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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 76,334

Journal Archives

We’re in the Early Stages of Largest Debt Default in US History

By Porter Stansberry, Daily Wealth:

We are in the early stages of a great debt default – the largest in U.S. history.

We know roughly the size and scope of the coming default wave because we know the history of the U.S. corporate debt market. As the sizes of corporate bond deals have grown over time, each wave of defaults has led to bigger and bigger defaults. Here’s the pattern.

Default rates on “speculative” bonds are normally less than 5%. That means less than 5% of noninvestment-grade, U.S. corporate debt defaults in a year. But when the rate breaks above that threshold, it goes through a three- to four-year period of rising, peaking, and then normalizing defaults. This is the normal credit cycle. It’s part of a healthy capitalistic economy, where entrepreneurs have access to capital and frequently go bankrupt.

If you’ll look back through recent years, you can see this cycle clearly…

In 1990, default rates jumped from around 4% to more than 8%. The next year (1991), default rates peaked at more than 11%. Then default rates began to decline, reaching 6% in 1992. By 1993, the crisis was over and default rates normalized at 2.5%. Around $50 billion in corporate debt went into default during this cycle of distress. ................(more)


Vet: "Don't Thank Me Anymore ... Just Care for Veterans Who Return and Work to End All War"

Don't Thank Me Anymore ... Just Care for Veterans Who Return and Work to End All War

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 00:00
By Michael McPhearson, Common Dreams | Op-Ed

This past Saturday morning in Saint Louis, MO I was walking home when I saw a people gathering and portions of the street being blocked. I live downtown, so it could have been another run, walk or festival. I asked someone who looked like a participant and he told me it was for the Veterans Day Parade. I was a bit surprised because Veterans Day is Wednesday. He went on to say the parade was being done on Saturday because planners were not sure if they could get enough parade spectators on Wednesday. I'm not sure if he was right about why it was decided to have the parade on Saturday, but it makes sense and is an example of our society celebrating veterans but not really caring that much about us.

Many years ago, I became fed up with the hollow "thank yous" and stopped celebrating Veterans Day. Today, I join with Veterans For Peace in a call to Reclaim November 11th as Armistice Day - a day to think about peace and thank those who served by working to end war. I'm tired of us vets being used for war and then many of us being pretty much discarded. Instead of thanking us, change how we are treated and work to end war. That is a real tribute.

Do you know that an average of 22 veterans die by suicide every day? That means 22 died Saturday and through November 11th, 88 more veterans will die. Saturday's parade and November 11th means nothing to these 110 veterans. To illustrate the severity of this epidemic, by November 11th next year, 8,030 veterans will have died by suicide.

Suicide is the direst challenge facing veterans, but there are many others. Recently, after years of higher unemployment rates for veterans who joined the military after September 11, 2001 than their civilian counterparts, veterans' rates are lower at 4.6% - than the national average of 5%, as reported in USA Today, November 10, 2015. Yet, veterans between the age of 18 and 24 continue to face high unemployment at 10.4%, nearly identical to the 10.1% unemployment figure for civilians in the same bracket. However, these numbers do not tell the full story. Due to the slow economic recovery, many discouraged people have dropped out of the job market. Good paying jobs are hard to find. Well-paying low-skilled jobs nearly don't exist. Veterans negotiate these same obstacles while at the same time facing other challenges.

Homelessness continues to be a major problem for veterans. According to information from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, we veterans face homelessness because of "mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About 12% of the adult homeless population are veterans." ..................(more)


US Freight “Plummets,” Worst October since 2011

US Freight “Plummets,” Worst October since 2011
by Wolf Richter • November 12, 2015

[font color="blue"]Trucking, rail, all of it.[/font]

Transportation is a gauge into how well the real economy is doing. And it just keeps getting worse.

In October, the number of freight shipments in North America fell from September, in line with the patterns of the past few years, but it fell more sharply than before. And year-over-year, shipments dropped 5.3% to hit the worst level for October since 2011, according to the Cass Freight Index, after having already plunged in the prior month to the worst level for a September since 2010.

Cass put it this way:

This month’s decline was much sharper than in recent years and can be directly correlated to falling imports and exports as well as decreased domestic manufacturing levels. Burdened by bloated inventories, and under the shadow of a possible interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve, businesses cut back on new orders placed in the last three or four months. This is resulting in lower import volumes, less freight to move, and faltering industrial production. With the dollar still strengthening, export growth decelerated in the third quarter.

With the exception of January and February, the index has been lower year-over-year every month, which makes for a very crummy year:

The index is broad. It tracks shipment data from all kinds of companies, no matter what mode of shipping they choose, including truck and rail. But it does not cover bulk commodities, such as oil, wheat, coal, etc. It’s based on “$26 billion in freight transactions processed by Cass annually on behalf of its client base of hundreds of large shippers,” as Cass explains. These shippers form a “broad sample” in all kinds of sectors, including consumer packaged goods, food, automotive, chemical, OEM, heavy equipment, and retail.

Ah, retail…. Retailers are already blaming the debacle on the weather. ...............(more)


Satanic Latte (cartoon)


The pinnacle of right-wing fundie whackjobishness: Pastor Kevin Swanson

This is from the National Religious Liberties conference, which was attended by Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee

Boorish Donald Trump sums up America's policy in the Middle East for the last half century

"Donald Trump says any plan to defeat the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) will hinge on cutting off the revenue stream that the terrorist group takes in from oil.

“I’m looking to take the oil. I want to take the oil. I want the oil,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

“We have to stop the source of money, and the source of money is oil,” the businessman added.

He said the Russian plane crash that ISIS has claimed responsibility for poses a new threat to American interests.

“You know, if you stop transportation, I mean, you’re talking about the blood — the blood of the world and we’re going to have to be very, very strong,” Trump said.

“We’re going to have to take away the energy, the fuel, the money from ISIS.””*


Terrorizing Students: The Criminalization of Children in the US Police State

Terrorizing Students: The Criminalization of Children in the US Police State

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 00:00
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

Violence has become the problem of the 21st century. This claim is indebted to W. E. B. Dubois' much quoted notion that "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of color line."For Du Bois, racism was one of the most pressing problems of the time and could not be understood outside of the gross inequities of wealth, power, opportunity and access. What he did not anticipate was the degree to which the violent character of racism would come to define the 21st century on a national and global level. What he described as a ruthless ideology and attitude of racist hostility would later mutate in the new millennium into a raw display of police brutality and state terrorism, camouflaged under the guise of an alleged post-racial society.

As brutalism comes to shape every public encounter, democratic values and the ethical imagination wither under the weight of neoliberal capitalism and "post-racial" racism. Giving way to the poisonous logics of self-interest, privatization and the unfettered drive for wealth, US society reneges on the social contract and assumes the role of a punishing state. Under the regime of a predatory neoliberalism, compassion and respect are viewed increasingly with contempt while the spectacle of violence titillates the multitudes and moves markets. A free-market mentality now drives and corrupts politics, destroys social protections, celebrates a hyper-competitiveness and deregulates economic activity. All human activities, practices and institutions are now subject to market principles. Public goods such as toll roads, libraries and schools are privatized as the very idea of the common good becomes an object of disdain. Consequently, under such circumstances, governing principles such as equality, justice and fairness begin to disappear from the discourse of politics. As politics is emptied of any sense of social responsibility, the apostles of casino capitalism preach that allegedly amoral economic activity exacts no social costs, and in doing so, they accelerate the expanding wasteland of disposable goods and people. One consequence is a vast and growing landscape of human suffering, amplified by a mass-mediated metaphysics of retribution and violence that more and more creeps into every commanding institution of US society, now serving myriad functions such as sport, spectacle, entertainment, and punishment.

The neoliberal machinery of social death increasingly extends its reach across US society, dissolving the bonds of sociality and undermining social obligations. One outcome is the proliferation of neglect, exploitation and suffering among diverse populations, including poor and uneducated middle-aged whites, who are dying prematurely and unnecessarily in an epidemic of substance abuse, suicide and poor health. Neoliberalism's unbridled social Darwinism, elimination of social provisions and culture of cruelty forces people out of Medicaid, pushes millions into poverty and eliminates social protections. Alain Badiou rightly calls those who run our current political system a "regime of gangsters." These so-called gangsters produce a unique form of social violence. According to Badiou, they:

Privatize everything. Abolish help for the weak, the solitary, the sick and the unemployed. Abolish all aid for everyone except the banks. Don't look after the poor; let the elderly die. Reduce the wages of the poor, but reduce the taxes on the rich. Make everyone work until they are ninety. Only teach mathematics to traders, reading to big property-owners and history to on-duty ideologues. And the execution of these commands will in fact ruin the lives of millions of people.

Increasingly, institutions such as schools, prisons, detention centers, and our major economic, cultural and social institutions are being organized around the production of violence. Rather than promote democratic values and a respect for others or embrace civic values, they often function largely to humiliate, punish and demonize any vestige of social responsibility. Violence permeates and drives foreign policy, dominates popular culture and increasingly is used to criminalize a wide range of social behaviors, especially among Black people. ................(more)


Amy Goodman: Doesn't Anyone Remember the Geneva Convention?

Even War Has Rules

Posted on Nov 11, 2015
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan

No one disputes that the United States military attacked a hospital in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan, in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Oct. 3. The airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders facility, the Kunduz Trauma Center, was devastating, with at least 30 people killed. Patients in the only intensive-care unit in the region were burned to death in their beds. Medical staffers were killed by shrapnel bombs that tore off their limbs. At least one person was decapitated. As people fled the burning building, the U.S. AC-130 gunship slaughtered them from above with automatic fire. Doctors and other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a different part of the compound.

The Kunduz Trauma Center had been in the same place, performing thousands of surgeries and treating tens of thousands of people in the emergency room, for four years. Doctors Without Borders, known internationally by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, had repeatedly provided the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital complex to U.S. and Afghan government officials. “As a precondition of opening the hospital, we negotiated with both the U.S., Afghan, NATO, as well as opposition forces, with the Taliban. We received the support of all of those groups to operate this hospital,” Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders USA, told us on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “Part of that was sharing our GPS coordinates with the various parties. We shared them as recently as September 29th.”

Sept. 29 was an important day in Kunduz. Battles for control of the city had been raging since April. On Sept. 28, a Taliban force reported to be only 500 strong routed 7,000 Afghan National Army troops, capturing Kunduz. This was the first major city that the Taliban had taken since the U.S invasion and occupation began in October 2001, when the Taliban were driven from power. MSF knew that the front line of the conflict had come to their door, and that there would be many more casualties flooding the hospital. “It was probably the most well-lit structure in the entire city of Kunduz, which has about 300,000 people in it, because we were running generators that night,” Cone said.

When asked if the attack constituted a war crime, Cone employed the precise language of the humanitarian-aid worker: “There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not this was a mistake. This is not necessarily the threshold that has to be crossed for this to constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian law. If the military fails to distinguish between military and civilian targets, as is in this case, from our standpoint, from everything we know, then they’re guilty.” ..................(more)


Doctors Without Borders rejects US claims, demands war crimes probe

Published on Nov 9, 2015

Democracynow.org - Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continues to demand an independent war crimes probe of the U.S. bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after releasing its own preliminary investigation. The U.S. airstrike on October 3 killed at least 30 people, including 13 staff members, 10 patients and seven unrecognizable victims yet to be identified. In a new report based on interviews with dozens of witnesses, MSF describes patients burning in their beds, medical staff who were decapitated and lost limbs, and staff members shot from the air while they fled the burning building. Doctors and other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a different part of the compound. MSF says it provided the GPS coordinates to U.S. and Afghan officials weeks before and that the strikes continued for half an hour after U.S. and Afghan authorities were told the hospital was being bombed. We are joined by Jason Cone, executive director of Doctors Without Borders USA.

Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,300+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9am ET: http://democracynow.org

For Profit College, Student Loan Default, and the Economic Impact of Student Loans

For Profit College, Student Loan Default, and the Economic Impact of Student Loans
run75441 | November 8, 2015 8:00 pm

For Profit Goes on Probation

The University of Phoenix has been placed on probation by the Department of Defense preventing the university from recruiting on military bases. The probation comes after the Federal Trade Commission and the California Attorney General’s investigation into the University of Phoenix recruiting methods, its high costs, and the resulting poor student performance.

This is not the first time Phoenix-U has been in trouble. In 2013 the University of Phoenix was threatened with probation by the accreditation board for a lack of “‘autonomy’ from its corporate parent -– a development that prevented the university from achieving its ‘mission and successful operation.’” In other words, the for-profit university #1 priority by its owners was to turn a profit at the expense of teaching, retaining, and graduating its students. This is precisely what I had alluded to previously on higher rates of defaults.

Student Loan Defaults

An interesting analysis by the NY Fed suggests students with lower amounts of student loan debt are more likely to default than those students with higher amounts. This is a new take on student loan debt and associated default as it was always thought the higher the debt the greater risk of default. Student Loan Debt has increased as more attend college, costs to attain an undergraduate degree have increased, even higher costs are sustained for Masters and Doctorate degrees, and students have been staying in school longer. Coming out of college the study finds amongst students loan debt is distributed rather evenly over time with one third being held by those in the 20s, one third held by those in the thirties, and one third held by those forty years of age and older. A large percentage of those borrowers or ~39% of them have loans of less than $10,000 and it is the holders of debt who have been defaulting at a higher percentage. The study goes on to break it down as to why they might be defaulting more frequently than tose with higher amounts of debt.

Using Equifax credit data, the NY Fed broke down the data into loan origination cohorts of student loan borrowers and using the same Equifax data, developed default rates for each cohort. Taking the origination date information for each academic year, the Fed was able to assign borrowers to loan-origination-completion-cohorts. The analysis did not reveal dropout or graduation information; however by using loan origination data, the methodology used does approximate whether students left school finished their education or just left school. ...............(more)

- See more at: http://angrybearblog.com/2015/11/for-profit-college-student-loan-default-and-the-economic-impact-of-student-loans.html?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=for-profit-college-student-loan-default-and-the-economic-impact-of-student-loans#sthash.fTTUuHu0.dpuf

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