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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,497

Journal Archives

A Pessimistic Look at Holiday Sales

from 24/7WallStreet:

A Pessimistic Look at Holiday Sales
Posted: November 28, 2012 at 6:30 am

Most evaluations of holiday sales so far have been positive. Black Friday weekend brought record numbers of shoppers into stores, according to groups such as the National Retail Federation (NRF). Research firm Comscore claims that e-commerce sales reached record levels. However, many estimates of how well retailers have done during the holidays do not match one another. And some are very pessimistic, which raises the question of whether holiday sales were really strong at all.

New data from Gallup shows:

Self-reported U.S. consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $67 per day in the week ending Nov. 25, including Black Friday weekend. This is down from $83 a year ago and the $79 comparable for 2010, and essentially matches the 2009 weekly comparable of $69.

By Gallup’s measure, spending was not much better than at the bottom of the recession.

The difference between Gallup and much of the balance of the research on holiday activity is that it is “self-reported.” Data from institutions like the NRF are based on outside evaluations of foot traffic and spending measured though evaluations not based on the consumer’s own responses. It could be argued that the difference makes the Gallup data more accurate, because it comes from the consumer’s own mouth. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://247wallst.com/2012/11/28/a-pessimistic-look-at-holiday-sales/#ixzz2DXBXTrIQ

VT City Fights Planned F-35 Jet Tests That Would Make 1,000+ Homes "Incompatible with Residential...

AlterNet / By William Boardman

Vt. City Fights Planned F-35 Jet Testing That Would Make 1,000+ Homes "Incompatible with Residential Use"
The Burlington city council is determined to defend itself against the Defense Dept.

November 28, 2012 |

Faced with the community-damaging possibility of the U.S. Air Force basing its soon-to-be-tested F-35 nuclear capable fighter bomber at the Burlington Airport in their city, South Burlington’s City Councilors have once again expressed carefully and coherently argued opposition to the plan that the Air Force’s own study found would render more than a thousand nearby homes “incompatible with residential use.”

The impact of an F-35 base would, by the Air Force’s own calculation, destroy houses and displace people on a scale akin to a military campaign. Of all its proposed basing options, the Air Force acknowledges that by far the most damaging civilian impact would be felt by South Burlington and Winooski.

With that level of destruction in mind, together with the reality that it would fall, like class warfare, on the less well off, the city council has stated its determination to defend its community and its residents “against industrial, military, and political interests,” against what some have called vulture capitalism.

In response to two recent pro-F-35 petitions from regional business groups, the city council met November 23 and voted 4-0 with one member absent to approve similar three-page, single-spaced, analytical responses to the two sets of petitioners, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (largely unaffected by the air base) and Business Development of Montpelier (the state capitol, some 35 miles away) . ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/vt-city-fights-planned-f-35-jet-testing-would-make-1000-homes-incompatible-residential-use

Ron Paul’s Appalling World View

from Consortium News:

Ron Paul’s Appalling World View
November 27, 2012

Exclusive: There was buzz on the Internet after libertarian Ron Paul delivered what was billed as his final address in Congress. But his near-hour-long speech sounded more like the ramblings of a right-wing crank than the coherent thoughts of the principled idealist that his fans rave about, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Rep. Ron Paul, an icon to the libertarian Right and to some on the anti-war Left, gave a farewell address to Congress that expressed his neo-Confederate interpretation of the Constitution and his anti-historical view of the supposedly good old days of laissez-faire capitalism.

In a near-hour-long rambling speechon Nov. 14, Paul also revealed himself to be an opponent of “pure democracy” because government by the people and for the people tends to infringe on the “liberty” of businessmen who, in Paul’s ideal world, should be allowed to do pretty much whatever they want to the less privileged.

In Paul’s version of history, the United States lost its way at the advent of the Progressive Era about a century ago. “The majority of Americans and many government officials agreed that sacrificing some liberty was necessary to carry out what some claimed to be ‘progressive’ ideas,” said the 77-year-old Texas Republican. “Pure democracy became acceptable.”

Before then, everything was working just fine, in Paul’s view. But the reality was anything but wonderful for the vast majority of Americans. A century ago, women were denied the vote by law and many non-white males were denied the vote in practice. Uppity blacks were frequently lynched. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/11/27/ron-pauls-appalling-world-view/

Dan Savage: All-American

from the Detroit Metro Times:

Dan Savage: All-American
Longtime sex columnist on fatherhood, ethics, politics and freedom

By Michael Jackman
Published: November 28, 2012

Dan Savage would be the first to admit that, when he started his column 20-plus years ago, he had no idea he'd be where he is today. Roving the country doing speaking tours, maintaining a weekly schedule with his podcast, author of several books, writer of opinion columns for such newspapers as The New York Times, Savage has slipped the sultry bonds of sex advice to become something more, a sort of ethicist for the growing progressive wing of American culture. Few writers enjoy such wide readership, or have created so many recent coinages, such as "DTMFA," "GGG" and, perhaps most notably, "Santorum."

Similarly, how could Savage have known two brief decades ago what the world would be like today? With marriage equality gaining increasing acceptance (according to Marriage Equality USA, 48 percent of Americans live in states, counties or cities that recognize legal relationships beyond one-man-one-woman), and the gays and lesbians entering the mainstream of American life to a greater extent than ever before, the LGBT community has made remarkable strides since the early 1990s. And even straight culture has become less priggish during that time, with a young generation that's better educated about sexuality, more sex-positive in outlook, and largely viewing sexual expression as a human right.

And that's largely thanks to, well, folks like Dan Savage, who've bypassed our hysterical national puritanism and addressed sex with a candor that has leveled the playing field for all of us — gay and straight — in the name of freedom. Frankly, what could be more all-American than that?


mt: Now that you've said it, I'm sure now we can tune into YouTube in two or three weeks and it'll probably be there. (laughter) Did you always have kind of a keen interest in morality?

Savage: Well I was raised Catholic, my dad was a preacher and a Catholic deacon and my mom was a Catholic lay minister and ... I'm in my 40s, and there were a lot of adults around my house when I was a kid, in the late '60s and early '70s, when I was first becoming conscious, arguing about the civil rights movement, arguing about the women's rights movement — social justice movements, for lack of a better phrase. Debates about politics were always really present. One of my earliest memories is my mother and father having a knock-down, drag-out argument about Watergate and Richard Nixon. That's part of what passed for entertainment in my family. We argued about politics over the dinner table and everybody debated everything and my grandfather, with whom we lived, was a newspaperman, so the house was full of newspapers and it was how you passed the time between high school and death, arguing about politics and stuff. Basically, yeah, my parents kind of instilled an interest in morality. And the intersection of morality and politics I find kind of fascinating. Being gay, sex is inherently interesting because sex is the central mystery of your existence, sex is what sets you off and it's the problem you have to solve: "Why am I this when most people are that?" Sexuality can lead to a sort of estrangement from your family, it can bring you into conflict with the faith in which you were raised, and you do a lot of thinking about it. You can't avoid it. Every gay person, no matter how poorly educated they are, is in their soul a philosopher because they stand there going, "Why me? How'd this happen?" ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/news/dan-savage-all-american-1.1408987

Jim Crow's drug war

from the Detroit Metro Times:

By Larry Gabriel
Published: November 28, 2012

Attorney Michelle Alexander has been shaking things up across the nation over the past two years, yet you may not have heard of her. Her book, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, takes on race and the War on Drugs in ways few people would dare to approach. The point of her book is that there is a new Jim Crow system that traps many African-Americans in a permanent underclass. That system is driven by the War on Drugs which causes many young people to be stigmatized by felony records — for a victimless crime — that keep them from employment, education and housing.

"The arguments and rationalizations that have been trotted out in support of racial exclusion and discrimination in its various forms have changed and evolved, but the outcome has remained largely the same. ... Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color 'criminals' and then engage in all of the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans."

Alexander, a former ACLU lawyer and now associate professor of law at Ohio State University, was a key player in convincing the NAACP to call for the end of the War on Drugs at its national convention in 2011. Last year, she spoke to members of the Michigan Legislature, which led Republican Rep. Rick Olson to begin writing legislation (not yet introduced) that would legalize marijuana in Michigan. This Sunday, she will be the keynote speaker at Central United Methodist Church's Eighth Annual Peace and Justice Banquet, a fundraiser for the church's progressive work in the community.

"We need occasions where the people who are fighting for peace and justice can gather in a place where they know they are not alone," says the Rev. Ed Rowe, pastor at Central United. "It's a gathering of unions and peace networks and people fighting for everything from ecological issues to those trying to eradicate white racism. It looks like the struggle continues. Defeating the emergency manager law is one occasion where we know our efforts together had impact, but if we think for one minute we can stop working because of one victory, we are badly mistaken." ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/columns/jim-crow-s-drug-war-1.1408994

Archaelogical Discovery (cartoon)

Meltdown of the Right in France

PARIS — Former prime minister Francois Fillon, outraged at losing a chaotic internal leadership vote marred by cheating, threatened Tuesday to split off from France's main conservative party and take his followers into a separate parliamentary group.

Fillon said the breakaway faction could return to the mother party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), if a new leadership election were held within three months to eliminate the doubt as to who would assume former president Nicolas Sarkozy's mantle as head of the right-wing opposition in France.

Fillon's victorious rival, Jean-Francois Cope, had already rejected proposals for a new vote. But prodded by Sarkozy, Cope and Fillon compromised late Tuesday on an agreement to hold a referendum among the UMP faithful to see if they want to hold a second vote, probably early next year.

The fragile compromise calmed for the moment what had become an embarrassing public catfight over who was the rightful UMP president. But it left the two men arrayed in angry confrontation, with each claiming to be in charge and blaming the other for weakening the party when it should be attacking President Francois Hollande's ruling Socialists. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/international/181049791.html

Hot and Crusty Bakery Workers Seal the Deal on Unionization

from YES! Magazine:

After 55 days on the picket line, the workers of the Manhattan restaurant and bakery Hot and Crusty celebrated a precedent-making collective bargaining agreement at a rally and press conference Friday, November 16.

In May the workers voted to form a union, the Hot and Crusty Workers Association, after enduring years of wage theft, unsafe conditions, and verbal harassment from managers. Instead of recognizing the union, however, the restaurant’s former owners shut the store down on August 31, prompting nearly two months of protest that the current agreement brings to an end.

The agreement, which the union’s lawyer Eugene Eisner calls “unheard-of for low-wage, foreign-born workers in the restaurant industry,” was officially announced on October 26. It includes wage increases, paid vacation and sick days, grievance and arbitration procedures, and a union hiring hall.

The store’s owners have promised that the restaurant, located at 63rd Street and 2nd Avenue, will reopen under the new agreement on December 17. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/hot-and-crusty-workers-seal-deal-unionization

Is it kissing him, or tasting him?

California’s Central Valley is tired of taking Los Angeles’ shit

from Grist:

California’s Central Valley is tired of taking Los Angeles’ shit
By Philip Bump

From the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles’ land in Kern County features a red barn and a sign: “Green Acres Farm.” The city’s website proudly describes the corn, alfalfa and oats that are grown there.

Hey, sounds nice! Except:

The city of Los Angeles … has been sending up more than 20 truckloads a day of “wet cake” from the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant near LAX. …

Most experts say recycled products such as sludge and compost are safe if handled properly. But Kern County officials filed court declarations from scientists who are skeptical. Portland State University engineer Gwynn Johnson, for instance, said research shows that biosolids contain metals, antibiotics and flame retardants, and that more study is needed to determine the implications for “human health and the environment.”

Residents tend to focus on the “ick” factor.

Ronald Hurlbert, who owned property near one sludge operation that at one point received waste from Orange County, said the odor was “virtually unbearable (like a well-used bathroom at LAX),” according to a sworn declaration filed in court by Kern County officials.

At issue: Los Angeles’ endless supply of solid waste. Not, you know, garbage. Waste. Much of which is shipped north from the city every day into California’s agricultural heartland, the Central Valley — where it is increasingly unwelcome. This is the downside to recycling: Sometimes, no one wants to do (or live near) the dirty work.

One of the most bitter battles in California is over sludge, the batter-like material left over after treatment plants finish cleaning and draining what is flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink.

“Batter-like.” Let that one marinate in your brain for a while. Until the ’80s, the poo-batter was dumped in the ocean — until someone figured out that dumping lightly processed feces into the sea was a form of pollution. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/news/californias-central-valley-is-tired-of-taking-los-angeles-shit/

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