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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: 74,646

Journal Archives

David Sirota: Too Big to Punish


by David Sirota


A few months ago, in a press conference about the felony conviction of Credit Suisse, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law."

Yet, earlier this month, the Obama administration announced its proposal to waive some of the possible sanctions against Credit Suisse. The little-noticed waiver, which was outlined in the Federal Register, comes amid criticism that the Obama administration has gone too easy on major financial institutions that break the law.

In its announcement outlining the waiver, the Department of Labor notes that Credit Suisse "operated an illegal cross-border banking business that knowingly and willfully aided and assisted thousands of U.S. clients in opening and maintaining undeclared accounts" and in "using sham entities" to hide money.

Under existing Department of Labor rules, the conviction could prevent Credit Suisse from being designated a Qualified Professional Asset Manager. That designation exempts firms from other federal laws, giving them the special status required to do business with many pension funds. The Obama administration's is proposing to waive those anti-criminal sanctions against Credit Suisse, thereby allowing Credit Suisse to get the QPAM designation needed to continue its pension business. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.creators.com/liberal/david-sirota/too-big-to-punish.html



The Wheel Turns, the Boat Rocks, the Sea Rises: Change in a Time of Climate Change


from TomDispatch:


The Wheel Turns, the Boat Rocks, the Sea Rises
Change in a Time of Climate Change

By Rebecca Solnit


There have undoubtedly been stable periods in human history, but you and your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents never lived through one, and neither will any children or grandchildren you may have or come to have. Everything has been changing continuously, profoundly -- from the role of women to the nature of agriculture. For the past couple of hundred years, change has been accelerating in both magnificent and nightmarish ways.

Yet when we argue for change, notably changing our ways in response to climate change, we’re arguing against people who claim we’re disrupting a stable system. They insist that we’re rocking the boat unnecessarily.

I say: rock that boat. It’s a lifeboat; maybe the people in it will wake up and start rowing. Those who think they’re hanging onto a stable order are actually clinging to the wreckage of the old order, a ship already sinking, that we need to leave behind.

As you probably know, the actual oceans are rising -- almost eight inches since 1880, and that’s only going to accelerate. They’re also acidifying, because they’re absorbing significant amounts of the carbon we continue to pump into the atmosphere at record levels. The ice that covers the polar seas is shrinking, while the ice shields that cover Antarctica and Greenland are melting. The water locked up in all the polar ice, as it’s unlocked by heat, is going to raise sea levels staggeringly, possibly by as much as 200 feet at some point in the future, how distant we do not know. In the temperate latitudes, warming seas breed fiercer hurricanes. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175896/tomgram%3A_rebecca_solnit%2C_what_to_do_when_you%27re_running_out_of_time/#more



A Public Bank Option for Scotland


A Public Bank Option for Scotland

Posted on September 17, 2014
by Ellen Brown


Scottish voters will go to the polls on September 18th to decide whether Scotland should become an independent country. As video blogger Ian R. Crane colorfully puts the issues and possibilities:

The People of Scotland have an opportunity to extricate themselves from the socio-psychopathic global corporatists and the temple of outrageous and excessive abject materialism. However, it is not going to be an easy ride . . . .

If Alex Salmond and the SNP [Scottish National Party] are serious about keeping the Pound Stirling as the Currency of Scotland, there will be no independence. Likewise if Scotland embraces the Euro, Scotland will rapidly become a vassel state of the Euro-Federalists, who will asset strip the nation in the same way that, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain have been stripped of their entire national wealth and much of their national identity.


To achieve true independence, Crane suggests the following, among other mandates:

* Establish an independent Central Bank of Scotland.
* Issue a new Scottish (Debt Free) Currency.
* Settle any outstanding debt with new Scottish Currency.
* Take Scotland out of the EU.
* Take Scotland out of NATO.
* Establish strict currency controls for the first 3 years of independence.
* Nationalize the Scottish oil & gas industry.
* Re-take control of the National Health Service.
* Establish a State Employment Agency to provide work/training for all able-bodied residents.


Arguments against independence include that Scotland’s levels of public spending, which are higher than in the rest of the UK, would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes. But that assumes the existing UK/EU investment regime. If Scotland were to say, “We’re starting a new round based on our own assets, via our own new bank,” exciting things might be achieved. A publicly-owned bank with a mandate to serve the interests of the Scottish people could help give the newly independent country true economic sovereignty. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://ellenbrown.com/2014/09/17/a-public-bank-option-for-scotland/



Naomi Klein: One Way or Another, Everything Changes


via truthdig:


One Way or Another, Everything Changes

Posted on Sep 17, 2014
By Naomi Klein


The following is excerpted from “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klein. Copyright © 2014 by Naomi Klein. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Most projections of climate change presume that future changes—greenhouse gas emissions, temperature increases and effects such as sea level rise—will happen incrementally. A given amount of emission will lead to a given amount of temperature increase that will lead to a given amount of smooth incremental sea level rise. However, the geological record for the climate reflects instances where a relatively small change in one element of climate led to abrupt changes in the system as a whole. In other words, pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes that have massively disruptive and large-scale impacts. At that point, even if we do not add any additional CO2 to the atmosphere, potentially unstoppable processes are set in motion. We can think of this as sudden climate brake and steering failure where the problem and its consequences are no longer something we can control.”

—Report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, 2014 1


“I love that smell of the emissions.”

—Sarah Palin, 2011



A voice came over the intercom: would the passengers of Flight 3935, scheduled to depart Washington, D.C., for Charleston, South Carolina, kindly collect their carry-on luggage and get off the plane.

They went down the stairs and gathered on the hot tarmac. There they saw something unusual: the wheels of the US Airways jet had sunk into the black pavement as if it were wet cement. The wheels were lodged so deep, in fact, that the truck that came to tow the plane away couldn’t pry it loose. The airline had hoped that without the added weight of the flight’s thirty-five passengers, the aircraft would be light enough to pull. It wasn’t. Someone posted a picture: “Why is my flight cancelled? Because DC is so damn hot that our plane sank 4” into the pavement.”3

Eventually, a larger, more powerful vehicle was brought in to tow the plane and this time it worked; the plane finally took off, three hours behind schedule. A spokesperson for the airline blamed the incident on “very unusual temperatures.”4

The temperatures in the summer of 2012 were indeed unusually hot. (As they were the year before and the year after.) And it’s no mystery why this has been happening: the profligate burning of fossil fuels, the very thing that US Airways was bound and determined to do despite the inconvenience presented by a melting tarmac. This irony—the fact that the burning of fossil fuels is so radically changing our climate that it is getting in the way of our capacity to burn fossil fuels—did not stop the passengers of Flight 3935 from reembarking and continuing their journeys. Nor was climate change mentioned in any of the major news coverage of the incident.

I am in no position to judge these passengers. All of us who live high consumer lifestyles, wherever we happen to reside, are, metaphorically, passengers on Flight 3935. Faced with a crisis that threatens our survival as a species, our entire culture is continuing to do the very thing that caused the crisis, only with an extra dose of elbow grease behind it. Like the airline bringing in a truck with a more powerful engine to tow that plane, the global economy is upping the ante from conventional sources of fossil fuels to even dirtier and more dangerous versions—bitumen from the Alberta tar sands, oil from deepwater drilling, gas from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), coal from detonated mountains, and so on. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/one_way_or_another_everything_changes_20140917



Professor Richard Wolff's Economic Update: "Corporations are the Problem" (audio link)


Listen: http://rdwolff.com/content/economic-update-corporations-are-problem


by Richard Wolff.
PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

Updates on Market Basket workers' victory, top paid asset managers, FED report debunks "recovery," Chipotle's gross inequality, Montreal corruption, and Russia/China economic alliance. Major discussion: Part 2 on socialism's new directions. Response to listeners on franchising, capitalist growth, advertising and consumer desires.



Thom Hartmann: Is America This Gullible About War?





Google Refuses to Respond to Letter Questioning ALEC Ties

(The Progressive) The Center for Media and Democracy/Progressive Inc. (CMD) has joined more than 50 watchdog, advocacy, and labor groups in sending a letter to Google asking it to cut its ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Google has not responded, telling the trade publication Ars Technica, "we aren't going to be commenting on this letter" and refusing to respond to repeated requests for comment made by the International Business Times.

Microsoft recently cut ties to ALEC, as CMD reported, prompting many to ask, "Will Google be next?"

CMD has reported on Google's new ties to ALEC as well as its "substantial" funding of other right wing groups -- Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union, and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.

As the letter says, "Over the last year, hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed petitions asking Google to end its ALEC membership because of their concerns about the harmful role ALEC has played in our democratic process. ...............(more)

- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/09/187861/google-refuses-respond-letter-questioning-alec-ties#sthash.dX9YQsms.dpuf




Occupy Wall Street: How We Surprised Ourselves


from The Progressive:


Occupy Wall Street: How We Surprised Ourselves
By Arun Gupta


At the top of the list of what the Occupy movement accomplished is, “We surprised ourselves.”

By “we,” I mean anyone residing on the left. To be on the left is to be intimate with defeat. Sometimes defeat is heroic, as with the Spanish Civil War. Sometimes it’s betrayal, as with the fate of the Russian Revolution. Defeat can be bewildering, as in, “What happened to that moment of Feb. 15, 2003?” Often it’s just depressing, like the delirious 60s that gave way to the tortuous 80s.

Occupy, in contrast, was a rocket ship of giddiness for nearly two months. Liberals squirmed, reluctant to criticize or embrace it. Conservatives yelled from rocking chairs that the dirty hippies needed a job. Every police attack gave Occupy strength. A bewildered media tried to grasp how a leaderless movement could shake the halls of power.

It helped that there were no expectations for success. There were no pollsters tut-tutting that the 99% versus 1% was divisive. No professional organizers corralling the herd into a single message. No revolutionaries hectoring that only the scientific terms proletariat and bourgeoisie would do. No Democrats demanding that lofty aspirations be pulverized into middle-of-the-road mush. ..........(more)

- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/09/178309/occupy-wall-street-how-we-surprised-ourselves#sthash.45QD47Jb.dpuf


"Socially Responsible" Capitalism Still Feeds the Disease


"Socially Responsible" Capitalism Still Feeds the Disease

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 09:32
By Toshio Meronek, Truthout | News Analysis


Capitalism with a conscience? That's the idea behind so-called "socially responsible" investments - buying stocks in companies that are screened for criteria like good labor practices, sustainability and whether or not the company is involved in arms manufacturing. The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, an industry association, claimed in its latest report from 2012 that at least $3.74 trillion in the United States is invested with environmental and social impacts in mind.

Some socially responsible investments (SRI) weed out cigarette companies like Philip Morris; others shun companies with poor environmental records, like BP. But whichever investments you choose, there's a good chance you'll be profiting off companies with bad human rights records because the backbone of many SRI funds are consumer technology stocks - companies like Apple and Samsung, which have histories replete with labor and privacy abuses.

China Labor Watch (CLW) is one of the groups that investigates ongoing labor problems; Kevin Slaten is its US-based program coordinator. He spoke to Truthout about the reports his organization has conducted on Apple, which started to be heavily scrutinized around 2010 when activists brought attention to child labor in some of the factories used by the computer giant. Some of these same factories were the subjects of protests over a number of Chinese labor law violations and mass worker suicides.

According to Slaten, "We constantly find these symptoms, but the disease underlying these symptoms has not been properly taken care of for years. The disease is these companies want the most amount of products in the shortest amount of time." ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26221-socially-responsible-capitalism-still-feeds-the-disease



US Corporate Executives to Workers: Drop Dead


US Corporate Executives to Workers: Drop Dead
Posted on September 16, 2014 by Yves Smith


The Washington Post has a story that blandly supports the continued strip mining of the American economy. Of course, in Versailles that the nation’s capitol has become, this lobbyist-and-big-ticket-political-donor supporting point of view no doubt seems entirely logical.

The guts of the article:

Three years ago, Harvard Business School asked thousands of its graduates, many of whom are leaders of America’s top companies, where their firms had decided to locate jobs in the previous year. The responses led the researchers to declare a “competitiveness problem” at home: HBS Alumni reported 56 separate instances where they moved 1,000 or more U.S. jobs to foreign countries, zero cases of moving that many jobs in one block to America from abroad, and just four cases of creating that many new jobs in the United States. Three in four respondents said American competitiveness was falling.

Harvard released a similar survey this week, which suggested executives aren’t as glum about American competitiveness as they once were…

Companies don’t appear any more keen on American workers today, though. The Harvard grads are down on American education and on workers’ skill sets, but they admit they’re just not really engaged in improving either area. Three-quarters said their firms would rather invest in new technology than hire new employees. More than two-thirds said they’d rather rely on vendors for work that can be outsourced, as opposed to adding their own staff. A plurality said they expected to be less able to pay high wages and benefits to American workers.

The researchers who conducted the study call that a failure on the part of big American business. They say the market will eventually force companies to correct course and invest in what they call the “commons” of America’s workforce. “We think this mismatch is, at some fundamental sense, unsustainable,” Michael Porter, one of the professors behind the studies, said in an interview this week.

But what if it’s not?

Why, if you were a multinational corporation, would you feel a need to correct that mismatch? Why would you invest in American workers? Why would you create a job here?

At what point does it become a rational business decision for American companies to write off most Americans?


It’s hard to know where to begin with this. First, Harvard Business School is hardly a bastion of socialist thinking. Porter and his colleagues are correct to call out short-sightedness in the incumbents of C-suites. And there’s nary a mention of the role of the long-overvalued dollar, thanks to the lessons that China and the Asian tigers learned in the wake of the 1997 Asian crisis: keep your currency pegged low, run a big trade surplus so you have such a large foreign exchange warchest as to never again be subject to the tender ministrations of the IMF.

But second, and more worrisome, is a vastly larger intellectual failure on the part of the Washington Post and even the Harvard investigators. They’ve completely lost sight of whose interests are at work. The HBS grads are looting the American economy for their own personal profit. Making better products and developing new markets is hard and it takes time for that effort to pay off. Cutting costs is easy. Getting a pop in the price of your stock due to investors’ belief that offshoring and outsourcing will lower costs is even easier. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/us-corporate-executives-workers-drop-dead.html



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