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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: 65,342

Journal Archives

Some of America’s Biggest Corporations Pay Their CEOs More Than They Owe in Taxes


via truthdig:



How does a company like Ford, which did $139.4 billion in business last year, qualify for a tax refund?

In an effort to highlight the inequities of the corporate tax code, the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies did a study and found that seven of the 30 biggest corporations in the country paid less in taxes than they did to their top executives.

Ford’s Alan Mulally, for example, took home $23.2 million in the same year that his company got a refund of $19 million from Uncle Sam. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/some_of_americas_biggest_corporations_pay_their_ceos_more_than_they_owe_in_



When a Bank Owns 100 Oil Tankers, It Can Mess With the Price of Gas


via truthdig:


A two-year Senate investigation of the financial sector has found that banks can meddle with the economy in new and frightening ways.

The investigation was led by Carl Levin, D-Mich., and looked specifically at the impact of investments on the prices of certain commodities—things like oil and uranium.

Deregulation made it possible for firms such as Goldman Sachs to outright buy commodities and commodity suppliers. For instance, Goldman owns a coal mine in Colombia. And that fleet of 100 oil tankers? It belonged at one time to Morgan Stanley, which also held 55 million barrels of oil storage. JPMorgan Chase, according to The New York Times, once owned 31 power plants.

These are some of the same institutions that profit from your credit card debt when the price of oil goes up. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/when_a_bank_owns_100_oil_tankers_it_can_mess_with_the_price_of_gas_20141119



German Town Plays Charitable Prank on Neo-Nazis


via truthdig:


If you can’t beat ’em, make ’em raise money against their own cause.

That was the clever, and classy, approach that locals from the small German town of Wunsiedel took when confronted yet again with an annual spectacle that they didn’t ask for and can’t yet do away with altogether: the yearly march of neo-Nazis through their home turf, which happens to be the initial resting place of Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man Rudolf Hess.

As The Independent reported Tuesday, Hess doesn’t rest there anymore, but that still hasn’t fully resolved the issue for residents, so they resorted to creative measures this year:

In 2011, the roughly 1,000 inhabitants of the town managed - with the agreement of family members - to get Hess’ remains exhumed and his gravestone destroyed. However, marchers still flock to the town, albeit in smaller numbers.

So this year, come the march on November 15, a campaign called “Rechts gegen Rechts” (Right against Right) decided to turn the neo-Nazi rally into a charity walk.

Instead of protesting against the demonstration, shop owners and residents in Wunsiedel pledged to donate 10 euro for each metre the neo-Nazis marched.

They managed to raise 10,000 euros. The money went towards EXIT-Deutschland, a charity that helps people leave neo-Nazi groups.


The neo-Nazi visitors were made aware of the reason why their Wunsiedel hosts were acting so accommodating only at the end of the march, when they were informed about where the funds they raised would be sent. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/german_town_plays_charitable_prank_on_neo-nazis_video_20141118



It's Time for an Honest Conversation About Why People Don't Vote


It's Time for an Honest Conversation About Why People Don't Vote

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 10:22
By Joe Brewer, Truthout | Op-Ed


The recent US election had the lowest voter turnout since World War II. Only 36 percent of eligible voters showed up to cast their vote - giving the Republicans a "grand majority" of garnered support that adds up to a measly one-sixth of the adult population. The will of the people is a resounding vote of no confidence in our broken political system. Two out of three of us were uninspired with their limited choice between the Party of Financial Elites and the Party of Financial Elites Lite.

Looked at another way, the jaw-dropping $3.6 billion spent to buy this election has only further distanced the majority of people from participating in a rigged system. Many of us already know about the flood of "dark money" that routinely distorts the electoral process. Most Americans know full well that our democracy is a farce. We live in a plutocracy where money buys elections and wealth rules supreme. We didn't need political science scholars to do a massive study to show us this.

This understanding is the common thread that weaves disgruntled Tea Partiers, marginalized progressives, and frustrated libertarians into one American quilt. It is what brought millions together in shared sympathy during the Occupy protests back in 2011. We already know that elections have become an inadequate instrument for democracy on their own. What has yet to be said is what to do about it - how do people with such diverse ideological views (famous for making us interpret the facts differently) come together and replace the system with one that is more democratic, more pluralistic and more effective at solving the problems we all care about?

First off, we have to acknowledge that old political labels conceal more than they reveal. It's not about Republicans versus Democrats, or even liberals versus conservatives. Yes, there are real ideological differences between these groups. And yet - when it comes to macro economics and regulation of the financial sector - a singular ideology permeates the upper echelons of power for both sides. Call it neoliberalism, or free market ideology, or the Washington Consensus. Regardless of the label used, this internally consistent approach to corporate rule goes unchallenged by either political party. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/27509-it-s-time-for-honest-conversation-about-why-people-don-t-vote



Academic Madness and the Politics of Exile


Academic Madness and the Politics of Exile

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 09:51
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed


Ideological fundamentalism and political purity appear to have a strong grip on US and Canadian societies as can be seen in the endless attacks on reason, truth, critical thinking and informed exchange. In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper decries what he derisively attacks as intellectuals and journalists who are "committing sociology" by which he means holding power accountable. For Harper, the attack on "committing sociology" becomes synonymous with removing critical thought from both the university and public discourse.

In one instance of ideological suppression, the Harper government has been accused by a number of scientists and academics of "a pattern that has seen the . . . government reduce media access to scientists and cut funding and programs" because the latter have provided evidence for the destructive effects of climate change. (1) Of course, in the United States, political illiteracy seems to be the one qualification, besides great wealth, that gets one elected to political office. At the same time, celebrity culture smothers the US public with a rampant idiocy that practically ensures that violence is largely experienced as entertainment further reinforced by an anti-intellectualism that provides the foundation for paralyzing most forms of critical and engaged agency.

This type of fundamentalism might be expected in a society that has become increasingly anti-intellectual, given its commitment to commodities, violence, privatization, the death of the social and the bare bones relations of commerce. But it is more surprising when it appears in universities, especially among so-called liberals and progressives. In this instance, political fragmentation, desperation and the fog of insularity appear to be producing a form of ideological fundamentalism fueled by a take-no-prisoners version of political purity that is wrapped in a kind of self-righteous moralism. This is a moralism marked by an inability or reluctance to imagine what others are thinking. Or as Kant once said, "to think in the place of the other person." This type of ideological self-righteousness by so-called progressives, and sometimes elements of the orthodox left, is especially dispiriting because it makes a mockery of academic freedom, and often condemns other positions even before they are heard or are available to be discussed and analyzed.

Rather than open up conversations, this type of pedagogical terrorism closes them down and then collapses into a kind of comedy of intellectual boasting while assuming the moral high ground. Hubris becomes more than shameful in this instance; it becomes toxic, blinding the ideological warriors to their own militant ignorance and anti-democratic rhetoric while shutting down any notion of the university as a democratic public sphere. What is lost here is how a pedagogy of repression assumes a revolutionary stance when in fact everything about it is counterrevolutionary. In the end this suggests a kind of theoretical helplessness, a replacing of the inability to think with the discourse of denunciation and a language overflowing with binarisms of good and evil. What is at risk here is both the moral collapse of politics and the undermining of the very nature of critical thought and agency. Of course, this raises the question of how one survives in the university without being in exile, or at the very best existing with one foot in and one foot out. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/27501-henry-a-giroux-academic-madness-and-the-politics-of-exile



Richard Wolff: System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism


System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism

Monday, 17 November 2014 09:52
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | News Analysis


Societies today where capitalist economic systems prevail confront government gridlock. Facing serious and deepening economic problems, even when their leaders can sometimes agree on particular policies, the policies are frequently inadequate to solve the problems. Therefore, questions challenging capitalism occur now more often and more influentially than they have for many decades. Renewed interest in systemic changes, both socialist and fascist, agitates many societies.

Historically, capitalism's problems often led its leaders (economic and political) to make adjustments and changes in income and wealth distributions, government regulations affecting enterprises and markets, international relations, and so on. For example, progressive income taxes and minimum wages were legislated, anti-monopoly rules were enacted, and tariffs and foreign wars were imposed. Sometimes, capitalism's leaders lacked the capacity to execute such solutions or else those solutions proved insufficient. Then, more systemic changes arrived on social agendas. The two most important of such systemic changes were traditional socialism and fascism. These were achieved by peaceful or violent means, by parliamentary reforms or by revolutions, depending on the circumstances of time and place.

By traditional socialism, we mean here the sorts of systemic changes associated with the Soviet Union and China, but also with European social democracy. By fascism, we mean the sorts of systems exemplified by Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany.

Capitalism's deepest problems sooner or later drove political and economic groups within its national boundaries to pursue what they saw as systemic solutions. By that, they meant first and foremost changing the state and integrating it much more closely with enterprises (factories, offices and stores). Transitions to traditional socialism and fascism have historically been the major different, alternative forms of such systemic solutions. Neither has yet proved a durable solution. Modern societies have returned from fascist or traditional socialist periods to forms of capitalism that re-established a greater distance between enterprises and the state. Yet those forms of capitalism keep generating business cycles and inequalities that eventually become the serious problems that bring yet another turn toward traditional socialism or fascism. The deepening problems of the early 21st century raise the distinct possibility of another cycle of fascist and traditional socialist experiments or, as we shall show, perhaps a genuinely new solution. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27270-system-change-or-there-and-back-again-capitalism-socialism-fascism




Richard Wolff: System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism


System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism

Monday, 17 November 2014 09:52
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | News Analysis


Societies today where capitalist economic systems prevail confront government gridlock. Facing serious and deepening economic problems, even when their leaders can sometimes agree on particular policies, the policies are frequently inadequate to solve the problems. Therefore, questions challenging capitalism occur now more often and more influentially than they have for many decades. Renewed interest in systemic changes, both socialist and fascist, agitates many societies.

Historically, capitalism's problems often led its leaders (economic and political) to make adjustments and changes in income and wealth distributions, government regulations affecting enterprises and markets, international relations, and so on. For example, progressive income taxes and minimum wages were legislated, anti-monopoly rules were enacted, and tariffs and foreign wars were imposed. Sometimes, capitalism's leaders lacked the capacity to execute such solutions or else those solutions proved insufficient. Then, more systemic changes arrived on social agendas. The two most important of such systemic changes were traditional socialism and fascism. These were achieved by peaceful or violent means, by parliamentary reforms or by revolutions, depending on the circumstances of time and place.

By traditional socialism, we mean here the sorts of systemic changes associated with the Soviet Union and China, but also with European social democracy. By fascism, we mean the sorts of systems exemplified by Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany.

Capitalism's deepest problems sooner or later drove political and economic groups within its national boundaries to pursue what they saw as systemic solutions. By that, they meant first and foremost changing the state and integrating it much more closely with enterprises (factories, offices and stores). Transitions to traditional socialism and fascism have historically been the major different, alternative forms of such systemic solutions. Neither has yet proved a durable solution. Modern societies have returned from fascist or traditional socialist periods to forms of capitalism that re-established a greater distance between enterprises and the state. Yet those forms of capitalism keep generating business cycles and inequalities that eventually become the serious problems that bring yet another turn toward traditional socialism or fascism. The deepening problems of the early 21st century raise the distinct possibility of another cycle of fascist and traditional socialist experiments or, as we shall show, perhaps a genuinely new solution. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27270-system-change-or-there-and-back-again-capitalism-socialism-fascism



Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse


by Steven Rattner


(NYT) THE Democrats’ drubbing in the midterm elections was unfortunate on many levels, but particularly because the prospect of addressing income inequality grows dimmer, even as the problem worsens.

To only modest notice, during the campaign the Federal Reserve put forth more sobering news about income inequality: Inflation-adjusted earnings of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell between 2010 and 2013, with those near the bottom dropping the most. Meanwhile, incomes in the top decile rose.

Perhaps income disparity resonated so little with politicians because we are inured to a new Gilded Age.

But we shouldn’t be. Nor should we be inattentive to the often ignored role that government plays in determining income distribution in each country. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/17/opinion/inequality-unbelievably-gets-worse.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0



Fox News Climate Coverage (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/fox_climate_20141116


America’s Pseudo-Democracy


from Consortium News:


America’s Pseudo-Democracy
November 15, 2014

U.S. pundits mock countries, like Iran or China, where candidates are screened before they go on the ballot, but America has a similar approach, with candidates needing approval from plutocrats and special interests. But that’s just one problem of U.S. democracy, says Lawrence Davidson.


By Lawrence Davidson


Given the dangerous results of the recent election in the United States – one that saw the Republicans, a right-wing party increasingly populated with neocon warmongers, reactionaries and plutocrats take control of both houses of Congress – it might be time to take a look at a sober look at U.S. democracy.

We can begin be taking note of the generic observation made by Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.” The implication here is that democracy is really not the God-blessed system so many of Americans take it to be.

For instance, the public in a democracy is just as vulnerable to manipulation by various elites and interest groups as are those in non-democratic environments. The difference is that a democracy has a built-in procedure that allows citizens to have second thoughts about past manipulation. Thus they can kick out the bastards they were originally persuaded to kick in – even if it is often only to replace them with a new set of bastards.

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

Such is the pseudo-democracy most Americans hold so dear. It still has its virtues relative to more authoritarian forms of rule. However, these too may be shrinking.

After 9/11 the rule of law and freedom of speech in the U.S. have been compromised. You can still write an essay like this one, but if you work for the government or the mainstream press and divulge the government’s criminal excesses, you are likely to end up in jail or exile. These are precarious times and they don’t show American democracy in a very good light – a sobering picture indeed. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/11/15/americas-pseudo-democracy/



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