Brazils $900 million World Cup stadium is now being used as a parking lot – Vox

Brazil spent about $3 billion building 12 new or heavily refurbished stadiums for last year’s World Cup. Officials promised these taxpayer-funded venues would continue to generate revenue for years, hosting concerts, pro soccer games, and other events.

But as Lourdes Garcia-Navarro at NPR reports, most stadiums are failing to generate much revenue at all. The most expensive one, in Brasilia, is most regularly used as a site for a municipal bus parking lot.

One big problem is that several of the stadiums — including Brasilia’s 72,000-seat, $900 million venue — were built in cities where there are only minor league pro teams that don’t draw large crowds. This was done so World Cup games could be spread across the entire country, instead of just the southeast, where most of the top pro teams play. It’s as if we built gleaming new stadiums in Montana and Alaska for hosting a World Cup in the US.

In Brazil, this plan has left some pretty useless, expensive facilities scattered across the country, because these minor local teams don’t sell enough tickets to make playing in the fancy (and expensive-to-maintain) stadiums worthwhile. The rainforest city of Manaus, for instance, is home to a $600 million stadium that was used for exactly four World Cup games. The pro team there currently plays in much smaller training centers, because it’d lose money if it tried to rent out the big stadium.

Many cities have been selling the stadiums to private companies that try to squeeze a bit of revenue out of them, but it’s not easy. In Natal, the NPR story reports, a company bought the stadium, but has made little money renting it out for children’s birthday parties and weddings, and the facility is now for sale once again.

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Apec agrees network to share information on corruption – BBC News 8 November 2014 Last updated at 05:24 ET

Countries of Asia and the Pacific region have agreed to set up a network to share information on corruption.

President Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Bucharest on 19 October 2009

President Xi has promised to go after suspected corrupt officials who have fled abroad

Apec members said in a statement that the purpose of the agreement, proposed by China, was to deny safe haven to anyone engaged in corruption.

It comes amid efforts by Chinese President Xi Jinping to clamp down on corrupt officials, including those who try to escape abroad.

Apec leaders are expected to back the deal at a summit in Beijing next week.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the move as a “major step forward”.

“Corruption not only creates an unfair playing field, it not only distorts economic relationships, but corruption also steals from the people of every country the belief that the system can work for everybody,” he told journalists.

Extradition concerns

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) group statement said it had set up the Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET).

The network commits its 21 member states to “deny safe haven to those engaged in corruption, including through extradition, mutual legal assistance and the recovery and return of proceeds of corruption”.

It will also “establish measures and systems to protect whistleblowers”.

Officials say that the proposal was initiated by China and backed by the US.

But correspondents say it is not clear how the agreement will work between countries that do not have bilateral extradition treaties.

The US, Canada and Australia – all seen as friendly to Chinese emigrants – have no extradition treaties with China because of concerns about capital punishment and the alleged use of torture in the Chinese judicial system.

China is currently involved in a huge campaign to root out corruption at all levels of society.

More than 13,000 Chinese officials were found guilty of corruption and bribery in the first nine months of 2014 alone.

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Government Whitewashing Didn’t Stop With Watergate – Eric Alterman August 8, 2014

Forty years after President Richard Nixon resigned, our leaders have become even less accountable.Richard Nixon

(AP Photo)

Richard Nixon’s forced resignation from the presidency forty years ago this August was, in addition to being one of the greatest moments in the history of liberal Schadenfreude, also a turning point in the history of the American national security state.

It’s not as if previous presidents, particularly Lyndon Johnson, Nixon’s predecessor, were somehow scrupulous in observing the constitutional limits on executive power. It’s just that, thanks to his taping system—and his utterly incompetent cover-up efforts—Nixon showed us just how rotten the core of our system had become. And yet, to the degree that anything has changed in the past four decades, it has almost always been for the worst.

John Dean, Nixon’s White House counsel, went to prison for his part in the Watergate cover-up. Since then, however, he has assumed the role of the scholarly conscience of the Nixon post-presidency. His most recent contribution to the historical record is a remarkably meticulous recounting of what Nixon said and did behind the scenes. Using transcripts of approximately 1,000 conversations he secretly recorded at the Nixon White House and Camp David—of which roughly 600 have never been heard by anyone other than the National Archives staff—plus an additional 150,000 Watergate documents at the National Archives, Dean has produced a 784-page book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It, that gives us the clearest account yet of the man behind the curtain. The picture of Nixon that emerges is not only frightening and depressing; it bears little if any resemblance to the thoughtful, occasionally obsessive character created in the media by conservatives and gullible mainstream journalists.

Dean says he listened to or read some 4 million words, 8,500 pages, twenty-one volumes, for his account—almost all of it filled with “obsessive compulsive” behavior as Nixon repeats the same things to the same individuals, as if trying to convince himself of his own innocence. “He’s not in command,” Dean observes. “I just keep wondering how widespread this was.”

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This Land Is Their Land – By Claudio Saunt

The Braves, Chiefs, and Washington NFL team all play on land seized from American Indians.

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at Jul 7, 2014 2.21

Between 1776 and the present, the United States dispossessed Indians of more than 1.5 billion acres, nearly an eighth of the habitable world. For most of that same period, the native population was in a free fall, dropping from perhaps 1.5 million people when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence to a low of 237,000 in 1900. After the native population and its land base bottomed out, American sports teams began adopting Indian-themed names.

Today, the Braves, Indians, Blackhawks, Seminoles, Chiefs, and the Washington NFL team claim to honor native peoples with iconography such asChief Wahoo, arrowheads, and tomahawks. It is easy to assert that the name of your favorite team expresses solidarity with the survivors of the long, sordid history of Indian dispossession. But what if sports lore included the specifics of how the U.S. acquired the land below your team’s home field?

Atlanta Braves fans can recite Jason Heyward’s batting average and on-base percentage. Perhaps they should also know that Turner Field sits on land ceded in 1821 by William McIntosh, the son of a Scottish trader and a Creek Indian woman. McIntosh was irredeemably corrupt, and he had a hand in selling almost 20,000 square miles—fully one-third of the state of Georgia—to the U.S. against the will of most Creek leaders.

When the Braves leave Turner Field behind in a few years for Cobb County’s greener pastures, they will settle on land again ceded by McIntosh in another duplicitous treaty. In 1825, as punishment for McIntosh’s treasonous role in the land cessions, Creek braves set fire to his house and executed him when he emerged from the flames. Nonetheless, Creek title in Georgia was almost entirely extinguished, and the state then turned its attention to the Cherokees, forcing them in 1838 to walk the infamous Trail of Tears west to join the Creeks in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

When the Cleveland Indians acquired their native nickname in 1915, fans delighted in the racist caricatures that came along with it—see this cartoon from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. A century later, Cleveland’s stadium sits on territory that once belonged to Algonquin peoples.

In 1791, an Algonquin confederacy handed the U.S. Army one of its worst defeats ever by surprising Gen. Arthur St. Clair and killing more than 800 of his 1,300 badly trained soldiers. The victory was short-lived. Three years later, President Washington sent “Mad” Anthony Wayne to Ohio to conquer the region’s native peoples. After the Algonquins’ defeat, they signed the Treaty of Greenville, relinquishing two-thirds of the state of Ohio and ushering in an era of despair for many Indians in the region.

The history behind the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks is no more heartening. The team sports a cartoon-like image of the resolute Sauk leader who fought unsuccessfully against his people’s removal from western Illinois in the 1830s. (Compare Black Hawk’s 1833 portrait to his profile on Blackhawks jerseys.) But the hockey team doesn’t play on Sauk land.


Candidates in Maine, Nebraska, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., Challenge Republicans and Democrats Alike – Linda Killian 07.05.14

Meet the non-partisan candidates changing American politics


Innovate. Disrupt. Solve problems.

This mantra of the hi-tech revolution has brought fundamental change to virtually every area of American life except one—politics. America’s polarized politics are mired in a dysfunctional and increasingly unpopular two-party system that has failed to address this nation’s major challenges and threatens its future.

The approval rating for Congress—which just had its least productive year since at least the early 1990s—is at a historical low of roughly 13 percent. Less than a third of Americans have confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership and voters have an even dimmer view of his Republican opponents. More than 40 A recordpercent of Americans now identify as political independents, a larger number than either Republicans or Democrats.

And this anti-partisan trend has not gone unnoticed by aspiring office holders..

In 2014, a number of political entrepreneurs who want to change the system are running as independents around the country. From Maine to Nebraska to Washington, D.C., they are making the case arguethat voters need to look beyond the two parties and try something different to fix American politics.

Jeff McCormick, the founder of the high-tech investing firm Saturn Partners, says he’s applying the same principles that have allowed his company to thrive to an independent campaign for governor of Massachusetts.

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This is not what democracy looks like: The long, slow death of Jefferson’s dream – ANDREW O’HEHIR SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014 4:30 PM UTC

This is not what democracy looks like: The long, slow death of Jefferson's dream

In the glory days of the anti-globalization movement, circa the “Battle in Seattle” of 1999, there was an oft-repeated street scene some of you will remember. A group of protesters would seize an intersection or a block for a little while, likely because the police were otherwise occupied or couldn’t be bothered or didn’t want to bust heads while the cameras were watching. The ragtag band would haul out the drums and noisemakers, climb the lampposts and newspaper boxes with colorful banners, and send out an exuberant chant: “This is what democracy looks like!” (Contrary to what you may have heard, smashing the Starbucks windows was not required, and not all that common.)

It’s easy to snark all over that from this historical distance: If democracy looks like a noisy street party involving white people with dreadlocks dressed as sea turtles, count me out! But the philosophy behind that radical-activist moment was not nearly as naive as it might look from here, and much of the problem lies in that troublesome noun: democracy. In those post-Communist, pre-9/11 days, the era of the “end of history,” democracy in its liberal-capitalist formulation was assumed to be the natural fulfillment of human society. It was the essential nutrient-rich medium for the growth of all good things: Pizza Hut, parliamentary elections, knockoff designer clothes and broadband Internet, not to mention all the wonderful gizmos that were about to be invented. Even anti-capitalist protesters were compelled to embrace the rhetoric of democracy, if only to suggest (as Gandhi did about “Western civilization”) that it was a great idea but we hadn’t gotten there yet.

A decade and a half later, democracy remains officially unopposed on the world stage, yet it faces an unexpected existential crisis. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, American-style liberal-capitalist democracy has presented itself to the world as “the only legitimate form of expression or decision-making power” and “the necessary first condition of freedom.” (I’m quoting ananarchist critique by Moxie Marlinspike and Windy Hart, which is well worth reading.) But it has abruptly and spectacularly stopped working as advertised: The broken American political system has become a global laughingstock, and numerous other Western countries that modeled their systems on ours are in chronic crisis mode.

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