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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: 74,622

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Credit Rating Industry Dodges Reforms, Despite Role in Financial Meltdown


Credit Rating Industry Dodges Reforms, Despite Role in Financial Meltdown

Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:54
By Alison Fitzgerald, Center for Public Integrity | Report


The California Public Employee Retirement System requires that bonds it holds be rated by one of the top three credit raters even after it sued those companies for issuing "untrue, inaccurate and unjustifiably high credit ratings."

"These credit ratings were false at the time they were initially assigned, and continued to be false during the existence of the" investments, Calpers, the nation's biggest pension fund, claims in its 2009 lawsuit against Moody's Corp., Fitch Inc. and the parent company of Standard and Poor's. The state pension fund says the bad ratings cost it as much as $1 billion.

That Calpers still depends on S&P, Moody's and Fitch to rate its investments shows how much power these companies continue to wield in the global financial industry even after several investigations concluded their AAA ratings on mortgage bonds and other complex investments helped lead directly to the 2008 financial collapse. Calpers settled with Fitch without receiving payment, and the suit against S&P and Moody's is pending.

Calpers, which manages $288 billion in assets, isn't alone. Most major pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds require investments in corporate bonds, mortgage bonds or collateralized debt obligations be rated by one of the three major ratings agencies. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/24514-credit-rating-industry-dodges-reforms-despite-role-in-financial-meltdown



A Private Putsch Against Public Schooling


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


A Private Putsch Against Public Schooling
June 21, 2014

Deep in the heart of Texas, still another billionaire is scheming to make public education a rewarding business investment opportunity.


By Sam Pizzigati


Billionaires have opinions. In a democracy, billionaires have the right to voice these opinions, just like everyone else.

But billionaires don’t just have opinions. They have immense fortunes — and, thanks to these fortunes, enough power to impose their opinions on the rest us.

Need we worry about these impositions? We sure should. Just one example: Billionaire political might has come to constitute a clear and present danger to the single most bedrock institution of our democracy: public education. This danger, as of last week, now stands in starkest relief deep in the heart of Texas.

This past Thursday, the Dallas local school board appointed a 15-member “home-rule” commission designed to end real home rule of the city’s schools — and open the door to education “reforms” that warm the hearts of billionaires. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/a-private-putsch-against-public-schooling/#sthash.kqKESRLe.dpuf



First He Came Out as Undocumented. Then As Gay. Here's What It Means For Immigration Debate.


from YES! Magazine:


First He Came Out as Undocumented. Then As Gay. Here's What It Means For Immigration Debate.
Felipe Matos told his story in three words: "I am undocumented." It was an act of desperation—but it gave him a sense of agency and power.

by Kristin Moe
posted Jun 20, 2014


On that October day in 2008, Felipe Matos (now Sousa-Rodriguez) didn't plan to come out to the world. What he wanted was to help a friend, Gaby, whose undocumented family faced deportation. So Sousa-Rodriguez joined an immigration rally outside the Homeland Security office in Miami, with law enforcement watching. He had a near-perfect academic record in college, was president of the student government, and was the first person in his Brazilian family to become fluent in English. He had a lot to lose. But when someone handed him the bullhorn, there was only one thing he could think of to do.

"I am undocumented," he said. "Come and get me."

Sousa-Rodriguez broke the rules and rewrote his own script, at great risk. His action forecast a major change in immigration movement strategy: undocumented youth using their own stories as political tools.

Thousands of "Dreamers"—as these immigration activists are called—have since followed in Sousa-Rodriguez' footsteps, giving rise to a national shift in which undocumented people have begun to control the terms of the debate. For them, storytelling is a tactic, an act of civil disobedience. In the last few years they've organized national "Coming Out Days," testified before Congress, and posted videos of their stories on social media. In 2010, Sousa-Rodriguez and three other young activists—including Gaby—walked 1,500 miles between Miami and Washington, D.C., in support of the Dream Act, wearing shirts that read, "Undocumented? Everyone has a story ... but not all are heard." ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-power-of-story/first-he-came-out-undocumented-gay-lgbt-dreamers-immigration



A Private Putsch Against Public Schooling


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


A Private Putsch Against Public Schooling
June 21, 2014

Deep in the heart of Texas, still another billionaire is scheming to make public education a rewarding business investment opportunity.


By Sam Pizzigati


Billionaires have opinions. In a democracy, billionaires have the right to voice these opinions, just like everyone else.

But billionaires don’t just have opinions. They have immense fortunes — and, thanks to these fortunes, enough power to impose their opinions on the rest us.

Need we worry about these impositions? We sure should. Just one example: Billionaire political might has come to constitute a clear and present danger to the single most bedrock institution of our democracy: public education. This danger, as of last week, now stands in starkest relief deep in the heart of Texas.

This past Thursday, the Dallas local school board appointed a 15-member “home-rule” commission designed to end real home rule of the city’s schools — and open the door to education “reforms” that warm the hearts of billionaires. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/a-private-putsch-against-public-schooling/#sthash.kqKESRLe.dpuf



All of the bad actors from the Iraq invasion/occupation are crawling out of their holes .......

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/ahmed_chalabi_chief_peddler_of_false_wmds_meets_us_officials_20140621


Ahmed Chalabi, Chief Peddler of False WMDs, Meets U.S. Officials


Harper’s Magazine Washington editor Andrew Cockburn comments on the mounting pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a less sectarian government or resign—and the meeting between the U.S. State Department’s top official in Iraq and a potential candidate to replace al-Maliki.

“Democracy Now!” reports:

A representative of the influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for the creation of what he described as a new “effective” government. On Thursday, The New York Times revealed the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Robert Beecroft, and the State Department’s top official in Iraq, Brett McGurk, recently met with the controversial Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, who has been described as a potential candidate to replace al-Maliki. Chalabi is the former head of the Iraqi National Congress, a CIA-funded Iraqi exile group that strongly pushed for the 2003 U.S. invasion. The INC helped drum up pre-war claims that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and had links to al-Qaeda. The group provided bogus intelligence to the Bush administration, U.S. lawmakers and journalists.



Credit Rating Industry Dodges Reforms, Despite Role in Financial Meltdown


Credit Rating Industry Dodges Reforms, Despite Role in Financial Meltdown

Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:54
By Alison Fitzgerald, Center for Public Integrity | Report


The California Public Employee Retirement System requires that bonds it holds be rated by one of the top three credit raters even after it sued those companies for issuing "untrue, inaccurate and unjustifiably high credit ratings."

"These credit ratings were false at the time they were initially assigned, and continued to be false during the existence of the" investments, Calpers, the nation's biggest pension fund, claims in its 2009 lawsuit against Moody's Corp., Fitch Inc. and the parent company of Standard and Poor's. The state pension fund says the bad ratings cost it as much as $1 billion.

That Calpers still depends on S&P, Moody's and Fitch to rate its investments shows how much power these companies continue to wield in the global financial industry even after several investigations concluded their AAA ratings on mortgage bonds and other complex investments helped lead directly to the 2008 financial collapse. Calpers settled with Fitch without receiving payment, and the suit against S&P and Moody's is pending.

Calpers, which manages $288 billion in assets, isn't alone. Most major pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds require investments in corporate bonds, mortgage bonds or collateralized debt obligations be rated by one of the three major ratings agencies. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/24514-credit-rating-industry-dodges-reforms-despite-role-in-financial-meltdown



5 Links Between Higher Education and the Prison Industry


from Rolling Stone:


5 Links Between Higher Education and the Prison Industry
The worlds of academia and incarceration are closer than you may think

By Hannah K. Gold
June 18, 2014 1:10 PM ET


American universities do a fine job of selling themselves as pathways to opportunity and knowledge. But follow the traffic of money and policies through these academic institutions and you'll often wind up at the barbed wire gates of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison operators in the United States. In the last two decades the private prison industry has exploded, growing 784 percent at the federal level, and helping the United States to achieve the highest incarceration rate in the world. CCA operates 69 facilities throughout the United States, GEO operates 55; both typically mandate that 90 percent of their beds be filled at all times. In the last two years alone CCA has defended itself against charges of fraudulent understaffing of its facilities, medical neglect and abuse of inmates.

A series of policies, appointments and investments knit America's universities into the widening net of the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex. Institutions of higher education have now become a part of what sociologist Victor Rios has called the "youth control complex"—a tightly bundled network of institutions that work insidiously and in harmony to criminalize young people of color. Here are five ways that universities buy into private prison companies.

1. Investing In Private Prisons

The clearest link between havens of higher education and private prisons, are direct investments of a university's endowment in CCA and GEO Group. The most public display of such nefarious investments has been at Columbia University, where in June 2013 a group of students discovered that their university owns 230,432 shares of CCA stock worth $8 million. In February 2014 the newly formed student groups Columbia Prison Divest delivered a letter to President Lee Bollinger demanding, among other things, that Columbia divest all its CCA shares and fully disclose its investments in the future (students can only view 10 percent of the university's investments currently).

These connections are glaring, the less obvious ones go by the names of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and other members of the "million shares club"—companies that own more than one million shares of CCA and GEO Group, and which collectively own more than two-thirds of these private prison companies. They all have directors and CEOs who sit on the boards of wealthy universities like Stanford and Columbia, and these top universities hand over healthy wads of endowment cash to them too. The full list of mega-powerful conglomerates that take stock in incarceration can be viewed here. ................(more)

Te complete piece is at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/5-links-between-higher-education-and-the-prison-industry-20140618#ixzz35N6SO24i



Moral Monday Comes to Wisconsin


(The Progressive) North Carolina Republicans hold the governor's mansion and a super-majority in the state legislature. They've used their power to ram through bill after bill to aid the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

But the remarkable Forward Together coalition, which has been staging weekly "Moral Monday" protests of as many as 80,000 people, has managed to worry Governor Pat McCrory and his fellow Republicans.

McCrory and his allies are increasingly isolated lately. Even many grassroots Republicans have denounced their policies, like turning down Medicaid health coverage for 500,000 people in one of the nation's most impoverished states. McCrory, a former Duke Power executive who has been reluctant to rein in Duke's pollution of state rivers with coal ash, has an approval rating of 39 percent, with 45 percent of voters saying they disapprove of their governor, according to a recent Public Policy Polling report.

The Reverend William Barber, the leading voice of the Forward Together coalition in North Carolina, found a very attentive audience when he spoke to more than 100 activists in Milwaukee last weekend. Rev. Barber, a key NAACP leader, forcefully underscored the clear common ground Wisconsin shares with North Carolina. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://progressive.org/news/2014/06/187746/moral-monday-comes-wisconsin#sthash.WNSR4wF4.dpuf



ACLU: CIA’s Linguistic Somersault Takes to the Sky


EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE: CIA’s Linguistic Somersault Takes to the Sky

06/20/2014
By David Birkin at 12:05pm


This past Memorial Day weekend, New Yorkers who happened to look up may have seen the words EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE appear across the skyline in synchronized bursts of white smoke.

The seemingly spontaneous event was a project of mine called Severe Clear. It was inspired by a letter the CIA sent the ACLU rejecting their Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to the U.S. government’s classified drone program. The letter reiterates the now familiar Glomar response, stating that the agency can “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence” of records responsive to the request.

For years, the American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting in court to try to force the government to acknowledge its secret drone program. The use of drones by the Pentagon is official and constitutes a key component in the military’s increasingly automated arsenal. But their use by the CIA for the purposes of targeted assassination remains unofficial, despite widespread reporting in the press as a result of White House-sanctioned leaks. This classified program remains unconstrained by judicial or congressional oversight, even in such extreme cases as the targeting of American citizens.

My interest is in the wording of the CIA's rejection letter – a linguistic somersault that takes legislative precision and turns it into a kind of esoteric, existential rhetoric. Like a line from Kafka composed in bureaucratic prose, it tells us, in the most precise terms, nothing, except that the absence of affirmation does not imply it exists. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/existence-or-nonexistence-cias-linguistic-somersault-takes-sky



Chris Hedges Interviews Noam Chomsky





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