HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » marmar » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next »


Profile Information

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

Journal Archives

Now Flying Below “Stall Speed”

[font color="blue"]Recession Watch: Looking at Retail Sales for Clues.[/font]

By Larry Kummer, editor of the Fabius Maximus website:

We watch the trend in retail sales because it shows how shocks in the US economy’s cyclical industries ripple outwards, first slowing sales growth — then pulling it down.

In April 2000 sales stalled; in March 2001 the recession began. There was no plateau before the Great Recession; sales peaked one month before the recession began. And now, according to the Commerce Department, October 2015 was the third month of flat retail sales; they’re down 1% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) since July excluding autos. Autos have been one of the strongest industries during the recovery. Excluding autos, retail sales are down year-over-year in real terms.

Auto sales have been a prop for the economy. They’ve been boosted by imprudent lending, with the average auto loan rising to $27,000 when the median household income of only $53,000, for an astonishing 65-month maturity — with 19.3% of auto loans going to people with subprime credit ratings.

The monthly volatility of auto sales makes trend changes difficult to see; this should be high on your list of things to watch. The inevitable crash in auto sales will be ugly, dragging down the entire economy. Automobiles have a higher multiplier effect on the economy than most retail products due to their size and complexity — consuming large amounts of raw materials and labor, requiring people to transport, sell, and finance them. ..................(more)


L'amour de partout dans le monde

Je t'aime.......to the greatest city in the world.

I took this walking around in the rain on the Champs Elysees when I visited a couple of years ago. There's no city in the world I love more.

Global Warming Is Draining the Waters of Life

This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—Up to two billion people who depend on winter snow to deliver their summer water could see shortages by 2060 as upland and mountain snowpacks continue to dwindle.

An estimated 300 million people could find, 45 years on, that they simply won’t have enough water for all their needs, according to new research.

Climate change driven by rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide—in turn, fed by human combustion of fossil fuels—may already be affecting global precipitation. Researchers have consistently found that much of the world’s drylands will increase as global average temperatures rise.

But warmer temperatures increasingly also mean the water that once fell as snow, to be preserved until the summer, now falls as winter rain, and runs off directly. The snow that does fall is settling at ever higher altitudes and melting ever earlier. .......................(more)


Massive Hack of 70 Million Prisoner Phone Calls Indicates Violations of Attorney-Client Privilege

(The Intercept) AN ENORMOUS CACHE of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation’s prisons and jails. The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. The calls span a nearly two-and-a-half year period, beginning in December 2011 and ending in the spring of 2014.

Particularly notable within the vast trove of phone records are what appear to be at least 14,000 recorded conversations between inmates and attorneys, a strong indication that at least some of the recordings are likely confidential and privileged legal communications — calls that never should have been recorded in the first place. The recording of legally protected attorney-client communications — and the storage of those recordings — potentially offends constitutional protections, including the right to effective assistance of counsel and of access to the courts.

“This may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history, and that’s certainly something to be concerned about,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “A lot of prisoner rights are limited because of their conviction and incarceration, but their protection by the attorney-client privilege is not.”

The blanket recording of detainee phone calls is a fairly recent phenomenon, the official purpose of which is to protect individuals both inside and outside the nation’s prisons and jails. The Securus hack offers a rare look at this little-considered form of mass surveillance of people behind bars — and of their loved ones on the outside — raising questions about its scope and practicality, as well as its dangers. ....................(more)


It’s a $cam!: The American Way of War in the Twenty-First Century

from TomDispatch:

It’s a $cam!
The American Way of War in the Twenty-First Century

By Tom Engelhardt

Let’s begin with the $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills, Iraqi oil money held in the U.S. The Bush administration began flying it into Baghdad on C-130s soon after U.S. troops entered that city in April 2003. Essentially dumped into the void that had once been the Iraqi state, at least $1.2 to $1.6 billion of it was stolen and ended up years later in a mysterious bunker in Lebanon. And that’s just what happened as the starting gun went off.

It’s never ended. In 2011, the final report of the congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Contracting estimated that somewhere between $31 billion and $60 billion taxpayer dollars had been lost to fraud and waste in the American “reconstruction” of Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, for instance, there was that $75 million police academy, initially hailed “as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security.” It was, however, so poorly constructed that it proved a health hazard. In 2006, “feces and urine rained from the ceilings in [its] student barracks” and that was only the beginning of its problems.

When the bad press started, Parsons Corporation, the private contractor that built it, agreed to fix it for nothing more than the princely sum already paid. A year later, a New York Times reporter visited and found that “the ceilings are still stained with excrement, parts of the structures are crumbling, and sections of the buildings are unusable because the toilets are filthy and nonfunctioning.” This seems to have been par for the course. Typically enough, the Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility, a $40 million prison Parsons also contracted to build, was never even finished.

And these were hardly isolated cases or problems specific to Iraq. Consider, for instance, those police stations in Afghanistan believed to be crucial to “standing up” a new security force in that country. Despite the money poured into them and endless cost overruns, many were either never completed or never built, leaving new Afghan police recruits camping out. And the police were hardly alone. Take the $3.4 million unfinished teacher-training center in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, that an Iraqi company was contracted to build (using, of course, American dollars) and from which it walked away, money in hand.

And why stick to buildings, when there were those Iraqi roads to nowhere paid for by American dollars? At least one of them did at least prove useful to insurgent groups moving their guerrillas around (like the $37 million bridge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built between Afghanistan and Tajikistan that helped facilitate the region's booming drug trade in opium and heroin). In Afghanistan, Highway 1 between the capital Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, unofficially dubbed the “highway to nowhere,” was so poorly constructed that it began crumbling in its first Afghan winter. ................(more)


GOP Debate (cartoon)


America, your corporate overlords want to know why you aren't using the gas savings to go shopping..

Sales at U.S. retailers rose less than forecast in October as consumers pocketed the money saved after fueling up their cars.

Purchases increased 0.1 percent after being little changed in September, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The median forecast of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.3 percent gain. Receipts at service stations dropped for a fourth consecutive month as gasoline prices declined.

Consumers are showing some caution going into the key holiday-shopping season even as hiring reached a 10-month high in October and subdued prices at the pump support household budgets. The possibility of the Federal Reserve’s first increase in the benchmark interest rate since 2006, in addition to the fluctuations in stock prices, could limit Americans’ enthusiasm for shopping sprees.

“The consumer still is sitting on a fair amount of windfall from low gasoline prices,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, who correctly projected the change in sales. “I think we’ll see the consumer spend a little bit more aggressively through the rest of this year and into 2016 as we get a little bit more wage growth.” ...........(more)


The Missouri Tigers and the Hidden History of Black College Football Activists

by Dave Zirin

The Nation In 1966, Calvin Hill was preparing to play football at Yale University. Hill, an African American, was a star quarterback at his high school. But upon arriving at Yale, his coaches told him that he would be playing running back instead. One day a group of black student activists showed up at his dorm room and asked him to lunch. As Hill remembered in 1988, they said to him, “‘How would you feel about us picketing the offices because they shifted you from quarterback?’ I’d [just] been there four or five days.… What the hell was happening at Yale?”

This is one of many stories from the 1960s of campus activists trying to connect with student athletes. These groups were traditionally rivals, but the black freedom struggle and the fight against the Vietnam War had created a common generational cause. These struggles also inspired many players to take actions of their own.

 This largely forgotten history has taken on a new urgency following the Missouri Tigers football strike against racism, which ended after University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned. Some commentators have called these actions unprecedented, but they’re not. In addition to recent examples of restive college football players, which includes the recent union battle at Northwestern and the 2013 players strike at Grambling, there is also an extensive history of student-athlete activism from the late 1960s. It’s a history worth knowing, one that could tell us something about our own future.

Some examples:

In 1967, 35 black players on the University of California, Berkeley, football team boycotted spring practice until more black coaches were hired. John Erby was soon named as the first black assistant coach at UCB.

In 1968, players at Michigan State delivered a list of demands to coach Biggie Munn. They refused to play unless a search was conducted for a black coaches, trainers, and cheerleaders. Munn refused to even take their demands to the school president. Twenty four players walked out of spring practice and two more were purposefully disrupted and cancelled. They won.

At the University of Washington, athletes won a study of racism in the athletic department after accusing the football trainer of making racial slurs and providing inadequate treatment for injuries.

In 1972, the Huskies refused to take the field for the second half of a game on homecoming weekend, unless a statement was read by the stadium sound system against the war in Vietnam.

In May 1969, athletes and coaches at Howard University threatened to quit unless athletic director Samuel Barnes was removed. They also wanted “better food, more medical attention, streamlined means of transportation, more equipment, better living conditions and a full-time sports information director.” Student assembly president Ewart Brown Jr., a member of the track team burned his Howard varsity sweatshirt. As it went up in ashes, football player Harold Orr said, “This is what we think of the athletic program. (We need a) cremation of the old system.”

At Syracuse, nine black players, the “Syracuse Nine,” walked out of spring practice because their coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, reneged on a promise to hire a black coach. The school president ordered Schwartzwalder to hire one black coach and he did, but the coach also kicked all the players off the team. By the 1970 season, Syracuse had a black coach, and no black players.

Up until this era, sports were used to differentiate the “disgusting hippies” from the “All-American” majority. As then congressman—and former football star—Gerald Ford said: “Personally, I’m glad that thousands of fine Americans can spend this Saturday afternoon ‘knocking each other down’ in a spirit of clean sportsmanship and keen competition instead of assaulting Pentagon soldiers or policemen with ‘peace’ placards and filthy words.” ...............(more)


Last Two Times this Happened, it was Mayhem

Last Two Times this Happened, it was Mayhem
by Wolf Richter • November 13, 2015

[font color="blue"]Moody’s Warns about Credit Crunch, Unnerves with Parallels to 2008![/font]

The US bond market has swollen to $40 trillion. Over $8 trillion are corporate bonds, up a mind-boggling 50% from when the Fed unleashed its zero-interest-rate policy and QE seven years ago.

So far this year, $1.34 trillion in new corporate bonds have been issued, up 6.8% from last year at this time, which had already been a record year, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). Bond issuance in 2012, 2013, and 2014 set ever crazier records; 2015 is on track to set an even crazier one: close to $1.5 trillion.

That’s a lot of newly borrowed moolah. Much of it is being used to pay for dividends, stock buybacks, M&A, and other worthy financial engineering projects designed to inflate stock prices, though that strategy has turned into a sorry dud this year.

Junk bonds now make up $1.8 trillion of this pile of corporate debt, nearly double the $944 billion in junk bonds outstanding at the end of 2008 before the Fed saved the economy, so to speak. ...............(more)


Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next »