Monday, May 19, 2008

BREVITAS

In Los Angeles, officials estimate that 80% of red light camera tickets go not to those running through intersections but to drivers making rolling right turns, a Times review has found. . . . One of the most powerful selling points for photo enforcement systems, which now monitor 175 intersections in Los Angeles County and hundreds more across the United States, has been the promise of reducing collisions caused by drivers barreling through red lights. But it is the right-turn infraction -- a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern -- that drives tickets and revenue in the nation's second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county. Some researchers and traffic engineers question the enforcement strategy. "I've never . . . seen any studies that suggest red light cameras would be a good safety intervention to reduce right-turning accidents," said Mark Burkey, a researcher at North Carolina A&T State University who has studied photo enforcement collision patterns. . . Federal Highway Administration research has found that cameras can reduce red light violations and broadside crashes but can also increase less serious rear-end accidents caused by people making sudden stops to avoid tickets. LA Times

The secretive investment fund the Carlyle Group is in the process of buying part of Booz Allen Hamiliton, the major military and intelligence contractor. . . Booz Allen has been a major figure in the privatization of government intelligence. Current National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell was Booz Allen’s director of defense programs before his appointment last year. Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the Bush administration’s most controversial counterterrorism programs, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme. Democracy Now

One journalist's bid to report mass murder in South Korea in 1950 was blocked by his British publisher. Another correspondent was denounced as a possibly treasonous fabricator when he did report it. In South Korea, down the generations, fear silenced those who knew. Fifty-eight years ago, at the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korean authorities secretively executed, usually without legal process, tens of thousands of southern leftists and others rightly or wrongly identified as sympathizers. Today a government Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working to dig up the facts, and the remains of victims. . . Among the Koreans who witnessed, took part in or lost family members to the mass killings, the events were hardly hidden, but they became a "public secret," barely whispered about through four decades of right-wing dictatorship here.. . . Some U.S. officers - and U.S. diplomats - were among others who reported on the killings. But their classified reports were kept secret for decades. AP

The number of Illinois households receiving food stamps has reached a record level, with almost 1.3 million people relying on the program to pay for daily staples such as milk, bread and eggs. State officials on Thursday said there might be a link between the increase and constantly rising food, gas and energy prices. Aid groups warned there are many more in need.. . . Many people have turned to food pantries across the region, but providers are also struggling to keep the shelves stocked. Donations have dwindled as people try to rein in their spending, said Bob Dolgan with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. . . That problem is compounded by an increased demand for food. Dolgan said the depository's network of pantries saw a 12 percent increase in visits this February compared with last. Some people are lining up two hours before the doors open hoping to get a bag of food, he said.

Obama said he would pursue a vigorous antitrust policy and singled out the media industry as one area where government regulators would need to be watchful as consolidation increases. . . We're going to have an antitrust division in the Justice Department that actually believes in antitrust law. We haven't had that for the last seven, eight years," Obama said. - Reuters

There are two eminent domain issues on the ballot in California one would sweepingly bar "state and local governments from taking or damaging private property for private uses. It prohibits rent control and similar measures, eliminates deference to government in property rights cases, and changes condemnation rules. Fiscal impact includes increased costs to many governments due to the measure's restrictions." It is currently losing by four points in a PPI poll. The desirable alterative "bars the use of eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence for conveyance to a private person or business entity. It creates exceptions for public works, public health and safety, and crime prevention." It is ahead by 25 points

Independent candidate for President Ralph Nader described the current government and economic system of the United States as "corporate fascism" at a campaign event held in Berkeley. "We're living in a country whose democracy is beyond the breaking point. The extent of corporate control has developed into corporate fascism," declared Nader. "We don't have a capitalist economic system - it's corporate fascism. Every major tenet of capitalism is violated by corporate power," said Nader. Only small businesses still practice capitalism, according to Nader. Nader explained that major corporations buy politicians and write the laws through their lobbyists, thus owning the Capitol. They receive billions in government subsidies and hand-outs, but 68 percent of corporations pay no federal income tax, according to Nader. - OpEd News

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