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

Journal Archives

Rapist-Defending Chem-Trail Creationist Chosen To Lead Arizona Education Committee

The Arizona Senate has just decided to hand over its education system to a woman who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, President Obama is poisoning its people with “chem-trails,” and American citizens should be forced to attend religious service. State Senate President Andy Biggs selected Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) to be the chair of the Arizona Senate Education Committee, where she will serve as a “gatekeeper” for important education-related decisions and legislation. Because why not entrust your children’s education to a religious fundamentalist and conspiracy theorist?

Allen’s record is utterly disgraceful on a number of counts. It goes without saying that her rejection of modern science should immediately disqualify her from any position of educational leadership. Although science tells us that the Earth is over four billion years old, Allen accepts the fundamentalist Christian doctrine that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. She has even argued that because the Earth has been around for 6,000 years, we don’t need environmental regulations! Second, she appears to have no regard for the U.S. Constitution.

Earlier this year, Allen interrupted a discussion on gun control in order to promote a law that would make religious attendance mandatory. “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth.”

Third, she is an open conspiracy theorist. In 2013, she posted a lengthy message on Facebook endorsing the renowned (and baseless) conspiracy theory that the condensation trails that are sometimes visible behind planes are in fact chemicals that the government is spraying on us for some nefarious purpose. “I have watched the chem-trails move out until the entire sky is covered with flimsy, thin cloud cover.” Unfortunately, there is a much more plausible explanation for such trails, like condensation. ...........................(more)


Prof. Richard Wolff: Capitalism - Not China - Is to Blame for the Current Global Economic Decline

Capitalism - Not China - Is to Blame for the Current Global Economic Decline

Tuesday, 22 December 2015 10:10
By Richard D. Wolff, Truthout | Op-Ed

Capitalism, like a speeding train, barreled into a stone wall in 2008. Shocked and dazed, its leaders have been trying to "recover." By that, they mean to fix the mangled tracks, reposition the locomotive and cars on those tracks and resume forward motion. No basic economic change, in their view, is needed or even considered. They see no absurdity in such a "recovery plan" - just as they saw no approaching catastrophe in the years leading up to 2008.

It was Marx who clearly explained in Capital the contradiction capitalism's leaders rarely grasp. Showing how capitalists compete (and survive in competition) by maximizing profits, he focused his readers on capitalists' strategies of "economizing" on the number of workers they hire (often by substituting machines) and/or replacing more costly workers with cheaper employees. The contradiction emerges when their economizing undermines the market for what capitalists must sell to survive. Boosting their profits by saving on labor often reduces laborers' total purchasing power, what they can afford to buy from capitalists. That hurts capitalists' sales and profits. Likewise, when workers' wages and salaries rise, the resulting benefits to capitalists' sales can be partially or totally reversed as higher wages cut into profits. The history of capitalism often wobbles between the poles of this contradiction.

Starting in the 1970s, capitalism intensified its economizing on labor. This became possible because huge new supplies of labor power entered the orbits of the established old centers of capitalism (Western Europe, North America and Japan). Most of those new, additional workers had previously been excluded from the labor forces available to those old centers. They had been kept away inside capitalism's formal and informal colonies in Asia, Latin America and Africa or else inside state capitalisms (Soviet Russia, Eastern Europe and China). After the 1970s, such workers were brought into direct capitalist employment either by migrating to Western Europe, North America and Japan or by the movement of capitalist enterprises from old to new centers (China, India, Brazil etc.).

Integrating those newly available workers into globalizing capitalism raised the total supply of labor power far above capitalists' demand for it. That supply-demand imbalance sharply lowered their wage bills and boosted their profits. Capitalists' lower outlays for workers' wages might have quickly depressed the purchasing power of the total working class, undermined the market demand for capitalists' output and thereby depressed profits: another case study of capitalist contradiction. However, the 1970s saw a quite unique development that postponed the depression of working-class demand. A massive expansion of consumer credit (mortgage debt, car loans, credit cards etc.) in the old capitalist centers took off. After the 1970s, workers offset stagnant or falling real wages there by borrowing.


The eventual effect of capitalism's contradiction (notwithstanding its temporary postponement via credit) was predictable. Chinese production would slow down and thus cut its demands for raw materials, energy and many other basic production inputs. Falling sales of those inputs are now decimating the many national and regional economies that became dependent upon selling those inputs to the Chinese and other new capitalist centers. Thus global economic decline persists - notwithstanding the endlessly hyped "recoveries." .................(more)


Salute to Amy Goodman.......

........ because we're reminded every day how essential Democracy Now! is in our pathetic media landscape. Here's a collection of some of my favorite recent clips.

So does this mean he's going to off himself?

Vigilante uprising: GOP lawmaker calls on gun owners to ‘clean our society of scum bags’

A Wisconsin Republican state senator has been accused of inciting a “vigilante uprising” after he called on law-abiding gun owners to “clean our society of scum bags”

Rep. Bob Gannon (R) responded to a recent shooting at East Towne Mall in Madison by saying that the incident could have been stopped if more people were carrying guns. During the incident over the weekend, a teen was shot in the leg and suffered non-life threatening injuries.

“Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law-abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scumbags,” Gannon said in a statement on Monday. “Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons, so it’s time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back.”

Gannon argued that a “gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding (concealed carry weapon) holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass, as this is how you’re trained to eliminate the threat these creeps pose to you, your family, and all law-abiding citizens unwillingly dragged into their public crime spree.” ...........(more)


TYT - 12.18.15: Bernie vs. The DNC

Published on Dec 21, 2015

Hour 1: Cenk, Ben, and Iadarola hosting. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been locked out of the voter roll portion of the DNC after it was discovered that a staffer accessed and potentially downloaded some of Hillary Clinton’s info. A 3rd party company that manages the firewall between the campaigns through the DNC failed to block this kind of access on multiple occasions. Some Sanders supporters see this as a fix since the DNC Chairwoman, DWS used to work for Clinton. Video of Sanders campaign manager telling a press group what happened and how the DNC is taking the opportunity to sabotage their campaign. Videos of Debbie Wasserman Schultz defending the DNC’s decision to suspend Sanders, and claiming that they were notified about the breach from the vendor, not Sanders campaign.

Chicago: CTA Launches Loop Link Rapid Bus Service

IL: CTA Launches Loop Link Rapid Bus Service


The CTA's new express bus system carried soggy passengers Monday through a downtown filled with vacationing families and holiday shoppers.

Transportation officials hope Loop Link — which runs on Madison, Washington, Clinton and Canal streets — will at least double the average CTA bus speed of 3 mph in the corridor. With red bus-only lanes, the rapid transit service that officially launched Sunday is meant to ease traffic in the Loop and make streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bob Mavis, a retiree who said he no longer drives, sat on the edge of one of the wooden benches Monday at a Loop Link station on Washington Street. Except in a few spots, the benches were soaked from the rain. Despite the lack of walls on the shelter, which some CTA customers had worried about, Mavis called the steel-and-glass station "fancy schmancy" and said the city was improving.

"So far, it's doing pretty good," said Latrice Brown, waiting at another station on Washington Street. Brown was happy she no longer would have to walk an extra three blocks because of construction, but she wondered how the new bus service would do in the snow. ...................(more)


The Fed Raises Rates—by Paying the Banks


The business and financial press has been abuzz with speculation about when the Federal Reserve would begin raising interest rates. After the meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on December 15-16, the Fed ended the suspense by announcing that it was raising its target federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point (to a range of 0.25 to 0.50%). Flying under the radar, though, was the Fed’s use of a dramatically different method of raising interest rates. The new method involves paying billions of dollars to banks, primarily by paying interest on banks’ reserves held at the Fed. The payments will reduce the amount of money that the Fed remits to the Treasury and, ultimately, to taxpayers.

Why Is the Fed Paying the Banks?

This new method is best understood when viewed in the context of the recent financial crisis. The collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 threatened both the financial system and the broader economy. The Federal Reserve began a campaign of aggressively reducing interest rates, lowering the interest rate that it controls, the federal funds rate, from its peak of 5.25% in September 2007 to just 2% in April 2008. The federal funds rate is an interest rate that banks pay when borrowing from other banks. Lower costs for the banks in turn lead to lower interest rates for business and consumer borrowing, thus encouraging greater spending, output, and employment.

In making these changes to the federal funds rate, the Fed used its classic method of changing the level of bank reserves. (See sidebar.) It is this method that the Fed jettisoned when it announced its new procedures.

After the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, financial markets became unsettled and many of the traditional funding sources for financial institutions dried up. Into this void stepped the Federal Reserve, which dramatically increased its lending and other interventions to help the banks. In the process, it pumped money into the banking system and expanded bank reserves, significantly beyond the level of reserves necessary to maintain its target for the federal funds rate. .............(more)


Homeless Angelenos call the riverbank home. What will happen when El Niño hits?

from Grist:

Homeless Angelenos call the riverbank home. What will happen when El Niño hits?
By Aura Bogado on 15 Dec 2015

When I returned to Los Angeles this summer after an absence of six years, one big change was hard to miss: the spread of homeless encampments under freeway bridges and on the banks of the Los Angeles River. Some are small, just a few people with sleeping bags or blankets and a piece of luggage or two. Other encampments are massive: Aside from makeshift and proper tents, there are accommodations made from a combination of cardboard, heavy tarp, and other fabrics, as well as plywood, plastic, and corrugated metal sheets. Some even have chain-link fencing with gates and locks.

In and around the L.A. River, people have essentially created small neighborhoods that, in any other country, would be called shanties. But this is Los Angeles — the third wealthiest city in the world. So we’ll stick with encampments, which is what everyone seems to call them here. Of course, the word many of the residents use is simply “home.”

If El Niño rains swamp the city, as climatologists forecast, it could take a devastating toll on parts of the West Coast. If a series of storms hits Southern California, Los Angeles may face big power outages and flooding. Six city agencies are tasked with preparing residents for El Niño. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), along with five other agencies, has formed an El Niño Homeless Encampments Task Force, which is encouraging encampment residents to get out before the storms hit.

LAHSA and the Sherriff’s Department conducted an aerial survey of the L.A. River and its tributaries two months ago and found 200 encampments — which they refer to as “hot spots.” But because so many people live out of aerial view (under a bridge that crosses the river, for example), the task force estimates the total number of encampments at more like 400, with “at least 700-800” people living in them (those italics suggest the number is much higher). ................(more)


Students Say Loyola University Chicago Admins Punishing Participants in On-Campus Worker Protest

(In These Times) The “Jesuit Education” provided to students by Chicago’s Loyola University has five characteristics. One, the school’s website proudly states, is a “values-based leadership” that focuses on “personal integrity, ethical behavior in business and in all professions, and the appropriate balance between justice and fairness.”

Yet four of the university’s students say they are being punished for trying to push Loyola to live up to this credo. In recent months, Loyola students and workers have been waging a campaign for campus workers to receive a living wage, and for the administration to roll back what student activists say is a draconian demonstration policy, which requires students to request and receive approval from the Office of the Dean of Students for any on-campus protest not being held on the campus’s Damen North Lawn three days prior. (A moratorium on several sections of that policy was recently declared by the university, though it isn't clear .)

The four students—along with their student government, a sponsoring organization of the protest—are being charged with harassment of a staff member and disrupting the operations of a facility after participating in a protest with on-campus food service workers. Officially handed down on December 18, the charges were preceded by a lengthy period of limbo where the students were threatened with charges, but not officially charged, two of the student organizers of the protests told In These Times. If found guilty, they could be put on probation.

The charges relate to a November 20 demonstration where around 60 protesters marched into the university’s student center and confronted Bill Langlois, the campus representative for Aramark, the foodservice contractor to which Loyola’s workers belong. The protesters read him a list of demands before dispersing. ..................(more)


No Industry Rips Off Consumers More Than Big Pharma: The Latest Scam

Published on Dec 18, 2015

When it comes to ripping off Americans, no industry does it better than Big Pharma. And now, we’ve learned that it isn’t just price gouging that’s taking place, as Big Pharma has joined the ranks of many other corporate giants by trying to avoid paying any taxes to the U.S. government.

Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with attorney Michael Burg.

Follow more of our stories at http://www.TROFIRE.com

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