Rahm’s Police Academy Plan Met With Youth-Led Backlash

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By Maya Dukmasova for Chicago Reader. Chicago, IL – As rain pelted the Fullerton el platform on Tuesday night, two dozen young people boarded a southbound Red Line train with printed and hand-drawn signs. “#NoCopAcademy” one read. “$95 million for schools, mental health care, and affordable housing!” declared another. The activists organized in protest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a $95 million police and fire training academy in West Garfield Park. The training compound would occupy a 30.4-acre site along Chicago Avenue between Pulaski and Kilbourn and include a swimming and diving pool, driving course, shooting range, labs, classrooms, and auditorium, and a mock CTA station and apartment building.

Early Estimate For Hurricanes, Wildfires At $300 Billion

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By Sabrina Shankman for Inside Climate News. The devastation from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria—plus dozens of wildfires that raged across the West in early August—could result in the costliest string of weather events in U.S. history, according to a new report. Over the course of a few weeks, the hurricanes and wildfires left a trail of damage that could add up to nearly $300 billion, according to early estimates from the authors of “The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States,” a report released on Wednesday by the nonprofit Universal Ecological Fund. If they’re right, the cost of the damage would be equivalent to nearly half the president’s proposed 2018 budget for the Department of Defense.

Newsletter - The People's Memorial Day

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. War culture runs deep in the United States. You can see the glorification of war consistently once you are aware of it – it is expressed in entertainment, the war memorials that are in every town, and the deference we are expected to show to people in the military, e.g. special treatment at airports. This war culture equates patriotism with worship of the military. And it is on broad display every Memorial Day. Now that we are sixteen years into the “war on terror”, even though a war against a tactic is nonsense – especially given that terrorism grows as the US bombs more countries and kills more civilians – this Memorial Day is a good time to question who benefits from war and who pays the price. Highly decorated Marine, Smedley Butler, answered these questions this way: “War is a racket. It always has been.”

Trump Budget: More Tolls And Private Rest Areas, Less Money For DOT

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By James Jaillet for Overdrive – A 2018 fiscal year budget plan released Monday by the Trump Administration proposes slashing the Department of Transportation’s budget by nearly $17 billion annually by 2022, as well as allowing more tolls on U.S. Interstates and boosting efforts to draw private investors to fund highways. Trump’s proposal, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” calls for $200 billion in infrastructure spending over 10 years. The $200 billion in outlays isn’t necessarily meant to fund projects directly, but instead to entice states, localities and private companies to inject $800 billion more into infrastructure funding. That would total $1 trillion, the infrastructure spending figure Trump consistently called for during his presidential campaign. Trump’s budget does not explicitly call for removing the Interstate tolling ban, but rather would allow states “to assess their transportation needs and weight the relative merits of tolling assets.” The trillion dollar debate: Can private toll roads significantly help highway funding crisis? Trump’s plan for bolstering infrastructure funding with investments from the private sector could buoy the country’s ability to repair worn highways.

Public Opposes Spending More On MIlitary, Wants Cuts

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / ASSOCIATED PRESS. Copies of President Donald Trump’s first budget are displayed at the Government Printing Office in Washington before dawn on Thursday. The $1.15 trillion spending plan proposes pumping significantly more money into the military and homeland security while sharply cutting foreign aid, medical research, and the arts.

By Peter Cary for Center for Public Integrity – Altogether, the survey looked at the 10 top areas of spending in Trump’s “Budget Blueprint” and found a gap of $139.6 billion between what the majority of the public would spend and what Trump has proposed. Steven Kull, PPC’s director, said he was surprised both by the extent of the gap and the fact that Trump’s proposals were at odds with the preferences of both Republicans and Democrats. In general, those who identified themselves as Republicans were more likely to favor cutting some of the spending that Trump has proposed to cut, but on a raft of areas where Trump proposed large reductions, members of his party preferred to cut less.

Newsletter - Visions For The Future

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The vision for the future laid out in President Trump’s budget is one of large cuts to the federal government for necessary agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development, privatization of services, such as air traffic control, and macho military might. It conjures visions of Nero fiddling as Rome burned. Ralph Nader writes in “‘Making America Great’ at American’s Expense,” that “The tower of contradictions, being constructed by Trump and the most extreme Republican Party in its history, won’t be camouflaged or distracted for long.” People are rising up and will continue to do so. The corporatist’s vision has been pushed for decades in the US and around the world, but there is another vision that is also growing in the hearts and minds of many.

Global Days Of Action On Military Spending U.S. CALL

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By Joseph Gerson for Global Campaign On Military Spending – Trump and Congressional Republicans are preparing to eliminate any restraints in the Pentagon’s budget, while also reducing spending for essential social services, from housing and medical care to environmental protection to education. Projected cuts in social services could be as hight as $10.5 trillion over the coming decade. Even without the proposed increases in military spending, the Pentagon’s budget equals the combined total of the world’s next eight largest military spenders. Add to this the “Overseas Contingency Operation” funding for the military interventions from Syria and Iraq to Libya and Yemen, Department of Energy spending for nuclear weapons, and the black budget for “intelligence”

'Morally Obscene' Trump Budget Proposal To Make America Cruel Again

President Donald Trump in Nashville on Wednesday. Analysts said his budget proposal would hurt those voters who helped get him elected. (Photo: AP)

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – In fact, warned Diane Yentel, head of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Trump’s budget “would have a devastating impact on millions of the lowest income people across the country.” As expected, the proposal would cut overall funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by 13 percent or $6.2 billion compared to 2016 levels, resulting “in the most severe cut to HUD since President Reagan dramatically reduced funding in the early 1980s,” she said. “Reagan’s deep spending cuts ushered in a new age of homelessness with a dramatic increase in the number of people sleeping on the streets, in cars, and in shelters,” Yentel added.

Trump’s Proposed Increase In U.S. Defense Spending Is 80 Percent Of Russia’s Entire Military Budget

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By Alex Emmons for The Intercept – THE U.S. GOVERNMENT already spends $600 billion dollars a year on its military — more money than the next seven biggest spenders combined, including China and Russia. On Monday, the White House said it would request $54 billion more in military spending for next year. That increase alone is roughly the size of the entire annual military budget of the United Kingdom, the fifth-largest spending country, and it’s more than 80 percent of Russia’s entire military budget in 2015. If Congress were to follow Trump’s blueprint, the U.S. military budget could account for nearly 40 percent of global military spending next year. The U.S. would be outspending Russia by a margin of greater than 9 to 1. At a meeting of U.S. governors on Monday, Trump described his forthcoming budget proposal as “a public safety and national security budget.”

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

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By David Swanson for World Beyond War – Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent. Alternative math! But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%…

Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan: Lincoln Had Bolder Solution

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By Ellen Brown for Counter Punch – It sounds great; but as usual, the devil is in the details. Both parties in Congress agree that infrastructure is desperately needed. The roadblock is in where to find the money. Raising taxes and going further into debt are both evidently off the table. The Trump solution is touted as avoiding those options, but according to his economic advisors, it does this by privatizing public goods, imposing high user fees on the citizenry for assets that should have been public utilities.

Auditor: U.S. Military Fudged Accounts By Trillions

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By Scot J. Paltrow for Reuters. The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced. The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

Philly Schools Sacrificed On Altar Of Pennsylvania Budget Compromise

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By Staff of Gad Fly On The Wall Blog – Pennsylvania lawmakers are ready to help all students across the Commonwealth – if only they can abuse, mistreat and trample some of them. Which ones? The poor black and brown kids. Of course! That seems to be the lesson of a school code bill passed with bipartisan support by the state Senate Thursday. The legislation would require the Commonwealth to pick as many as 5 “underperforming” Philadelphia schools a year to close, charterize or just fire the principal and half the staff.

Emanuel Funds Corporations; Cuts Schools & Pensions

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Months after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said budget constraints forced him to push for pension cuts and mass school closures, an analysis of government documents reveals the city has $1.71 billion in special accounts often used to finance corporate subsidies. While the Emanuel administration has rejected open records requests for details of the subsidies, evidence suggests at least some of them have flowed to companies connected to Emanuel’s campaign donors. The analysis conducted by the TIF Illumination Project evaluated the city’s 151 tax increment financing, or TIF, districts, which divert a share of property taxes out of accounts obligated to schools and into special accounts under the mayor’s control. The report shows $412 million was diverted last year alone into the TIF accounts and out of traditional property tax funding streams, many of which are dedicated to the city’s schools. In 21 of those districts, the report says 90 percent or more of all property taxes were diverted into the TIF accounts. Citing Chicago subsidies offered to S&C Electric Co., LaSalle Street Capital, United Airlines and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, an earlier study from the taxpayer watchdog group Good Jobs First found in the last 25 years, $5.5 billion of taxpayer money has gone into TIF accounts, and “much of the city’s TIF revenue was spent on subsidizing corporations, nonprofits and developers.”

Free Cooper Union Plans To Take Board Of Trustees To Court

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The Committee to Save Cooper Union is pursuing legal action as a last resort after Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees and administration proceeded with their plans to abolish a 150 year tradition of free tuition enshrined in the Charter of the school, refusing alternatives that would preserve free tuition. A Working Group of faculty, students and alumni elected by their respective constituencies had developed a sustainable plan for preserving free tuition that was supported by the Faculty Union, the alumni association and students. The President and Board refused to accept this plan and chose to press on with their plan to charge tuition. After carefully evaluating all of the legal options for both legal and cost-effectiveness, the Committee to Save Cooper Union decided that the best approach is to seek an injunction against charging tuition in New York Supreme Court. This option also allows us to petition the court for formation of “The Associates of Cooper Union” as required by the Cooper Union charter. The Associates would serve as a check on the Board of Trustees since the Associates’ elected Council can remove Trustees by majority vote. This route also allows us to petition the court for an audit, as provided for in the charter, to help provide more detail on the fiscal mismanagement happening at Cooper Union.