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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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Student-Loan Delinquency Skyrocketing, Reportedly Hitting 'Danger Zone'

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Student-Loan Delinquency Skyrocketing, Reportedly Hitting 'Danger Zone'
Will our politicians finally face this grim reality? What will it take?

Most of us are have seen headlines about the burgeoning student-loan crisis. As of August, for instance, student loans had topped $914 billion -- an increase of $10 billion in less than half a year, even as most debt was falling around the country. Still, we do not appear to have hit rock-bottom. A new report shows that student-loan delinquency rates have gone through the roof in recent years and that, even more troubling, we may be entering a "danger zone" in which the entire U.S. economy is at risk.

The report from FICO Labs shows that student-loan delinquencies saw a 22-percent increase in the past several years; the overall delinquency rate is now more than 15 percent.

The LA Times has more:

The worsening deliquency rate comes as loan balances surge. The average student-loan debt jumped to $27,253 last year, up 58% from $17,233 in 2005. By contrast, average credit-card and auto-loan balances declined during that period.

“As more people default on their student loans, their credit ratings will drop, making it harder for them to access new credit and help grow the economy,” (FICO Labs head Andrew) Jennings said. “Even people who stay current on their student loans are dealing with very large debts, which reduces the money they have available to spend elsewhere.”

Will our politicians finally face this grim reality? What will it take? .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/student-loan-delinquency-skyrocketing-reportedly-hitting-danger-zone

Fracking Boom Overwhelming Hospitals With Uninsured Laborers

Posted by Tara Lohan at 2:58 pm
January 29, 2013

Fracking Boom Overwhelming Hospitals With Uninsured Laborers

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

There’s no doubt that fracking has turned North Dakota into a boom town (and a bright one, at that), but there has also been a fair bit of bust along with it. The most recent news comes from a story in the New York Times today about threats to the state’s health care providers.

John Eligon writes:

The furious pace of oil exploration that has made North Dakota one of the healthiest economies in the country has had the opposite effect on the region’s health care providers. Swamped by uninsured laborers flocking to dangerous jobs, medical facilities in the area are sinking under skyrocketing debt, a flood of gruesome injuries and bloated business costs from the inflated economy.

The problems have been acute at McKenzie County Hospital here. Largely because of unpaid bills, the hospital’s debt has climbed more than 2,000 percent over the past four years to $1.2 million, according to Daniel Kelly, the hospital’s chief executive. Just three years ago, Mr. Kelly added, the hospital averaged 100 emergency room visits per month; last year, that average shot up to 400.

And that’s not all. According to the Times, between 2006 to 2011 ambulance calls went up 59 percent and traumatic injuries increased 200 percent from 2007 until the middle of 2012.

The economic toll has been great. “The 12 medical facilities in western North Dakota saw their combined debt rise by 46 percent over the course of the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, according to Darrold Bertsch, the president of the state’s Rural Health Association,” wrote Eligon. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/tara-lohan/fracking-boom-overwhelming-hospitals-uninsured-laborers

The Politics of Debt in America: From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

from TomDispatch:

The Politics of Debt in America
From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

By Steve Fraser

(This essay will appear in the next issue of Jacobin. It is posted at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of that magazine.)

Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise. They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be. As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life. So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors. Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy could never have grown to maturity.

Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight. We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it.

Debt remains, as it long has been, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of capitalism. For a small minority, it’s a blessing; for others a curse. For some the moral burden of carrying debt is a heavy one, and no one lets them forget it. For privileged others, debt bears no moral baggage at all, presents itself as an opportunity to prosper, and if things go wrong can be dumped without a qualm.

Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy. Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175643/tomgram%3A_steve_fraser%2C_another_day_older_and_deeper_in_debt/

Drought caused an Omaha street to erupt in fireballs

from Grist:

Drought caused an Omaha street to erupt in fireballs
By Jess Zimmerman

An electrical fire in the Omaha, Neb. sewer system sent gouts of flame shooting out of manholes on Sunday, and knocked out power to the city’s downtown area. There are a lot of potential reasons for a sewer fire — electrical problems, too many farts, angry mutants. But in this case, we can blame it partially on climate change.

As Brian Merchant points out at Vice, the drought conditions in Nebraska set the stage for the disaster:

“It’s been dry, unusually dry, and with the moisture we’ve (most recently) had,” Omaha Public Power District vice president Tim Burke told a local Fox news team, “we’ve probably had some moisture get into cable or tape, something like that could have created the outage. That’s what our crews are so good about doing.” He believes that the fire started underground with a failure in their electrical equipment.

Scientists are being unusually non-weaselly about connecting this drought to climate change. So Omaha’s extraordinarily dry conditions, which made this fire more likely, are pretty definitely the result of all our up-fuckery of the planet. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/list/drought-caused-an-omaha-street-to-erupt-in-fireballs/

Hospital evacuated as Australia hit by heavy flooding

(CNN) -- Heavy flooding in Australia caused by torrential rains has forced mass evacuations from towns along the country's east coast, with critically-ill patients and newborns from one hospital being airlifted to safety.

The floods, which came in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Oswald, have killed four people so far, including a three-year-old boy who died after being hit by a falling tree in Brisbane, Australia's third largest city.

Bundaberg, a coastal town about 360 kilometers (220 miles) northwest of Brisbane, was particularly hard hit, with more than 2,000 homes inundated with water and a similar number of people evacuated, said mayor Mal Forman.

"We're like a little island. We have water either side of us and the water is flowing rapidly," Forman told CNN by telephone from his office in Bundaberg's town center.

"People are very bewildered." ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/29/world/asia/australia-queensland-flooding/?hpt=wo_c2

Bailout Big Pay


from the Working Life blog:

Bailout Big Pay
Posted on 28 January 2013

Don’t you feel good about bailing out the bastards who crashed the economy? Well, they certainly feel good about your contributions to saving their sorry asses — and they’ve been pocketing nice sums of money as a way of saying “thank you.”


All but one of the top executives at the failed insurer A.I.G. – which required more than $180 billion in emergency taxpayer financing – received pay packages worth more than $2 million. And 16 top executives at the three firms earned combined pay of more than $100 million.

“In 2012, these three TARP companies convinced Treasury to roll back its guidelines by approving multimillion-dollar pay packages, high cash salaries, huge pay raises and removing compensation tied to meeting performance metrics,” Christy Romero, the special inspector general, said in a statement. “Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers’ interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits.”

The report charges that Treasury has failed to rein in excessive pay at the three firms. It found that Treasury approved all pay raises requested for A.I.G., Ally and General Motors executives last year, with individual compensation increases ranging from $30,000 to $1 million. It also faults the Treasury overseer for allowing pay packages above what comparable executives at other firms receive.

The biggest problem with this, and the failure to indict and jail high executives for the illegal behavior, is that the lesson they learn is that there is no personal cost to failure. If you run a scam or, at best, you are incompetent and greedy, no big deal — you won’t face justice, you won’t lose your job and, even better, you will earn millions of dollars.

A sorry anniversary.....

President Delivers "State of the Union" 1-28-03
The U.S. Capitol

9:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens and fellow citizens: Every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year, we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead.

You and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to our country; we have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people. (Applause.)


Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, even while inspectors were in his country. Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons -- not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.

Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world. The 108 U.N. inspectors were sent to conduct -- were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

Grumpy cat mocks Hello Kitty

Right-wing whackjob David French: The Lawd says everyone should be packing heat.....

Conservative: Jesus Wants Everyone to Have a Giant Gun
David French interprets the Christian Bible as granting everyone a right to self-defense. He suggests that this means that God’s will is that people have access to guns.

January 28, 2013 |

Legislation aimed at reducing gun violence is “a limitation on a God-given right of man that has existed throughout the history of civil society,” according to an article published in the leading conservative opinion journal National Review.

The author, David French, interprets the Christian Bible as granting everyone a right to self-defense. He suggests that this, if true, means that God’s will is that people have access to guns, as they are the means for self defense:

In fact, Jesus’s disciples carried swords, and Jesus even said in some contexts the unarmed should arm themselves…What does all this mean? Essentially that gun control represents not merely a limitation on a constitutional right but a limitation on a God-given right of man that has existed throughout the history of civil society. All rights — of course — are subject to some limits (the right of free speech is not unlimited, for example), and there is much room for debate on the extent of those limits, but state action against the right of self-defense is by default a violation of the natural rights of man, and the state’s political judgment about the limitations of that right should be viewed with extreme skepticism and must overcome a heavy burden of justification.

Even if French is right about the Christian view of self-defense (though Jesus did have choice words about “ turning the other cheek“), it’s a logical fallacy to say this implies anything about restrictions on access to guns. Saying that people have a right to defend themselves if attacked isn’t the same thing as saying they should have a right to possess any conceivable means of defending themselves – presumably, French is fine with banning grenade launchers. The burden, instead, is on French to prove that universal background checks or limitations on assault weapon ownership somehow prevent people from defending themselves; to prove, in other words, that gun regulation is actually a restriction on the right of self-defense proper rather than a crime-prevention statute. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/conservative-jesus-wants-everyone-have-giant-gun

First extreme heat, now extreme flooding in Australia

BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) - Helicopters plucked dozens of stranded Australians to safety in dramatic rooftop rescues Monday as severe floods swept the northeast, killing four people and inundating thousands of homes.

The body of one man carried off by rising waters was found in the Queensland state capital Brisbane and another further north at Gympie, following the earlier discovery of an elderly man who died near the city of Bundaberg.

A pregnant woman and her three-year-old son were hospitalised with head injuries after a large tree fell on them as they were walking in Brisbane. The boy later died in hospital, Australian Associated Press reported late Monday.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced that an acute emergency was unfolding in Bundaberg, home to about 50,000 people some 360 kilometres (220 miles) north of Brisbane, with people scrambling to get out as the river hit a record peak. ...........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/world/15962939/major-floods-hammer-northern-australia/

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