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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

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What's on the bottom of your shoe? (cartoon)





Charles Ferguson's 'Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking ..


AlterNet / By Don Hazen and Charles Ferguson

Charles Ferguson's 'Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America'
AlterNet Executive Editor Don Hazen talks to Ferguson, the Academy Award winner for "Inside Job," about his new book on the rapid rise of "Oligarchy America."

May 29, 2012 |


Charles Ferguson has followed up his Academy Award-winning documentary film Inside Job, with a hot potato of a new book: Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America (Crown Business).


Ferguson, who lives at the far west end of Soho in New York City, spent a lot of time around Prince and Mercer streets when working on Inside Job, so I met him at the Mercer Hotel on the day his book was officially published.

The title of Ferguson’s book certainly gets the reader’s attention, and he powerfully delivers the goods, with a scathing, detailed history of what led to the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression. Ferguson takes the reader on a revealing journey -- a sordid and corrupt trail that leads from the Pandora’s box of deregulation from 1980 through 2000, through the two major economic bubbles. The first was the dot.com stock market bubble of 2000, exacerbated by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Then came the much larger housing/mortgage bubble, fueled by sub-prime lending and the emergence of a host of new esoteric financial tools, meant to protect investments -- in fact, they did the opposite, provoking the financial crash.

The economic disaster was driven, Ferguson writes, by a combination of “very low interest rates, pervasive dishonesty through the financial system, massive lending fraud, speculation, demand for high yield securities, and not insignificantly, a squeezed American consumer desperate to maintain living standards, and told by everyone – including George Bush and Alan Greenspan, the brokers and the banks, that home borrowing was the way to do it.”

Along the way, Ferguson debunks the right-wing meme that Freddie and Fannie Mae caused the bubble; he holds the pure private sector responsible, especially its least regulated shadow banking parts. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/story/155643/charles_ferguson%27s_%27predator_nation%3A_corporate_criminals%2C_political_corruption%2C_and_the_hijacking_of_america%27/



Facebook’s Failed IPO: A Fall Worthy of Icarus


from Dissent magazine:



Facebook’s Failed IPO: A Fall Worthy of Icarus
Stephen F. Diamond - May 29, 2012


Facebook’s much-maligned initial public offering has led to a wealth of commentary, a lot of it focused on the wrong issues. There is certainly enough blame to go around, but assigning blame requires clarity about what exactly happened. It will likely take several congressional hearings, a couple of regulatory agency investigations, and some shareholder lawsuits to flesh out all of the facts.

But while we wait let me suggest an argument, one that fits together many of those facts that are available and goes a long way, I think, to satisfying the demands of Occam’s razor. In short, the Facebook IPO may turn out to be the largest “pump-and-dump” securities fraud ever perpetrated against U.S. investors. This argument not only helps explain how this debacle unfolded but suggests that we need to rethink the way that our economy, particularly in high technology, is shaped.

A Social Network Looking for an Exit

To recall the basic scenario: Mark Zuckerberg and some Harvard classmates founded Facebook in 2004. The 2010 film Social Network captured the atmosphere of phenomenal, rapid growth surrounding Facebook, as well as the internal tensions among some very young and inexperienced entrepreneurs. The company now has some 900 million users on its platform worldwide. Not only is the company making a large amount of money (an impressive $1 billion in net income on revenue of $3.7 billion in 2011, for a profit rate of 27 percent), but it can arguably claim to have had a significant impact on the wider social and political world. Most notably, the social network played an important role in allowing young Egyptians to communicate during their uprising against the dictatorial Mubarak regime.

However, Facebook was not built just to be a social phenomenon, although Zuckerberg, who is its CEO and remains its dominant shareholder, tries at times to suggest that. Facebook was built with millions of dollars of investment capital provided by major venture capital firms and investment banks. At the beginning of 2011 Goldman Sachs raised $1.5 billion from investors in an offshore private placement for the company and invested an additional $450 million of its own funds. Many of Facebook’s engineers and computer scientists were willing to work for the company in return for stock options. That, too, is a form of capitalist investment. The founders, the employees, the venture capitalists, the investment banks, and the investors were all looking for an exit opportunity to turn their investments of cash and human capital into a profitable return. That required a public offering and a listing on a major stock exchange. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=607



Prada slippers are stomping in anger


ROME —The Vatican is conducting a widening probe into leaked documents that prompted the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI’s butler last week in a case Italian media have compared to an Agatha Christie novel.

The Vatican Monday ruled out any involvement in the investigation of a cardinal or a woman, after newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Stampa reported that the butler hadn’t acted alone and that a cardinal, the Roman Catholic Church’s highest rank after the pope, was also among the suspects.

The pope is “aware of the delicate situation going on inside the Curia,” or the Holy See’s government, spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican Monday. “No cardinal or woman is under investigation.”

Italian media have offered contradictory versions of the events behind the Friday arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the butler found in possession of classified documents. The case has often been portrayed as part of a palace intrigue pitting loyalists of an increasingly isolated Benedict, 85, against Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s de facto prime minister. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1202302--vatican-case-raises-questions-on-whether-papal-butler-did-it?bn=1



WWF Helps Industry More than Environment


from Der Spiegel:



The WWF is the most powerful environmental organization in the world and campaigns internationally on issues such as saving tigers and rain forests. But a closer look at its work leads to a sobering conclusion: Many of its activities benefit industry more than the environment or endangered species.

Want to protect the rainforest? All it takes is €5 ($6.30) to get started. Save the gorillas? Three euros and you're in. You can even do your part for nature with only 50 cents -- as long as you entrust it to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which is still known by its original name of the World Wildlife Fund in the United States and Canada.

Last year, the WWF, together with German retail group Rewe, sold almost 2 million collectors' albums. In only six weeks, the program raised €875,088 ($1.1 million), which Rewe turned over to the WWF.

The WWF has promised to do a lot of good things with the money, like spending it on forests, gorillas, water, the climate -- and, of course, the animal the environmental protection group uses as its emblem, the giant panda. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/wwf-helps-industry-more-than-environment-a-835712.html



New Voice for Jailing Bank Execs


from Consortium News:



New Voice for Jailing Bank Execs
May 29, 2012

In a new book, Predator Nation, Charles Ferguson (who directed the Oscar-winning film “Inside Job”) says banking executives implicated in the fraud that devastated the economy in 2008 should go to jail, a position applauded by Danny Schechter, who has long advocated the same.

By Danny Schechter


The circle of those of us crusading for a jail-out of banksters – and not another bailout for them – is widening. Our newest member is Charles Ferguson, director of the film “Inside Job,” who is out with a new must-read book, Predator Nation, documenting and detailing how the financial elite and its values took over our culture and country.

When I first saw Ferguson’s film, coming out two years after my “Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time” on a similar subject, I was a bit jealous because of all the support he attracted from Sony and Hollywood insiders who waged a successful Oscar campaign on its behalf.

After selling a software company, he had access to big money for a film on big money. He could afford high production values but also the kind of marketing that indy filmmakers like myself dream about.

As a PhD, former business executive and government adviser, Ferguson also had developed a keen skill for synthesizing information and creating a filmic “explainer,” almost like a big screen power-point presentation, that recounts how we got into this financial crisis through government deregulation and/or complicity. A member of the elite himself, he is well schooled in how to talk to his counterparts. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/05/29/new-voice-for-jailing-bank-execs/



Is "Right to Work" Next on Walker's Agenda?


Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 by PRWatch.org
Is "Right to Work" Next on Walker's Agenda?

by Mary Bottari



Many are wondering if making Wisconsin a "Right to Work" state is next on Governor Scott Walker's agenda if he wins the recall election on June 5. Right to Work laws weaken unions by allowing members to opt out of paying dues. Workers get the benefit of working in a union shop (higher wages, better benefits), but are not required to pay their fair share for union representation. Right to Work laws have been used effectively in the South to bust unions and keep wages low, which is why they are dubbed "Right to Work for Less" laws by opponents. The recent push for this legislation is emanating from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where corporations and right-wing legislators vote as equals behind closed doors on "model" legislation.



This issue is newly on the radar of Wisconsin voters due to a video released earlier this month by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showing Governor Walker having a frank conversation with his largest campaign contributor shortly after he was elected. Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks asks Walker how he will make Wisconsin a "red" state and if he will "work on these unions" and "become a Right to Work" state. Walker replies that the"first step" will be "to divide and conquer" Wisconsin unions through a budget bill dealing with public sector workers. One month after the video was filmed, Walker "dropped the bomb" and introduced his bill to strip some 380,000 public workers of 50 years of collective bargaining rights, starting a race to the bottom in wages and benefits. (CMD has embedded a campaign video on left only because the MJS video is not available for embedding.)

In the same video, Walker cites as his role model Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who first did away with collective bargaining for public workers by executive order, then successfully went after private sector unions with Right to Work legislation.

Right to Work Debate Heats Up in Wisconsin

Representative Scott Walker Walker has a history with this issue and with ALEC, which has promoted a "model" Right to Work bill for decades. Before becoming Governor, Walker was a state legislator from 1993-2002. As a freshman legislator in 1993, Walker joined ALEC and cosponsored Right to Work legislation in Wisconsin. If passed into law, 1993 SB 459 would have applied to public sector as well as private sector workers. That bill failed to pass, but Walker kept trying, sponsoring another ALEC favorite, "Paycheck Protection" legislation (1997 AB 624), which would make it tough for unions to spend money on elections. Immediately upon being elected governor in November 2010, Walker started drafting a bill to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights, even before he was sworn in. Previously, Walker had told Congress that he decided to move on the bill only after unions attempted to rush final contracts through a lame duck session of the legislature in December 2010. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/29-6



Women's Center In New Orleans Destroyed By Arson, Third Incident in the South



Women's Center In New Orleans Destroyed By Arson, Third Incident in the South


From the website of New Orleans Women's Health Clinic which specifically helped "marginalized women," poor women, women of color, and transgender women as well as HIV/AIDS patients:

Thanks to the fast response of all of our supporters across the country, many of you have already heard that our office was broken into last night and set on fire. The worst damage was concentrated in our community organizing and outreach office where we store all of the resources we use to educate our community. We lost everything. We do not have an office to operate out of right now. Most of our office equipment and all of our educational resources were destroyed. Because of the targeted nature, we can only assume that this was intentional.
...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/935926/women%27s_center_in_new_orleans_destroyed_by_arson%2C_third_incident_in_the_south/



Ikea Products Made From 600-Year-Old Trees


Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 by Inter Press Service

Ikea Products Made From 600-Year-Old Trees
Subsidiary of Swedish furnishing giant is destroying ancient and unique Russian forests

by Ida Karlsson


STOCKHOLM - The home furnishing giant Ikea, founded in Sweden in 1943, is facing heavy criticism for the logging and clear-cutting of old-growth forests in the north of Russian Karelia by its wholly owned subsidiary Swedwood.

According to leading environmental organisations, such logging is destroying ancient and unique forests that have a high conservation value.

Wood is by far the primary raw material in Ikea’s products. Roughly 60 percent of the products stocked in the multinational’s 300 department stores around the world contain wood in any form.

For years, the company has used the "We Love Wood" slogan to promote the fact that Ikea only uses wood obtained in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/29-1



Volvo's self-drive 'convoy' hits the Spanish motorway


(BBC) A convoy of self-driven cars has completed a 200km (125-mile) journey on a Spanish motorway, in the first public test of such vehicles.

The cars were wirelessly linked to each other and "mimicked" a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver.

The so-called road train has been developed by Volvo. The firm is confident that they will be widely available in future.

The project aims to herald a new age of relaxed driving. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18248841



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