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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: 64,191

Journal Archives

Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction


from truthdig:


Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

Posted on Apr 8, 2014
By Harvey Wasserman


The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem.

The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor fallout is doing the same.

How the two mega-poisons interact remains largely unstudied, but the answers can’t be good. And it’s clearer than ever that we won’t survive without ridding our planet of both.

To oppose atomic power with fossil fuels is to treat cancer by burning down the house.

To oppose petro-pollution with nukes is to stoke that fire with radiation. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fighting_our_fossil-nuke_extinction_20140408



The Oligarchy Doesn't Care About Democracy, Just Rigged Markets


The Oligarchy Doesn't Care About Democracy, Just Rigged Markets

Monday, 07 April 2014 10:40
By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Author Interview


In All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power, Wall Street journalist (and former Goldman Sachs executive) Nomi Prins writes a painstakingly researched history of the financial industry's collusion with the White House to create a self-serving United States financial policy.


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

Mark Karlin: Could your book have been called Wall Street Financiers Are America's Co-Presidents?

Nomi Prins: Yes, that's a great way to describe the symbiotic relationship between the men that run the White House and those that run Wall Street. But equally, the title could have been American Presidents are Wall Street's Co-Bankers. When I set out to research this book, I specifically did not want to write another book about how bankers rule the world. Many people, myself included, have written books along that "dog wags the tail" theme. But I wanted to explore the relationships between the men that reside at the two poles of power over America, those who are elected to the White House and those that govern over its finances, and about how long, and to what extent, they operate on the same page.

What I found, is that that for the past century, mutually reinforcing relationships amongst the most powerful men in the past century were drivers of American domestic, national and foreign policy than just the government was, no matter who the president, or what the party in the Oval. I found that every president had connections of various degrees of closeness with the most influential bankers during his term. I knew these associations existed throughout the decades, but I was surprised to discover just how prevalent they were.

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

Reading your new book, I get the feeling that the privileged few in the private sector who control most of America's money, de facto, don't really give a whit about democracy. What they are focused on is free markets for the plutocracy like a laser. Is that your perspective?

The notion of free markets, mechanisms where buyers and sellers can meet to exchange securities or various kinds of goods, in which each participant has access to the same information, is a fallacy. Transparency in trading across global financial markets is a fallacy. Not only are markets rigged by, and for, the biggest players, so is the entire political-financial system.

The connection between democracy and free markets is interesting though. Democracy is predicated on the idea that every vote counts equally, and in the utopian perspective, the government adopts policies that benefit or adhere to the majority of those votes. In fact, it's the minority of elite families and private individuals that exercise the most control over America's policies and actions.

The myth of a free market is that every trader or participant is equal, when in fact the biggest players with access to the most information and technology are the ones that have a disproportionate advantage over the smaller players. What we have is a plutocracy of government and markets. The privileged few don't care, or need to care, about democracy any more than they would ever want to have truly "free" markets, though what they do want are markets liberated from as many regulations as possible. In practice, that leads to huge inherent risk. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/22953-the-oligarchy-doesnt-care-about-democracy-just-rigged-markets



Bill Black: The Kamikaze Economics of Forcing Austerity on the Ukraine


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. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives


We all understand why Russia is waging economic war on the Ukraine, but why is Obama doing so? The New York Times’ web site has posted a remarkable Reuters story (dated April 5, 2014) entitled “Ukraine PM Says Will Stick to Austerity Despite Moscow Pressure.”

The Kiev government will stick to unpopular austerity measures ‘as the price of independence’ as Russia steps up pressure on Ukraine to destabilise it, including by raising the price of gas, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told Reuters.


“Unpopular austerity measures” are, of course, among the best things Ukraine can do to aid Russia’s effort to “destabilize” the Ukraine. Indeed, Yatseniuk admits this point later in the article.

The subtext of Russia’s message to Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population, he said, was that they would enjoy higher living standards in Russia, with higher wages and better pensions and without the austerity that the Kiev government was now offering

‘They’re saying: if you go to Russia, you’ll be happy, smiling, and not living in a Western hell,’ he said.

‘They (the Russians) are trying to compensate (for the Western sanctions). But we can pay the price of independence,’ he said, with financial support from the West.


So, our strategy is to play into Putin’s hands by inflicting austerity and turning the Ukraine into “a Western hell.” Not to worry says our man in Kiev, because he’s sure that ten million ethnically-Russian citizens of Ukraine will gladly “pay the price of independence” to live in “a Western hell.” That strategy seems suicidal. Indeed, Yatseiuk emphasizes that he knows the strategy he is following is suicidal.

(Yatseiuk) has called himself the leader of a ‘kamikaze’ government, doomed by unpopular austerity measures it must take, but he said Ukraine would stick to the measures, which include doubling gas prices for domestic consumers from May 1 and holding down state pensions and salaries against a background of a 3 percent contraction of the economy and double-digit inflation.

IMF support – a $14-18 billion financial lifeline in return for tough economic reforms – would be a “tremendous step forward”, he said.

‘We will regain trust and credibility from foreign investors. This is the roadmap for Ukraine,’ he added.

The Kiev government has said that without the IMF-mandated austerity measures, the economy could shrink by up to 10 percent this year.


Six Crazy Degrees of Austerity

The Reuters article presents a stream of incoherent odes to the supposed benefits of financial and political suicide (kamikaze economics and politics). It was at this juncture in reading the article that I began to have a sick suspicion about Yatseiuk’s ideological dogmas and likely background. Sure enough, the article soon confirmed my worst fears: “Yatseniuk (is) a former economy minister, lawyer, and economist by education.” Another theoclassical economics acolyte is eager to sacrifice his economy and his fellow-citizens on the altar of austerity. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/bill-black-ukraine-austerity-and-kamikaze-economics.html



The Oligarchy Doesn't Care About Democracy, Just Rigged Markets


The Oligarchy Doesn't Care About Democracy, Just Rigged Markets

Monday, 07 April 2014 10:40
By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Author Interview


In All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power, Wall Street journalist (and former Goldman Sachs executive) Nomi Prins writes a painstakingly researched history of the financial industry's collusion with the White House to create a self-serving United States financial policy.


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

Mark Karlin: Could your book have been called Wall Street Financiers Are America's Co-Presidents?

Nomi Prins: Yes, that's a great way to describe the symbiotic relationship between the men that run the White House and those that run Wall Street. But equally, the title could have been American Presidents are Wall Street's Co-Bankers. When I set out to research this book, I specifically did not want to write another book about how bankers rule the world. Many people, myself included, have written books along that "dog wags the tail" theme. But I wanted to explore the relationships between the men that reside at the two poles of power over America, those who are elected to the White House and those that govern over its finances, and about how long, and to what extent, they operate on the same page.

What I found, is that that for the past century, mutually reinforcing relationships amongst the most powerful men in the past century were drivers of American domestic, national and foreign policy than just the government was, no matter who the president, or what the party in the Oval. I found that every president had connections of various degrees of closeness with the most influential bankers during his term. I knew these associations existed throughout the decades, but I was surprised to discover just how prevalent they were.

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

Reading your new book, I get the feeling that the privileged few in the private sector who control most of America's money, de facto, don't really give a whit about democracy. What they are focused on is free markets for the plutocracy like a laser. Is that your perspective?

The notion of free markets, mechanisms where buyers and sellers can meet to exchange securities or various kinds of goods, in which each participant has access to the same information, is a fallacy. Transparency in trading across global financial markets is a fallacy. Not only are markets rigged by, and for, the biggest players, so is the entire political-financial system.

The connection between democracy and free markets is interesting though. Democracy is predicated on the idea that every vote counts equally, and in the utopian perspective, the government adopts policies that benefit or adhere to the majority of those votes. In fact, it's the minority of elite families and private individuals that exercise the most control over America's policies and actions.

The myth of a free market is that every trader or participant is equal, when in fact the biggest players with access to the most information and technology are the ones that have a disproportionate advantage over the smaller players. What we have is a plutocracy of government and markets. The privileged few don't care, or need to care, about democracy any more than they would ever want to have truly "free" markets, though what they do want are markets liberated from as many regulations as possible. In practice, that leads to huge inherent risk. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/22953-the-oligarchy-doesnt-care-about-democracy-just-rigged-markets



As Parents Struggle to Repay College Loans for Their Children, Taxpayers Also Stand to Lose


This piece originally ran on ProPublica.


Parents are increasingly struggling to repay federal loans they’ve taken out to help cover their children’s college costs, according to newly released federal data.

The Parent Plus program allows parents to take out essentially uncapped amounts to cover college costs, regardless of the borrower’s income or ability to repay the loan. As the cost of college has risen, the program has become an increasingly critical workaround for families that max out on federal student loans and can’t pay the rest out of pocket.

Education Department officials have long said that they simply don’t have figures on how many of the loans were in default. But the agency has finally run some numbers. The data shows that default rates, while still modest, have nearly tripled over the last four years. About five percent of loans originated in fiscal year 2010 were in default three years later. The default rate at for-profit colleges is much higher, at 13 percent.

Overall, there is about $62 billion in outstanding debt from Parent Plus, according to the new data. The average Parent Plus loan borrower owes about $20,300. The Education Department compiled the numbers at the request of a government committee that is working on new rules for the program. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/parents_struggle_repay_college_loans_for_children_taxpayers_lose_20140408



Fighting corporatism by knocking back a few in British pubs


from YES! Magazine:



Why should investors always have the upper hand in "development" plans when the resource at stake is a beloved building or public space? Why should the divine right of capital necessarily prevail?

How refreshing to learn that England has created a special legal process for preventing market enclosures of community pubs. There is even a Community Pubs Minister, whose duty it is to recognize the value of pubs to communities and to help safeguard their futures. So far, some 100 pubs have been formally listed as "assets of community value."

I know, I know—what would Margaret Thatcher say? "Damned government interventions in the free market!" Fortunately, that kind of market fundamentalism has abated for a bit, enough that the Community Pubs Minister—Brandon Lewis, a Conservative Party member of Parliament!—now extols "the importance of the local pub as part of our economic, social and cultural past, present and future."

He adds: "We have known for hundreds of years just how valuable our locals (local pubs) are. Not just as a place to grab a pint but also to the economies and communities they serve and that is why we are doing everything we can to support and safeguard community pubs from closure." ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/uk-pubs-are-officially-recognized-as-community-assets



After Death of Radical Mayor, Mississippi's Capital Wrestles With His Economic Vision


from YES! Magazine:


After Death of Radical Mayor, Mississippi's Capital Wrestles With His Economic Vision
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba implemented only the first steps of his plan to address Jackson's extreme income inequality, which most seriously affected black residents. Now the city faces a choice between vastly different approaches to economic development.

by Laura Flanders
posted Apr 01, 2014


On his way into work every morning, Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, Miss., used to pass a historical marker: “Jackson City Hall: built 1846-7 by slave labor.”

The building, like the city around it, came into being when African American lives didn’t count for much. Unpaid black workers created Mississippi’s plantation fortunes; as recently as the 1960s, their descendants were still earning $3 to $6 a day as sharecropper farmers. Today, black Jacksonians are almost 10 times as likely as white residents to live in poverty or surrounded by it. There’s no need for a historical marker to trace the roots of the city’s enormous wealth gap. The question is how to narrow it.

Mayor Lumumba had a plan. Believing that history of a new sort could be made here in Jackson, he sought to use public spending to boost local wealth through worker owned cooperatives, urban gardening, and a community-based approach to urban development. His vision, developed over years in social movements, not only prized black experience and drew on the survival strategies that black Americans had come up with over the decades, but also set out to prioritize in the city’s policies the very people who until now had been on the bottom of the state's list. The goal, he said, was “revolutionary transformation.”

In promoting what he called “solidarity economics,” Mayor Lumumba was continuing a long tradition. “Name any famous African American leader, Ella Baker, Dubois, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph, they were all proponents of co-ops,” says Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage, a new book on the African American experience with worker-owned cooperatives. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/mississippi-capital-jackson-wrestles-economic-vision



Chris Hedges: The Crucible of Iraq


from truthdig:


The Crucible of Iraq

Posted on Apr 6, 2014
By Chris Hedges


Iraqi civilians are seen through the broken window of an automobile destroyed in a car bomb explosion that killed more than 20 in Baghdad’s northern Qahirah neighborhood last month. AP/Khalid Mohammed

“The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq,” by Hassan Blasim, is the most important book to come out of the Iraq War. Blasim, whom I met with last week in Princeton, N.J., has a faultless eye for revealing detail, a ribald black humor and a psychological brilliance that makes every story in his book a depth charge. In this collection of short stories he explores through fiction the culture of violence unleashed under the bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and exacerbated by an American occupation that has destroyed the damaged social cohesion and civil life that survived Saddam’s regime. His prose, courtesy of a brilliant translation by Jonathan Wright, is lyrical, taunt and riveting.

Militarism and violence are diseases. It does not matter under what guise they appear. Renegade jihadists, Shiite death squads, Sunni militias, Saddam’s Baathists and secret police, Kurdish Peshmerga rebels, al-Qaida cells, gangs of kidnappers and the U.S. Army 101st Airborne are all infected with the same virus. And it is a virus Blasim fearlessly inspects. By the end of this short-story collection the reader grasps, in a way no soldier’s memoir or journalistic account from Iraq can explicate, the crucible of war and the unmitigated horror of violence itself. The book is a masterpiece.

“When I was 6, during my first year at school, the Iran-Iraq War erupted,” Blasim told me in a mixture of English and Arabic. “We were living in Kirkuk. We were taught in school to draw tanks or the face of Ayatollah Khomeini as the enemy. The city of Kirkuk was beautiful. There were flowers everywhere. But we were never taught the names of the flowers. Even today I do not know the names of these flowers. I tried to learn their names as an adult.”

“There was a culture of violence that predated the occupation,” he said. “Our teachers would hit us during class. When we went home we saw fathers abusing mothers. We were taught math and science, but we were not taught how to ask philosophical or critical questions. In this sense, we were never really educated. We were not taught the fundamentals of human relationships. Violence became part of the Iraqi personality. The American occupation, however, has made this internal and external violence worse. The Americans destroyed the remnants of our culture, banished those among us who were struggling to create a space to think, to help us use our imaginations, to transform our society peacefully. Even under the dictatorship we had some semblance of a civic life. It was not perfect, but people were learning. You could see change. But when the Americans came and opened the border to these jihadists from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, what happened? They gave the country to Iran. We are going backwards. There is a (prospective) Islamic law in Iraq that will permit a man to marry a 9-year-old girl. Iraq once had a strong civil law for marriage. It is not just that American soldiers come and kill. That is horrible enough. You have to ask what will happen to the children growing up around this violence. Iraq has been destroyed. The Iraqi soul has been disfigured.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_crucible_of_iraq_20140406

David Harvey "The End of Capitalism"


https://


Published on Nov 8, 2013

David Harvey, Professor of Geography and Anthropology
Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Three years after the near collapse of global financial markets, America is still struggling with unemployment, debt, and foreclosure, European governments are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy—and the world's billionaires are getting richer faster than ever before. The current situation is not sustainable. But what changes need to be made to overcome this mounting crisis of our world economic system? How radical an adaptation will be required? David Harvey, the brilliant theorist and scathing critic of postmodern society, looks at what the future holds for global capitalism.
http://davidharvey.org/


Laura Flanders: After Death of Radical Mayor, Mississippi Capital Wrestles With His Economic Vision


from YES! Magazine:


After Death of Radical Mayor, Mississippi's Capital Wrestles With His Economic Vision
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba implemented only the first steps of his plan to address Jackson's extreme income inequality, which most seriously affected black residents. Now the city faces a choice between vastly different approaches to economic development.

by Laura Flanders
posted Apr 01, 2014


On his way into work every morning, Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, Miss., used to pass a historical marker: “Jackson City Hall: built 1846-7 by slave labor.”

The building, like the city around it, came into being when African American lives didn’t count for much. Unpaid black workers created Mississippi’s plantation fortunes; as recently as the 1960s, their descendants were still earning $3 to $6 a day as sharecropper farmers. Today, black Jacksonians are almost 10 times as likely as white residents to live in poverty or surrounded by it. There’s no need for a historical marker to trace the roots of the city’s enormous wealth gap. The question is how to narrow it.

Mayor Lumumba had a plan. Believing that history of a new sort could be made here in Jackson, he sought to use public spending to boost local wealth through worker owned cooperatives, urban gardening, and a community-based approach to urban development. His vision, developed over years in social movements, not only prized black experience and drew on the survival strategies that black Americans had come up with over the decades, but also set out to prioritize in the city’s policies the very people who until now had been on the bottom of the state's list. The goal, he said, was “revolutionary transformation.”

In promoting what he called “solidarity economics,” Mayor Lumumba was continuing a long tradition. “Name any famous African American leader, Ella Baker, Dubois, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph, they were all proponents of co-ops,” says Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage, a new book on the African American experience with worker-owned cooperatives. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/mississippi-capital-jackson-wrestles-economic-vision



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