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Fri Jul 20, 2012, 05:39 PM

 

Weekend Economists Repent! The End Is Here! July 20-22, 2012

Another week has flown by, with marvel upon madness upon misery upon murder....it's been a week to forget, if possible.

Utopia has been suggested as our focus this weekend. I don't know much about Utopia.

I do know, that when the American people shut down the Vietnam war and ousted crooked President Nixon, I personally thought Utopia was at hand for this great nation. We were living up to the best hopes of our Founders. Little did anyone suspect that the few weeks, between Nixon's resignation on August 8th, 1974, and the fall of Saigon on 30 April, 1975, would be the closest America ever came to Utopia for many a generation, and that's assuming that someday in the future our long declining "democracy" reverses from becoming merely a Mockracy of its stated dream....

It's been all downhill since then. The Elites and the Reactionaries and the Forces of Evil Fascism redoubled their efforts, and with the help of a couple of demented old men, a slick Willie, Little Boots, and the Oreo Man, the Predator Drone Himself, we are as far from Utopia as one can get, outside of Dante's Nine Circles of Hell.

Malt does more than Milton can, in these circumstances. So pour yourself something alcoholic and relax while we post the 4 M's of the day, week, year, and contemplate the "Best of All Possible Worlds".

Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was coined in Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create an ideal society, and fictional societies portrayed in literature. It has spawned other concepts, most prominently dystopia.

The word comes from the Greek: οὐ ("not" and τόπος ("place" and means "no place". The English homophone eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ ("good" or "well" and τόπος ("place", means "good place". This, due to the identical pronunciation of "utopia" and "eutopia", gives rise to a double meaning....-wikipedia


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I'm not sure, but I think this band is called Utopia.

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Reply Weekend Economists Repent! The End Is Here! July 20-22, 2012 (Original post)
Demeter Jul 2012 OP
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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 05:49 PM

1. JACKPOT! 4 BANKS DOWN AT 6:30 PM EDT

 

The Royal Palm Bank of Florida, Naples, Florida, was closed today by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First National Bank of the Gulf Coast, Naples, Florida, to assume all of the deposits of The Royal Palm Bank of Florida.

The three branches of The Royal Palm Bank of Florida will reopen on Monday as branches of First National Bank of the Gulf Coast...As of March 31, 2012, The Royal Palm Bank of Florida had approximately $87.0 million in total assets and $85.1 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, First National Bank of the Gulf Coast agreed to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets....The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $13.5 million. Compared to other alternatives, First National Bank of the Gulf Coast's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. The Royal Palm Bank of Florida is the 34th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the fifth in Florida. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Putnam State Bank, Palatka, on June 15, 2012.


Georgia Trust Bank, Buford, Georgia
, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Community & Southern Bank, Atlanta, Georgia, to assume all of the deposits of Georgia Trust Bank.

The two branches of Georgia Trust Bank will reopen on Monday as branches of Community & Southern Bank...As of March 31, 2012, Georgia Trust Bank had approximately $119.8 million in total assets and $117.4 million in total deposits. Community & Southern Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.50 percent to assume all of the deposits of Georgia Trust Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Community & Southern Bank agreed to purchase approximately $111.5 million of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.

The FDIC and Community & Southern Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $65.9 million of Georgia Trust Bank's assets...The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $20.9 million. Compared to other alternatives, Community & Southern Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Georgia Trust Bank is the 35th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the seventh in Georgia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Montgomery Bank & Trust, Ailey, on July 6, 2012.

First Cherokee State Bank, Woodstock, Georgia, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Community & Southern Bank, Atlanta, Georgia, to assume all of the deposits of First Cherokee State Bank.

The three branches of First Cherokee State Bank will reopen during normal business hours as branches of Community & Southern Bank...As of March 31, 2012, First Cherokee State Bank had approximately $222.7 million in total assets and $193.3 million in total deposits. Community & Southern Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.50 percent to assume all of the deposits of First Cherokee State Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Community & Southern Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets.

The FDIC and Community & Southern Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $141.8 million of First Cherokee State Bank's assets...The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $36.9 million. Compared to other alternatives, Community & Southern Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. First Cherokee State Bank is the 36th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the eighth in Georgia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Georgia Trust Bank, Buford, earlier today.

Heartland Bank, Leawood, Kansas, was closed today by The Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Metcalf Bank, Lees Summit, Missouri, to assume all of the deposits of Heartland Bank.

The two branches of Heartland Bank will reopen during normal business hours as branches of Metcalf Bank...As of March 31, 2012, Heartland Bank had approximately $110.0 million in total assets and $102.6 million in total deposits. Metcalf Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 1.11 percent to assume all of the deposits of Heartland Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Metcalf Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets.

The FDIC and Metcalf Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $54.3 million of Heartland Bank's assets...The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $3.1 million. Compared to other alternatives, Metcalf Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Heartland Bank is the 37th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Kansas. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was The First National Bank of Olathe, Olathe, on August 12, 2011.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 08:32 PM

25. AND ONE MORE, FOR LUCK!

 



Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Hinsdale Bank & Trust Company, Hinsdale, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago.

The three branches of Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago will reopen on Saturday as branches of Hinsdale Bank & Trust Company...As of March 31, 2012, Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago had approximately $199.1 million in total assets and $175.9 million in total deposits. Hinsdale Bank & Trust Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of $100,000 to assume all of the deposits of the failed bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits, Hinsdale Bank & Trust Company agreed to purchase approximately $14.2 million in assets, comprised mainly of cash. All loans, including consumer and mortgage, will be retained by the FDIC for later disposition...The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $76.9 million. Compared to other alternatives, Hinsdale Bank & Trust Company's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago is the 38th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the fifth in Chicago. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Farmers' and Traders' State Bank, Shabbona, on June 8, 2012.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #25)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 08:35 PM

27. TOTAL LOSS FOR THE EVENING: $151.3M

 

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 05:59 PM

2. The Many Varieties of Utopia

 

Chronologically, the first recorded utopian proposal is Plato's Republic. Part conversation, part fictional depiction, and part policy proposal, it proposes a categorization of citizens into a rigid class structure of "golden," "silver," "bronze" and "iron" socioeconomic classes. The golden citizens are trained in a rigorous 50-year long educational program to be benign oligarchs, the "philosopher-kings." The wisdom of these rulers will supposedly eliminate poverty and deprivation through fairly distributed resources, though the details on how to do this are unclear. The educational program for the rulers is the central notion of the proposal. There is a general pacifism or pacifist attitude. However, the people of the Republic are all ready to defend themselves or to compete militarily for resources (such as land) if necessary. It has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its war-prone neighbors (these mercenaries were deliberately sent into dangerous situations in the hope that the more warlike populations of all surrounding countries will be weeded out, leaving peaceful peoples).

In the sixteenth century, Thomas More's book Utopia proposed an ideal society of the same name. Some readers, including utopian socialists, have chosen to accept this imaginary society as the realistic blueprint for a working nation, while others have postulated that More intended nothing of the sort. Some maintain the position that More's Utopia functions only on the level of a satire, a work intended to reveal more about the England of his time than about an idealistic society. This interpretation is bolstered by the title of the book and nation, and its apparent confusion between the Greek for "no place" and "good place": "utopia" is a compound of the syllable ou-, meaning "no", and topos, meaning place. But the homophonic prefix eu-, meaning "good," also resonates in the word, with the implication that the perfectly "good place" is really "no place."

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:05 PM

3. Everything is Secret, So Don’t Bother Asking By William Astore (NOT UTOPIAN)

 

http://www.nationofchange.org/everything-secret-so-don-t-bother-asking-1342793816

Did you know that in 2011 the U.S. government classified more than 92 million documents? Did you know that less than a generation ago, we got by with fewer than six million documents being classified? Along with this explosion in classification and state secrets, did you know that efforts to declassify documents -- to make them theoretically accessible to ordinary Americans -- have plummeted from 196 million pages declassified in 1996 to only 26.7 million in 2011? Put simply, in less than a generation classification has increased by a factor of fifteen and declassification has decreased by a factor of seven. Boy, that makes me feel a lot freer and safer.



These facts and others that should raise the hackles of any red-blooded American are in this eye-opening article by Tom Engelhardt.(POSTED BELOW) Why should they raise our hackles? For at least three reasons:


  1. First, classification is important; state secrets do need to be guarded. But more important than classification is government transparency. We the people need to know everything that we can know, because if we don't, we can't hold government and our elected officials accountable. Classification in a democracy must be used judiciously and sparingly, else democracy itself is imperiled. Again, classification serves an important role. When I was in the military, I had a security clearance and access to sensitive information and areas. As an additional duty, I served as a unit security officer and also destroyed classified information. Having served during the Cold War and knowing of Soviet efforts to steal secrets, I well recognize the importance of being vigilant. That said, our government has taken vigilance to new levels of extremity. And extremism in the pursuit of secrecy is no virtue.

  2. So here's the second reason why over-classification is bad: by classifying nearly everything, you make the divulgence of the same a crime. You deter whistle-blowers and truth-tellers. You scare away an already generally compliant media from its vital role as a check on power. And it gets worse. Nowadays, even if something isn't formally classified, the government can claim that the leak of unclassified yet "sensitive" information can be dangerous, since it could expose a pattern of information that threatens state secrets and national security. At the same time as it deters truth-tellers, over-classification helps those who'd use claims to secrecy to cover their butts.

  3. And perhaps most insidiously of all (and this is my third reason), over-classification contributes to a mindset in government that's best summarized as contempt for the people, as captured by the infamous quote by the fictional Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men that "You can't handle the truth."


But who can't handle the truth? Us? Or our government? Sadly, in the name of "transparency" our government is continuing to stamp "SECRET" on nearly everything that moves, further contributing to a sclerotic system that grows increasingly neurotic in an ever-expanding pursuit of secrecy. And that doesn't sound like the kind of government accountable to the people that our Founders had in mind.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:11 PM

4. Engelhardt, The National Security Complex and You by Tom Engelhardt

 

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175570

That Makes No Sense! Your Security’s a Joke (and You’re the Butt of It) By Tom Engelhardt

When my daughter was little and I read to her regularly, one illustrated book was a favorite of ours. In a series of scenes, it described frustrating incidents in the life of a young girl, each ending with the line -- which my tiny daughter would boom out with remarkable force -- “that makes me mad!” It was the book’s title and a repetitively cathartic moment in our reading lives. And it came to mind recently as, in my daily reading, I stumbled across repetitively mind-boggling numbers from the everyday life of our National Security Complex.

For our present national security moment, however, I might amend the book’s punch line slightly to: That makes no sense!

...Are you, for instance, worried about the safety of America’s “secrets”? Then you should breathe a sigh of relief and consider this headline from a recent article on the inside pages of my hometown paper: “Cost to Protect U.S. Secrets Doubles to Over $11 Billion.” A government outfit few of us knew existed, the Information Security Oversight Office or ISOO, just released its “Report on Cost Estimates for Security Classification Activities for Fiscal Year 2011” (no price tag given, however, on producing the report or maintaining ISOO). Unclassified portions, written in classic bureaucratese, offer this precise figure for protecting our secrets, vetting our secrets' protectors (no leakers please), and ensuring the safety of the whole shebang: $11.37 billion in 2011. That’s up (and get used to the word “up”) by 12% from 2010, and double the 2002 figure of $5.8 billion. For those willing to step back into what once seemed like a highly classified past but was clearly an age of innocence, it’s more than quadruple the 1995 figure of $2.7 billion.

And let me emphasize that we’re only talking about the unclassified part of what it costs for secrets protection in the National Security Complex. The bills from six agencies, monsters in the intelligence world -- the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Office of of the Director of National Intelligence -- are classified. The New York Times estimates that the real cost lies in the range of $13 billion, but who knows?

To put things in perspective, the transmission letter from Director John P. Fitzpatrick that came with the report makes it utterly clear why your taxpayer dollars, all $13 billion of them, are being spent this way: “Sustaining and increasing investment in classification and security measures is both necessary to maintaining the classification system and fundamental to the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration.” It’s all to ensure transparency. George Orwell take that! Pow!

Now let’s try the line again, this time with more gusto: That makes no sense! CONTINUES

************************************************************************************

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:13 PM

5. Utopia by Alison Goldfrapp

 

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:20 PM

6. The Biggest Banking Scandal this Summer (Hint: It’s not LIBOR) By Christopher Petrella

 

http://www.nationofchange.org/biggest-banking-scandal-summer-hint-it-s-not-libor-1342797867



Just over a month ago the Federal Reserve quietly released a proposal to implement Basel III, an international agreement signed by twenty-seven nations aimed at ensuring the global economy’s resilience against financial disintegration. The directive, drafted by a cadre of central bank representatives and national regulators known collectively as the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, devised rules focused on both the type and amount of capital banks must hold to protect themselves against potential losses.
Since the first iteration of the Basel Accords in 1988 (Basel I), one of the most critical features of the international agreement has been the leverage ratio requirement. Financial leverage refers to the relationship, often expressed as a percentage, between the money a bank borrows and the capital (both liquid and long-term) it has available to it. More simply, leverage for a bank is essentially the amount of equity a bank possesses relative to its assets; the leverage rate is defined as the ratio of total assets to equity. That is, leverage is a measure of how much a firm borrows relative to its total assets and low leverage rates often indicate the strength and stability of a financial institution.

Prior to 2004 when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relaxed leverage requirements on lending institutions, most depository banks had leverage ratios of around 10:1. But beginning in 2013 the Federal Reserve will require that banks with $500 million or more in assets (Tier 1 institutions) adhere to a leverage ratio of 3 percent, or 33:1. What exactly does this mean? A leverage ratio of 33:1 will limit banks from lending more than 33 times their capital. But isn’t this roughly the same leverage ratio held by Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Sterns at the time of their collapse in 2008?

Well, yes.

The high degree of leverage that each of these banks then carried—the ratio of total assets to shareholder equity—made them increasingly vulnerable to deteriorating market conditions. To be fair, the advantage of high leverage is that it helps banks acquire more money with which to invest or to loan to consumers. The disadvantage of high leverage, however, is that it makes financial firms exceedingly fragile, inflexible, and unresponsive to quickly changing markets. If there is a bank-run on an institution with a high leverage ratio of, say, 33:1, the lender will almost assuredly slip into insolvency.

The third Basel accord, which is to be phased in incrementally from 2013 through 2019, does increase top-quality capital requirements equivalent to 7 percent of their risk-bearing assets, but its regulatory advances are undermined by an unapologetically low minimal leverage ratio requirement. Tighter international restrictions on bank leverage would certainly afford the global economy better protection. The Federal Reserve invites comment on the Basel III capital reforms from now until September 7th. This is a vital opportunity to tell the Federal Reserve Board that more prudent regulatory provisions on banks are necessary to ensure the safety of consumer deposits and the strength and stability of our economy. Five minutes of your time could go a long way.

You can submit your comments to the Federal Reserve: http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:29 PM

7. 6 Things Mitt Romney Is Hiding

 

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/what-is-mitt-romney-hiding

Presidential candidates try as best they can to control their public image. But by modern standards, Mitt Romney has taken his quest for secrecy to extraordinary lengths. Here's all there is to know about what we don't know about Romney.

  • His Old Emails

    Reporters looking for emails and other records from Romney's tenure as Massachusetts governor are out of luck.

    In the final months of Romney's four-year stint as governor, as the Boston Globe reported, 11 of his top staffers purchased the hard drives in their government-issued computers, preventing state archivists from accessing any of their emails. In its final days, the Romney administration also replaced computers and scrubbed state government servers of all the administration's emails. As the top attorney for Romney's replacement, Deval Patrick, put it: "The governor's office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession."

    The Romney administration did turn over to state archivists hundreds of boxes of records, including memos, emails, and other communications among state agencies and cabinet members. However, the boxes containing those records were hand-picked and given over voluntarily by Romney's staff. It stands to reason that any embarrassing or revealing information—say, internal planning or deliberations about Romney's universal health care legislation—did not make it into the Romney administration's record dump.

    Pam Wilmot, the director of Common Cause Massachusetts, the Bay State affiliate of the good-government lobbying group, says no previous administration went to the same lengths as Romney's to keep its communications secret from reporters and the public. "In retrospect, there does seem to be a substantial difference between Romney's administration and other administrations on transparency," Wilmot says.

    READ ON AT LINK ABOUT THE OTHER 5 SECRETS:

    Offshore Accounts

    Bundlers

    Mitt's Correspondence Gap

    Tax Returns

    IRA Details
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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:32 PM

    8. ECOLOGICAL UTOPIA

     


    Ecological utopian society describes new ways in which society should relate to nature. They react to a perceived widening gap between the modern Western way of living that destroys nature and the traditional way of living that is thought to be more in harmony with nature. According to the Dutch philosopher Marius de Geus, ecological utopias could be sources of inspiration for green political movements.

    In the novelette Rumfuddle (1973), Jack Vance presents a novel twist on the ecological utopia. His hero invents paratime travel and becomes effectively the ruler of earth by giving everyone their own alternate-earth wilderness worlds as vacation retreats/suburbs without neighbors. However, he requires them to work during the week cleaning up the original Earth and restoring its pristineness. A typical job is driving a bulldozer that shoves the detritus of industrial civilization through a portal into the oceans of a paratime garbage world.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #8)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:02 PM

    17. Ecotopia

    I remember reading this way back when it was published - I'm thinking it would be an interesting re-read. I keep saying we knew everything we know now wayyyyyyy back by late sixties- early seventies: we just knew it in broad outline, the science wasn't there yet - or not enough of it, or hell, TPTB refused to fund it - because THEY KNEW WE WERE RIGHT AND THEY DIDN'T CARE.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecotopia

    This article is about the book. For the Oregon album, see Ecotopia (album).
    Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston


    Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston is the seminal utopian novel by Ernest Callenbach, published in 1975. The society described in the book is one of the first ecological utopias and was influential on the counterculture, and the green movement in the 1970s and thereafter.

    The book's context and background

    The impressive, environmentally benign energy, homebuilding, and transportation technology described by Callenbach in Ecotopia was based on research findings published in such magazines as Scientific American. The author's story was woven using the fiber of technologies, lifestyles, folkways, and attitudes that were being reflected (from real-life experience) in the pages of, for example, the Whole Earth Catalog and its successor CoEvolution Quarterly, as well as being depicted in newspaper stories, novels and films. Callenbach's main ideas for Ecotopian values and practices were based on actual experimentation taking place in the American West. To draw an example, Callenbach's fictional Crick School was based upon Pinel School, an alternative school located outside Martinez, California, and attended for a time by his son.

    The author’s Ecotopian concept does not reject high technology as long as it does not interfere with the social order and serves Ecotopian objectives, but members of his fictional society prefer to demonstrate a conscious selectivity of technology, so that not only human health and sanity might be preserved, but also social and ecological well being. Interestingly therefore, Callenbach’s story anticipated the development and liberal usage of videoconferencing.

    During the 1970s when Ecotopia was written and published “many prominent counterculture and new left thinkers decried the consumption and overabundance that they perceived as characteristic of post-World War Two America[1]”. The citizens of Ecotopia shared a common aim: they were looking for a balance between themselves and nature. They were “literally sick of bad air, chemicalized food, and lunatic advertising. They turned to politics because it was finally the only route to self-preservation.[2]” In the mid-20th century as “firms grew in size and complexity citizens needed to know the market would still serve the interests for those it claimed to exist[3]”. Callenbach’s Ecotopia targets the fact that many people did not feel that the market and the government were serving them in the way they wanted them to. This book was “a protest against consumerism and materialism, among other aspects of American life[3]”.

    ... Impact

    The importance of this book is not so much to be found in its literary form as in the lively imagination of an alternative and ecologically sound lifestyle on a greater scale, presented more or less realistically. It expressed on paper the dream of an alternative future held by many in the movements of the 1970s and later. Even the names of the two characters most reflective of their respective viewpoints - "Will West(on)", the representative for materialist American culture and "Vera Allwen" (= "All women + all men"?), the President and spokeswoman for Ecotopia - suggest the degree to which the author intended the book to be a reflection of American ecological and cultural deficiencies.

    Worth mentioning is Callenbach's speculation on the roles of TV in his envisioned society. In some ways anticipating C-SPAN, which would first be broadcast in 1979, and reality television, which would not emerge as a fact for another two decades, the story mentions that the daily life of the legislature and some of that of the judicial courts is televised in Ecotopia, and even highly technical debates addressed the needs and desires of the viewers.

    Another interesting feature in the novel is "print on demand" (POD) publishing. In the novel, customers could choose approved print media from a jukebox-like device that would then print and bind the book. In the 21st century, POD services that print, bind and ship books for customers who order on-line, have become commonplace.

    In contrast to much of the Green movement in contemporary America with its preference for regulation, however, Callenbach's Ecotopia has relatively laissez-faire economic tendencies, combined with intense moral pressure toward sustainable practices, both in private life and in business.

    In 1981, Callenbach published Ecotopia Emerging, a multi-strand "prequel" suggesting how the sustainable nation of Ecotopia could have come into existence.

    In 1990, Audio Renaissance released a partial dramatization of Ecotopia on audiocassettes in the form of recordings of a radio network broadcast (the Allied News Network replacing the Times-Post). The tape-recorded diaries of William Weston were read by the book's author, Ernest Callenbach. Weston's reports were read by veteran news reporter Edwin Newman.

    Ecotopia is now required reading in a number of colleges (see NY Times article The Novel That Predicted Portland referenced below)


    I left out the plot summary section - available at link.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:39 PM

    9. Want A Real Recovery? Raise the Minimum Wage. By Terrance Heath

     

    http://www.nationofchange.org/want-real-recovery-raise-minimum-wage-1342791951

    Scratch the surface of just about any economic debate this election year, and you'll find one issue that goes all the way to the core: the yawning gap between the 1% and the rest of us, as skyrocketing income inequality. A new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), "Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage," shows the extremes of that divide, and makes the case for raising the federal minimum wage as a means of closing that gap, and putting the national economy on the road to a real recovery. The report explores the connection between stagnant —and falling — wages, and its central finding explodes the argument that raising the minimum wage will cause employers to stop hiring, and the hurt small businesses that opponents of a minimum wage increase (and of the idea of a minimum wage itself) claim are the primary employers of low-wage workers.

    The central finding of this report is that the majority of America’s lowest‐paid workers are employed by large corporations, not small businesses, and that most of the largest low‐wage employers have recovered from the recession and are in a strong financial position.

    The data in the report only strengthens the case:

  • The majority (66 percent) of low‐wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations with over 100 employees;

  • The 50 largest employers of low‐wage workers have largely recovered from the recession and most are in strong financial positions: 92 percent were profitable last year; 78 percent have been profitable for the last three years; 75 percent have higher revenues now than before the recession; 73 percent have higher cash holdings; and 63 percent have higher operating margins (a measure of profitability).

  • Top executive compensation averaged $9.4 million last year at these firms, and they have returned $174.8 billion to shareholders in dividends or share buybacks over the past five years.

    Got that? In "recovery" in which most of the new jobs being created are low-wage jobs, the biggest corporations and biggest employers of low-wage workers are enjoying record profits — upwards of $1.97 trillion in the third quarter of 2011, according to the report. Most of them have recovered. Most have been profitable for the last three years, and nearly all were profitable in the past year. Most of them have more money to spend on operations. Executive pay at these companies averaged nearly $10 million last year, and shareholders enjoyed returns of nearly $175 million.

    (I'd love to know how many of these same corporations have nothing or next-to-nothing in taxes. But I'll have to find that in another report, or do the research myself. Still, I'm willing to bet that most of these companies aren't any better at paying taxes than they are at paying their employees.)

    The losers in all this are the workers, the very people who are creating value for these companies. If they're getting paid the federal minimum wage, they're getting paid about $7.25 an hour — hasn't been adjusted for inflation in 40 years. If it had, those workers would be earning about $10.55 per hour. (It's even worse for workers like the waiters and waitresses with whom Mitt Romney recently said he sympathizes. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees like them is $2.13., and in states like Florida — where tipped employees make just over twice the federal minimum wage for their jobs — the restaurant lobby fought to lower the minimum wage.) They're working for a wage that put the basic necessities our of their reach. Health care and education are priced far out of their reach —not to mention things like milk and gas, as prices rise but paychecks don't. Most can't afford a two-bedroom apartment, even working 40 hours per week....
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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:43 PM

    10. ECONOMIC UTOPIA

     

    Economic utopias are based on economics. Most intentional communities attempting to create an economic utopia were formed in response to the harsh economic conditions of the 19th century.

    Particularly in the early 19th century, several utopian ideas arose, often in response to their belief that social disruption was created and caused by the development of commercialism and capitalism. These are often grouped in a greater "utopian socialist" movement, due to their shared characteristics: an egalitarian distribution of goods, frequently with the total abolition of money, and citizens only doing work which they enjoy and which is for the common good, leaving them with ample time for the cultivation of the arts and sciences. One classic example of such a utopia was Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. Another socialist utopia is William Morris' News from Nowhere, written partially in response to the top-down (bureaucratic) nature of Bellamy's utopia, which Morris criticized. However, as the socialist movement developed it moved away from utopianism; Marx in particular became a harsh critic of earlier socialism he described as utopian. (For more information see the History of Socialism article IN WIKIPEDIA.) Also consider Eric Frank Russell's book The Great Explosion (1963) whose last section details an economic and social utopia. This forms the first mention of the idea of Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS).

    Utopias have also been imagined by the opposite side of the political spectrum. For example, Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress portrays an individualistic and libertarian utopia. Capitalist utopias of this sort are generally based on free market economies, in which the presupposition is that private enterprise and personal initiative without an institution of coercion, government, provides the greatest opportunity for achievement and progress of both the individual and society as a whole.

    Another view that capitalist utopias do not address is the issue of market failure, any more than socialist utopias address the issue of planning failure. Thus a blend of socialism and capitalism is seen by some as the type of economy in a utopia. For example, one such idea is to have small, community-owned enterprises working under a market-based model of economy. Such a model of market-based Communism itself was in theory supposed to create a "classless utopia", but no nation has ever reached that point.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:48 PM

    11. Eurozone approves Spain bank rescue loan

     

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/07/201272013324388555.html

    Eurozone finance ministers have approved an agreement to lend up to $123bn to Spain so it can recapitalise its banks...In a conference call, ministers signed off on a lengthy memorandum of understanding with Spain spelling out the terms of the aid, which will be fully disbursed by the end of 2013. But before Spain can decide exactly how much money it needs, it must see the results of in-depth audits of its banking sector, which is riddled with bad property loans...

    The bank rescue, and fresh austerity measures and looser fiscal targets agreed with Madrid, are aimed at avoiding a full sovereign bailout that the eurozone can barely afford. There are signs of growing discontent at the economic pain being heaped on the Spanish public. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched against the centre-right government's latest measures on Thursday evening, following more than a week of demonstrations across the country. Parliament approved on Thursday a package of $80bn of spending cuts and tax hikes which are likely to deepen the recession in which the eurozone's fourth-largest economy is mired.

    Under the bailout memorandum, 14 banking groups that make up about 90 per cent of Spain's banking system will be tested for their recapitalisation needs in a review due to be completed by the second half of September. Madrid expects $36.6bn in a first tranche of money that will be available immediately for state-rescued banks that urgently need funds. Spain's three biggest banks - Banco Santander, BBVA and Caixabank - would not need extra capital even in a stressed scenario, the independent audit said. It also said immediate problems were limited to four banks: Bankia, CatalunyaCaixa, NovaGalicia and Banco de Valencia, the last three of which have been nationalised.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:49 PM

    12. Utopia Private Heaven

     

    &feature=relmfu

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:50 PM

    13. "Look into the pewter pot/ To see the world as the world’s not.

    Glad you mentioned this poem - I had not read it for years, and as I re-read it I realized how much is apt to our times....

    (on edit, meant to add - and pertinent even to our very own SMW and WEE)

    http://www.bartleby.com/123/62.html

    A. E. Housman (1859–1936). A Shropshire Lad. 1896.

    LXII. Terence, this is stupid stuff


    ‘TERENCE, this is stupid stuff:
    You eat your victuals fast enough;
    There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
    To see the rate you drink your beer.
    But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, 5
    It gives a chap the belly-ache.
    The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
    It sleeps well, the horned head:
    We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
    To hear such tunes as killed the cow. 10
    Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
    Your friends to death before their time
    Moping melancholy mad:
    Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.’

    Why, if ’tis dancing you would be, 15
    There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
    Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
    Or why was Burton built on Trent?
    Oh many a peer of England brews
    Livelier liquor than the Muse, 20
    And malt does more than Milton can
    To justify God’s ways to man.
    Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
    For fellows whom it hurts to think:
    Look into the pewter pot 25
    To see the world as the world’s not.
    And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
    The mischief is that ’twill not last.
    Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
    And left my necktie God knows where, 30
    And carried half way home, or near,
    Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
    Then the world seemed none so bad,
    And I myself a sterling lad;
    And down in lovely muck I’ve lain, 35
    Happy till I woke again.
    Then I saw the morning sky:
    Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
    The world, it was the old world yet,
    I was I, my things were wet, 40
    And nothing now remained to do
    But begin the game anew.

    Therefore, since the world has still
    Much good, but much less good than ill,
    And while the sun and moon endure 45
    Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
    I’d face it as a wise man would,
    And train for ill and not for good.
    ’Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
    Is not so brisk a brew as ale: 50
    Out of a stem that scored the hand
    I wrung it in a weary land.
    But take it: if the smack is sour,
    The better for the embittered hour;
    It should do good to heart and head 55
    When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
    And I will friend you, if I may,
    In the dark and cloudy day.

    There was a king reigned in the East:
    There, when kings will sit to feast, 60
    They get their fill before they think
    With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
    He gathered all the springs to birth
    From the many-venomed earth;
    First a little, thence to more, 65
    He sampled all her killing store;
    And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
    Sate the king when healths went round.
    They put arsenic in his meat
    And stared aghast to watch him eat; 70
    They poured strychnine in his cup
    And shook to see him drink it up:
    They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
    Them it was their poison hurt.
    —I tell the tale that I heard told. 75
    Mithridates, he died old.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 06:51 PM

    14. IDIOCRACY UTOPIA.

    Where everyone is too stupid to realize how screwed up they really are. And they think it's Utopia.

    Sounds like the current situation.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:00 PM

    15. Food inflation fears grow as corn jumps to record

     

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/food-inflation-fears-grow-as-corn-jumps-to-record-2012-07-20?siteid=YAHOOB

    Long-term food crisis is just beginning, say analysts...More than four years after food inflation sparked a wave of riots around the world, consumers are facing the highest-ever prices for corn and may have seen the last of the rock-bottom prices for food staples.

    “Food today is as cheap as it will be in the next 20 years,” said Ned Schmidt, editor of the Agri-Food Value View report.

    I ALWAYS TAKE SUCH REPORTS WITH A LARGE GRAIN OF SALT...THEY ARE ONLY GUESSING AND GAMING FOR PROFIT. INDIVIDUAL HUMANS, WHEN NOT COMPLETELY DESTITUTE/ENSLAVED, ARE INFINITELY CREATIVE AND ACCOMMODATING.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:01 PM

    16. Utopia --Alanis Morissette

     

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:09 PM

    18. More tomorrow ...

    ... I'm done in - long hard week.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:38 PM

    19. Slick “No Labels” Plan to Duck Debate, Cut Social Security & Coddle 1% By Richard (RJ) Eskow

     

    http://www.nationofchange.org/slick-no-labels-plan-duck-debate-cut-social-security-and-coddle-1-1342537940

    The Jeff Daniels character from The Newsroom would know what to ask the operators of an allegedly “grass roots” group called “No Labels”:

    “Why won't you publish your list of donors?”

    “What's wrong with having legislators debate the issues publicly? Isn't that how representative democracy works?“

    “How can you call yourself 'centrist' when so many of your ideas are unpopular, and in fact are too conservative for most Tea Party members?”

    He might have another question, too:

    “What's wrong with labels? Don't they let us know what we're buying?”


    The Newsroom is fiction, of course. But then, so is “No Labels.” It's the creation of overpaid political insiders who work hand in glove with longtime opponents of Social Security and Medicare, pushing the agenda of the wealthiest among us by exploiting the public's understandable frustration with gridlocked government. I'm sure that some decent people are attracted to No Labels without realizing that a label is precisely what's needed. Labeling would tell them that the group was designed and created by and for political hacks from both parties, who scrupulously hide their funding sources but are associated with people like anti-Social Security billionaire Pete Peterson.

    The No Labels website describes it as a “group of Republicans, Democrats and independents dedicated to a simple proposition: We want to help move America from the old politics of point-scoring toward a new politics of problem-solving.” The group claims to oppose the “powerful interest groups (who) work to push our leaders and our political parties apart,” adding: “They demand rigid commitment to far left or far right ideology, and they ruthlessly punish people who step out of line.”

    No Labels has never caught on, despite massive publicity and lots of funding. So why is it even worth mentioning? Because it sheds light on a much larger plan, a richly funded sales blitz that's hyping far-right positions as mainstream opinion and pushing lobbyists and political operatives as the plain-spoken voices of Main Street America. We'll be seeing a lot more of this crowd right after the election, as the No Labels crowd tries to sell us a Grand Bargain which protects the wealthy while demanding ever deeper and greater sacrifices from the rest of us.

    MORE SKULDUGGERY AT LINK

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:40 PM

    20. DICKENS' UTOPIA IN THE PICKWICK PAPERS MUSICAL

     

    &feature=related

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:44 PM

    21. Six Ways the Federal Reserve Could Boost the Economy By Adam S. Hersh and Cameron DeHart

     

    http://www.nationofchange.org/six-ways-federal-reserve-could-boost-economy-1342539482

    ...

    1. Target the economy, not inflation. Currently, the Fed targets its policy to maintain a 2 percent annual inflation rate (currently running at 1.7 percent annually). The market knows this and tempers its investment behavior accordingly. Instead, the Fed could target the growth of gross domestic product, before inflation, so-called “nominal GDP targeting.” This would amount to a pledge to keep our economy growing on a sensible path, according to University of California, Berkeley economist Christina Romer. The move would work by causing investors and consumers to form expectations of slightly higher inflation, thereby creating an incentive to invest and consume today instead of tomorrow.

    2. Target unemployment. Charles Evans, the President of the Reserve Bank of Chicago, suggested adopting an explicit target for the unemployment rate, following a so-called “Evans’ Rule.” In line with its dual mandate of stable prices and maximum employment, the Fed should pledge to do whatever it can to get the economy back to full employment, even if that means accepting a little more inflation for the time being. There is no reason to think accepting slightly higher inflation for lower unemployment is any worse than accepting higher unemployment for low inflation—and a lot of reason and economic evidence to suggest it is much better.

    3. More easing. The Fed has already engaged in two rounds of “quantitative easing” — directly buying assets in financial markets to affect interest rates. Now it’s time for a third. Past easing primarily targeted government bonds, whose rates underpin our financial system, and mortgage-backed securities. But there’s no reason the Fed needs to stop there. The next round of easing could also target municipal bonds, student loans, or even securitized credit card assets to push down interest rates on infrastructure investments for cash-strapped state and local governments, for education that help people boost their skills and temporarily take sabbatical from the labor force, and for financially-strained families.

    4. Keep on twistin’. In September 2011, the Fed introduced “Operation Twist”—aiming to tweak earlier quantitative measures in order to push down longer-term interest rates. While not changing the money supply, the move “twists” the Fed’s holdings to sell short-term securities and buy long-term ones. Since that time, 30 year interest rates have fallen nearly one percentage point, helping to push down interest rates on, among other things, mortgages for new home purchases and refinances. The Fed could twist some more to give greater confidence and incentive to people looking to invest in America for the long-term.

    5. Take big banks off the dole. At present, the Fed pays private banks 0.25 percent interest on funds deposited with the Fed in excess of what is required for prudential purposes. That’s more than the interest rate banks can earn by lending to low-risk real businesses, about 0.14 percent at present. Currently, banks hold more than $1 trillion in such excess reserves. By keeping excess reserve interest rates so high, not only is the Fed subsidizing the profits of big banks, but also it is not creating incentives for banks to do the work of lending. Cutting off excess reserve interest payments — or better yet, charging negative interest penalty on reserves in excess of prudential requirements — will give banks an incentive to lend and make them work for their big profits.

    6. Dollarize the recovery. The Fed’s actions to boost employment in the U.S. economy need not focus on our own financial markets. Rather, the Fed can wield its power to create money against the artificially undervalued currencies of other countries, like China. By intervening to sell dollars for targeted foreign currencies, the Fed would create pressures to rebalance exchange rates, thereby improving the global competitiveness of American exporters and domestic producers and leading directly to a strengthening of the U.S. economy and job creation.

      For his part, Bernanke should step up to the bully pulpit and press Congress on why it is not doing more to address America’s unemployment crisis. Though the Fed still holds a lot of arrows in its quiver, Bernanke surely knows that straightforward fiscal policy could easily outperform a monetary policy bank-shot in job-creating bang for the buck. That’s why he should use the Fed’s economics acumen to push back on conservatives in Congress whose zeal for spending contraction is pulling the rug out from under us even as the Fed tries to shift the economy into a higher gear.

      CHARMINGLY NAIVE, ISN'T IT?

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:48 PM

    22. UTOPIA - Maya Percintaan

     

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 07:50 PM

    23. Politics and history OF UTOPIA

     



    A global utopia of world peace is often seen as one of the possible endings of history. Within the localized political structures or spheres it presents, "polyculturalism" is the model-based adaptation of possible interactions between different cultures and identities in accordance with the principles of participatory society.

    The Soviet writer Ivan Efremov produced during the "Thaw" period the science-fiction utopia Andromeda (1957) in which a united humanity communicates with a galaxy-wide Great Circle and develops its technology and culture within a social framework characterized by vigorous competition between alternative philosophies.

    The communes of the 1960's in the United States were often an attempt to greatly improve the way humans live together in communities. The back to the land movements and hippies inspired many to try to live in peace and harmony on farms, remote areas, and to set up new types of governance.

    Intentional communities were organized and built all over the world with the hope of making a more perfect way of living together. However, many of these new small communities failed, but some are growing like the Twelve Tribes Communities that started in the United States and have grown to many tribes around the world.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 08:04 PM

    24. TAKE IT AWAY, ALL!

     

    I have to get away from it all for a bit....

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Fri Jul 20, 2012, 08:35 PM

    26. Sometimes it's all in the perspective

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 06:09 AM

    28. Libor fraud exposes Wall Street’s rotten core By Elizabeth Warren YES, THAT ELIZABETH WARREN

     

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/elizabeth-warren-libor-fraud-exposes-a-rotten-financial-system/2012/07/19/gJQAvDnDwW_story.html?hpid=z2

    Elizabeth Warren chaired the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel from 2008 to 2010. She is the Democratic nominee for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.

    ELIZABETH WARREN COULD LEAD THE NEXT "PECORA COMMISSION" IN HER SLEEP

    ****************************************************************************************
    SUMMARY OF THE SCANDAL TO DATE...

    It is also clear that many of those who didn’t have a fixer — including consumers, community banks and credit unions — lost money. (Barclays padded its bottom line by taking money from everyone else. It won when it shouldn’t have won — and others lost when they shouldn’t have lost. The amount of money involved is staggering. On any given day, $800 trillion worth of credit-related transactions are linked to Libor rates.) In most markets, consumers could simply take their business elsewhere once they learned that the scales were rigged. But interest rates are different. Everyone who borrows money on a mortgage, credit card, student loan, car loan or small-business loan — basically, everyone — is affected by a crooked market on Libor. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, in 2008 more than half of all adjustable-rate mortgages were linked to Libor. Even those who didn’t borrow but saved for retirement or their children’s future got hit with interest rates that had been faked.

    It gets worse. During the financial crisis, Barclays and other banks also appear to have consistently manipulated Libor to show lower-than-real borrowing rates to convince the world — and their regulators — that the bank was stronger than it really was. In other words, they rigged the interest-rate reports so that no one would know exactly how much trouble they were in. With a rotten financial system once again laid bare to the world, the only question remaining is whether Wall Street has so many friends in Washington that meaningful reform is impossible. Real accountability would mean prosecuting the traders and bank officials who violated federal laws and prosecuting the executives who knew what they were up to. It would mean forcing executives to pay back any inflated compensation that was based on padded profits. Going forward, the rules would be changed so that Libor is calculated on actual borrowing costs, not estimated or claimed costs. And enforcement agencies would have the resources they need to launch investigations, to fight the armies of private lawyers the banks hire and to prosecute the law-breakers.

    But the heart of accountability lies deeper. It rests on acknowledging that we cannot trust Wall Street to regulate itself — not in New York, London or anywhere else. The club is corrupt. When Mitt Romney says he will move to repeal all of the new financial regulations, he supports a corrupt system. When members of Congress grill regulators for being too tough on Wall Street and slash the budgets of the regulators charged with overseeing Wall Street, they prop up a corrupt system.

    Financial services are critical to the economy. That’s why everyone — every family and every business — has a stake in an honest system. The fantasy that reducing oversight of the biggest banks will make us safer is just that — a dangerous fantasy. The Libor fraud exposes rot at the core. Now, who will stand up to fix it?

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #28)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 06:22 AM

    30. Titanic Banks Hit LIBOR Iceberg: Will Lawsuits Sink the Ship? By Ellen Brown IF YOU ONLY READ 1

     

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/10442-titanic-banks-hit-libor-iceberg-will-lawsuits-sink-the-ship

    At one time, calling the large multinational banks a "cartel" branded you as a conspiracy theorist. Today, the banking giants are being called that and worse, not just in the major media but in court documents intended to prove the allegations as facts. Charges include racketeering (organized crime under the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO), antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid rigging and price fixing. Damning charges have already been proven and major damages and penalties assessed. Conspiracy theory has become conspiracy fact.

    In an article in the July 3 Guardian UK titled "Private Banks Have Failed - We Need a Public Solution," Seumas Milne writes of the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal admitted to by Barclays Bank:

    It's already clear that the rate rigging, which depends on collusion, goes far beyond Barclays and indeed the City of London. This is one of multiple scams that have become endemic in a disastrously deregulated system with inbuilt incentives for cartels to manipulate the core price of finance.

    ... It could of course have happened only in a private-dominated financial sector and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free-market ideology that still holds sway in public life.

    ... A crucial part of the explanation is the unmuzzled political and economic power of the City.... Finance has usurped democracy.


    Bid Rigging and Rate Rigging

    Bid rigging was the subject of US v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, a ten-year suit in which the US Department of Justice obtained a judgment on May 11 against three GE Capital employees. Billions of dollars were skimmed from cities all across America by colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. Other banks involved in the bidding scheme included Bank of America (BOA), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo and UBS. These banks have already paid a total of $673 million in restitution after agreeing to cooperate in the government's case...Hot on the heels of the Carollo decision came the LIBOR scandal, involving collusion to rig the interbank interest rate that affects $500 trillion worth of contracts, financial instruments, mortgages and loans. Barclays Bank admitted to regulators in June that it tried to manipulate LIBOR before and during the financial crisis in 2008. It said that other banks were doing the same. Barclays paid $450 million to settle the charges.

    The US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said in a press release that Barclays Bank "pervasively" reported fictitious rates rather than actual rates; that it asked other big banks to assist and helped them to assist; and that Barclays did so "to benefit the Bank's derivatives trading positions" and "to protect Barclays' reputation from negative market and media perceptions concerning Barclays' financial condition."

    After resigning, top executives at Barclays promptly implicated both the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve...

    THIS IS A MAJOR SUMMARY OF THE CRIMES AND THE PUNISHMENTS AND THE CURES

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 06:16 AM

    29. HERE'S WHAT ROMNEY WAS DOING: Romney kept reins, bargained hard on severance

     

    http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/20/romney_kept_reins_bargained_hard_on_severance/

    Shortly after Mitt Romney took a leave of absence from Bain Capital to run the Olympics in February 1999, he made a trip to Palm Beach, Fla. The firm Romney founded was meeting to celebrate its 15th anniversary as well as the men he had helped make extraordinarily wealthy.

    Romney and his partners had decided that, in his absence, five managing directors would oversee the company. And in Palm Beach it became clearer that Romney was unlikely to return — but would retain his title as chief executive officer and sole shareholder.

    The Palm Beach meeting, which has not been previously reported, demonstrates the duality of Romney’s role as he parted ways with Bain, an issue that has sparked controversy in his presidential campaign. Romney has said in financial disclosure statements that he “was not involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way” after Feb. 11, 1999. But he was still legally the CEO, with numerous duties and obligations that were his alone, until early 2002.

    Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him, according to his former associates.

    Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates...

    MUCH MORE HARD FACT AT LINK

    I ALWAYS SAY, IF YOU WANT THE DIRT DUG UP, THE BOSTON GLOBE IS THE PLACE TO GO...

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 06:29 AM

    31. Why Iceland Is a Success Story By Paul Krugman

     

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/10432-why-iceland-is-a-success-story

    BECAUSE THEY PROSECUTE AND JAIL THEIR FRAUDSTERS?

    I was recently alerted to a remarkably stupid attack (and I use that term advisedly) directed at me from the Council on Foreign Relations on the subject of Iceland. The C.F.R. people take me to task in a blog post titled “ ‘Iceland’s Post-Crisis Miracle’ Revisited” for measuring economic performance in Iceland and the Baltics relative to the pre-crisis peak, which they suggest is some kind of scam. Why not measure relative to the post-crisis trough, under which the Baltics look better? Oh, boy. Economists have been studying business cycles for something like 90 years, and done comparisons to previous peaks all that time; apparently these guys don’t know about any of that. So let’s try this slowly.

    First of all, we think of a recession as a period in which the economy falls below its potential; the natural way to gauge a recovery is to see how much of the lost ground has been regained...Better yet, compare two hypothetical countries — call them country I and country L. Both suffer from a severe economic setback, but country I does a better job of responding to the shock, so that output falls only 10 percent in I but 20 percent in L. Then both economies recover. In that recovery, output in L grows more from the trough than output in I — but only because the country did so badly in the first place. Yet the C.F.R. people would have us believe that L, not I, is the success story....Or do a bit of history. The economy in the United States grew 10.9 percent — yes, 10.9 percent — in 1934. The New Deal triumphant! Or maybe not. Real gross domestic product was still about 20 percent below its 1929 level. So by comparing output to the previous peak I’m doing the obvious, natural thing; the C.F.R. alternative makes no sense.

    Oh, and Ryan Avent, the economics correspondent at The Economist, took on in his own blog post another, earlier C.F.R. argument that the Baltics have grown more since 2000. This is a different kind of confusion: mixing up long-run growth in potential with shortfalls below potential. Iceland was and is a rich country; the Baltics were poor countries playing catch-up, which isn't relevant either way to the crisis story...One place where I do disagree with Mr. Avent is in his desire to stop talking about Iceland. Yes, it's a small island exporting mainly fish and aluminum. But you take your natural experiments where you find them. (The economist Milton Friedman made his original case for floating exchange rates in part by invoking the example of, believe it or not, Tangier). Iceland was the only European-periphery country that received huge capital inflows, then responded to the crisis not with a grim determination to stay on or pegged to the euro, but by devaluing. In the process it demonstrated that devaluation is a lot easier than "internal devaluation," the attempt to regain competitiveness with a fixed exchange rate, which is actually the main point.

    Defining Success Down in the Baltics

    I still get comments and mail from people claiming that the experience of Latvia and/or Estonia proves that I'm all wrong, or something. Most of the people saying this don't know anything beyond one or two good numbers they've heard. So, here's what you need to know. Look at the charts on this page on gross domestic product and unemployment. We're talking about two economies that suffered severe, Depression-level slumps, and have since made up some but not all of the lost ground. You could, by the way, have said exactly the same thing about the United States in 1935. I mean, obviously it's good that some ground has been regained. But this is the best people can do to demonstrate the wonders of austerity?





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    Response to Demeter (Reply #31)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:04 AM

    41. Krugmenistan vs. Estonia THE DISH ON KRUGMAN, MAKING FRIENDS AND INFLUENCING PEOPLE

     

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-19/krugmenistan-vs-dot-estonia

    In May 2009, months after the passage of a $787 billion stimulus package in the U.S., Estonia’s government took the opposite tack: the hard line. It did not dip into the country’s reserves or borrow money. Ministers say they never even considered devaluing what was then Estonia’s currency, the kroon, which would have derailed a 10-year plan to adopt the euro. To maintain the country’s balanced budget, a tradition it had honored since the end of the Soviet occupation, Estonia’s government froze pensions, lowered state salaries by about 10 percent, and raised the value-added tax by 2 percent. The gross domestic product dropped more than 14 percent that year.

    At Estanc, which makes high-pressure steel containers at a plant outside of Tallinn, profits stagnated. The company postponed plans to double floor space at the factory. Unemployment in Estonia got as high as 16 percent, and many of the country’s welders took the ferry ride across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki to look for work. Vaido Palmik, the plant’s managing director, had friends lose their jobs during the crash. “It was a very hard time,” he says.



    The welders are back now. In 2010, Estonia’s GDP grew by 2.3 percent. At the end of that year, the country ran into a burning building and adopted the euro. Last year, GDP grew by 7.5 percent. Estanc has increased its head count by more than a third in 2012. Palmik sells to Finland and Sweden; he wants to break into the German market and has moved forward with plans for expansion. Estonia’s unemployment is down to 10.8 percent—not ideal, but less than half that of Spain, and enough to get both the country’s president and its ruling coalition reelected in 2011. Last November, the International Monetary Fund praised the country’s export-led recovery and “enviable fiscal position.” Economists don’t get controlled experiments, so they have to take countries as they are. Right now, Estonia seems to show that monetary and fiscal restraint can, after pain, create growth. “If you look back, the crash is very good,” says Palmik. Not surprisingly, Estonia, a country with 1.2 million people, has been offered as a model by advocates of austerity in Europe and elsewhere. On the far side of the Atlantic, however, Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been arguing for years against this kind of restraint, saying it leads to pointless misery. The argument is central to the future of the U.S.—and most other countries, too. On June 6, in a blog post titled “Estonian Rhapsody,” Krugman took on what he called “the poster child for austerity defenders.” In his post, he graphed real GDP from the height of the boom to the first quarter of this year to show that, even after a recovery, Estonia’s economy is still almost 10 percent below its peak in 2007. “This,” he wrote, “is what passes for economic triumph?”

    “It was like an attack on Estonian people,” says Palmik, in an office above his plant, surrounded by blueprints for his new production line. “These times have been very difficult. People have kept together. And this Krugman took all these facts that he wanted.”


    AND IT GOES ON...HOW THE OTHER SIDE SEES IT

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #41)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:30 PM

    45. I have to side with the Estonians on this one, they ought to know how it feels

     

    they are practicing 17th century economics--steady state. Krugman is practicing boom and bust economics, based on debt expansion and contraction.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 07:20 AM

    32. utopia

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 07:21 AM

    33. utopia

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 07:25 AM

    34. IMF's Peter Doyle scorns its 'tainted' leadership

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18921670

    A top economist at the International Monetary Fund has poured scorn on its "tainted" leadership and said he is "ashamed" to have worked there.

    Peter Doyle said in a letter to the IMF executive board that he wanted to explain his resignation after 20 years.

    He writes of "incompetence", "failings" and "disastrous" appointments for the IMF's managing director, stretching back 10 years.

    No one from the Washington-based IMF was immediately available for comment.

    Mr Doyle, former adviser to the IMF's European Department, which is running the bailout programs for Greece, Portugal and Ireland, said the Fund's delay in warning about the urgency of the global financial crisis was a failure of the "first order".

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 07:40 AM

    35. Spain: Eurozone deal fails to ease concerns

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18921663

    Spain's financial woes have deepened despite eurozone finance ministers approving a deal to lend up to 100bn euros (£78bn) to bolster its banks.

    The heavily-indebted Valencia region requested an undisclosed loan from a new rescue fund set up last Friday.

    And the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds shot up a quarter percentage point to 7.28%, a rate regarded by analysts as unsustainable in the long run.

    Spain's Ibex stock index tumbled almost 6%, its worst fall in two years.

    Most bank shares lost about 7%.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 07:49 AM

    36. SPAIN Looking for a new team spirit

    http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/2384081-looking-new-team-spirit

    ***SNIP

    We have been deceived

    The result: a political class that has already disgraced itself is now filled with shame. Those who ought to be the solution for these times of such embitterment are now seen by an increasingly sceptical population as the problem.

    No one believes in anything anymore, or in anyone. Neither the politicians nor the experts nor technocrats, nor anything that could come from the elites or people or institutions that once enjoyed being the authorities.

    We find ourselves in the worst scenario possible, because we have no one to trust in. And, what’s worse, no one trusts us; overnight we have turned into a pariah state. Suddenly, we the citizens have grasped that we are alone.

    And this loneliness and helplessness in the situation we are caught in leads to despair, if not to the greatest of nihilisms. No collective can live without a future, without knowing its own destiny.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 08:17 AM

    37. "The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia" - I recommend this book

    In fact, I can't recommend this book enough. I have read and re-read it many times. It is Ursula K. LeGuin at her very best, which is saying something. For those who don't like Sci-Fi, you will barely notice you are reading a "genre" book - it is about human beings, about human cultures, human strengths and frailities, human choices.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispossessed

    The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is a 1974 utopian science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, set in the same fictional universe as that of The Left Hand of Darkness (the Hainish Cycle). The book won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1974,[1] won both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1975,[2] and received a nomination for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1975.[2] It is also notable for achieving a degree of literary recognition unusual for science fiction works.

    The story of The Dispossessed is set on Anarres and Urras, the twin inhabited worlds of Tau Ceti. ...

    ... In The Dispossessed, Urras is divided into several states which are dominated by the two largest ones, which are rivals. In a clear allusion to the United States (represented by A-Io) and the Soviet Union (represented by Thu), one has a capitalist economy and patriarchal system and the other is an authoritarian system that claims to rule in the name of the proletariat. Further developing the analogy, there is in A-Io an oppositional left-wing party which is closely linked to and supporting the rival Thu, as were Communist parties in the US and other Western countries at the time of writing. Beyond that, there is a third major, though underdeveloped, area called Benbili — when a revolution breaks out there, A-Io and Thu invade Benbili generating a proxy war. Thus, Benbili comes to represent south-east Asia, an allusion to the Vietnam War.

    ... Themes

    The story takes place on the fictional planet Urras and its moon Anarres (since Anarres is massive enough to hold an atmosphere, this is often described as a double planet system). In order to forestall an anarcho-syndical workers' rebellion, the major Urrasti states gave the revolutionaries the right to live on Anarres, along with a guarantee of non-interference, approximately two hundred years before the events of The Dispossessed.[4] Before this, Anarres had had no permanent settlements apart from some mining.

    The protagonist Shevek is a physicist attempting to develop a General Temporal Theory...

    ... Anarres is in theory a society without government or coercive authoritarian institutions. Yet in pursuing research that deviates from his society's current consensus understanding, Shevek begins to come up against very real obstacles. Shevek gradually develops an understanding that the revolution which brought his world into being is stagnating, and power structures are beginning to exist where there were none before. He therefore embarks on the risky journey to the original planet, Urras, seeking to open dialog between the worlds and to spread his theories freely outside of Anarres. The novel details his struggles on both Urras and his homeworld of Anarres.

    The book also explores the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis, that language shapes thinking, and thus, culture. The language spoken on the anarchist planet Anarres, Pravic, is a constructed language that reflects many aspects of the philosophical foundations of utopian anarchism. For instance, the use of the possessive case is strongly discouraged (a feature that also is reflected by the novel's title). Children are trained to speak only about matters that interest others; anything else is "egoizing" (p. 28-31.) There is no property ownership of any kind. In one scene, Shevek's daughter, meeting him for the first time, offers him "You can share the handkerchief I use,"[7] rather than "you may borrow my handkerchief", thus conveying the idea that the handkerchief is not owned by the girl, merely carried by her.[8]


    LeGuin's use of language to convey culture in this book is absolutely fascinating.

    The Wiki article does not describe the U.S. analogue State. A-lo, to which Shevek travels in any detail, but it is very much a reflection of the US today - rich resources, great inequality, hugely wasteful. This is in contrast to Shevek's home Moon, the Anarchist "utopian" society, which is resource poor and largely barren. One of the best scenes in the book is Shevek marveling at a gift being wrapped in multiple layers of packaging.

    While LeGuin explores the potential pitfalls of the Anarchists' society with as rigorous an intellectual honesty as she does the horrors and waste of the Capitalist society, it is clear, I think, which culture she would, herself, choose to live in.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 09:00 AM

    38. Counterpunch Alexander Cockburn, 1941-2012


    Weekend Edition, July 22-23, 2012
    Alexander Cockburn, 1941-2012
    Farewell, Alex, My Friend
    by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

    Our friend and comrade Alexander Cockburn died last night in Germany, after a fierce two-year long battle against cancer. His daughter Daisy was at his bedside.

    Alex kept his illness a tightly guarded secret. Only a handful of us knew how terribly sick he truly was. He didn’t want the disease to define him. He didn’t want his friends and readers to shower him with sympathy. He didn’t want to blog his own death as Christopher Hitchens had done. Alex wanted to keep living his life right to the end. He wanted to live on his terms. And he wanted to continue writing through it all, just as his brilliant father, the novelist and journalist Claud Cockburn had done. And so he did. His body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid and deadly as ever.

    In one of Alex’s last emails to me, he patted himself on the back (and deservedly so) for having only missed one column through his incredibly debilitating and painful last few months. Amid the chemo and blood transfusions and painkillers, Alex turned out not only columns for CounterPunch and The Nation and First Post, but he also wrote a small book called Guillotine and finished his memoirs, A Colossal Wreck, both of which CounterPunch plans to publish over the course of the next year.

    Alex lived a huge life and he lived it his way. He hated compromise in politics and he didn’t tolerate it in his own life. Alex was my pal, my mentor, my comrade. We joked, gossiped, argued and worked together nearly every day for the last twenty years. He leaves a huge void in our lives. But he taught at least two generations how to think, how to look at the world, how to live a life of resistance. So, the struggle continues and we’re going to remain engaged. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

    In the coming days and weeks, CounterPunch will publish many tributes to Alex from his friends and colleagues. But for this day, let us remember him through a few images taken by our friend Tao Ruspoli.

    click for pictures at home page
    http://www.counterpunch.org/

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 09:34 AM

    39. Science- and technology-based Utopias

     

    Scientific and technological utopias are set in the future, when it is believed that advanced science and technology will allow utopian living standards; for example, the absence of death and suffering; changes in human nature and the human condition. Technology has affected the way humans have lived to such an extent that normal functions, like sleep, eating or even reproduction, have been replaced by artificial means. Other examples include a society where humans have struck a balance with technology and it is merely used to enhance the human living condition (e.g. Star Trek). In place of the static perfection of a utopia, libertarian transhumanists envision an "extropia", an open, evolving society allowing individuals and voluntary groupings to form the institutions and social forms they prefer.

    Buckminster Fuller presented a theoretical basis for technological utopianism and set out to develop a variety of technologies ranging from maps to designs for cars and houses which might lead to the development of such a utopia.

    One notable example of a technological and libertarian socialist utopia is Scottish author Iain Banks' Culture.

    Opposing this optimism is the prediction that advanced science and technology will, through deliberate misuse or accident, cause environmental damage or even humanity's extinction. Critics, such as Jacques Ellul and Timothy Mitchell advocate precautions against the premature embrace of new technologies, raising questions on responsibility and freedom brought by division of labour. Authors such as John Zerzan and Derrick Jensen consider that modern technology is progressively depriving humans of their autonomy, and advocate the collapse of the industrial civilization, in favor of small-scale organization, as a necessary path to avoid the threat of technology on human freedom and sustainability.

    There are many examples of techno-dystopias portrayed in mainstream culture, such as the classics Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, which have explored some of these topics.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 09:36 AM

    40. Capital One to refund $150 million to credit card customers

     

    http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-capital-one-refunds-fine-consumer-financial-protection-bureau-20120718,0,450326.story

    Federal banking regulators have ordered Capital One Bank to refund $150 million to about 2 million customers for deceptive marketing of payment protection and other add-on products sold with its credit cards.

    Capital One also must pay $60 million in civil penalties for the practices. The refunds and fines, which the bank has agreed to pay under consent orders, were announced Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

    “We are putting companies on notice that these deceptive practices are against the law and will not be tolerated," Richard Cordray, director of the consumer bureau, said of the agency's first major enforcement action since starting operations a year ago.

    Bureau examiners found that Capital One's call-center vendors "engaged in deceptive tactics" to persuade customers with low credit scores or credit limits to pay for add-on products when they activated their credit cards. Those products included payment protection if the customer was unemployed or temporarily disabled, and monitoring of their credit for identity theft and other problems....

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:38 AM

    42. FEMINIST UTOPIAS

     

    Utopias have been used to explore the ramification of gender being either a societal construct, or a hard-wired imperative. The fictional aliens in Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed start out as gender-neutral children and do not develop into men and women until puberty, and gender has no bearing on social roles. In contrast, Doris Lessing's The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980) suggests that men's and women's values are inherent to the sexes and cannot be changed, making a compromise between them essential. In My Own Utopia (1961) by Elizabeth Mann Borghese, gender exists but is dependent upon age rather than sex — genderless children mature into women, some of whom eventually become men.

    Utopic single-gender worlds or single-sex societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences. In speculative fiction, female-only worlds have been imagined to come about by the action of disease that wipes out men, along with the development of technological or mystical method that allow female parthenogenic reproduction. The resulting society is often shown to be utopian by feminist writers. Many influential feminist utopias of this sort were written in the 1970s; the most often studied examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man and Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines. Utopias imagined by male authors have generally included equality between sexes, rather than separation. Such worlds have been portrayed most often by lesbian or feminist authors; their use of female-only worlds allows the exploration of female independence and freedom from patriarchy. The societies may not necessarily be lesbian, or sexual at all — a famous early sexless example being Herland (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlene Ball writes in Women's Studies Encyclopedia that use of speculative fiction to explore gender roles in future societies has been more common in the United States compared to Europe and elsewhere.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:46 AM

    43. I'll admit, when bread and roses suggested Utopias

     

    for the topic, I was doubtful. But there's lots of material developed on the topic, and artistic tie-ins, and I'm learning a lot. There's more to come, but first I have to do some useful work, and then I've promised to take the Kid to the Batman film...with the trepidation any mother feels when the crazy breaks loose in this copycat country. Plus, I don't like the franchise--too dystopic for my taste.

    So, try to properly digest what is here, add to it, and I'll be back (pun intended) TOMORROW! Which brings to mind another Utopian vision:

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:17 PM

    44. How is the weather in outer space?

     

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 06:37 AM

    46. i think the Shakers were a kind of Utopia in action

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #46)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:01 AM

    50. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Ky


    Last year, my daughter and I traveled to Kentucky for our annual bonding weekend with my sisters, and visited Shaker Village. In their prime, prior to the industrial revolution, the Shakers had some innovative procedures for growing food and making tools, and kept detailed records. The living arrangements were a bit odd though.

    http://www.shakervillageky.org /


    edit - more info at wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakers

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    Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #50)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:06 AM

    51. I really must visit a Shaker village some day.

    It must be something to 'see' it.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #51)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:18 AM

    53. The Shakers were a great model for self-sufficiency

    When the Industrial Revolution began, great numbers of young Shakers left for the 'better life', and the Shaker villages deteriorated. The Shaker villages did not dwindle because of their lifestyle, but to make money at city jobs.


    Edit for 'lifestyle'

    Men on one side, women on the other. No hanky panky, thus no children, except the Shakers took in lots of orphans to raise.



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    Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #53)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:25 AM

    57. listen to the Brother that i posted.

    it's so interesting to hear him speak -- as they are going extinct.

    he points to the taking in of orphans -- or so many of them -- as a mistake.

    rather than reaching out to grown folk.

    it's a difficult life for the young -- but may have had more appeal -- to the grown and tired.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #57)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:48 AM

    62. The Shakers meant well taking in and raising orphans


    From the history presentation we went to at Shaker Village, the extinction of the Shakers was primarily due to the Industrial Revolution and moving to the city for those jobs, which most likely was quite the lure for young people.

    I was impressed with how the Shakers were so creative in farming, blacksmithing, laundry, cooking, building those huge buildings, schooling. Truly self sufficient. Kinda reminds me of the Amish today.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #57)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:53 AM

    63. This could be a great opportunity for a retirement community...for the prematurely unemployed

     

    We may see another wave of "intentional communities" beyond the Condo Association.

    Of course, here in Ann Arbor, we have co-housing and Community Sponsored Agriculture. But these are more the trendy toys of the well-off than a true reordering of life and commerce. They are not economically sustainable, for one thing. And people don't want to give up the fruits of trade and technology, either. Any resources that escape in trade with the outside world, unless they buy a raw material or technology that generates trade goods, is a net loss to the local economy.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #63)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:11 AM

    66. That's the main problem, no one wants to give up anything


    As society collapses, we are going to be forced into self sufficiency. Unfortunately, most people know nothing of taking care of themselves, much less others.

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    Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #66)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:30 AM

    69. That would be really hard for the Kid and lots of others in disability

     

    Her functionality is dependent on high-tech drugs. And even so, she is a great burden to care for. And yet, "giving her up" is only something her father could do....I'm really not going to destroy my own sense of worth by doing so.

    This country has got to take a stand, once and for all, on whether all People are Created Equal in the eyes of the government and that Corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE!

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #46)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:21 AM

    54. One of many "Religious" Utopias in the New World

     

    Religious utopias can be intra-religious or inter-religious. The inter-religious utopia borders on a concept like Polyculturalism and is not deemed possible in the near future or the near-far future. Fledgling theories are generally canceled as impossible, but the ideology of God and Religion used in inter-religious utopia is commonly stated by many people as their view of God. In more extended theories it goes up to the level of different religious leaders setting aside their differences and accepting harmony, peace and understanding to unite all religions within one another, thereby forming a utopian religion or a religion of Humans with God any type of force that reigned before the birth of the universe. Religion and God being used as a self-motivating factor for people to believe in and raise themselves out of difficult situations.

    Intra-Religious utopias are based on religious ideals, and are to date those most commonly found in human society. Their members are usually required to follow and believe in the particular religious tradition that established the utopia. Some permit non-believers or non-adherents to take up residence within them; others (such as the Community at Qumran) do not.

    The Islamic, Jewish, and Christian ideas of the Garden of Eden and Heaven may be interpreted as forms of utopianism, especially in their folk-religious forms. Such religious utopias are often described as "gardens of delight", implying an existence free from worry in a state of bliss or enlightenment. They postulate freedom from sin, pain, poverty, and death, and often assume communion with beings such as angels or the houri. In a similar sense the Hindu concept of Moksha and the Buddhist concept of Nirvana may be thought of as a kind of utopia. In Hinduism or Buddhism, however, Utopia is not a place but a state of mind. A belief that if we are able to practice meditation without continuous stream of thoughts, we are able to reach enlightenment. This enlightenment promises exit from the cycle of life and death, relating back to the concept of utopia.

    In the United States and Europe during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century and thereafter, many radical religious groups formed utopian societies in which all aspects of people's lives could be governed by their faith. Among the best-known of these utopian societies were the Shakers, which originated in England in the 18th century but moved to America shortly afterward. A number of religious utopian societies from Europe came to the United States from the 18th century throughout the 19th century, including the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness (led by Johannes Kelpius), the Ephrata Cloister, and the Harmony Society, among others. The Harmony Society was a Christian theosophy and pietist group founded in Iptingen, Germany, in 1785. Due to religious persecution by the Lutheran Church and the government in Württemberg,[4] the society moved to the United States on October 7, 1803, settled in Pennsylvania, and on February 15, 1805, they, together with about 400 followers, formally organized the Harmony Society, placing all their goods in common. The group lasted until 1905, making it one of the longest-running financially successful communes in American history. The Oneida Community, founded by John Humphrey Noyes in Oneida, New York, was a utopian religious commune that lasted from 1848 to 1881. Although this utopian experiment is better known today for its manufacture of Oneida silverware, it was one of the longest-running communes in American history. The Amana Colonies were communal settlements in Iowa, started by radical German pietists, which lasted from 1855 to 1932. The Amana Corporation, manufacturer of refrigerators and household appliances, was originally started by the group. Other examples are Fountain Grove, Riker's Holy City and other Californian utopian colonies between 1855 and 1955 (Hine), as well as Sointula[5] in British Columbia, Canada. The Amish and Hutterites can also be considered an attempt towards a better world to live in. A wide variety of intentional communities with some type of faith based ideas have started across the world.

    The book of Revelation in the Christian bible depicts a better time, in the future, after Satan and evil are defeated. One interpretation is that there will eventually be heaven on Earth, or a new Earth without sin. The details of this new Earth where God and Jesus rules is not made clear. It can be assumed that it will something like the Garden of Eden before the fall. Another possibility is that heaven will not be a physical realm, but instead an incorporeal place for souls.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #54)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:26 AM

    58. +1

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 06:39 AM

    47. ...

    &feature=endscreen

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 06:47 AM

    48. Barofsky book 'Bailout' lifts the veil on Wall Street rescue

    7/22/12 'Bailout' lifts the veil on Wall Street rescue

    Neil Barofsky is not a household name, but he knows as much about what went wrong with the taxpayer bailout of Wall Street brokerages and national banks as anybody. In his scathing new book, Barofsky says taxpayers got shafted while the rich got richer.

    In “Bailout,” Barofsky writes that when he became the official watchdog for taxpayers, “I hadn’t yet understood the degree to which the entire crisis was unleashed by the greed of a small handful of executives who exploited a financial system that guaranteed no matter what risks they took, they’d be able to keep the profits ... “I had no idea that the U.S. government had been captured by the banks and that those running the bailout program I’d been charged with overseeing would come from the very same institutions that had both caused the crisis and then become the beneficiaries of the generous terms of their bailout.”

    Four years ago, Barofsky was an assistant federal prosecutor. To his surprise, Barofsky received a job suggestion from his boss, Mike Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The job: “special inspector general in charge of oversight for TARP.”
    Imagine Barofsky’s surprise when he heard the suggestion from Garcia, a Republican political appointee, who said the new job would be filled by President George W. Bush. Barofsky was a Democrat who had contributed to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.

    Well, Barofsky applied for the job and received the appointment, remaining as special inspector general until March 2011. His account of those years is a true expose. He names names of powerful men and women trying to sabotage the honest administration of the bailout. Although Bush and Obama do not escape Barofsky’s whistle blowing, the chief villain is Timothy Geithner, the headline grabbing U.S. treasury secretary and former president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

    The amorality and corruption delineated by Barofsky can be described fairly as “breathtaking” and “disgusting.” Taxpayers who feel helpless in the midst of the extended economic recession are likely to feel energized to metaphorically blow up the system after reading Barofsky’s account.

    http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/book-blog/bailout-lifts-the-veil-on-wall-street-rescue/article_8924318a-d114-11e1-9083-0019bb30f31a.html#ixzz21LhQEXjJ


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:01 AM

    49. Brother Arnold Hadd: The Last Shakers

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:11 AM

    52. £13tn: hoard hidden from taxman by global elite - Guardian

    posted by Bennyboy in LBN here http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014173038

    article here - http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy?INTCMP=SRCH

    A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

    ... The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.

    ... "The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

    ... "These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become."

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    Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #52)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:24 AM

    56. How many gazillions has Romney hidden in these secret accounts!

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:21 AM

    55. United Society of Shakers - 'Tis the Gift to be Simple

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:28 AM

    59. Utopianism

     

    In many cultures, societies, and religions, there is some myth or memory of a distant past when humankind lived in a primitive and simple state, but at the same time one of perfect happiness and fulfillment. In those days, the various myths tell us, there was an instinctive harmony between man and nature. Men's needs were few and their desires limited. Both were easily satisfied by the abundance provided by nature. Accordingly, there were no motives whatsoever for war or oppression. Nor was there any need for hard and painful work. Humans were simple and pious, and felt themselves close to the gods. According to one anthropological theory, hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society.

    These mythical or religious archetypes are inscribed in all the cultures and resurge with special vitality when people are in difficult and critical times. However, the projection of the myth does not take place towards the remote past, but either towards the future or towards distant and fictional places, imagining that at some time of the future, at some point of the space or beyond the death must exist the possibility of living happily.

    These myths of the earliest stage of humankind have been referred to by various cultures, societies, and religions:

    Golden Age The Greek poet Hesiod, around the 8th century BCE, in his compilation of the mythological tradition (the poem Works and Days), explained that, prior to the present era, there were other four progressively more perfect ones, the oldest of which was the Golden Age.

    Plutarch, the Greek historian and biographer of the 1st century, dealt with the blissful and mythic past of the humanity.

    Arcadia, e.g. in Sir Philip Sidney's prose romance The Old Arcadia (1580). Originally a region in the Peloponnesus, Arcadia became a synonym for any rural area that serves as a pastoral setting, as a locus amoenus ("delightful place":

    The Biblical Garden of Eden The Biblical Garden of Eden as depicted in Genesis 2 (Authorized Version of 1611):

    "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. [...]

    And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. [...]

    And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; [...] And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."


    The Land of Cockaigne

    The Land of Cockaigne (also Cockaygne, Cokaygne), was

    an imaginary land of idleness and luxury, famous in medieval story, and the subject of more than one poem, one of which, an early translation of a 13th-century French work, is given in Ellis's Specimens of Early English Poets. In this, "the houses were made of barley sugar and cakes, the streets were paved with pastry, and the shops supplied goods for nothing." London has been so called (see Cockney), but Boileau applies the same to Paris.


    The Peach Blossom Spring, a prose written by Tao Yuanming, describes a utopian place. The narrative goes that a fisherman from Wuling sailed upstream a river and came across a beautiful blossoming peach grove and lush green fields covered with blossom petals. Entranced by the beauty, he continued upstream. When he reached the end of the river, he stumbled onto a small grotto. Though narrow at first, he was able to squeeze through the passage and discovered an ethereal utopia, where the people led an ideal existence in harmony with nature. He saw a vast expanse of fertile lands, clear ponds, mulberry trees, bamboo groves, and the like with a community of people of all ages and houses in neat rows. The people wore a style of clothing unlike anything he saw before. They explained that their ancestors escaped to this place during the civil unrest of the Qin Dynasty and they themselves had not left since or had contact with anyone from the outside. They had not even heard of the later dynasties of bygone times or the then-current Jin Dynasty. In the story, the community was secluded and unaffected by the troubles of the outside world. The sense of timelessness was also predominant in the story as a perfect utopian community remains unchanged, that is, it had no decline nor the need to improve. Eventually, the Chinese term Peach Blossom Spring (桃花源 came to be synonymous for the concept of utopia.

    Schlaraffenland is an analogous German tradition. (See in German Wikipedia.)

    These myths also express some hope that the idyllic state of affairs they describe is not irretrievably and irrevocably lost to mankind, that it can be regained in some way or other.

    One way might be a quest for an "earthly paradise"—a place like Shangri-La, hidden in the Tibetan mountains and described by James Hilton in his utopian novel Lost Horizon (1933). Christopher Columbus followed directly in this tradition in his belief that he had found the Garden of Eden when, towards the end of the 15th century, he first encountered the New World and its indigenous inhabitants.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:33 AM

    60. Bill Moyers and Chris Hedges: How Whole Regions of America Have Been Destroyed in the Name of profit

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/156410/bill_moyers_and_chris_hedges%3A_how_whole_regions_of_america_have_been_destroyed_in_the_name_of_quarterly_profits/

    Bill Moyers and Chris Hedges: How Whole Regions of America Have Been Destroyed in the Name of Quarterly Profits

    _640x450_310x220

    BILL MOYERS: Here we are, barely halfway through the summer, and Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have stepped up their cage match, each attacking the other, throwing insults and accusations back and forth like folding chairs hurled across the wrestling ring.

    Governor Romney pummels away at the economy; President Obama pummels away at Mr. Romney—when he was or wasn’t at his company Bain Capital, his tax returns and his offshore accounts. All the while, as they bob and weave their way through this quadrennial competition, punching wildly, the real story of what’s happening to ordinary people as capitalism runs amok is largely ignored by each of them. But not in this book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”—an unusual account of poverty and desolation across contemporary America. It’s a collaboration between graphic artist and journalist Joe Sacco, and my guest on this week’s broadcast, Chris Hedges.

    CHRIS HEDGES: All of the true correctives to American democracy came through movements that never achieved formal political power.

    BILL MOYERS: This is just the latest battle cry from Hedges, who, angry at what he sees in the world, expresses his outrage in thoughtful prose that never fails to inform and provoke. As a correspondent and bureau chief for “The New York Times,” he covered wars in North Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East—leaving the paper after a reprimand for publicly denouncing the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #60)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:04 AM

    64. I have read so much history on the Internets


    And I have come to realize that we have been raised in our own kind of American utopia, that the Americans are the best and everything we do is done in our best interests. Total brainwashing.

    It saddens and sickens me that so many people still believe in this utopian empire of America. While all empires do collapse, the one we live in today will come as a shock to most everyone.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #60)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:05 AM

    65. Chris Hedge's Money Quote

     

    "There's no way to control corporate power. The system has broken down, whether it's Democrat or Republican. And because of that, we've all become commodities. Just as the natural world has become a commodity that is being exploited until it is exhausted, or it collapses."

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:46 AM

    61. Weather and Cinema Report

     

    Today will hit 100F again, after a few days of relief, and tomorrow will be worse. Bach's Magnificat is up for the Monday night singalong.

    *************************************************************************************

    The Kid and I saw the Batman movie. Without giving any of the plot away, I can safely say it was the most boring, lifeless film in the franchise. If you don't see it, you won't miss anything.

    Christian Bale plays Batman. Until I looked it up, I thought it was that other infinitely forgettable actor, Scott Bakula, who effectively killed off the Star Trek franchise with his "deathless" performance in "Enterprise". Where do they find these empty bodies? Neither personable nor talented nor handsome, they flood Hollywood.

    I didn't recognize Gary Oldman at all, a fact for which he is probably grateful.

    Anne Hathaway plays a villainess? Well, she at least showed some believability. And the biggest lips ever seen on a screen.

    Michael Caine chewed up the scenery at every opportunity, but he's only one man, and not in a major role, either. Ditto Morgan Freeman, who held up the side for the USofA. The Brits still get some training before they are cast.

    Don't bother looking for Liam Neeson....if he got more than 60 seconds of screen time, I'd be amazed. Ditto Tom Conti.

    Plot and dialog mostly incoherent, when not totally implausible. I always thought the hallmark of good theater or fiction was "the feeling you were living it". Epic Fail, in this case. No catharsis here. No laughs, no romance, no suspense in a trite and predictable, dystopic plot.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:18 AM

    67. On Thomas Kinkade and Utopia

    (when I started this post, I did not know this, but there evidently was a "Thomas Kinkade Heaven on Earth exhibition" according to WIKI, so my musings on the subject fit right in)

    When Thomas Kinkade died not too long back, it prompted me to wonder about his extraordinary popularity. Wiki says it is estimated that 1 in 20 American homes owns a copy of one of his paintings (I have to assume in this case that "copy" includes printed on a mug or a mousepad, like the one my MiL gave me a few years ago because "I know you like art." I'd put an eye-roll in here but she did mean well)..

    Now, it seems to be that anything that popular is important to understand. Why Kinkade, and not some other kitsch?

    I am no scholar, and maybe someone sometime will make this a dissertation subject and show some completely other reason, but it seems to me that his extraordinary popularity must speak to very deep desires - about at least some part of a widespread vision of Utopia.

    Nearly everywhere I've seen his "art" the object chosen by the owner shows a "cottage" (many of which, typical of the profound corrupt dishonesty that for me is the signature of his style, are actually the size of McMansions), surrounded by greenery and flowers or deep in pristine snow if it's a winter scene, on quiet lanes. (Wiki tells me he did lots of Christian-themed art and also mentions a Nascar (!) painting, but everywhere I see it, it is those cottages that predominate. The google images page shows about a zillion of them.)

    There is a startling lack of humans or even animals in these paintings. There is nothing to make noise. There is no work or commerce. No one is cooking, eating, dancing, talking. There is no community.

    What this says to me is that for nearly everyone, the "world is too much with us, late and soon." We are overworked, assaulted by noise, driven half-mad by the clamor of too many people, we are imprisoned in concrete and have too little green, we are surrounded by dangers at every turn. We are exhausted. So exhausted that all we can dream of is to retreat to some fantasy of isolated comfort and security. But we are not made for isolation - humans evolved as social creatures. What Kinkade's popularity says to me is that all too many of us have given up on the possibility of living in harmony with our fellows - we can only dream of retreat. There's on way to Utopia along that lane.

    "THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US; LATE AND SOON"

    THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
    Little we see in Nature that is ours;
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
    The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
    The winds that will be howling at all hours,
    And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
    It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 10
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
    William Wordsworth




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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:26 AM

    68. £13tn: hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy


    The Cayman Islands: a favourite haven from the taxman for the global elite. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images


    A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

    James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

    He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, "protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy". According to Henry's research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier.

    The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:41 AM

    70. US corn belt crisis threatens to drive up global inflation

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/22/us-corn-belt-crisis-global-inflation

    From Williamsport, Ohio, a first-hand account of the worst drought to grip the corn belt of America since 1956: Scott Metzger told Reuters on Friday that it had rained for about 45 minutes on his farm that day, producing 1.3 inches of rain. Respite, but not much. Since 13 May the farm has only had 2.1 inches of rain.

    While some parts of the UK have been recording that in a single day, more than 70% of the midwestern corn belt – breadbasket of the world – is gripped by a catastrophic drought. Little wonder that Metzger declared: "This has been my toughest year of farming so far." His corn crop was "finished", he said, because it had never pollinated.

    The story is the same across the main growing region in the US, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared the January-June period the hottest half-year on record in the United States.

    The results will be felt far and wide. World corn prices have jumped 55% in just six weeks to a new record. In the first three weeks of July alone, export prices of corn and wheat have increased by an extraordinary 20%. Despite the washout in England and Wales, last month has been declared the fourth-warmest June on record around the globe.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #70)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:55 AM

    72. Went by a cornfield in flower this week

     

    The stalks were maybe 3 ft. tall. God knows if there will be pollination. There's no rain.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #72)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:58 AM

    73. we're getting rain -- but not enough.

    the humidity is bringing clouds -- lots of thunder, etc -- but then nothing. nothing.

    very strange.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:44 AM

    71. (Mid- 70's) "would be the closest America ever came to Utopia for many a generation"

    Major legislation passed in 70's

    http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/events/conservstewards/welcome.html


    Marine Mammal Protection Act;
    Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act;
    Coastal Zone Management Act;
    Endangered Species Act; and
    Fishery Conservation and Management Act.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the United States federal government which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.[2] The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970

    1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act
    1972 Consumer Product Safety Act
    1972 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
    1972 Clean Water Act
    1972 Noise Control Act
    1973 Endangered Species Act
    1974 Safe Drinking Water Act
    1975 Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
    1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
    1976 Solid Waste Disposal Act
    1976 Toxic Substances Control Act
    1977 Clean Air Act Amendments
    1977 Clean Water Act Amendments


    There was progress in other areas as well - we had reason to think we were on the way ...

    My constant refrain - "what happened?"

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    Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #71)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:11 AM

    74. You are making me cry, now

     

    I have so much more to post, all of it depressingly awful. And there's so much housework and board work. I think I will abandon all worthy pursuits and go for a swim and a nap.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #74)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:27 AM

    77. Sounds like a refreshing plan!


    My daughter has talked me into buying a couple chickens, I'm off to the farm swap meet to see what she thinks I need to get. LOL


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    Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #71)

    Mon Jul 23, 2012, 01:20 AM

    81. I graduated high school in 74

    It really seemed like we were going to make a difference and a better world. I look around me and am appalled. I can't believe it turned out this way.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:16 AM

    75. Hardheaded Socialism Makes Canada Richer Than U.S.

     

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-15/hardheaded-socialism-makes-canada-richer-than-u-s-.html

    On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.

    According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.

    A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.

    The difference grows starker by the month: The Canadian system is working; the American system is not. And it’s not just Canadians who are noticing. As Iceland considers switching to a currency other than the krona, its leaders’ primary focus of interest is the loonie -- the Canadian dollar...

    MORE

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:21 AM

    76. Dear DoJ: We Don't Want Financial Settlements, We Want Bankers Who Committed Massive Fraud In Jail

     

    http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/dear-doj-we-dont-want-financial-settl

    The New York Times reports that the Justice Department has identified potential criminal wrongdoing at the center of the LIBOR scandal. One of the officials tells the Times they expect to file charges against at least one bank later this year, but it sounds as though they simply want to force a financial settlement -- which, once again, will simply be seen as the cost of doing business. Nothing in the banking culture will change until someone important goes to prison:

    The prospect of criminal cases is expected to rattle the banking world and provide a new impetus for financial institutions to settle with the authorities. The Justice Department investigation comes on top of private investor lawsuits and a sweeping regulatory inquiry led by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Collectively, the civil and criminal actions could cost the banking industry tens of billions of dollars.

    Authorities around the globe are examining whether financial firms manipulated interest rates before and after the financial crisis to improve their profits and deflect scrutiny about their health. Investigators in Washington and London sent a warning shot to the industry last month, striking a $450 million settlement with Barclays in a rate-rigging case. The deal does not shield Barclays employees from criminal prosecution.

    The multiyear investigation has ensnared more than 10 big banks in the United States and abroad. With the prospects of criminal action, several firms, including at least two European institutions, are scrambling to arrange deals, according to lawyers close to the case. In part, they are trying to avoid the public outcry that stemmed from the Barclays case, which prompted the resignation of top executives.

    The criminal and civil investigations have focused on how banks set the London interbank offered rate, known as Libor. The benchmark, a measure of how much banks charge one another for loans, is used to determine the borrowing costs for trillions of dollars of financial products, including mortgages, credit cards and student loans. Cities, states and municipal agencies also are examining whether they suffered losses from the rate manipulation, and some have filed suits.

    With civil actions, regulators can impose fines and force banks to overhaul their internal controls. But the Justice Department would wield an even more potent threat by bringing criminal fraud cases against traders and other employees. If found guilty, they could face jail time.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #76)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:28 AM

    78. Economic Rapture Might Be Around the Corner

     

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10373-economic-rapture-might-be-around-the-corner

    It's January 25, 2001, the first week of the Bush presidency and more than half a year before the September 11 attacks. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies before the Senate Budget Committee, asserting:

    "If current policies remain in place, the total unified surplus will reach $800 billion in fiscal year 2011. The emerging key fiscal policy need is to address the implications of maintaining surpluses."

    ...The 2011 fiscal year ended with a $1.3-trillion deficit. How did America go from a state of "burgeoning federal surpluses" (in Greenspan's words in 2001) to "extraordinary financial crisis" (the way he put it in 2010) in just one decade? Two words suffice: tax cuts.

    Forget the recession and the Bush-Obama stimulus packages. Those are history. The recession ended three years ago — at least in terms of economic growth. So why aren't the deficits disappearing? The problem is that taxes are just too low. Most Americans will shudder to hear those words, but it's the truth. Taxmageddon? Bring it on. If Congress does what Congress does best and takes no action by New Year's Eve, both the Bush and Obama tax cuts will expire. On January 1, 2013:

  • The Bush tax cuts on high-income filers will expire, returning the top marginal rate to its 1990s level of 39.6 percent.

  • The alternative minimum tax will be restored for a large number of high-income filers that are currently exempt.

  • Social Security employee payroll taxes will return to 6.2 percent from their current reduced level of 4.2 percent.

  • Other automatic mechanisms will result in spending reductions, including the elimination of extended unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed. Long-overdue Pentagon spending cuts will also go into effect.

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that these automatic tax increases and spending cuts would immediately cut the federal budget deficit in half, returning it to a manageable level.

    The downside? According to the CBO, such a sudden tightening of the federal budget would reduce real economic growth from a projected 4.4 percent to just 0.5 percent in 2013. I think we can have a lot of confidence in those projections. "Budget," after all, is the CBO's middle name. But economic growth of 4.4 percent if only we keep our current low tax rates? I think CBO economists may be living the same low-tax fantasy as much of the rest of the economics profession.

    Some facts:

  • According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the last time real national income grew at a rate over 4 percent per year was in the high-tax 1990s.

  • The economy grew by over 4 percent a year four years in a row: 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000.

    That's right. The last four times the economy grew by 4 percent were the four years before the Bush tax cuts. Go figure. In the decade since the Bush tax cuts went into effect the highest recorded growth rate was 3.5 percent, in 2004. Now, it just might be that roaring economic growth is right around the corner. Happy days will be here again if only Congress and President Barack Obama can take the tough actions necessary to prevent tax cuts from expiring. Keep the candy coming and everything will work out just fine.

    On the other hand, this might be the best time in history for a do-nothing Congress to deadlock over the issue and let the tax cuts expire. It's hard to know what direction the economy will take. But no one doubts that if the tax cuts expire, the deficit will disappear. And if the deficit disappears, our economic nightmare might finally come to an end.

    Economic rapture may be just around the corner.
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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:46 AM

    79. My favorite Utopia lost movie "Legend"

    I am not recommending this site but I liked the write up on the movie.

    When things are going too bad I retreat to the forest cottage, pre-fall, in Legend to start to reason things out.

    http://mubi.com/films/legend

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Jul 22, 2012, 09:46 AM

    80. SPAIN NEARS IMPLOSION: Finance Minister Proposes Huge Tax, Businesses Threaten To Leave

    http://www.businessinsider.com/spain-nears-implosion-finance-minister-proposes-huge-tax-businesses-threaten-to-leave-2012-7

    Prepare for Spanish Implosion

    Here is the "as-is" Google translation of the El Econimista article Waiting for the Intervention. Emphasis in bold not added.
    The situation is out of control. The government approved last week the biggest adjustment of his story in hopes that it would serve to calm the markets. But it was not. The risk premium yesterday overcame the barrier of hundred basis points, something never seen, and the bond closed at 7.27 percent. The first question that arises is what should make efforts so painful as the increase in VAT or removal of the extra pay of officials if markets continue to punish us hard. It would be naive to think that just announced a big cut, things would begin to change. There are still many uncertainties that sow mistrust.
    The fine print of 65,000 million adjustment shows that there is more emphasis on income than expenditure. Tax revenues provide about 38,000 million, compared to 27,000 in less spending. This, coupled with the rise in income tax, makes Spain one of the countries with the highest direct and indirect tax burden on the planet Earth. Economists warn that this tax increase may cause a contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) higher than expected by the Government. Especially in 2013, in which the drop exceed 1 percent, twice the official estimate.
    The other settings should focus on the regions and aim to remove 427,000 employees created by them during the last ten years (see story on Monday in elEconomista). However, this week has been strong resistance from regional governments to make further cuts. The call of the President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, a regional rebellion against the Government is a paradigm for stimulating this international distrust.



    *** the same threats 'business' makes here all the time.
    sovereign nations should get a grip on 'business'.

    Read more: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/07/prepare-for-spanish-implosion.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MishsGlobalEconomicTrendAnalysis+%28Mish%27s+Global+Economic+Trend+Analysis%29&utm_content=Google+Reader#ixzz21MYM05Wa

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