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Demeter

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Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 01:04 PM
Number of posts: 85,373

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Weekend Economists' Nights in White Satin January 6-8, 2012

Well, 2011 is one for the history books, finally. No sign that 2012 will be any better...yet. Let's give it until August before we give up in despair, okay?

To sublimate those depressive feelings, Moody Blues, the British rock, blues, whatever band, is an excellent catharsis. The band was expert at creating a classic piece of theater with every song...the principles of drama first described by Aristotle.

It is Aristotle, the great philosopher, who is our featured guest this weekend. I hope he would have liked the band.

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin (extended version)

File-Sharing Recognized as Official Religion in Sweden

http://torrentfreak.com/file-sharing-recognized-as-official-religion-in-sweden-120104/

Since 2010 a group of self-confessed pirates have tried to get their beliefs recognized as an official religion in Sweden. After their request was denied several times, the Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – is now approved by the authorities as an official religion. The Church hopes that its official status will remove the legal stigma that surrounds file-sharing.

All around the world file-sharers are being chased by anti-piracy outfits and the authorities, and the situation in Sweden is no different. While copyright holders are often quick to label file-sharers as pirates, there is a large group of people who actually consider copying to be a sacred act. Philosophy student Isak Gerson is such a religious file-sharer, and in an attempt to protect his unique belief system he founded The Missionary Church of Kopimism in 2010. In the hope that they could help prevent persecution for their beliefs, the Church then filed a request to be officially accepted by the authorities. After two failed attempts, where the Church was asked to formalize its way of praying or meditation, the authorities finally recognized the organization as an official religion. The Church’s founder is ecstatic about this news, and hopes that it will motivate more people to come forward as ‘Kopimists’.

“I think that more people will have the courage to step out as Kopimists. Maybe not in the public, but at least to their close ones,” Isak tells TorrentFreak. “There’s still a legal stigma around copying for many. A lot of people still worry about going to jail when copying and remixing. I hope in the name of Kopimi that this will change.”


I MUST BE A CHARTER MEMBER!

Although the formal status of the Church doesn’t mean that copyright infringement is now permitted, the Church’s founder hopes that their beliefs will be considered in future lawmaking.

During the last half year the Missionary Church of Kopimism tripled its members from 1,000 to 3,000 and it’s expected that the recent news will cause another surge in followers. Official member or not, Gerson encourages everyone with an Internet connection to keep on sharing. “We confessional Kopimists have not only depended on each other in this struggle, but on everyone who is copying information. To everyone with an internet connection: Keep copying. Maintain hardline Kopimi,” Gerson concludes.

Prospective followers who embrace the same calling are of course welcome to join the movement, free of charge:

http://kopimistsamfundet.se/join-the-movement/

THANK KOPIMI I CAN READ SWEDISH! IT MUST BE FATE!

The Absolute Moron’s Guide to the New Military Detention Laws

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/01/morons-guide-to-new-detention-laws.html

While everyone was getting all gussied up for New Year's Eve on Saturday, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, a controversial bill that the ACLU, for example, has called "a blight on his legacy" because it authorizes the indefinite military detention of American citizens. (Rupert Murdoch, however, calls Obama "very courageous." We've put together this FAQ for those of you who are not just slightly uninformed about this issue, but hopelessly, embarrassingly confused...

Am I going to prison?
Probably not.
So why do I care about this?
Maybe you care about the gradual erosion of our most basic civil liberties?
Ehhh ... okay, fine.

The gist of the outcry is that Congress passed a law, which was signed by President Obama on Saturday, which authorizes the president to order the indefinite military detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism. This isn't an entirely new concept: Based on a very broad reading of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which granted the president powers in the war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, President Bush and President Obama have claimed that they can do this already. But the new legislation explicitly codifies that interpretation into law.

Indefinite?
Yeah, can you believe it?
No, explain what indefinite is.
It means they can be held for as long as necessary, without a trial.
Aren't we doing that already at Guantanamera?
Guantanamo, yeah. But those prisoners are foreigners, often caught on the battlefield. The new law applies to American citizens taken into custody on American soil as well.
But putting terrorists in prison forever — that's a bad thing?
The whole point of our justice system is determining if someone is actually guilty of the charges against them. But in this case, the government can detain a suspect without ever having to prove their guilt.

You're soft on terror.
Let's keep this civilized.

MORE AT LINK

I just read this article, and my heart is breaking

And the Kid is so much worse than an Aspie.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/26/us/navigating-love-and-autism.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

What is "money"? Is it the same as "currency"? What about gold?

http://whataboutmarx.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-is-money-is-it-same-as-currency.html
\

In order to truly understand what is happening today, we must first explore how money came to be, and the purpose it serves.

In primitive human societies, humans were all hunters, with no or little/simple tools, so there was no real specialization. These people barely had enough in order to survive - nothing more.This is why there was no private property, or trade transactions (some primitive races in places like the Amazon still live in such a state). But then humans began to improve their tools and weapons, and they also developed agriculture as well, which was a huge leap forward. It today's terms, people become more productive, and "specialization" started to appear, as some people became "professional farmers", some others were "professional craftsman" creating tools etc. For the first time in history, there were different "professions" - this "specialization" allowed people to become more productive in more and more tasks, and every "professional" (eg farmer, hunter, builder, craftsman, etc) was not self-sufficient, but also relied on others in order to live a better life. By increasing productivity, humanity could create more wealth than before, and by increasing specialization some people (eg the farmers) had a surplus of wheat, and some other people (eg the craftsmen) had a surplus of tools or clothes. So, this is when private property firsts appears, and trade starts to grow, as one person exchanges "something that belongs to him" with "something else" that belongs to "someone else".

This barter system had some problems however: For example, some products are not easy to carry, or they don't last long (food is a good example, as it must be consumed within a few days). Furthermore, as specialization deepens, there are more and more trade transactions. This is why people turned to something else, a "super-product" that could be used as a benchmark for all other products: Money. All other goods have a value that could now be expressed through it. Mankind has used many different forms of money, but gold (and secondarily silver) is the form that dominated over all the other forms. The reason is that gold is durable, easily transferable from one place to another, and rare. Many other forms of money where tried, but nothing could beat gold's advantages as money.




Today, specialization has grown to an incredible degree - capitalism has created an international system, where everyone is more or less dependent on others from around the world in order to live a good life. When such systems collapse, humanity suffers greatly - here's Tony Jackson from the Financial Times: "Four years ago, I related in this column how a stockbroker acquaintance of mine had likened the outlook to 1929. A couple of weeks ago he was back on the phone. Forget 1929, he said: we are looking at the Dark Ages." The Dark Ages, of course, are something else again. But let me repeat here what I said four years ago: that the purpose of such comparisons is not to indulge in fancies about history repeating itself, but to expand our conception of the possible.

Quantifying the effects of the collapse of the Roman Empire is not an exact science. But from the start to the finish of the first millenium AD, according to the economic historian Angus Maddison, the economy of Western Europe shrank by around a quarter, and that of Italy itself by nearly half. What this meant for Britain has been spelt out by the Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins. After the Romans left in 410 AD, the archaeological record suggests that the economy slumped to a much more primitive level than on their arrival nearly 400 years earlier. The reason is clear enough. The more complex and specialised an economy becomes, the more helpless its individuals are in the face of breakdown. The Romans introduced a higher level of complexity to Britain, then took it back home again. It is here that parallels with today start to look rather stretched. But the theme of periodic collapse is perhaps borne out by the longer historical record...capitalism is about to send us in a new "Dark Age”, as antagonisms create trade wars, protectionism and full-scale military wars. We are dependent on each other, but we are divided by a handful of oligarchs, who don't produce anything but exploit us, grabbing an ever-increasing part of the wealth for themselves, leaving nothing but crumbs for us to fight over.

We will talk more about this in the future, but for now let's get back to the history of money, as gold ("money" has today been replaced by "currency".

AND IT GOES ON==ECONOMICS IN A NUTSHELL (AND NOT JUST ANY NUT, EITHER). TODAY'S MUST READ

The Washington Post Doesn't Understand Social Security

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/756169/the_washington_post_doesn%27t_understand_social_security/#paragraph6

See if you can spot the big mistake (giving them the benefit of the doubt) in this Washington Post story: Payroll tax cut raises worries about Social Security’s future funding :
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/payroll-tax-cut-raises-worries-about-social-securitys-future-funding/2011/12/28/gIQAVKZOPP_story_1.html

This year, the Social Security system projects that it will pay out $46 billion more in benefits than it will collect in cash. It made up for the shortfall by redeeming Treasury bonds bought in years when there were cash surpluses.

Here is the mistake, thanks to Dean Baker: Social Security Is NOT Selling Government Bonds,
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/social-security-is-not-selling-government-bonds

This is not true. The Social Security trust fund is projected to earn $114.9 billion in interest on the bonds it holds. It will use a portion of these earnings to pay current benefits. It will not be redeeming its bonds.

Social Security has a huge trust fund -- if you think $2.6 trillion is huge. That trust fund is invested in US Treasury Bonds, and earns interest. When you hear that Social Security is "in trouble' or "going broke" you are hearing from people who ignore this huge, huge trust fund and the interest it earns. This trust fund, along with the money people pay in, means that Social Security has enough to pay full benefits until 2037. Even then it will still be able to pay everyone more than they receive today. (Yes, more, because of cost-of-living adjustments.)

One of the problems with Social Security is that the "cap" -- the top income that is taxed to pay into the fund -- was calculated in the 80's, and they didn't foresee that all income gains after the 80s would only go to those at the top, where the income isn't taxed to pay into the fund. So, since the 80s, as more and more of the income gains went to the top few, the Social Security fund started to not have quite enough to go on forever. So now it it projected to only last until 2037. This is, of course, easily fixed -- as are so many of our country's problems -- by asking those at the top to pay in a little more.

So ... will I be attacked with pepper spray and batons for suggesting that the rich should pay back a bit more?

By Dave Johnson | Sourced from Campaign For America's Future

Graphic Porn: Interlocking Directorates: Politics and Corporations

http://geke.us/VennDiagrams.html

16 examples of the incest between Big Government and Big Business---click and gnash teeth

Other examples of their work:

When Upton Sinclair's '99 Percent' Movement Sparked the Birth of the Modern Election Campaign

http://www.thenation.com/blog/165355/campaign-century-when-upton-sinclair-sparked-birth-modern-election-tactics

Greg Mitchell’s book The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair’s Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, has just been published in its first e-book edition and in a new print edition.

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

Nearly two years after a Democrat promising hope and change entered the White House, amid an economic crisis left behind by an unpopular Republican, unemployment remained at century-high levels. Despite new stimulus programs, recovery seemed far off. Opponents in the GOP (and even some in the president’s own party) called for cutting spending to reduce the budget deficit. Democrats were split: Was the president acting as boldly as possible—or was he not nearly bold enough? Pundits on the left accused him of dithering and caving in to “big business.” Yet as a midterm election approached—one that might decide whether the president and his programs had much of a future—right-wing demagogues on the stump and in the media accused the White House of imposing socialism on America....The year was 1934; the president was Franklin D. Roosevelt. The economic crisis FDR faced was far worse than what President Obama confronted after he took office—and which sparked the Occupy movement later—but many similarities exist.

Of all the left-wing mass movements that year, Upton Sinclair’s End Poverty in California (EPIC) crusade proved most influential, and not just in helping to push the New Deal to the left. The Sinclair threat—after he easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary—so profoundly alarmed conservatives that it sparked the creation of the modern political campaign, with its reliance on hired guns, advertising and media tricks, national fundraising, attack ads on the screen and more.

Profiling two of the creators of the anti-Sinclair campaign, Carey McWilliams would later call this (in The Nation) “a new era in American politics—government by public relations.” It also provoked Hollywood’s first all-out plunge into politics, which, in turn, inspired the leftward tilt in the movie colony that endures to this day.

Back in the autumn of 1934, political analysts, financial columnists and White House aides for once agreed: Sinclair’s victory in the primary marked the high tide of electoral radicalism in the United States. Left-wing novelist Theodore Dreiser wrote a piece for Esquire declaring EPIC “the most impressive political phenomenon that America has yet produced.” The New York Times called it “the first serious movement against the profit system in the United States.” MORE

Will I Spend My Retirement in a DHS Internment Facility? By Libbyliberal

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30147.htm

...I consider this coming Thursday’s official codification of anti-democratic extra-judicial power to the executive branch (enabled by a stunningly betraying legislative branch) as a tipping point into full-out fascism.

The lack of a national conversation, let alone outcry, on the upcoming done-deal trashing by this Congress, the VAST VAST VAST majority of this Congress, along with the President, of our fifth and sixth amendments, the core principles of “due process”, makes Kevin McCarthy’s horror in the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers seem like a picnic. Again, two of the three branches of this government of heretofore “checks and balances” are betraying us. Do we now pin our hopes on the “Sure, corporations are people and can economically terrorize, rape, pillage all they want” judicial branch?

Bill Van Auken of wsws on the situation:

For that matter, the passage of a law that shreds the founding principles of the American republic has raised barely a murmur of concern from the corporate-controlled mass media. They have no intention of making this a matter of public debate. For millions of American working people, however, the action is of the gravest importance.

These amendments spelled out basic democratic freedoms—including freedom of speech and of the press; freedom from unreasonable search and seizure; the right to due process; and the right of anyone accused of a crime to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. They were passed in order to codify the democratic gains of the American Revolution and to protect the people of the new republic from a return to the abuses that had been carried out against them under the colonial rule of the British monarchy. They represented a concretization of the “inherent and inalienable” rights proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.


The bill of rights was ratified 220 years ago this very month, Van Auken points out, which in a sanely governed society would warrant celebration not annihilation!

Habeas corpus was tossed out by the Bush regime and kept out by Obama. Habeas corpus had been an Anglo-Saxon common law even before the Magna Carter of 1215.

The first Geneva Convention? 1864. Labeled quaint by Bush's John Loo. Permanently shelved by Obama...

AT LEAST WE WILL HAVE LOTS OF GOOD COMPANY, LIBBYLIBERAL

How Congress Has Signed Its Own Arrest Warrants in the NDAA Citizen Arrest Act By Naomi Wolf

http://naomiwolf.org/2011/12/how-congress-is-signing-its-own-arrest-warrants-in-the-ndaa-citizen-arrest-bill/

I never thought I would have to write this: but—incredibly—Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process. The language of this bill can be read to assure Americans that they can challenge their detention — but most people do not realize what this means: at Guantanamo and in other military prisons, one’s lawyer’s calls are monitored, witnesses for one’s defense are not allowed to testify, and one can be forced into nudity and isolation. Incredibly, ninety-three Senators voted to support this bill and now most of Congress: a roster of names that will live in infamy in the history of our nation, and never be expunged from the dark column of the history books.

They may have supported this bill because—although it’s hard to believe—they think the military will only arrest active members of Al Qaida; or maybe, less naively, they believe that ‘at most’, low-level dissenting figures, activists, or troublesome protesters might be subjected to military arrest. But they are forgetting something critical: history shows that those who signed this bill will soon be subject to arrest themselves.

Our leaders appear to be supporting this bill thinking that they will always be what they are now, in the fading light of a once-great democracy — those civilian leaders who safely and securely sit in freedom and DIRECT the military. In inhabiting this bubble, which their own actions are about to destroy, they are cocooned by an arrogance of power, placing their own security in jeopardy by their own hands, and ignoring history and its inevitable laws. The moment this bill becomes law, though Congress is accustomed, in a weak democracy, to being the ones who direct and control the military, the power roles will reverse: Congress will no longer be directing and in charge of the military: rather, the military will be directing and in charge of individual Congressional leaders, as well as in charge of everyone else — as any Parliamentarian in any society who handed this power over to the military can attest.

Perhaps Congress assumes that it will always only be ‘they’ who are targeted for arrest and military detention: but sadly, Parliamentary leaders are the first to face pressure, threats, arrest and even violence when the military obtains to power to make civilian arrests and hold civilians in military facilities without due process. There is no exception to this rule. Just as I traveled the country four years ago warning against the introduction of torture and secret prisons – and confidently offering a hundred thousand dollar reward to anyone who could name a nation that allowed torture of the ‘other’ that did not eventually turn this abuse on its own citizens — (confident because I knew there was no such place) — so today I warn that one cannot name a nation that gave the military the power to make civilian arrests and hold citizens in military detention, that did not almost at once turn that power almost against members of that nation’s own political ruling class. This makes sense — the obverse sense of a democracy, in which power protects you; political power endangers you in a militarized police state: the more powerful a political leader is, the more can be gained in a militarized police state by pressuring, threatening or even arresting him or her...
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