Under the watchful eyes of Saudi policemen slouched in their squad cars along a rundown street, little knots of Ethiopian men sit chatting on doorsteps and sprawl on threadbare grass at one of Riyadh's busiest junctions. These are tense, wary times in Manfouha, a few minutes' drive from the capital's glittering towers and swanky shopping malls.

Manfouha is the bleak frontline in Saudi Arabia's campaign to get rid of its illegal foreign workers, control the legal ones and help get more of its own citizens into work. This month two or three Ethiopians were killed here after a raid erupted into full-scale rioting.

Keeping their distance from the officers parked every few hundred metres, the Ethiopians look shifty and sound nervous. "Of course I have an iqama [residence permit]," insisted Ali, a gaunt twentysomething man in cheap leather jacket and jeans. "I wouldn't be standing here if I hadn't."

But he didn't have the document on him. And his story, in broken Arabic, kept changing: he was in the process of applying for one; actually, no, his kafeel (sponsor) had it. It didn't sound as if it would convince the police or passport inspection teams prowling the neighbourhood.

Until recently, of the kingdom's 30 million residents, more than nine million were non-Saudis. Since the labour crackdown started in March, one million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have left. And the campaign has moved into higher gear after the final deadline expired on 4 November, with dozens of repatriation flights now taking place every day. By next year, two million migrants will have gone.

No one is being singled out, the authorities say. Illegal workers of 14 nationalities have been detained and are awaiting deportation. But the Ethiopians, many of whom originally crossed into Saudi Arabia from Yemen, are widely portrayed as criminals who are said to be mixed up with alcohol and prostitution. "They'd rather sit here and do nothing than go home because maybe they will get some kind of work," sneered Adel, one of the few Saudis to brave Manfouha's mean streets. "In Ethiopia there is nothing for them."


Ethiopian men in Manfouha, southern Riyadh. Photograph: AP

The Ethiopian government said this week that 50,000 of its nationals had already been sent home, with the total expected to rise to 80,000. Every day hundreds more trudge through the gates of the heavily guarded campus of Riyadh's Princess Noora University, awaiting a coach ride to the airport, fingerprinting, a final exit visa and their one-way flight to Addis Ababa.

Incidents involving Ethiopians are reported almost obsessively on Twitter and YouTube and across mainstream media outlets. Ethiopians complain in turn of being robbed and beaten, and of routine abuse and mistreatment by their Saudi employers. Protests have been held outside Saudi embassies in several countries. Prejudice is so rife that the Ethiopian ambassador had to insist that the Muslim or Christian beliefs of his compatriots prevented them from practising sorcery.

Yet other foreign workers show little sympathy or solidarity. "These people believe this is their country," said Mohamed, a Bangladeshi who runs a petrol station in the centre of Manfouha. "They are big trouble, and dangerous. I've seen them carrying long knives."

Mokhtar, a Somali, had no problem with them. "I'm not afraid of the Ethiopians because we are neighbours," he grinned. "But the Saudis are. I have heard the stories about them breaking into houses and I've seen them smashing up cars on this road." Ansar, another Ethiopian who blamed his boss for withholding his iqama, condemned his violent compatriots as kuffar – infidels.

Saudi Arabia's addiction to cheap foreign labour goes back to the oil boom and religious awakening of the mid-1970s. In recent years it has come to be seen as an enormous problem that distorts the economy and keeps young people out of the labour market. But the government turned a blind eye and little happened until March. And it remains to be seen whether the notorious kafala (sponsorship) system – responsible for many abuses – can be reformed or replaced. Saudis say one of the biggest problems is foreigners who have fled their original kafeel and effectively disappeared.

"We will need two decades to get back to where we were in the 1970s," predicted Turki al-Hamad, a writer who grew up in the eastern city of Dammam, where Saudis used to work in the Aramco oilfields. "We are better off economically than we were then, but much worse off socially."

The "regularisation" campaign has had some unintended though probably predictable consequences. The sudden acceleration of departures, both voluntary and forced, has left building sites deserted and corpses unwashed. Some schools have closed due to an absence of caretakers. In Jeddah a septic tank overflowed disastrously because the cleaners had all fled after hearing word of an impending police raid. Rubbish is piling up everywhere. In Medina undocumented foreigners dressed up in robes to blend in and avoid attention.

"Two friends of mine were arrested in a furniture shop," said Mohamed Shafi, a driver from Kerala in India. "Their kafeel said it was too expensive to regularise their status so he sacked them. Now they are in a detention centre and there's no way to contact them."

Middle-class Saudis bemoan the sudden disappearance of their maids and drivers (an economic necessity for women, who are banned from driving) and find themselves sucked into a costly labyrinth if they try to intervene. "I had to use the black market and I've paid 100,000 riyals [£16,000]) to regularise my workers," complained a British manager. Embassies are being overwhelmed by nationals frantically seeking the documents they need to allow them to leave the country. "You could see this was a disaster waiting to happen," said another European resident. "It just wasn't thought through. It's all about incompetence."

In the long term the expulsions should help the wider "Saudisation" programme, based on the nitaqat or quotas for employing Saudis in certain sectors depending on the size of the enterprise. But this is not only about the menial work that pampered Saudis refuse to do. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans, Lebanese, Syrians and Egyptians work in the private sector. According to the latest figures from the IMF, 1.5m of the 2m new jobs created in the last four years went to non-Saudis. Entire areas of the economy are controlled by foreigners.

Oil prices are still high and growth enviably healthy but everyone knows that the vast state sector – providing jobs for the boys, if not for the girls – will have to shrink in years to come. Officially unemployment is already 12%; it is probably more than twice that among the two-thirds of the population who are under 30. Every year about 100,000 graduates enter the job market. Technical colleges are now providing vocational training.

"Saudisation can only succeed if a company really wants to do it," argued Abdelrahman al-Mutlak, a businessman. "It can't be done by regulation. Too many Saudis still think it's a lot more prestigious to hire a foreigner even if there is perfectly good Saudi candidate available."


An Ethiopian worker argues with a member of the Saudi security forces in Manfouha. Photograph: Reuters

Economists point out that with fewer foreign workers sending remittances home, more money will stay in the country and help boost consumer spending. Official accounts of the expulsion campaign have an almost apologetic tone and stress the efforts the security forces are making and the difficulties they face. But the Saudi Twittersphere echoes to complaints that Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the interior minister (and a likely future king) has been too soft on what one angry tweet called "criminal gangs of Ethio-Israelis".

It seems clear that the public is cheering on the government on the foreign labour issue. "It is the right thing to do," said Fawziya al-Bakr, a lecturer. "We've reached the point where people were trading in these workers and women were running away to become prostitutes. This is a problem that has built up over 40 years. It can't just be swept up in nine months. But it has to be done. When everything is legalised it will be easier to control."

For Kamel, a Shia businessman from Qatif, in the Eastern province, the expulsions are long overdue. "These people live in ghettoes run by gangsters," he said. "If they are not here legally we don't want them. It just creates problems. They had a period of grace but didn't do anything about it. In Manfouha the Ethiopians started attacking the properties of Pakistanis and Afghans. That was a big mistake. The government says it can solve this problem – so it's really acting tough."


Abuses and exploitation

More than eight million migrant workers in Saudi Arabia – more than half the entire workforce – fill manual, clerical, and service jobs. "Many suffer abuses and labour exploitation, sometimes amounting to slavery-like conditions," says Human Rights Watch.

The kafala system ties foreign workers' residency permits to sponsoring employers whose consent is required for workers to change jobs or leave the country. A Pakistani man employed as a driver, for example, needs permission to work in a shop. Employers often abuse this power in violation of Saudi law to confiscate passports, withhold wages and force migrants to work against their will or on exploitative terms.

Thousands work illegally under the so-called "free visa" arrangement, with Saudis posing as sponsoring employers and importing workers to staff fictitious businesses. Workers who enter Saudi Arabia under this scheme work outside the regulatory system for companies and businesses that are happy to avoid official scrutiny while the worker pays often extortionate annual and monthly fees to the free-visa sponsor to renew residency and work permits.


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Human tragedy unfolds as Gaza runs on empty
« Reply #1222 on: November 30, 2013, 05:13:28 PM »
Human tragedy unfolds as Gaza runs on empty

Daily life is a battle for the deprived residents of one of the world's most densely populated places on earth, Robert Tait reports

By Robert Tait, Gaza City
29 Nov 2013


17-year-old Mona Abu Mraleel

The horrific scars disfigure Mona Abu Mraleel’s otherwise strikingly beautiful face. Swathes of bandages cover the injuries the 17-year-old sustained to her arms and legs in a blaze from which she narrowly escaped with her life.

Still racked by pain from burns to 40 per cent of her body, she goes to hospital on a daily basis to have her dressings changed. Specialist doctors are preparing to carry out a delicate skin graft operation in the coming days.

Yet the hospital on which her recovery depends is woefully ill-fitted to the task – riddled by equipment failures, power cuts and shortages in a mounting crisis that doctors fear is leading to a “health catastrophe”.

Mona lives in Gaza, the impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave where chronic fuel shortages have led to electricity cuts of up to 18 hours a day and reduced ordinary life and public services to a standstill.

She is just one of many Gazans suffering in a rapidly worsening economic climate that this week prompted the British Foreign Office minister, Hugh Robertson, to demand urgent action to restore an adequate fuel supply to the territory.

Gaza’s long-running shortages – which had already inflicted long-term eight-hour daily blackouts on residents – worsened dramatically at the beginning of this month when the territory’s main power station closed, following a row over prices between the two biggest Palestinian factions.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, said it could no longer afford to buy fuel after the Fatah-dominated and Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, withdrew the tax exemptions it once provided.

That intensified already severe shortages first caused by an Israeli blockade imposed in 2007 and then compounded by the Egyptian military’s closure of tunnels previously used as supply routes following last summer’s ousting of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s Islamist former president and a Hamas ally.

The result has been blackouts of between 12 and 16 hours a day. Sometimes the daily power supply is cut to as little as six hours.

The impact on Gaza’s health service has been disastrous. Hospitals, running out of fuel to keep generators going, are at breaking point amid the threat of multiple equipment failures.

At the European hospital in Khan Younis radiographers say the patchy electricity supply from generators produces flawed images from the MRI scanner – the only such facility in Gaza – making diagnoses difficult. They will be forced to stop using the machine entirely unless nearly-exhausted Helium gas supplies are not restocked from Israel to prevent it overheating.

Two incubators and four monitors have broken down in the special care baby unit, where sporadic power interruptions force doctors to administer oxygen manually to premature infants.

With the hospital forced to ration its fuel supply, only half the usual number of daily non-emergency operations are taking place.

A shortage of medical supplies is further complicating matters. At Shifa hospital’s renal unit – where five of the 40 kidney dialysis machines are out of service after being damaged by power cuts – many patients have anaemia due to a lack of essential hormone medication.

“This is the worst time I have known in the 18 years I have been in service,” said Dr Mohammed Al-Kashif, international cooperation director at Gaza’s health ministry. “It’s a disaster. We have stopped many elective operations in hospitals to cut down on the expenditure of drugs and disposable equipment.”

The crisis has spread beyond the health sector. Main thoroughfares are in pitch darkness at night as streets lights are left switched off. Traffic lights at main junctions have ceased to work.

Many shops conduct their trade in semi-gloom while some have stopped trading entirely. Al-Aloet, one of Gaza City’s biggest bakeries, has shut two production lines – even as demand for bread rises amid the enforced closure of smaller businesses.

With just a few days’ fuel left, Tarik Shehada, the manager, said he feared would be forced to shut a business his family have run for 30 years.

Meanwhile, the breakdown of public services has led to dire warnings of a disease epidemic.

This week Gaza authorities deployed donkeys to cart away refuse throughout the territory after being forced to withdraw 50 garbage lorries from service.


A Palestinian worker from the Gaza City municipality uses a donkey cart to collect rubbish from the Yarmuk waste dump area (AFP)

That came after nearly 8,000 gallons of raw sewage washed into several homes after flooding the streets of Gaza City’s impoverished East Zeitoun district, where around 3,000 people live. The accident happened after a lack of fuel caused the breakdown of backup generators at a nearby pumping station.

Standing amid the rancid stench, Rami Naffar, 40, said the power cuts meant there was insufficient water to bathe his children, several of whom had fallen ill from the effects of successive sewage spills.

For the hospitals, an added worry is coping with the after-effects of fires started by malfunctioning domestic generators – similar to that which caused Mona’s injuries after sparks from a plug set her bed alight.

Sixteen people – including four children – have died from the effects of burns alone in the last year, human rights activists say, while others have perished from carbon monoxide poisoning or electrocution.

We have dealt with many cases caused directly or indirectly by the electricity shortages,” said Dr Nafiz Abu Shaban, head of plastic surgery at Shifa Hospital’s under-resourced burns unit, where Mona goes every day for treatment “Many children have come in with electric burns from generators and many have had to have fingers or limbs amputated.”

For Mona, the danger that Gaza’s crumbling health services will deprive her of the rehabilitation she needs and turn her plight into a lifelong tragedy has prompted her desperate family to appeal for help from abroad.

“We’re ready to take help from anywhere because the treatment and technology isn’t available here to repair the effects of the burns,” said her father, Abed Rahman Mraleel. “Her beauty has been damaged and it could make her less attractive to marry. In our culture, not being able to marry is a big problem for her.”



Online RE

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Re: Human tragedy unfolds as Gaza runs on empty
« Reply #1223 on: November 30, 2013, 05:26:06 PM »
Human tragedy unfolds as Gaza runs on empty

COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Human tragedy unfolds as Gaza runs on empty
« Reply #1224 on: December 01, 2013, 07:00:04 AM »
Human tragedy unfolds as Gaza runs on empty

COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOURE

Well, it's PLAYING NOW A THEATER NEAR THEM

Never forget for a second that these humanitarian disasters are the intended effect of the policies of the Zionist Apartheid State.

But they don't affect us, because we've got turkey and stuffing yet in the fridge.

A pretty objective snapshot of policy and its effects inside of Gaza here.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Train Derails in RE's Old Stompin' Grounds
« Reply #1225 on: December 01, 2013, 09:17:43 AM »
Train derails in New York, killing 4


First responders gather around the derailment of a Metro-North passenger train in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday, December 1. Of eight train cars, at least seven were off the tracks.

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Sellafield executives to face MPs as nuclear clean-up bill rises over £70bn
« Reply #1226 on: December 01, 2013, 04:41:46 PM »
Sellafield executives to face MPs as nuclear clean-up bill rises over £70bn

Public accounts committee to scrutinise private consortium accused of spending cash 'like confetti'

Terry Macalister
Sunday 1 December 2013


The huge Sellafield plant in Cumbria is regarded as the most dangerous industrial site in western Europe, not least because it houses 120 tonnes of plutonium, the largest civilian stockpile in the world. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters

The bill for cleaning up the huge Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria will rise even higher than its current estimated level of £70bn as operators struggle to assess the full scale of the task, according to sources close to the project.

The warning comes just days before private sector managers face a grilling from the public accounts committee, which is investigating activities at the facility.

It was hoped that the huge bill – eight times the cost of staging the London Olympics – would be capped at £70bn, but well-placed sources have told the Guardian that the operators are convinced they are still "not at the top" of the cost curve.

Sellafield is regarded as the most dangerous and polluted industrial site in western Europe, not least because it houses 120 tonnes of plutonium, the largest civilian stockpile in the world.

The cost of decommissioning the Calder Hall reactor plus a magnox fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield has been rising steeply, but the biggest task comes from "ponds" and "silos" filled with old equipment and deteriorating, highly toxic waste.

Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), the private sector consortium that manages the site, declined to comment, but other sources said those engaged in the clean-up were still some way from knowing exactly what was in the storage facilities. "Record-keeping in the past was clearly not what it should have been," said one.

The soaring cost of decommissioning, along with the apparent inefficiency of NMP – and the £230m of dividends it has received – will come under the spotlight on Wednesday at a meeting of the public accounts committee, which is chaired by Margaret Hodge, the straight-talking MP for Barking and Dagenham.

Tom Zarges, the chairman of NMP, will be questioned alongside Tony Price, the managing director of Sellafield, and John Clarke, the chief executive of the state-owned Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is meant to oversee the clean-up process.

The committee has in the past been highly critical of NMP, not least for falling behind on 12 out of 14 key tasks being undertaken in Cumbria.

The senior nuclear executives will also be asked to comment on how £6m of bonuses came to be shared out among NMP bosses over three years and why the consortium paid back £100,000 in expenses that had been wrongly claimed.

The political temperature has been raised by the NDA agreeing to give a further five-year contract to NMP despite its performance being fiercely criticised by accountants in a recent report, which was not initially provided to the committee.

KPMG, working for the decommissioning authority, accused the clean-up group of overspending, failure to reach operational targets and weak leadership at the atomic complex in Cumbria.

Hodge has already said that, in the light of the critical review, it was "inexplicable" that the NDA was prepared to reward the NMP consortium, which she also accused of spending cash "like confetti".

NMP is made up of British firm Amec, American firm URS and Areva, the French engineering group, which is also engaged to help EDF of France build the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

While the clean-up goes on there has been much speculation about how to deal with the plutonium, which in theory could be used to create dozens of atomic bombs if it fell into the wrong hands. Just storing this material is said to cost £80m a year and tThere are a variety of potential plans for reducing the stockpile, possibly by burning it or turning it into more fuel for reactors.

Talk of building a new mixed-oxide (Mox) fuel reprocessing plant has been undermined by a report out this summer that concluded a previous Mox facility, which closed two years ago, had left taxpayers with a £2.2bn bill rather than the healthy profit that had been promised when it was first constructed.

 

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Shake ‘Em Up at Harvard Law School Day
« Reply #1227 on: December 01, 2013, 04:45:20 PM »
Shake ‘Em Up at Harvard Law School Day

by RALPH NADER
November 28, 2013

Those of us who worked with an energetic corps of Harvard Law students thought October 24, 2013 would be a galvanizing, historic day at that training ground for corporate law firms.

The students left no stone unturned in promoting a full day of presentations by leading, experienced justice fighters sharing the urgency to act in their respective fields. The goal was to encourage a new generation of law graduates to do likewise. Every type of media was used to advance the event–e-mails, posters, telephone calls, word-of-mouth, the revived Harvard Law School Record newspaper on every first year student’s desk, handouts, mentions in some classrooms and even a salsa band to provide sound with the light.

The venerable Ames courtroom was the venue for the speakers who delivered summaries of a lifetime of breakthroughs for justice in twenty minute presentations, followed by ten minutes of discussion. In a nod to Pavlov, free pizza was offered at lunchtime.

It seemed reasonable that of the 2,000 students and faculty, the 300 seats in the Ames Courtroom would be filled–with students going in and out to attend classes. Edgar Cahn, the first presenter alone should have drawn such an audience with “Legal Education: Unasked Questions, Unwelcome Answers. Where Next?” Right out of Yale Law School in the Sixties, Edgar and his late wife Jean drafted and got Congress to pass a law creating the Legal Services Corporation which provides low-income people with 4,000 attorneys around the country.

The Cahns started Antioch Law School based on the philosophy that law should mean justice and that students should experience their clients’ plights firsthand in marginalized neighborhoods.

Professor/advocate Cahn also devised the Time Dollar currency–spreading in numerous countries–whereby people use their hours of time as a currency to exchange for services.

Then came Professor Michael Rustad on the topic “Tort Law Under Siege,” warning how the law of wrongful injury was being weakened and further cannibalized by fine-print standard form contracts, those consumer servitudes we all sign regularly, that take away our right to go to court against wrongdoers.

Worker pension reformer, attorney and alumnae Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center, delved into the subject “Combating Retirement Insecurity,” and enticed students to consider practicing in this vast area of jeopardized pensions.

By this time, however, many of the 100 or so law students who showed up, having consumed their pizza, had already left the courtroom, to the dismay of a couple dozen attendees from the Cambridge community.

Too bad, because they and their absent friends, missed the nation’s leading investigator of corporate tax avoidance/evasion–“Teaching Tax: Morality and Consequences”–Pulitzer Prize winner, David Cay Johnston. Followed by the rousing challenger of lawless foreign, military and prosecutorial policies by the Presidency–Bruce Fein, a Harvard Law grad, who spoke on “One-Branch Tyranny: Lawyers, Law Professors and Law Students Fiddle While the Constitution is Vandalized.”

About this time, a lone Law School Professor was sighted–Lani Guinier who has broken some smug paradigms in her day, as has the next speaker–former Attorney General (under President Johnson), Ramsey Clark. He urged the application of laws to stop wars or to hold war criminals accountable to their victims.

Arguably the nation’s leading critic of science and ethics, Prof. Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University, threw down a gauntlet of specifics with his topic, “Facing Up to It: Science Without Law is Immoral and Law Without Science is Blindsighted.”

My Harvard Law School class of 1958 started the Appleseed Foundation which has launched sixteen Centers for Law and Justice in as many states over the last 25 years. Quite a model for older law school alumni classes at the nation’s 203 law schools. Lawyer and Appleseed executive director, Betsy Cavendish, spoke of “A Theory of Change”– that brings the law closer to serve the people.

The necessity of that objective was poignantly described by Harvard sociologist, Bruce Western, who narrated in “Reform, Redemption and Mass Incarceration” personal stories how the poverty economy and mass imprisonment of the impoverished and marginalized relate to recidivism.

By this time, most afternoon classes were over and I expected a stream of students and, perchance, some faculty, to arrive. After all, there were clear areas of actionable injustice being described by superstars of the legal profession. Other than Prof. Jon Hanson, no such luck.

Arthur Miller, known to many for his television programs and commentary while teaching at Harvard, came from NYU Law School and delivered a masterpiece, “Are They Closing the Courthouse Doors?” on how expanding procedural hurdles block access to justice. He is the nation’s leading scholar on procedural rules as well as an appellate attorney.

Want to know about whistleblowing protections and notorious persecutions by people who bring their conscience to work? No one is more experienced than Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP). He proved it with his topic “Whistleblowing and the Power of Truth.”

Completing this unprecedented day was Jeffrey Clements, author of the clear-eyed book Corporations are Not People, speaking on “The Corporate Capture of the Constitution and the Courts.” He is leading a nationwide effort to constitutionally overturn the Supreme Court decision–Citizens United–which allows corporations and unions to give unlimited money in independent expenditures against or for candidates for public office (See corporationsarenotpeople.com).

Although much of the day’s content is not taught at the Law School, or only tangentially touched on, the student attendance had dwindled to fewer than fifty–notwithstanding another Pavlovian entreaty of a tasty buffet.

Harvard Law School is full of the best and brightest professors and law students. If you doubt this, just ask them. Of course a few are quite active. But, moving the rest from satisfaction to significance–at least, in Bruce Fein’s words, so that more become the Paul Reveres sounding the alarms when the law is subjugated by raw power, is a formidable task.

At Harvard Law, with a massive endowment of $1.7 billion and the most diverse offerings in courses and clinics of any law school, the excuses are few for the overall training of students as rigorous legal technicians slated to sustain and enlarge the rule of power–especially that of the corporate supremacists–over the rule of law.

Were Harvard Law to arouse, it might prod similar levitations at other law schools who, admit or not, see Harvard as groundbreaking. Maybe Harvard is too entrenched in its storied traditions and abstract pretensions. Maybe the grip of corporatist environments is so internalized as not to be seen as ravaging the school’s potential.

The kinds of law school graduates–their sense of horizons and self-significance–affects many millions of people for whom the law is unusable, repressive and devoid of adequate lawyer representation.

Stay tuned. Visit hlrecord.org. There is more to come in shaking up law schools by small numbers of law students, teachers and alumni.

 

Offline JoeP

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Clashes rage as 100,000 Ukrainians protest EU snub
« Reply #1228 on: December 01, 2013, 04:47:14 PM »
Clashes rage as 100,000 Ukrainians protest EU snub

AFP | Dec 1, 2013


Protesters throw stones at police during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev on December 1, 2013. (Reuters photo)

KIEV: About 100 police were injured on Sunday in clashes that broke out as 100,000 outraged Ukrainians swarmed Kiev in a call for early elections meant to punish authorities for rejecting a historic EU pact.

The crowd chanted "Revolution!" and "Down with the gang" as it took control of Kiev's iconic Independence Square, while protesters steered a bulldozer within striking distance of police barricades protecting the nearby presidential adminstration office.

AFP reporters saw security forces outside the presidential building fire stun grenades and smoke bombs at a few dozen masked demonstrators who were pelting police with stones and what Ukrainian media said were molotov cocktails.

Kiev police spokeswoman Olga Bilyk said by telephone that around 100 officers were wounded in the day-long protest. An AFP reporter saw three protesters covered in blood from head wounds and other injuries.

Two AFP photographers and a local cameraman with the Lyon-based Euronews television news channel also received slight injuries in the unrest.

Kiev police said a few dozen members of the nationalist Svoboda party had also taken control of an empty Kiev city hall building and set up what they described as the new temporary headquarters of the united opposition.

"The government and president must resign," world boxing champion turned opposition leader Vitali Klitschko told the Independence Square crowd to loud cheers and cries of "Yes!"

"A revolution is starting in Ukraine," added Svoboda party chief Oleh Tyagnybok.

"We are setting up a tent city on Independence Square ... and launching a national strike," he said in dramatic scenes aired live on television stations in both Ukraine and Russia.

But both leaders distance themselves from the violence outside President Viktor Yanukovych's office and issued calls for calm.

"None of our protest members attacked Yanukovych's lair," parliamentary opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters at the rally.

Ukrainian media said Yanukovych — elected in 2010 with strong backing from the Russian-speaking east of the ex-Soviet sate — spent most of Sunday huddling with his most senior advisers at a secluded suburban residence.

An unnamed government source told the ITAR-TASS news agency that Yanukovych was thinking of imposing a nationwide state of emergency from Monday.

The economically-struggling nation of 46 million was thrown into its deepest crisis since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution when Yanukovych snubbed EU leaders at a summit on Friday and opted to keep Ukraine aligned with its former master Russia.

The government's decision — first announced a week before the EU meeting — sparked demonstrations that first turned violent in the early hours of Saturday when hundreds of rubber baton-wielding police drove about 1,000 protesters from Independence Square.

A few hundred of them spent the night at the nearby Mikhailovsky Monastery plotting a pro-European campaign that includes the formation of a "national resistance task force".

Main opposition leaders such as Klitshcko — seen as one of the president's most potent rivals in elections set for March 2015 — are now calling for early elections and an indefinite nationwide strike.

Sunday's rally was held in open defiance of a court ban imposed late Saturday on all protests on the square and its surrounding streets until January 7.

AFP reporters estimated the size of Sunday's crowd at about 100,000 while some protest leaders and Ukrainian media put the figure even higher.

There was no immediate official police estimate.

Saturday's police crackdown sparked a new round of Western condemnation of the Ukrainian government but was met with notable silence by Russian President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Kiev authorities to respect Ukrainians' right to free expression and assembly, which are "fundamental to a healthy democracy".

Ukraine's leaders appeared to be taking steps to distance themselves from Saturday's police crackdown by announcing a formal probe to identify and punish those responsible on both sides.

Kiev's police chief submitted his resignation at a Sunday meeting during which interior minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko vowed to make sure his force acted with "tolerance".

Yanukovych added in televised comments aimed directly at the opposition that Ukraine had already chosen its "historic path" by committing itself to closer EU relations.

Yet he also stressed that these closer ties with the 28-nation bloc would come only when Ukraine was treated as "an equal partner that is respected and whose wishes are taken into account."

Kiev's nuanced approach in which it seeks favour from both Moscow and Brussels was underscored yet again when the government said Yanukovych would soon travel to Russia to sign a new "cooperation roadmap".


Offline JoeP

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European Union rips Russia for scaring Ukraine out of trade pact
« Reply #1229 on: December 01, 2013, 04:48:53 PM »
European Union rips Russia for scaring Ukraine out of trade pact

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, November 29, 2013



EU leaders slammed Russia on Friday for meddling in its affairs after Ukraine rejected a landmark accord with the European Union designed to draw the ex-Soviet state into the Western fold.

The snub by Ukraine highlighted a worsening EU-Russia tug-of-war over former Soviet satellites in eastern Europe.

“The times of limited sovereignty are over in Europe,” European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said at the close of the summit.

“We cannot accept… to have a kind of a possible veto of a third country. This is contrary to all principles of international law,” he added.

The two-day summit in the Lithuanian capital on the EU’s eastern flank was to have celebrated a five-year drive to cement ties between the bloc and Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

But Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych turned a deaf ear to pleas from the bloc’s 28 leaders to go ahead with a far-reaching trade and political accord, saying economic pressure from Moscow, which is opposed to the deal, was hurting his nation’s economy.

Thousands of pro-EU protestors turned out in Ukraine to denounce their leader’s stand and call on him to resign.

Speaking to around 10,000 supporters, opposition leaders said Yanukovych had until mid-March to sign the political and free trade deal with the EU.

French President Francois Hollande pledged that the EU “door will always remain open for Ukrainians should they wish it.”

Smaller Georgia and Moldova meanwhile initialled political and trade agreements that must still be officially signed in the coming months to come into effect.

New Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili called it “a historic day for Georgia, a historic day for Europe” but added “we are cautious” when asked whether he expected to come under Russian pressure too.

“We try to deliver the message to all capitals that prosperous, democratic Georgia can only be a benefit for any of Georgia’s neighbours, including the Russian Federation,” he said.

Global think-tank Stratfor warned however that “Russia has already begun to increase pressure on these states as well.”

Kiev’s surprise decision to scrap the landmark accord with the EU has unleashed a war of words between East and West recalling Cold War days and sparked some of the biggest protests seen in Ukraine in a decade.

Yanukovych’s arch-foe, jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, has said she would rather stay behind bars than see the country go East.

Tymoshenko’s daughter Eugenia had told AFP that if Yanukovych “fails to sign the agreement… we cannot predict how people will react”.

Keen to show Moscow’s former communist satellites in Eastern Europe that the summit matters, almost all EU leaders attended the two-day talks, including the “Big Three” of Britain, France and Germany.

“It is our task in the future to talk even more with Russia about how we can overcome a situation where (a country) is either being tied closer to Russia or being tied closer to the EU,” said German Chencellor Angela Merkel.

The EU’s Eastern Partnership project aims to strike trade and aid deals on its eastern periphery and counter Russian influence, but vast Ukraine, with its 45 million people, industry and farms, was the major prize.

To make matters worse, Brussels has seen Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus turn back towards a Moscow which has reminded all of how much they stand to lose if they make what it sees as the wrong choice.

Brussels says that after months of arm-twisting by Moscow, Ukraine’s exports to Russia dropped 25 percent, in some industries by 40 percent. Ukraine is also heavily dependent on Russia’s natural gas.

 

 

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