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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: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 69,333

Journal Archives

Will the 2016 Primaries Be Electronically Rigged?


Will the 2016 Primaries Be Electronically Rigged?

Thursday, 28 January 2016 12:18
By Victoria Collier and Ben Ptashnik, Truthout | News Analysis


"You've heard the old adage 'follow the money.' I follow the vote, and wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to ... make bad things happen." — Steve Stigall, CIA cyber-security expert, in remarks to the US Election Assistance Commission


Primary election rigging in the coming weeks and months is all but assured if American voters and candidates don't take steps to prevent it now. Evidence that US voting systems are wide open to fraud and manipulation should be taken seriously in light of the unprecedented high-stakes elections we're facing.

Not in recent history have American voters been presented with such radically polarized candidates, forcing a crucial choice for the direction of our future, and possibly upending long-established centers of power.

It's no secret that US primaries have been tightly controlled by the two ruling parties, usually to the benefit of their favored candidates. If this internal manipulation (some might call it rigging) is not publicly condoned, neither is it loudly condemned.

This year, however, the primary season is shaping up to be a battle royal between the political establishment and outsider insurgencies who are challenging the party elites and defying their usual filters, money and manipulations. And it seems all bets are off.

As a brazen Donald Trump kicks down the door of the GOP, tens of millions in super PAC dark cash has (so far) failed to buy the candidacy for a lackluster Jeb Bush. Accusations abound that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has stacked the deck for Hillary Clinton. Yet nothing - not even corporate media's censorship or outright hostility toward Bernie Sanders - has blunted his skyrocketing grassroots campaign. ...................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34607-will-the-2016-primaries-be-electronically-rigged




Canada Cuts Off Some Intelligence Sharing With U.S. Out of Fear for Canadians’ Privacy


(The Intercept) Canada’s CBC network reported Thursday that the country is slamming on the brakes when it comes to sharing some communications intelligence with key allies — including the U.S. — out of fear that Canadian personal information is not properly protected.

“Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan says the sharing won’t resume until he is satisfied that the proper protections are in place,” CBC reported.

Earlier on Thursday, the watchdog tasked with keeping tabs on the Ottawa-based Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Jean-Pierre Plouffe, called out the electronic spying agency for risking Canadian privacy in his annual report.

Plouffe wrote that the surveillance agency broke privacy laws when it shared Canadian data with its allies without properly protecting it first. Consequently, he concluded, it should precisely explain how Canadian citizens’ metadata — information about who a communication is to and from, the subject line of an email, and so on — can and can’t be used.

“Minimization is the process by which Canadian identity information contained in metadata is rendered unidentifiable prior to being shared,” Plouffe wrote in his report. “The fact that CSE did not properly minimize Canadian identity information contained in certain metadata prior to being shared was contrary to the ministerial directive, and to CSE’s operational policy.” ...............(more)

https://theintercept.com/2016/01/28/canada-cuts-off-some-intelligence-sharing-with-u-s-out-of-fear-for-canadians-privacy/




Office Market in Houston Melts Down


Office Market in Houston Melts Down
by Wolf Richter • January 26, 2016

Watch the banks.

Commercial real estate is highly leveraged. Debt is everything. The entire math is based on high rental rates and low vacancy rates. Without them, the debts cannot be serviced. But now in Houston, both are shooting in the wrong direction.

OK, Houston’s economy is diversified, they say. The oil bust hurts, and there have been waves of layoffs of highly paid engineers, but it won’t hit the city as bad as the last big oil bust did, they say.

And yet, the amount of office space vacated by companies that are trying to slash their operating expenses and that is now on the market as sublease space has spiked 69% by the end of 2015, to 7.6 million square feet (msf), according to real-estate services firm Savills Studley. And they “continue to sit on the market.” .................(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/01/26/office-market-in-houston-croaks/




Forget Techno-Optimism: We Can’t Innovate Our Way Out of Inequality


from In These Times:



Forget Techno-Optimism: We Can’t Innovate Our Way Out of Inequality
Hillary Clinton’s former ‘senior advisor for innovation’ sees our Uber-ized future through rose-colored glasses

BY CHRIS LEHMANN


Toward the end of his 250-page hymn to digital-age innovation, The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross pauses to offer a rare cautionary note. Silicon Valley may have incubated all the wonders and conveniences one can imagine—and oh, so many more! But for the international business elites looking to remake their emerging market economies in the Valley’s gleaming, khaki-clad image, there’s some bad news: It can no longer be done. A “decades-long head start” has granted too great a competitive advantage to the charmed peninsula along the Northern California coast.

Not to worry, though! On-the-make tech globalists can still make a go of it, provided they’re prepared to embrace “specific cultural and labor market characteristics that can contradict both a society’s norms and the more controlling impulses of government leaders.”

Stripped of the vague and glowing techno-babble, this is a prescription for good old-fashioned neoliberal market discipline. Everywhere Ross looks across the radically transformed world of digital commerce, the benign logic of market triumphalism wins the day. When Terry Gou—the Taiwanese CEO of Foxconn, the vast Chinese electronics sweatshop that doubles as an incubator for worker suicides—plans to eliminate the headache of supervising an unstable human workforce by replacing it with “the first fully automated plant” in manufacturing history, why, he’s simply “responding to pure market forces”: i.e., an increase in Chinese wages that cuts into Foxconn’s ridiculously broad profit margins. And you and I might see the so-called sharing economy as a means to casualize service workers into nonunion, benefit-free gigs that transfer economic value on a massive scale to a rentier class of Silicon Valley app marketers. But bouncy New Economy cheerleaders like Ross see “a way of making a market out of anything, and a microentrepreneur out of anyone.”

When confronted with the spiraling of income inequality in the digital age, Ross, like countless other prophets of better living through software, sagely counsels that “rapid progress often comes with greater instability.” Sure, the “wealthy generally benefit over the short term,” but remember, kids: “Innovations have the potential to become cheaper over time and spread throughout the greater population.” ...............(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/18754/alec-ross-techno-optimism




The $29 Trillion Corporate Debt Hangover That Could Spark a Recession


(Bloomberg) There’s been endless speculation in recent weeks about whether the U.S., and the whole world for that matter, are about to sink into recession. Underpinning much of the angst is an unprecedented $29 trillion corporate bond binge that has left many companies more indebted than ever.

Whether this debt overhang proves to be a catalyst for recession or not, one thing is clear in talking to credit-market observers: It’s a problem that won’t go away any time soon.

Strains are emerging in just about every corner of the global credit market. Credit-rating downgrades account for the biggest chunk of ratings actions since 2009; corporate leverage is at a 12-year high; and perhaps most worrisome, growing numbers of companies -- one third globally -- are failing to generate high enough returns on investments to cover their cost of funding. Pooled together into a single snapshot, the data points show how the seven-year-old global growth model based on cheap credit from central banks is running out of steam.

“We’ve never been in a cycle quite like this,” said Bonnie Baha, a money manager at DoubleLine Capital in Los Angeles, which oversees $80 billion. “It’s setting up for an unhappy turn.” ..............(more)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-28/some-29-trillion-later-the-corporate-debt-boom-looks-exhausted




Ka-boom Goes the Bottom of the US Bond Market


Ka-boom Goes the Bottom of the US Bond Market
by Wolf Richter • January 27, 2016


And it’s not just oil & gas!

The toxic pile of distressed corporate debt in the US grew to $285 billion in January, up 22% from a month ago and up 162% from a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ. The number of distressed issuers ballooned to 324 US corporations, up 20% from a month ago and up 84% from a year ago.

The last time the total amounts of distressed debt and the number of distressed issuers had shot up to these levels was in October 2008, just after Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy.

That’s how bad it is now in the US. It’s the essential consequence of years of artificially easy credit, the Fed-inspired blind confidence of yield-desperate investors, ludicrous corporate risk-taking to take advantage of those blind investors, private-equity asset stripping and buyouts, and among other things, the collapse of commodity prices that resulted from overproduction.

During the Financial Crisis, the total amount of distressed US corporate debt maxed out at $398 billion in December 2008 and then began to drop as the Fed was dousing the land with QE and started manually bailing out corporations and banks with emergency loans. Today, there are no bailouts in sight, and no one is talking about an emergency. So the distressed debt of $285 billion today is just the beginning. ................(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/01/27/distressed-us-corporate-debt-at-lehman-moment-levels/




The $29 Trillion Corporate Debt Hangover That Could Spark a Recession


(Bloomberg) There’s been endless speculation in recent weeks about whether the U.S., and the whole world for that matter, are about to sink into recession. Underpinning much of the angst is an unprecedented $29 trillion corporate bond binge that has left many companies more indebted than ever.

Whether this debt overhang proves to be a catalyst for recession or not, one thing is clear in talking to credit-market observers: It’s a problem that won’t go away any time soon.

Strains are emerging in just about every corner of the global credit market. Credit-rating downgrades account for the biggest chunk of ratings actions since 2009; corporate leverage is at a 12-year high; and perhaps most worrisome, growing numbers of companies -- one third globally -- are failing to generate high enough returns on investments to cover their cost of funding. Pooled together into a single snapshot, the data points show how the seven-year-old global growth model based on cheap credit from central banks is running out of steam.

“We’ve never been in a cycle quite like this,” said Bonnie Baha, a money manager at DoubleLine Capital in Los Angeles, which oversees $80 billion. “It’s setting up for an unhappy turn.” ..............(more)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-28/some-29-trillion-later-the-corporate-debt-boom-looks-exhausted




How Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Philanthropy’ Lets Him Stash His Billions Without Paying Taxes


by Jim Hightower


Let us now praise “Lord Zuckerberg, The Magnificent!”

Mark Zuckerberg, the wunderkind of Silicon Valley who co-founded Facebook and amassed roughly a gabillion dollars in personal wealth, is now being hailed as a new giant of American altruism.

This started after the tech titan and his wife Priscilla Chan announced the birth of their first child. While delivering what could have been routine news, they announced that in honor of baby Maxima’s birth, they intend to donate $45 billion — 99 percent of their Facebook wealth — to charity.

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other media outlets swooned at Zuckerberg’s selfless act: “Philanthropy Pledge Sets New Giving Standard,” gushed Bloomberg. Lost in the fog of media adulation are two important facts: (1) the $45 billion didn’t actually go to charity, and (2) it wasn’t really a donation.

Instead, as reported by Jesse Eisinger at ProPublica, Zuckerberg slyly slipped his fortune into “an investment vehicle” that he created for himself. Far from being a charity, this vehicle is in essence a get-away car, letting him stash his billions in it and speed away without paying taxes. ..............(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_mark_zuckerbergs_philanthropy_lets_him_stash_his_billions_20160127




Suburban office parks are dying because young people don't want to drive there





(Mother Nature Network) At a New Year’s Eve party, I was talking to a business exec running a tech company located in a suburban office building. He was complaining about the number of times he would interview a person who would say he wasn't crazy about taking the subway and then a bus all the way out to the ‘burbs every day. The exec got increasingly frustrated and at one point responded “So get a car! That’s what grown-ups do when they get jobs!” The candidate responded that he didn’t know how to drive, didn’t have a license, and would keep looking for a job that allowed him to use a bike or transit. This scenario has played out more than once, so the company is now looking for new office space downtown. The suburban office building in his business sector is functionally obsolete. It may well become what we used to call a "see-through" — a glass box with nothing inside.

A new study from real estate firm Newmark, Grubb, Knight and Frank confirms that this kind of obsolescence is becoming common. In fact, of the six factors signifying obsolescence, it's perhaps the most important and the least curable.

Suburban office buildings that have become obsolete due to car-centric and removed locations — and which do not have some factor that will remedy these traits in the future (such as a planned transit station or new highway exits) — are unlikely to achieve market-average rents as leases roll. In extreme cases, properties that are incurably obsolete — primarily those at undesirable locations or with building sizes or for plates that tenants now find either too large or too small — may never lease again.


The study notes that there's always a market of some kind for obsolete space: “There will always be extremely value-conscious tenants who set cost as their most important requirement. As a result, there will always be some market share for value-priced properties, even if those properties do not conform to the current trends of transit-adjacent, amenity- laden space.” ..........................(more)

http://www.mnn.com/money/green-workplace/blogs/suburban-office-parks-are-dying-because-young-people-dont-want-drive-there?utm_content=buffer91ad2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer




‘White culture’ dies if women are ‘outside the home not having babies’





A Florida state House subcommittee heard testimony on Monday that the “white culture” would be destroyed if white women were “outside the home not having babies” while other ethnicities had a higher birthrate.

During a House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting on Monday, lawmakers discussed HB 865, a bill that would ban all abortions except in cases where the health of the mother was at risk.

Republican Rep. Charles Van Zant, who sponsored the bill, argued that life began at conception, and that even zygotes were “citizens of Florida.”

While testifying about the bill, an anti-abortion activist named Paul injected race into the discussion.

“We see the destruction we’re bringing upon ourself as a nation,” Paul opined. “The Muslims, they don’t kill the babies.”

Paul noted that “white people” did not “live on an Island,” and that “the Mexicans” would propagate faster because they did not practice abortions. .............(more)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/fl-anti-abortion-hearing-turns-racist-white-culture-dies-if-women-are-outside-the-home-not-having-babies/





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