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Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Even Mainstream Pundits Are Now Saying, Republicans 'No Longer a Normal Governing Party,' 'Unfit for

Campaign for America's Future / By Dave Johnson

Even Mainstream Pundits Are Now Saying, Republicans 'No Longer a Normal Governing Party,' 'Unfit for Government'
Outrage is growing over Republican sabotage of … well, everything.

December 26, 2012 |

Outrage is growing over Republican sabotage of … well, everything.

E. J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post, writing in It’s our system on the cliff, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

The United States faces a crisis in our political system because the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives, is no longer a normal, governing party.

The only way we will avoid a constitutional crackup is for a new, bipartisan majority to take effective control of the House and isolate those who would rather see the country fall into chaos than vote for anything that might offend their ideological sensibilities.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast, in The GOP Brings Politics to a Crisis Point,

Really, what is to be done about this Republican Party? What force can change it—can stop Republicans from being ideological saboteurs and convert at least a workable minority of them into people interested in governing rather than sabotage? … They are a direct threat to the economy, which could slip back into recession next year if the government doesn’t, well, govern. They are an ongoing, at this point almost mundane, threat to democracy, subverting and preventing progress the American people clearly desire across a number of fronts. They have to be stopped, and the only people who can really stop them are corporate titans and Wall Streeters, who surely now are finally beginning to see that America’s problem is not Barack Obama and his alleged “socialism,” but a political party that has become psychologically incapable of operating within the American political system.

. . . They didn’t come to Washington to govern. They came to sabotage. So our working assumption must be whatever the issue, sabotage is what they’re going to do.

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/even-mainstream-pundits-are-now-saying-republicans-no-longer-normal-governing-party-unfit-government

A museum that few men dare visit.....

Retailers scramble after lackluster holiday sales

(Reuters) - The 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.

While chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Gap Inc are thought to have done well, analysts expect much less from the likes of Barnes & Noble Inc and J. C. Penney Co.

The latest sign of trouble came from MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse, which reported holiday-related sales rose 0.7 percent from October 28 through December 24, compared with a 2 percent increase last year.

The preliminary estimate from SpendingPulse was in line with other estimates showing weak growth during the holiday season, when retailers can book about 30 percent of annual sales -- and in many cases, half of their profits. ..........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-rt-us-usa-retail-holidaybre8bl03g-20121221,0,2002772.story

China Starts Longest Bullet-Train Line, Luring Air Travelers

(Bloomberg) China started its 2,298-kilometer (1,428-mile) high-speed train line, the longest in the world, as the nation boosts investment in rail networks, intensifying competition for airlines.

The first train on the Beijing-Guangzhou line left Beijing West Station at 9 a.m. as scheduled, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. The trains will initially run at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour, reducing the travel time to as few as eight hours from the previous 21 hours, according to the rail ministry.

The new line, which will eventually connect to Hong Kong, is part of the nation’s plan to build a 16,000-kilometer high- speed rail network by 2015, undeterred by a deadly bullet-train accident last year. The new service may lure air travelers and prompt China Southern Airlines Co. (1055) and Air China Ltd. (601111) to cut fares, according to Barclays Plc.

“The continued development of the high-speed train network will marginalize short-haul domestic air routes,” Barclays analysts Patrick Xu and Jon Windham wrote in a note to clients last week. It will “exacerbate the competition on long-haul domestic routes and depress margins.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-26/china-starts-longest-bullet-train-line-luring-air-travelers.html

US holiday retail sales growth weakest since 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. holiday retail sales this year were the weakest since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession. In 2012, the shopping season was disrupted by bad weather and consumers’ rising uncertainty about the economy.

A report that tracks spending on popular holiday goods, the MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, said Tuesday that sales in the two months before Christmas increased 0.7 percent, compared with last year. Many analysts had expected holiday sales to grow 3 to 4 percent.

Shoppers were buffeted this year by a string of events that made them less likely to spend: Superstorm Sandy and other bad weather, the distraction of the presidential election and grief about the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. The numbers also show how Washington’s current budget impasse is trickling down to Main Street and unsettling consumers. If Americans remain reluctant to spend, analysts say, economic growth could falter next year.

In the end, even steep last-minute discounts weren’t enough to get people into stores, said Marshal Cohen, chief research analyst at the market research firm NPD Inc. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.boston.com/business/news/2012/12/25/holiday-retail-sales-growth-weakest-since/1I1j5xuls1prNxvXbQCUSL/story.html

U.S. Holiday Sales Advanced a Marginal 0.7%, SpendingPulse Says

(Bloomberg) U.S. holiday sales growth slowed by more than half this year after gridlock in Washington soured consumers’ moods and Hurricane Sandy disrupted shopping, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said.

Retail sales grew by 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 through Dec. 24, the Purchase, New York, research firm said today, without providing a dollar figure in the billions. Sales grew at a 2 percent pace in the same period a year ago. SpendingPulse tracks total U.S. sales at stores and online via all payment forms.

Americans became skittish as Washington approached the end of the year without an agreement to forestall higher taxes and automatic spending cuts -- the so-called fiscal cliff. Hurricane Sandy interrupted shopping in stores and online after it slammed into the East Coast in late October. Last month, retailers from Macy’s Inc. (M) to Target Corp. (TGT) posted same-store sales that trailed analysts’ estimates.

“You are looking at modest to marginal growth from a year ago,” Michael McNamara, a SpendingPulse vice president, said in a telephone interview today. “Weather events and the fiscal debate both anchored the season in terms of growth. The media coverage, which did a good job of explaining the negative consequences of the fiscal cliff, created this negative trend in consumer confidence and spending.”

Consumer confidence fell in December to a five-month low, according to a Dec. 21 report. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index slid to 72.9, the weakest since July, from 82.7 in November. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-25/u-s-holiday-sales-advanced-a-marginal-0-7-spendingpulse-says.html

Problems with new 787 Dreamliner continue to plague Boeing

Aerospace giant Boeing Co. just can't seem to escape trouble with its new 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.

More than three years late because of design problems and supplier issues, the much-anticipated plane has run into another bout of turbulence with fresh concerns about its safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration this month ordered inspections of fuel line connectors on Dreamliners because of risks of leaks and possible fires.

On the same day, a United Airlines Dreamliner flight from Houston to Newark, N.J., was diverted to New Orleans after an electrical problem popped up mid-flight. After accepting delivery of the aircraft just a month earlier, Qatar Air later said it had grounded a Dreamliner for the same problem that United experienced. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/la-fi-boeing-dreamliner-troubles-20121225,0,7570131.story

Scroungers and Strivers: We are encouraged to sneer at poverty and hardship

from In These Times:

Scroungers and Strivers
We are encouraged to sneer at poverty and hardship.

BY Jane Miller

'War on Want’ was a clever slogan that may even have characterised a time in the ’50s and ’60s when reducing, even eliminating, poverty, here and elsewhere in the world, was a serious hope and a proper endeavour. No longer. Now we in the UK are regaled daily with stories demonising the poor. They are “shirkers” and “scroungers” rather than the “strivers” and “aspirers” the rest of us are. We are asked to imagine members of “hard-working families,” habitually up at the crack of dawn and shocked to see the drawn blinds of the family next door, who are work-shy, fast asleep, and ensconced luxuriously in homes paid for by us heroic taxpayers. And—as they have nothing much else to do and anyway spend most of the day in bed—they are producing children at the rate of almost one a year. This isn’t “fair,” we’re told.

New benefit rules and tax credit arrangements have been set in train to deal with this injustice inflicted on us by the poor. “Feckless” families will be evicted from their homes and sent to wherever there is cheaper, available housing, regardless of work, schools, family and friends. There is even a move to cut benefit to families who have more than two children.

The truth is that most of the poor do work, and are getting poorer all the time. Far more people are working part-time, often at several jobs. It has become essential for almost all women to work, yet more and more women are driven out of their modest part-time jobs by the soaring costs of child care. The coalition government talks about unemployment as if it were a chosen way of life rather than the tragedy it is for so many families these days.

Labour introduced the minimum wage in 1999. It currently stands at £6.19 an hour. Now there is a move across parties to encourage what is called a “living wage” of £7.45 an hour (£8.55 in London). Calling this a “living wage” reminds us that it is not possible, or even meant to be possible, to live on the minimum wage. However, this “living wage” would not be compulsory for employers, though if it were it would make an important difference to great numbers of their employees. The principal advantage of a “living wage” in government eyes would be that employers would subsidise the poor rather than the government, doing so on behalf of us trusty taxpayers; and in the process they’d be turning millions of “parasites” into usefully covetous consumers. One or two employers have actually gone for it: mostly banks, who have almost no low-paid workers, so it won’t bother them. One hotel chain and one or two supermarkets are considering it. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14304/scroungers_and_strivers

The Most Racist Restaurant in America?

AlterNet / By Laura Gottesdiener

The Most Racist Restaurant in America?
Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge wanted to know the ratio of "black people to white people" for an upcoming party--then denied African Americans access.

December 20, 2012 |

The Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, used to be a decently classy place, the type of glass- and wood-paneled establishment striving for a level of authenticity beyond the reach of a chain restaurant named after a bourbon label.

Late this past August, however, the Bourbon House and Lounge officially became one of the most despicable restaurants in the country when it denied African Americans access to a public event held at the site.

Here’s what happened: Andre Mulligan and his brother went to the Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge on August 17 to speak with managers from the restaurant about a public event to be held at the restaurant the next day. At the meeting, the managers wanted to know “the ratio of ‘black people’ to ‘white people’ attending the event” explains Mulligan in his lawsuit against the establishment.

Mulligan and his brother explained that the party-goers would be ‘100 percent African American,’ to which information the managers said essentially, nope, you can’t hold an event at our lounge—a clear violation of not only the states’ laws, but also all human decency and basic 21st century codes of ethics and respect. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/most-racist-restaurant-america

In Wake of Factory Fire, U.S. Labor Groups Attempt Blockade of Walmart Imports

from YES! Magazine:

In Wake of Factory Fire, U.S. Labor Groups Attempt Blockade of Walmart Imports
A fire that killed 112 workers in a factory that supplies goods to Walmart has inspired the next wave of actions demanding justice for workers along the company’s supply chain.

by Olivia Rosane
posted Dec 20, 2012

The fight for justice at Walmart went another round on Tuesday morning, as around 75 protesters gathered in Port Newark, N.J., in an attempt to block the unloading of the container ship Maersk Carolina, whose cargo included Walmart-bound goods made in Bangladesh. While the blockade was not successful, the action demonstrated the strengthening alliance between Occupy-related groups and more labor-specific organizations.

The action came less than a month after 112 workers burned to death in the Tazreen Factory in Bangladesh, which supplies clothes to Walmart. Bloomberg reported that in 2011, the retail giant had refused to cover the costs of safety improvements to Bangladeshi factories such as Tazreen. Bangladeshi authorities who researched the case just announced findings of "unpardonable negligence."

The protesters, who included participants in Occupy Wall Street as well as labor and community groups, hoped to connect Walmart’s actions abroad to its actions at home. Goods from Bangladesh are unloaded by the International Longshoreman’s Alliance, then distributed to warehouses, and finally to Walmart’s retail outlets. Labor unrest appears at every stage in this supply chain: the longshoremen are currently in contract negotiations, warehouse workers in California and Illinois went on strike this September over unsafe and unfair working conditions, and retail workers walked out on Black Friday over low wages and retaliatory tactics.

“The main purpose of this event was to highlight Walmart’s abuses throughout the supply chain,” said organizer and Occupy Wall Street member Isham Christie. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/after-bangladeshi-factory-occupy-labor-attempts-blockade-walmart-imports

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