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marmar

Profile Information

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: 64,225

Journal Archives

Another (not good) climate milestone


In May 2013, it was big news when, for the first time, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit 400 parts per million. Now, researchers say that number has been consistently above 400 for the last month.

"This is higher than it's been in millions of years," said Pieter Tans, a senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory.

Parts per million, or ppm, is a measure of the ratio of carbon dioxide to other gases in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is just one type of greenhouse gas that has been found to trap heat, but it is the primary one emitted from human activities and it lingers in the atmosphere for a very long time. There is typically seasonal fluctuation in the parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, according to scientists who track the levels. That explains why, after hitting 400 for the first time in recorded history last May, the levels declined soon after. But they hit 400 ppm again in mid-March, and have stayed above that level for all of April. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/carbon-dioxide-climate-change_n_5187844.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013&ir=Politics



Chris Hedges: The Rhetoric of Violence


from truthdig:


The Rhetoric of Violence

Posted on Apr 20, 2014
By Chris Hedges


At least nine people were killed and at least 35 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Thursday police announced that a man had been arrested on charges of firing on a number of motorists recently, wounding three of them, on Kansas City-area highways. On April 13 three people, including a child, were murdered at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Overland Park, Kan., leading to the arrest of a white supremacist. On April 12, armed militias in Nevada got the federal government to retreat, allowing rancher Cliven Bundy to continue to graze his cattle on public land. All this happened over a span of only nine days in the life of a country where more than 250 people are shot every day. In America, violence and the threat of lethal force are the ways we communicate. Violence—the preferred form of control by the state—is an expression of our hatred, self-loathing and lust for vengeance. And this bloodletting will increasingly mark a nation in terminal decline.

Violence, as H. Rap Brown said, is “as American as cherry pie.” It has a long and coveted place in U.S. history. Vigilante groups including slave patrols, gunslingers, Pinkerton and Baldwin-Felts detectives, gangs of strikebreakers, gun thugs, company militias, the White Citizens’ Council, the Knights of the White Camellia, and the Ku Klux Klan, which boasted more than 3 million members between 1915 and 1944 and took over the governance of some states, formed and shaped America. Heavily armed mercenary paramilitaries, armed militias such as the Oath Keepers and the anti-immigration extremist group Ranch Rescue, along with omnipotent and militarized police forces, are parts of a seamless continuation of America’s gun culture and tradition of vigilantism. And roaming the landscape along with these vigilante groups are lone gunmen who kill for money or power or at the command of their personal demons.

Vigilante groups in America do not trade violence for violence. They murder anyone who defies the structures of capitalism, even if the victims are unarmed. The vigilantes, often working with the approval and sometimes with the collusion of state law enforcement agencies, are rarely held accountable. They are capitalism’s shock troops, its ideological vanguard, used to break populist movements. Imagine that, if instead of right-wing militias, so-called “ecoterrorists”—who have never been found responsible for taking a single American life—had showed up armed in Nevada. How would the authorities have responded if those carrying guns had been from Earth First? Take a guess. Across U.S. history, hundreds of unarmed labor union members have been shot to death by vigilante groups working on behalf of coal, steel or mining concerns, and thousands more have been wounded. The United States has had the bloodiest labor wars in the industrialized world. Murderous rampages by vigilante groups, almost always in the pay of companies or oligarchs, have been unleashed on union members and agitators although no American labor union ever publicly called for an armed uprising. African-Americans, too, have endured a vigilante reign of terror, one that lasted for generations after the Civil War.

And all the while, vigilantes have been lionized by popular culture, winning mythic status in Hollywood movies that glorify lone avengers. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_rhetoric_of_violence_20140420



Why Our Sky Sometimes Does Start Falling

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


Why Our Sky Sometimes Does Start Falling
APRIL 20, 2014

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be able to demonstrate the link between inequality and catastrophic environmental change. But a little help from rocket scientists can certainly help.


By Sam Pizzigati


The sky, we all learn as children, is not falling — and never falls. Only silly Chicken Littles prattle about “precipitous collapses.”

Only silly Chicken Littles, apparently, and applied mathematicians.

One of those mathematicians, the University of Maryland’s Safa Motesharrei, has joined with two colleagues to publish a new paper that sees the “precipitous collapse” of our global order as a distinct possibility.

.....(snip).....

These collapses, Motesharrei and his collaborators note, naturally raise the question whether we today remain “similarly susceptible.” Or can our modern civilization, with all our “greater technological capacity, scientific knowledge, and energy resources,” survive whatever did in our sophisticated predecessors?

And what did do in these predecessors? In previous collapses, we see some similar patterns. The doomed societies overextended themselves environmentally. They depleted their natural resources at an unsustainable pace — and failed to see, despite their sophistication, the warning signs of their impending implosion. They soldiered on, oblivious to the danger. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/sky-sometimes-start-falling/#sthash.00AfTBwH.dpuf






Why Our Sky Sometimes Does Start Falling


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


Why Our Sky Sometimes Does Start Falling
APRIL 20, 2014

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be able to demonstrate the link between inequality and catastrophic environmental change. But a little help from rocket scientists can certainly help.


By Sam Pizzigati


The sky, we all learn as children, is not falling — and never falls. Only silly Chicken Littles prattle about “precipitous collapses.”

Only silly Chicken Littles, apparently, and applied mathematicians.

One of those mathematicians, the University of Maryland’s Safa Motesharrei, has joined with two colleagues to publish a new paper that sees the “precipitous collapse” of our global order as a distinct possibility.

.....(snip).....

These collapses, Motesharrei and his collaborators note, naturally raise the question whether we today remain “similarly susceptible.” Or can our modern civilization, with all our “greater technological capacity, scientific knowledge, and energy resources,” survive whatever did in our sophisticated predecessors?

And what did do in these predecessors? In previous collapses, we see some similar patterns. The doomed societies overextended themselves environmentally. They depleted their natural resources at an unsustainable pace — and failed to see, despite their sophistication, the warning signs of their impending implosion. They soldiered on, oblivious to the danger. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/sky-sometimes-start-falling/#sthash.00AfTBwH.dpuf



Chris Hedges: The Rhetoric of Violence

from truthdig:


The Rhetoric of Violence

Posted on Apr 20, 2014
By Chris Hedges


At least nine people were killed and at least 35 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Thursday police announced that a man had been arrested on charges of firing on a number of motorists recently, wounding three of them, on Kansas City-area highways. On April 13 three people, including a child, were murdered at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Overland Park, Kan., leading to the arrest of a white supremacist. On April 12, armed militias in Nevada got the federal government to retreat, allowing rancher Cliven Bundy to continue to graze his cattle on public land. All this happened over a span of only nine days in the life of a country where more than 250 people are shot every day. In America, violence and the threat of lethal force are the ways we communicate. Violence—the preferred form of control by the state—is an expression of our hatred, self-loathing and lust for vengeance. And this bloodletting will increasingly mark a nation in terminal decline.

Violence, as H. Rap Brown said, is “as American as cherry pie.” It has a long and coveted place in U.S. history. Vigilante groups including slave patrols, gunslingers, Pinkerton and Baldwin-Felts detectives, gangs of strikebreakers, gun thugs, company militias, the White Citizens’ Council, the Knights of the White Camellia, and the Ku Klux Klan, which boasted more than 3 million members between 1915 and 1944 and took over the governance of some states, formed and shaped America. Heavily armed mercenary paramilitaries, armed militias such as the Oath Keepers and the anti-immigration extremist group Ranch Rescue, along with omnipotent and militarized police forces, are parts of a seamless continuation of America’s gun culture and tradition of vigilantism. And roaming the landscape along with these vigilante groups are lone gunmen who kill for money or power or at the command of their personal demons.

Vigilante groups in America do not trade violence for violence. They murder anyone who defies the structures of capitalism, even if the victims are unarmed. The vigilantes, often working with the approval and sometimes with the collusion of state law enforcement agencies, are rarely held accountable. They are capitalism’s shock troops, its ideological vanguard, used to break populist movements. Imagine that, if instead of right-wing militias, so-called “ecoterrorists”—who have never been found responsible for taking a single American life—had showed up armed in Nevada. How would the authorities have responded if those carrying guns had been from Earth First? Take a guess. Across U.S. history, hundreds of unarmed labor union members have been shot to death by vigilante groups working on behalf of coal, steel or mining concerns, and thousands more have been wounded. The United States has had the bloodiest labor wars in the industrialized world. Murderous rampages by vigilante groups, almost always in the pay of companies or oligarchs, have been unleashed on union members and agitators although no American labor union ever publicly called for an armed uprising. African-Americans, too, have endured a vigilante reign of terror, one that lasted for generations after the Civil War.

And all the while, vigilantes have been lionized by popular culture, winning mythic status in Hollywood movies that glorify lone avengers. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_rhetoric_of_violence_20140420



Wolves of Wall Street: Financialization and American Inequality


from Dissent magazine:


Wolves of Wall Street: Financialization and American Inequality
By Colin Gordon - April 17, 2014


This series is adapted from Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality, a resource developed for the Project on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and inequality.org. It is presented in nine parts. The introduction laid out the basic dimensions of American inequality and examined some of the usual explanatory suspects. The political explanation for American inequality is developed through chapters looking in turn at labor relations, the minimum wage and labor standards, job-based benefits, social policy, taxes, financialization, executive pay, and macroeconomic policy. Previous installments in this series can be found here.


It’s no secret by now that the recent spike in American inequality, and the gains rapidly accruing to those at the upper end of the income distribution ladder, are driven in large part by “financialization”—the growing scale and profitability of the financial sector relative to the rest of the economy, and the shrinking regulation of its rules and returns. The success or failure of the financial sector has a disproportionate impact on the rest of the economy, especially when the combination of too much speculation and too little regulation starts inflating and bursting bubbles. And its returns flow almost exclusively to high earners. An overcharged finance sector, in other words, breeds inequality when it succeeds and when it fails.

A Short History of American Finance

Across the modern era, key moments of economic growth—the railroad and heavy industry development of the 1890s, the advent of electricity and automobiles in the 1920s and 1930s, and the IT boom of the 1980s—have been accompanied by parallel innovations in financial services. Each of these eras, in turn, was punctuated by a crisis in which speculation in new financial instruments, over-exuberance about their prospects, or outright chicanery turned boom into bust. The railroad boom of the nineteenth century yielded a wildly unregulated market for railroad securities and a series of market collapses. The emergence of a consumer-goods economy in the early decades of the twentieth century transformed both corporate finance and consumer credit and spilled the country into the Great Depression.

.......(snip).......

American Finance and American Inequality

The rise of the financial sector has fed inequality in a number of ways. First, the disproportionate growth of finance diverts incomes from labor (wages and salaries) to capital. Indeed, recent work by the International Labor Office suggests that financialization accounts for about half of the decline in labor’s share of national income (in the United States and elsewhere) since 1970.

But even more important than the slow siphoning off of labor’s share is the widening inequality within that share, as top earners pull away from the rest of the pack. Increased employment in finance has been accompanied by accelerating rates of compensation in the sector, from about $20,000 per year per employee (including secretaries and clerks) in 1980 to nearly $100,000 today. This is of course exaggerated at the top of the income spectrum. In 2004, by one estimate, the combined income of the top twenty-five hedge fund managers exceeded the combined income of all of the Standard and Poor top 500 CEOs. The number of Wall Street investors earning more than $100 million a year was nine times higher than the public company executives earning that amount. About 14 percent of the “1 percent” are employed in finance, a share that has doubled since 1979. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/wolves-of-wall-street-financialization-and-american-inequality



Why Apple's iPad is in big trouble

By Adam Levine-Weinberg
The Motley Fool (via USA TODAY), via the Detroit Free Press:


Less than two years ago, Apple’s (ticker: AAPL) iPad absolutely dominated the tablet space. As of mid-2012, Apple still claimed nearly 70% of the tablet market, while Android tablet manufacturers were struggling to make any headway.

Furthermore, the iPad Mini’s fall 2012 arrival was an open secret by then. As a result, tablet market analysts expected Apple to further solidify its dominance of the tablet market over time.

However, the opposite has occurred. Not only has Apple’s market share lead crumbled, but iPad sales growth has also come to a crashing halt. Tablet rivals such as Amazon.com (AMZN) and Samsung are gaining momentum by closing the quality gap with Apple and offering lower price points. Unless Apple can deliver vastly improved iPads later this year, the iPad’s growth days are over.

Where did all the iPad buyers go?

It’s hard to imagine right now, but just two years ago, Apple was growing iPad revenue by more than 60% and iPad unit sales by 80% -- even without an entry in the growing 7- and 8-inch tablet market! Last year, despite the addition of the iPad Mini, unit sales growth slowed to 22%. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20140419/BUSINESS07/304190041/



Republican ad knocks Mark Schauer for nursing home fee extended by Gov. Rick Snyder


LANSING, MI -- The Republican Governors Association released what it called a "new attack ad" on Wednesday, criticizing Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer for a 2002 state House vote that imposed a new per-bed fee on nursing homes.

The only problem?

The "Medicaid Quality Assurance Assessment Program" was backed by Republican Gov. John Engler, won bipartisan support in the state Legislature and was later extended by Gov. Rick Snyder, who Schauer is challenging.

The program was designed to win federal match dollars and then return them to nursing homes that participate in Michigan's Medicaid program.

"By continuing the assessment, the state receives more in federal matching Medicaid funds than what is paid out by nursing homes," according to a 2011 press release from Snyder's office. "These funds are then directed to nursing homes in Michigan that provide Medicaid services." ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2014/04/fees_on_nursing_home_beds_repu.html



Philadelphia: SEPTA to restore all-night subway service




SEPTA will restore all-night subway service on Fridays and Saturdays, at least temporarily, beginning in June, officials said Monday.

SEPTA's proposed new operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes several hundred thousand dollars to run the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines all night on Fridays and Saturdays.

Since 1991, subway service has been halted between midnight and 5 a.m., with Nite Owl buses substituted on those routes. Increasing nightlife and residential activity in Center City prompted SEPTA officials to bring back the subway service.

Chief financial officer Richard Burnfield said the program would be an experiment from mid-June until Labor Day. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://articles.philly.com/2014-04-16/news/49159240_1_subway-service-septa-headquarters-capital-budget



GMO Labeling Update: State Efforts Pick Up Momentum, Big Ag Doubles Down





(Civil Eats) Most Americans would prefer to know whether or not they’re eating genetically engineered foods (commonly referred to as GMOs). According to some polls, as many as 93 percent of us would like to see them labeled. But there’s one group committed to ensuring that such labels never grace supermarket shelves.

Meet the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food (the “Coalition”), Big Food’s slick response to the rise of state-led GMO labeling initiatives.

Launched in February by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Coalition is comprised of 30-plus private interest groups, including chemicals and biotechnology companies, processed food manufacturers, and the farm lobbies responsible for planting the bulk of the nation’s GMO corn, soy, and sugar beets.

However, you won’t see specific corporations that are invested in these foods, like Monsanto, Du Pont, PepsiCo, or Nestlé listed on the Coalition’s site. Rather, they’re hiding in plain view as affiliates of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Snack Food Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers. In other words, Big Food has stepped up its GMO defense strategy. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2014/04/16/gmo-labeling-update-state-efforts-pick-up-momentum-big-ag-doubles-down/#sthash.lYB4AG3N.dpuf



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