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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,438

Journal Archives

A Plutocrat Epiphany: All Votes Need Not Count

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

A Plutocrat Epiphany: All Votes Need Not Count
September 30, 2012

America’s billionaires have realized they really don’t have to bother convincing a majority of people to vote their way. They can put their cash instead into campaigns to keep the hard-to-convince from voting.

By Sam Pizzigati

Our two major presidential candidates descended on Ohio last week, and legions of reporters followed closely behind. Those reporters filed tens of thousands of words on what they saw and heard on their quick in-and-out Ohio excursion.

But not one of those reporters filed a word about what may have been the most nationally significant news out of Ohio last week: the release of a new analysis on income inequality from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

This new Cleveland Fed analysis examines both “labor” and “capital” income in America since 1980. Labor income includes everything we make from our jobs: wages and salaries, pensions and health insurance benefits.

Capital income comes from the ownership of assets. Interest, dividends, and the capital gains from buying and selling stocks, bonds, and other forms of property all count as capital income. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/a-plutocrat-epiphany-all-votes-need-not-count/

Chris Hedges: What Is Happening to Muslims Will Happen to the Rest of Us

from truthdig:

What Is Happening to Muslims Will Happen to the Rest of Us

Posted on Oct 1, 2012
By Chris Hedges

The decision by the European Court of Human Rights last week to refuse to block the extradition of the radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four others to the United States on terrorism charges removes one of the last external checks on our emerging gulag state.

Masri and the four others, all held in British jails, will soon join hundreds of other Muslims tried in Article III federal courts in the United States over the last decade. Fair trials are unlikely. A disturbing pattern of gross infringements on basic civil liberties, put in place in the name of national security, has poisoned our legal system. These infringements include intrusive surveillance, vague material support charges, the use of prolonged pretrial solitary confinement, classified evidence that the accused cannot review, and the use of political activities, normally protected under the First Amendment, to demonstrate mind-set and intent. Muslims caught up in the Article III courts are denied the opportunity to confront their accusers and to have their religious and political associations protected, and they rarely find a judge courageous enough to protect their rights. These violations of fundamental civil liberties will not, in the end, be reserved exclusively for Muslims once the corporate state feels under siege. What is happening to them will happen to the rest of us.

“One of the misapprehensions of the last decade is that the government had to go outside the law to places like Guantanamo or Bagram to abridge the rights of suspects in the name of national security,” said Jeanne Theoharis, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College who has been an outspoken critic of the rights abridgement occurring in Article III courts. “But this is not the case. A similar degradation of rights that has characterized the prison at Guantanamo has also affected the judicial system within the United States. The right to dissent, the right to see the evidence against you, the right to due process, the right to fair and speedy trial, the right to have a judge who will be impartial, the right to fair and not disproportionate punishment, and the right not to be punished before you are convicted have been taken from us in the name of national security. It is not just in special secret prisons that this occurs, but also—dismayingly—within the U.S. federal courts.”

This is not about the guilt or innocence of Masri, an Egyptian who lost an eye and a hand as a mujahedeen fighting in Central Asia and who has repeatedly called for violence against the United States and allegedly helped orchestrate violence. This is about the right of all accused to a fair defense and humane detention conditions. Once Masri arrives on U.S. soil he will receive neither. He will, even before he is tried or convicted, endure prison conditions that replicate the brutality suffered by those in our offshore penal colonies, including the one at Guantanamo Bay. He will enter a world of prolonged and psychologically crippling isolation, made worse by the likely application of so-called special administrative measures. He will spend his days in a tiny cell under constant electronic surveillance. At New York’s Metropolitan Correction Center, where Masri and the other men will most likely first be incarcerated, he will never be allowed outdoors. He will be permitted to spend only one hour a day outside his cell, alone in a cage. Masri and the four other suspects could spend years in these conditions before trial. Because of security restrictions, it will take as long as six months for letters from his family to reach him. His lawyers can be prosecuted if they repeat in public what he tells them, especially about the conditions of his incarceration. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/what_is_happening_to_muslims_will_happen_to_the_rest_of_us_20121001/

All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov’t?

All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov’t?
by Dave Philipps, Special to ProPublica Sept. 28, 2012, 5:13 p.m.

[font size="1"]A lone mustang who escaped the helicopters watches a Bureau of Land Management roundup in the Stone Cabin Valley in Nevada during the winter of 2012. (Dave Philipps)[/font]

The Bureau of Land Management faced a crisis this spring.

The agency protects and manages herds of wild horses that still roam the American West, rounding up thousands of them each year to keep populations stable.

But by March, government pens and pastures were nearly full. Efforts to find new storage space had fallen flat. So had most attempts to persuade members of the public to adopt horses. Without a way to relieve the pressure, the agency faced a gridlock that would invite lawsuits and potentially cause long-term damage to the range.

So the BLM did something it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler named Tom Davis who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.propublica.org/article/missing-what-happened-to-wild-horses-tom-davis-bought-from-the-govt

Mitt Reinvents Himself (cartoon)

Global warming 'may lead to smaller fish'

(Independent UK) The biggest fish in the sea could be almost 25 per cent smaller by 2050 because of global warming, according to a new study.

Warmer oceans will carry less dissolved oxygen, causing fish to grow to smaller sizes and forcing them to move to cooler waters, the research published in the journal Nature Climate Change claims.

Scientists predict that a rise in global temperatures over the coming decades will cause the average body size of sea fish to decline by between 14 and 24 per cent.

The predication is based on a study of more than 600 species of saltwater fish, including the Atlantic cod and the North Sea haddock. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/global-warming-may-lead-to-smaller-fish-8191514.html

Why You Should Care: American student loan nightmare

Published on Sep 29, 2012 by RussiaToday

Thousands of Americans are defaulting on their student loans, ruining their credit and their lives. Will Tim or his robot pal be next?

Fight Against Austerity is Fight for 'Democracy's Legitimacy'

Published on Sunday, September 30, 2012 by Common Dreams

Anti-Austerity Fervor Rages in Spain and Portugal
Fight Against Austerity is Fight for 'Democracy's Legitimacy'

- Common Dreams staff

Riot police struggle with protesters during demonstrations in Madrid against austerity cutbacks. (Photograph: Chema Moya/EPA)Tens of thousands of Spaniards and Portuguese took to the streets in their respective countries on Saturday, showing the resilience of the anti-austerity sentiment in Europe and calling on their governments to end the destruction of budget-slashing economic policies.

The protests in Madrid was the the third large-scale protest in a week and followed directly on Friday's announcement by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the government's 2013 draft budget that will cut overall spending by $51.7 billion, freezing the salaries of public workers and cutting unemployment benefits.

Al-Jazeera reports from Madrid:

Chanting that politicians must resign, the demonstrators surrounded parliament (...) facing off with riot police and denouncing the conservative government's deep budget cuts.

Rallied by the ("Indignados" protest movement and organised on social media, the protesters held up signs that said simply "No", "Resign" and "Democracy" and shouted toward the legislature: "They do not represent us".


Writing about what's driving the popular movement in Europe—and to some extent in the US—professor of economics at Cambridge Ha-Joon Chang says it is a reaction to the rise of global capitalism that pushes an austerity agenda which he describes as "nothing short of a complete rewriting of the implicit social contracts that have existed since the end of the second world war." ........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/09/30-1

Bill Moyers: United States of ALEC

United States of ALEC
September 28, 2012

How the private sector and state politicians are teaming up to enact laws that increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.


What's the Least Religious Place in the World and What's Its Secret?

The Guardian / By Peter Thompson

What's the Least Religious Place in the World and What's Its Secret?
A survey taken in this country could not find a single religious person under 28.

September 26, 2012 |

They are sending missionaries to eastern Germany . A recent study called Beliefs About God Across Time and Countries found that 52.1% of people asked whether they believed in God identified themselves as atheists. This compared with only 10.3% in western Germany. Indeed, the survey was unable to find a single person under the age of 28 in eastern Germany who believed in God. Obviously there are some – I think I may have even met some once – but the survey was unable to find them. On the face of it this is an extraordinary finding and it is something that needs some careful explanation.

Different reasons are adduced for the absence of religion in the east. The first one that is usually brought out is the fact that that area was run by the Communist party from 1945 to 1990 and that its explicit hostility to religion meant that it was largely stamped out. However, this is not entirely the case. In fact, after initial hostilities in the first years of the GDR, the SED came to a relatively comfortable accommodation with what was called the Church in Socialism. The churches in the GDR were given a high degree of autonomy by SED standards and indeed became the organisational focus of the dissident movement of the 1990s, which was to some extent led by Protestant pastors.

In addition to an accommodation with religion, the party also deliberately created alternative poles of integration for the population. Young people were brought up in a highly ideological atmosphere and were required to undergo a so-called Jugendweihe – a sort of atheist confirmation. Interestingly, this ceremony has survived the end of communism and many young people still voluntarily enter into it. Equally, especially under Eric Honecker in the 1970s and 80s, an attempt was made to create a sort of "GDR patriotism", in which figures from Prussian history such as Frederick the Great were put back on their plinths in East Berlin and integrated into the Communist narrative of the forward march of history. Martin Luther, Thomas Münzer and other figures from the Reformation were also recruited into the party.

Another factor is that religion in eastern Germany is also overwhelmingly Protestant, both historically and in contemporary terms. Of the 25% who do identify themselves as religious, 21% of them are Protestants. The other 4% is made up of a small number of Catholics as well as Muslims and adherents of other new evangelical groups, new-age sects or alternative religions. The Protestant church is in steep decline with twice as many people leaving it every year as joining. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/whats-least-religious-place-world-and-whats-its-secret

Student-Loan Default Rates Rise as Federal Scrutiny Grows

(Bloomberg) More than one in 10 borrowers defaulted on their federal student loans, intensifying concern about a generation hobbled by $1 trillion in debt and the role of colleges in jacking up costs.

The default rate, for the first three years that students are required to make payments, was 13.4 percent, with for-profit colleges reporting the worst results, the U.S. Education Department said today.

The Education Department has revamped the way it reports student-loan defaults, which the government said had reached the highest level in 14 years. Previously, the agency reported the rate only for the first two years payments are required. Congress demanded a more comprehensive measure because of concern that colleges counsel students to defer payments to make default rates appear low.

“Default rates are the tip of the iceberg of borrower distress,” said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of The Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-28/student-loan-defaults-soar-as-government-scrutiny-grow.html

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