Friday, October 28, 2016

This Very Life 10/23/16

Once again a Federal Judge protecting the people from an Federal Executive Administrative abuse of power -An answer to the question of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the power abuses of the "guardian" governmental officials? Innocence until proven guilty and how the names of governmental rules often disguise and misdirect as much as describe and actually reflect what is so.

Below are news report of a recent ruling:

Preventing "tarring and feathering" :

"On Oct. 24, large companies that hold federal government contracts were saved from one of the last blasts of the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda when a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction against the implementation of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order. The executive order was scheduled to take effect Oct. 25.

The executive order, issued July 31, 2014, and made final with regulations announced in August, says that if a company or one of its subcontractors has allegations of violations of federal labor and employment laws, it may lose its federal contracts or the opportunity to bid on others.

The company can be tarred before allegations are proved, with no chance to defend itself. It will be pressured to settle accusations in order to retain the right to have contracts with the federal government."

Another description:

"A large construction trade group won an injunction blocking a federal rule requiring companies seeking federal contracts to disclose past labor-law violations, a blow to the Obama administration in its effort to strengthen workers’ rights to fair pay and job safety.

The Associated Builders and Contractors filed the lawsuit in early October, alleging the Obama administration had exceeded its authority in setting the rule, which was set to start taking effect Tuesday and be phased in over time.

The suit against key administration officials, filed in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, said the rule would shoulder employers with added costs and other burdens and discourage them from seeking contracts, delaying the contracting process and damping competition that keeps costs lower for taxpayers. The trade group in its suit contended the rule will require contractors to report alleged violations that are still being contested, violating their due-process rights.

The regulation, which the Labor Department helped develop, is officially called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, but employers refer to it as the “blacklisting” rule because they say it will unfairly ban businesses from bidding for contracts.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction late Monday night (October 24, 2016). In the written decision, U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone said it is in the public interest for contractors to deliver economical and efficient services to federal government agencies and this “would likely be impaired by the arbitrary and unnecessary burdens imposed” by President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order that led to the rule and related guidance."

For further elucidation of some of the issues involved, here is a recent editorial regarding this case:

"On Monday   federal Judge Marcia Crone of the Eastern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction against this blacklist order because it requires that contractors report “mere allegations of labor law violations” that can then be used to disqualify them for federal contracts. This violates contractors’ Fifth Amendment rights by depriving “their liberty interests in reputation” and constitutes “irreparable harm.”

Judge Crone also found that the order’s reporting requirements amount to compelled speech and thus violate the First Amendment. The forced disclosure of alleged violations of labor laws may harm their reputation and create “increased costs, loss of customers, and loss of goodwill,” the judge said.

The contracting order, which was supposed to take effect Tuesday, has been a top priority of organized labor. The point is to provide unions with leverage to extract concessions from contractors that either aren’t unionized or that are negotiating with unions over a contract. When a company is pitching for new government business, a union could use the threat to make labor-law complaints to force the company to bend to union terms. By the time fact is sorted from fiction, the company will have lost out to competitors."

Monday, October 17, 2016

In the ongoing escalation of tension between the United States and Russia, here is a counterintuitive proposal that may lead to reduction of violence in Syria and possible real negotiations on a number of fronts between the US and Russia.

At times, it takes forceful actions to make peace possible, rather than the seemingly endless negotiations, pleas and empty threats that have continued in the midst of the slaughter in Syria and the multiple "minor wars" in Eastern Europe.

The following is from an international relations specialist with a "realist" perspective, Robert D. Kaplan:

"There is also a larger foreign-policy question that must be the first order of business for the new president: How does the U.S. build leverage on the ground, from the Baltic Sea to the Syrian desert, that puts America in a position where negotiations with Russia can make a strategic difference?

For without the proper geopolitical context, the secretary of state is a missionary, not a diplomat. Secretary of State John Kerry is a man who has a checklist of negotiations he wants to conduct rather than a checklist of American interests he wants to defend. He doesn’t seem to realize that interests come before values in foreign policy; only if the former are understood do the latter have weight.

For example, just as Western military intervention in Syria risks a Russian response in Europe, a robust movement of American forces permanently back to Europe may cause Mr. Putin to be more reasonable in Syria. This may offer a way out of the sterile Syria debate, in which all the options—from establishing safe zones to toppling Bashar Assad’s regime—are problematic and offer no end to the war.

By seriously pressuring Russia in Eastern and Central Europe, the U.S. can create conditions for a meaningful negotiation whereby Moscow might have an incentive to shape the behavior of its Syrian client in a better direction."

The rest of this article is at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bodhisattva Driving - and what is difficult for us to do despite the resulting good for many. It is up to us to reflect, can we also apply these principles in daily life? Can our action prevent this moment stress and suffering? How is this applicable in our daily life, whether in driving or during daily activity?

Here are excerpts from a wonderful article of practice encouragement - without using the word practice.

 "One Driver Can Prevent a Traffic Jam" by Sue Shellenbarger
"When you’re caught in a traffic jam, you feel powerless. What you may not know is that you can actually have a big effect on the traffic around you.

There is a growing body of research finding that an individual driver, by preventing bottlenecks and maintaining a steady speed, can sometimes single-handedly ease or break up a traffic jam.

The techniques are simple, though some of them—such as leaving a large gap between your car and the one in front and freely letting other drivers cut in—feel counterintuitive to most drivers.

Seattle engineer William Beaty, a leading proponent of jam-busting techniques for individual drivers, illustrated some of them on a ride through rush-hour traffic.


...As Mr. Beaty merges onto a crowded stretch of Seattle’s I-5, he drives at a steady speed, keeping a space of several car lengths in front of him. “As merging cars come in, I don’t have to slow down, which means that nobody behind me has to slow down,” he says. As he nears an exit, two drivers on his left merge smoothly into the lane in front of him and exit without hitting the brakes.

Meanwhile, the car behind him is just a few feet away. “That’s the tailgating philosophy,” he says. “You push ahead, and you think if everybody would just push ahead, then everyone would go faster,” he says. In fact, “it just turns the road into a parking lot.”

Disarm Aggressors

Keep a gap open in front of you so that when a road rager races to fill it, you won’t even need to tap your brakes. This prevents aggressive lane-changers from triggering jams.  
Keep a gap open in front of you so that when a road rager races to fill it, you won’t even need to tap your brakes. This prevents aggressive lane-changers from triggering jams.

As Mr. Beaty approaches a left-hand exit into downtown Seattle, the center lane is backed up as a few cars struggle to cross over to the exit. “This jam is created by just a few drivers’ getting trapped,” he says. “This is one of the places where an individual driver can wipe out a gigantic jam” by allowing cars to accelerate freely into your lane, he says.... 

Encourage other drivers to merge into exit lanes in front of you, so they won’t have to slow down and block adjacent lanes waiting to merge.

....Mr. Beaty stresses that his observations about traffic aren’t new. “These are things that traffic experts and long-haul truckers have known forever,” he says. Formerly afflicted with road rage himself, he began experimenting with jam-busting techniques years ago, during his 40-minute commute to his job as an engineer on the support staff at the University of Washington’s chemistry department. (His traffic research is unrelated to his day job.) He noticed that traffic congestion forms in waves, like sand or water, and the smallest obstruction, such as one driver swerving or slowing briefly, could trigger a chain reaction of drivers hitting the brakes.

By trying various maneuvers, he found he could sometimes have the opposite effect, allowing backups to drain away. “I saw the jams evaporate,” he says.

.....His techniques won’t work if you’re already locked in bumper-to-bumper traffic and can’t find anywhere to open a gap, Mr. Beaty says. Also, some congestion is irreducible, when the volume of traffic exceeds the capacity of the road.

....Experts agree, however, that lane-weavers—who force others to slam on the brakes—rubberneckers who pause to gawk at roadside distractions and tailgaters can single-handedly back up traffic for miles. “These are some of the really stupid reasons for traffic being bad,” says Steven Shladover, a manager at the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology program at the University of California, Berkeley.

Driver-education schools try to train students to stop tailgating, leave wide gaps between cars and take turns when merging, but “people have to unlearn what they’ve been taught” about standing in line, says Dave Muma, president of the Driving School Association of the Americas, a trade group.

 “Kids are trained at a very young age that they have to get in line and not let people cut in front of you”—rules that work well on the playground but cause gridlock on the highway, says Mr. Muma, owner of a Holland, Mich., driver-education company.

Mr. Beaty says seeing oneself as a jam-buster has its own rewards. “You’re above it all,” he says. “If you maintain big empty spaces, all these options open up, and you’re actually the superior driver,” free to “be the person who holds the door open for others.”

And here is a video presentation with Beaty:

And another link: