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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 66,355

Journal Archives

Bill Black: The Homophobic Law and the Indiana Governor Who Dares Not Speak Its Purpose


Bill Black: The Homophobic Law and the Indiana Governor Who Dares Not Speak Its Purpose
Posted on March 31, 2015 by Yves Smith

Yves here. Since we ran a post yesterday on Indiana’s anti-gay law that is pretending not to be one, I thought that was plenty on this topic. However, when Bill Black sent me his brief legal analysis of the bill, I changed my mind. This legislation is a remarkably nasty piece of work. The trick is that the “religious” ground do not have to hew to any organized religion, giving the business owner or manager the right to claim any pet bias as part of his religion. If nothing else, it’s instructive to see how innocuous-seeming language can be anything but.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

Sodomy, of course, was once referred to as the crime that dare not speak its name because the combination of fear and hate of straight males for gays was so intense that it was barbaric and even murderous. It is a measure of how much things have changed that the haters now know that they dare not speak their hate. They also know that they are losing. The vast majority of gay Americans live in States with marriage equality and conservatives expect to that the Supreme Court will soon strike down as unconstitutional bans on marriage equality in the Supreme Court. Some equality advocates are warning that the desperate measures like Indiana’s new law designed to authorize merchants to discriminate against gays are similar to the relatively successful strategy to attack abortion rights. They are right to warn about the need keep working, but the LBGT rights are not analogous to reproductive rights. I will discuss only one reason – business. The paradox is that a law purportedly vital to protect the right of merchants to discriminate against gays is the last thing that merchants want. Gays make very good customers. They have income and they buy goods and services. Merchants want to sell goods.

Businesses also need employees. All other things being held constant, businesses prefer happy employees who will stay with the firm and become ever more efficient. Employees need to buy goods and services and have the income to do so. Employees like to eat at restaurants periodically and they prefer the experience to be pleasant. The owners and officers of firms often take colleagues and clients to restaurants. The purpose of doing so is for everyone involved to have a wonderful experience.

So here are two variants of the nightmare a business owner has relative to the Indiana law. Four employees go out for lunch. The waitress come over and points to the declaratory judgment of an Indiana justice of the peace proudly displayed on the wall. It declares that the restaurant owner has the right under the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act to deny service to those who are LGBT or support LGBT rights. The waitress informs one of the employees he must leave the restaurant because he has what she believes to be gay mannerisms.

The second variant is that the owner of the firm takes an important client visiting from Illinois out to dinner. The owner of the restaurant approaches the table and asks the client (who is straight) to leave because they do not serve sodomites. ...........(more)


http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/bill-black-homophobic-law-indiana-governor-dares-not-speak-purpose.html




Indiana licenses discrimination, but at a high price


By Brian Dickerson, Detroit Free Press Columnist


I hope all the lawmakers who want to make it easier for Michigan businesses to refuse service to gay couples are taking note of the whirlwind Indiana has been reaping since it adopted similar legislation last week.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday that allows individuals or companies in his state to turn away gay customers if serving them would impose a "substantial burden" on the vendor's religious beliefs.

Pence said the law was needed to protect citizens whose religious liberty is under assault by the federal courts. But critics in higher education, business, and college and professional sports denounced the measure as a thinly veiled license to discriminate and warned it might compel them to limit their activities in the state.

The president of the NCAA, whose Final Four basketball tournament is to take place in Indianapolis this weekend, expressed concern about the new law's impact on student-athletes and NCAA employees. ....................(more)

http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/brian-dickerson/2015/03/31/indiana-law-scaring-employers/70699572/




Pete Sampras Reiterates That Roger Federer Is The ‘Greatest’ Player That Tennis Has Ever Seen


IN PHOTO: (L-R) Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Gael Monfils and Cedric Pioline of the Micromax Indian Aces share a moment during their match against the Singapore Slammers at the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in New Delhi, December 7, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi


American tennis legend Pete Sampras has once again reiterated that his former on-court competitor Roger Federer is the “most complete” tennis player that the sporting world of tennis has ever seen. According to Sampras, Federer is simply the “greatest,” going by the numbers.

Federer’s achievements on the tennis court have been unparalleled. Having won in all court surfaces and being able to move so well on the tennis court, Sampras said that Federer just has the “complete package.” The retired American tennis player even admitted that Federer has dominated the game more than him.

“You look at the numbers of what he’s been able to do, you have to say he’s the greatest we’ve seen,” Sampras said of Federer during an interview with Vancouver’s CBC Radio ahead of his participation at the 2015 PowerShares Series Champions tennis event. “The statistics of doing all-around court play - he can do a lot of different things, he can come in, can stay back, and he can do everything.”

Sampras has retired from the sport at the age of 31. During his career, Sampras had a total of 14 grand slam titles. He had two Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, and five U.S. Open titles. Sampras won four consecutive Wimbledon trophies from 1997 to 2000. The only grand slam title that Sampras failed to win is the French Open. Sampras had won 64 singles career titles and two doubles career titles. .................(more)

http://au.ibtimes.com/pete-sampras-reiterates-roger-federer-greatest-player-tennis-has-ever-seen-1434797




Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest


from Dissent magazine:


Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest
Ross Perlin ▪ March 30, 2015


City workers clearing Hong Kong's Occupy encampment, December 11, 2014 (Pasu Au Yeung)


In the fall of 2011, after two years in China, I came home to New York. Occupy Wall Street was at its height. Zuccotti Park, less than an acre of concrete in the city’s Financial District, was a teeming little universe of dissent and potential, more radically open and charged with life than any public space I’d ever seen. It changed you, just milling around and deliberating with people who, by and large, were straining toward the better angels of their nature. A thousand flowers, a hundred schools of thought: this was actually it. After the People’s Republic of China—which is neither the people’s, nor a republic—I was suddenly mainlining freedom, democracy, and diversity in what felt like an actual people’s republic, however short-lived and anarchic.

Tiny Zuccotti inspired a global archipelago of Occupy offshoots (including a small but long-lived encampment in Hong Kong), but Turkey’s Occupy Gezi and Hong Kong’s more recent Occupy movement mark an inflection point. Sustained, fiercely local mass movements are tapping into and extending a new global language of protest. Both in Turkey and in China, fearmongers and propagandists blamed malicious foreign influences for the protests, but the reality is less sinister and more significant. Occupy is serving as an open-source template for dissent, a transparent and adaptable playbook for organizing global movements with diverse aims and values. By turns autonomous and hyperconnected, the template is an uncanny fit for our precarious, plugged-in life.

In Hong Kong, the Occupy template provided a name and an initial strategy. Disrupt and take over a major financial district. Build a mass movement through nonviolence, savvy self-organizing, and radical chutzpah. The parallels multiplied in practice. Both youth-driven movements centered themselves on liberated urban space and drew strength from the authorities’ mistakes, winning mainstream sympathy. In both Hong Kong and New York, mainstream support was just becoming a possibility when the occupations came to an end. The occupiers mastered forceful, inclusive messaging on the biggest issue of the day: the tyranny of the elites—what Eli Friedman described in The Nation (comparing the two Occupys) as “the inability of anyone except the super-wealthy to have a voice in politics.” Each movement charted a viral trajectory, lasting in its most potent, concentrated form for just under an autumn. Neither “won,” but both reimagined activism in the heartlands of global capital.

The differences were just as significant. Instead of an explicit struggle against inequality in the name of the 99%, Hong Kong’s Occupy was a classic democracy movement, bourgeois-friendly, with calls for local autonomy and economic justice kept on the sidelines. By embodying horizontalist ideals and going for the economic jugular of global capitalism, Zuccotti became a symbol and a platform, as much a meme as a movement. On the other hand, occupiers everywhere can learn from the scale and sophistication of Hong Kong’s movement: its mass participation (which dwarfed New York’s), its clear and trenchant demands, its willingness to allow accountable coalition-style leadership, and its peaceful deployment of cultural and linguistic difference (as well as shared global signifiers) to articulate and carry on the struggle for democracy. ......................(more)

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/occupy-hong-kong-wall-street-new-global-language-of-protest




Religious act has Chicago mayor wooing Indiana businesses


http://www.ibj.com/articles/52498-religious-act-has-chicago-mayor-wooing-indiana-businesses


Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked Indiana businesses to consider moving to Chicago after Indiana's governor signed legislation that's been criticized over concerns it could foster discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Emanuel's office said Monday that the mayor sent letters to about a dozen businesses in Indiana. The letter cites Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the measure last week and defended it during a television appearance Sunday. The act prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.

In the letter, Emanuel says the act is wrong and urges Indiana business owners to "consider Chicago as a place to move and grow." Emanuel writes that businesses can't "succeed in the global economy if you discriminate against your residents."

Competition for economic development isn't unusual between Indiana and Illinois. In 2011, Indiana erected “Illinoyed by higher taxes?” billboards near the state border after Illinois passed a major increase in corporate taxes.




Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest


from Dissent magazine:


Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest
Ross Perlin ▪ March 30, 2015


City workers clearing Hong Kong's Occupy encampment, December 11, 2014 (Pasu Au Yeung)


In the fall of 2011, after two years in China, I came home to New York. Occupy Wall Street was at its height. Zuccotti Park, less than an acre of concrete in the city’s Financial District, was a teeming little universe of dissent and potential, more radically open and charged with life than any public space I’d ever seen. It changed you, just milling around and deliberating with people who, by and large, were straining toward the better angels of their nature. A thousand flowers, a hundred schools of thought: this was actually it. After the People’s Republic of China—which is neither the people’s, nor a republic—I was suddenly mainlining freedom, democracy, and diversity in what felt like an actual people’s republic, however short-lived and anarchic.

Tiny Zuccotti inspired a global archipelago of Occupy offshoots (including a small but long-lived encampment in Hong Kong), but Turkey’s Occupy Gezi and Hong Kong’s more recent Occupy movement mark an inflection point. Sustained, fiercely local mass movements are tapping into and extending a new global language of protest. Both in Turkey and in China, fearmongers and propagandists blamed malicious foreign influences for the protests, but the reality is less sinister and more significant. Occupy is serving as an open-source template for dissent, a transparent and adaptable playbook for organizing global movements with diverse aims and values. By turns autonomous and hyperconnected, the template is an uncanny fit for our precarious, plugged-in life.

In Hong Kong, the Occupy template provided a name and an initial strategy. Disrupt and take over a major financial district. Build a mass movement through nonviolence, savvy self-organizing, and radical chutzpah. The parallels multiplied in practice. Both youth-driven movements centered themselves on liberated urban space and drew strength from the authorities’ mistakes, winning mainstream sympathy. In both Hong Kong and New York, mainstream support was just becoming a possibility when the occupations came to an end. The occupiers mastered forceful, inclusive messaging on the biggest issue of the day: the tyranny of the elites—what Eli Friedman described in The Nation (comparing the two Occupys) as “the inability of anyone except the super-wealthy to have a voice in politics.” Each movement charted a viral trajectory, lasting in its most potent, concentrated form for just under an autumn. Neither “won,” but both reimagined activism in the heartlands of global capital.

The differences were just as significant. Instead of an explicit struggle against inequality in the name of the 99%, Hong Kong’s Occupy was a classic democracy movement, bourgeois-friendly, with calls for local autonomy and economic justice kept on the sidelines. By embodying horizontalist ideals and going for the economic jugular of global capitalism, Zuccotti became a symbol and a platform, as much a meme as a movement. On the other hand, occupiers everywhere can learn from the scale and sophistication of Hong Kong’s movement: its mass participation (which dwarfed New York’s), its clear and trenchant demands, its willingness to allow accountable coalition-style leadership, and its peaceful deployment of cultural and linguistic difference (as well as shared global signifiers) to articulate and carry on the struggle for democracy. ......................(more)

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/occupy-hong-kong-wall-street-new-global-language-of-protest




Is Rahm Emanuel Planning to Privatize Chicago’s Public Housing?


(In These Times) Chicago, long a pioneer of privatization, is poised to embark on a sweeping experiment with the city’s public-housing stock. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) plans to court private investment in as much as half of its public-housing units through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a new federal program billed as a way to “revitalize” housing for the poor and address a $26 billion backlog in needed repairs.

But housing advocates around the country worry that RAD is just a prelude to privatization. RAD, approved by Congress in 2011, gives local housing authorities broad latitude to raise funds, including the ability to mortgage or sell public-housing buildings. Critics believes that if public housing is opened up to the vagaries of the mortgage market and the whims of private developers, large swaths of low-income housing could wind up in foreclosure, or become luxury condos once RAD’s affordability requirements expire.

Steven Knight, supervising attorney at the National Housing Law Project, says that the program’s “stated goals are very laudable” but “the devil is in the details–local housing authorities have to get these transactions right, and if they don’t, the consequences may be severe and long-lasting.”

So, will Chicago get it right? RAD arrives in the city as the CHA is already under fire for failing to spend millions of dollars earmarked for affordable housing while amassing at least $440 million in cash reserves, even as more than 280,000 people sit on its housing waitlist. These financial shenanigans were enabled in large part by the CHA’s deregulation in 2000 under now-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s, who pushed to remove federal oversight of the housing authority’s budget as vice chairman of its board. ..................(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17793/is-rahm-emanuel-planning-to-privatize-chicagos-public-housing




"Longing for 1984" with Chris Hedges (pts I & II)







Published on Nov 21, 2014

Zain Raza interviews Chris Hedges on a newly produced show called "Longing for 1984 " to discuss the interests that really dictate U.S policy both domestically and abroad, government surveillance globally and the role of activism.



Amazon Requires Badly-Paid Warehouse Temps to Sign 18-Month Non-Competes


from Naked Capitalism:


Amazon Requires Badly-Paid Warehouse Temps to Sign 18-Month Non-Competes
Posted on March 30, 2015 by Yves Smith


The Verge has broken an important story on how far Amazon has gone in its relentless efforts to crush workers. Despite its glitzy Internet image, Amazon’s operations depend heavily on manual labor to assemble, pack, and ship orders. Its warehouses are sweatshops, with workers monitored constantly and pressed to meet physically daunting productivity goals. Indeed, many of its warehouses were literally sweatshops, reaching as much as 100 degrees in the summer until bad press embarrassed the giant retailer into installing air conditioners. In Germany, a documentary exposed that Amazon hired neo-Nazi security guards to intimidate foreign, often illegal, hires it had recruited and was housing in crowded company-organized housing. Amazon also fought and won a Supreme Court case to escape compensating its poorly-paid warehouse workers for time they spend in line at the end of shift, waiting for security checks.

Amazon’s latest “keep workers down” practice is to make temps sign non-competes. Yes, if you are so desperate and foolish as to take a short-term gig with Amazon, you will be barred from working for virtually anyone else for the next eighteen months. Look at how incredibly broad the language is in the non-compete agreement obtained by The Verge (hat tip MF):

During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee’s own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future) that Employee worked on or supported, or about which Employee obtained or received Confidential Information.


Pray tell, what possible employers are not included, given how sweeping these terms are? A cleaning service? Nah, Amazon sells Roombas and vacuum cleaners, so you’d be competing indirectly with them. A receptionist in a dentist’s office? Nope, Amazon sells tooth whitening products. A massage therapist? No, Amazon sells electronic massage devices. Working as a gym? No, Amazon sells home exercise equipment. And note that this includes “intended to be old, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future.” Amazon temps are precluded from competing with Amazon vaporware too. ..............(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/amazon-requires-badly-paid-warehouse-temps-sign-18-month-non-competes.html




Anti-Wall Street Public Stands Behind a Resolute Elizabeth Warren


Elizabeth Warren is reminding the Democrats to show some backbone and not give in to Wall Street's threats to withhold funding to the Democratic National Committee and some national candidates. Why are the big banks trying to intimidate the Democratic Party? Because the most outspoken senator - Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) - is proposing that the big banks should be broken up.

Her reasoning is simple: The few banks that control most of the nation's money are not, as Obama officials often assert, "too big to fail." Warren argues that actually, they are too big not to fail.

A March 27 article from the Guardian provides the context to the threat:

Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Representatives from Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.

Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington but it has been raised in one-on-one conversations between representatives of some of them. However, there was no agreement on coordinating any action, and each bank is making its own decision, they said.


Will the withdrawal of Wall Street political contributions to the Democratic Party seriously impact elections? The answer is probably not. As The Guardian points out, "The amount of money at stake, a maximum of $15,000 per bank, means the gesture is symbolic rather than material."

Furthermore, the Wall Street bullying to make Democratic bigwigs tremble would not likely result in severe financial campaign contribution losses to the Dems. That is because a lot of Democrats in Congress are subservient to the interests of the big banks and financial institutions. Therefore, individual mega-rich bankers, millionaires and billionaires will give to individual Democrats who vote as Wall Street dictates in any case. ..............(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/elizabeth-warren-tells-wall-street-to-make-her-day-by-withholding-contributions-to-dems




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