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marmar

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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Don't Let the Doorknob Hit Ya


via truthdig:


Rumors of a Coup Against DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Circulate on Capitol Hill
Posted on May 25, 2016


On Tuesday evening, Politico reported that a coup attempt was in the works against Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz. By Wednesday, her prospects weren’t looking a great deal brighter.

Worse, some high-ranking peers in her party weren’t exactly rushing to her rescue, according to CNN and Politico, who canvassed several key Democrats in and around Congress.

First, this from CNN:

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of Hillary Clinton’s leading supporters on Capitol Hill, told CNN Wednesday that Wasserman Schultz is seen by supporters of Bernie Sanders as “part of the problem.” She said the Florida congresswoman is playing a “starring role” ahead of the Democratic National Convention in July, which is unusual for someone in her position.

“I think this will all get worked out over time,” she said. “The role of the DNC chair is always a supportive role, not a starring role, and I think that, because of what has occurred, it’s hard for her to avoid a starring role.”

Two senior members of the Senate Democratic leadership team—Chuck Schumer of New York and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan—refused to say Wednesday whether they have full confidence in Wasserman Schultz.

Meanwhile, three Democrats with ties to the party’s power centers—President Barack Obama, Clinton and Sanders—made clear that few are rooting for Wasserman Schultz’s survival at the DNC.

“If this is the one thing that provides unity, they would take that trade,” said one senior Democratic strategist, who has spoken to the White House. “Nobody is rushing to keep her.”


Another Democratic adviser close to Clinton said “there is an exhaustion that comes with dealing with her.” ...................(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/rumors_of_a_coup_against_dnc_chair_debbie_wasserman_schultz_20160525




White football players brutally raped black teammate during racist assault in HS locker room: police



John R.K. Howard, one of three white football players charged in the brutal sexual assault of a black teammate (Courtesy of Tarrant County, Texas)


Three white high school football players from Dietrich, Idaho have been charged in the brutal sexual assault of a black teammate, The Washington Post reports. The alleged assault took place on October 23rd last year in the men’s locker room at Dietrich High School. Law enforcement officials allege that one of the football players restrained the victim while another shoved a coat hanger up his rectum and another repeatedly kicked the coat hanger.

Two of the alleged perpetrators, 18-year-old John R.K. Howard and 17-year-old Tanner Ward, are being charged as adults. An unnamed 16-year-old football player is being charged in the case as a juvenile. Howard has not yet filed a plea in the case and it isn’t yet known whether Ward has filed a plea, the Post says.

The unidentified victim’s family also filed a $10 million lawsuit earlier this month alleging that this vicious sexual assault was the culmination of a harassment campaign against him. The family alleges that his teammates would regularly insult him with racially charged terms and the suit alleges he was regularly called “‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and (the N-word),” the Post reports. ............(more)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/white-football-players-brutally-raped-black-teammate-during-racist-assault-in-hs-locker-room-police/




Share Buybacks Now Bought Out, American Enterprise in Decline


Share Buybacks Now Bought Out, American Enterprise in Decline
by David Haggith • May 22, 2016


“The practice is even starting to reek of death to market bulls.”

By David Haggith, The Great Recession Blog:


I have pointed out in previous articles how most of the growth in stocks over the past few years has been due to stock share buybacks. Without this hideous (and at one time illegal) practice, there would have been no bull market over the last few years.

That’s right. Research from no other place than Wall Street, itself, indicates that almost all of the returns since 2009 have been due to stock share buybacks!

Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist and perma-bull at Charles Schwab, recently acknowledged that “… there has not been a dollar added to the U.S. stock market since the end of the financial crisis by retail investors and pension funds….” Since every buyer has a seller (and vice versa), what group or groups had enough of a buying presence to push the S&P 500 14.2% off of the February closing lows? Corporations. (Seeking Alpha)

Most people assume what has kept the market afloat this year after sinking 11% at the start of the year was a mixture of better news out of China, oil prices stabilizing, and indications that the Fed won’t raise rates as much as thought. But the real thing bouying the market could be something else: Stock buybacks…. The stock buybacks come at a time when major investors including individuals, foreign investors, and pension funds have been selling off their shares, according to a note from Goldman Sachs, amid market volatility and weak oil prices. (Fortune)


Stock share buybacks may be winding down

But you cannot do share buybacks forever. Companies have been using profits and loading up on debt to make these share buybacks for so long that the law of diminishing returns is kicking in here, too.

First, it is kicking in because companies are nearing the end of their capacity to keep eating themselves. Earnings have been falling while debt has been stacking up, and so the capacity just isn’t there any more. (And I mean even the doctored earnings — as almost all major corporations have moved away from GAAP reporting policies — have been falling badly.) ...........(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/05/22/share-buybacks-are-now-bought-out-american-enterprise-in-decline/




Chris Hedges: Reform or Revolution


from truthdig:


by Chris Hedges


Chris Hedges gave this talk on revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg on Friday at the Left Forum in New York City.


On the night of Jan. 15, 1919, a group of the Freikorps—hastily formed militias made up mostly of right-wing veterans of World War I—escorted Rosa Luxemburg, a petite, 50-year-old with a slight limp, to the Eden Hotel in Berlin, the headquarters of the Guards Cavalry Rifle Division.

“Are you Frau Rosa Luxemburg?” Capt. Waldemar Pabst asked when she arrived at his office upstairs.

“You decide for yourself,” she answered.

“According to the photograph, you must be,” he said.

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

Liberalism, which Luxemburg called by its more appropriate name—“opportunism”—is an integral component of capitalism. When the citizens grow restive, it will soften and decry capitalism’s excesses. But capitalism, Luxemburg argued, is an enemy that can never be appeased. Liberal reforms are used to stymie resistance and then later, when things grow quiet, are revoked on the inevitable road to capitalist slavery. The last century of labor struggles in the United States provides a case study for proof of Luxemburg’s observation.

The political, cultural and judicial system in a capitalist state is centered around the protection of property rights. And, as Adam Smith pointed out, when civil government “is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” The capitalist system is gamed from the start. And this makes Luxemburg extremely relevant as corporate capital, now freed from all constraints, reconfigures our global economy, including the United States’, into a ruthless form of neofeudalism.

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

Capitalism is an enemy of democracy. It denies workers the right to control means of production or determine how the profits from their labor will be spent. American workers—both left and right—do not support trade agreements. They do not support the federal bailouts of big banks and financial firms. They do not embrace astronomical salaries for CEOs or wage stagnation. But workers do not count. And the more working men and women struggle to be heard, the harsher and more violent the forms of control employed by the corporate state will become. ..............(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/reform_or_revolution_20160522




The Secret History of Superdelegates


712 Democratic Officials Will Decide Whether Clinton or Sanders Wins the Nomination. Newly published documents show that's what the party planned all along.

By Branko Marcetic


(In These Times) Since its launch, a specter has haunted Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination. It’s not his age, though at 74 he would be the oldest president in American history. And it’s not that he’s an avowed socialist, the label that a mere eight years ago was used to smear Barack Obama as a sinister, alien threat to the American way of life. Rather, it has been the so-called superdelegates—the 712 Democratic Party insiders who are free to vote at the nominating convention for the candidate of their choosing.

The corporate media’s early inclusion of the superdelegates in the delegate count created the impression of an inevitable Clinton nomination. Seventy-three percent of superdelegates—520 of the 712—have pledged their support to the former secretary of state, but superdelegates are free to change their minds any time before the Democratic National Convention in July.

By February 20, when only three states had held nominating contests, such reporting had conferred on the Clinton campaign an aura of insurmountability, leading some voters to question whether their votes truly mattered. Even as Sanders won a string of contests at the end of March to narrow Clinton’s lead, superdelegates in those states stubbornly clung to Clinton. Despite the second-biggest victory ever in a contested New Hampshire Democratic primary, Sanders was credited with the same number of total delegates as Clinton, thanks to superdelegates.

This has rubbed many the wrong way. There have been widespread calls to abolish the superdelegate system—and not all from the Sanders camp. Even Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, called the system “unfair.” ..............(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/features/superdelegates_bernie_sanders_hillary_clinton.html





Why Not Getting Married Is Smart Economics For Women


http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/gender-justice/why-not-getting-married-is-smart-economics-for-women-20160512


from YES! Magazine:


Why Not Getting Married Is Smart Economics For Women
More people than ever before are choosing not to get married. And for women, that can actually be a good thing.






Come L or High Water: Sandy Damage Leaves MTA With Tough Choice




(WNYC) As subway-riding New Yorkers know, the system was dealt a huge blow during Sandy, when nine subway tunnels flooded with salt water.

"By far, the worst-damaged tunnel was Canarsie," said MTA president Tom Prendergast, naming the tunnel that carries the L train under the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. He said workers did what repairs they could, and flushed as much of the salt out as possible, in the days and weeks post-Sandy. "But salt remains, and so the corrosion continues. And there's a ticking clock with that."

Now, the MTA is preparing to make what it says are vital repairs: replacing the concrete that lines the cast-iron tunnel; rebuilding the concrete duct bank that runs alongside the tracks and carries electrical components, and installing new tracks and signals. (The MTA will also add entrances and elevators to the First Avenue and Bedford Avenue stations.) However, that requires the tunnel to shut down.

Here's where things get tricky.

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

Option A is designed to be a shorter, if sharper, shock: full closure of both tracks in the tunnel for eighteen months, beginning in January 2019. This accelerates the work — but limits the L train service to Brooklyn only. "That's sort of the mantra 'get in, get done, get out,'" said New York City Transit head Ronnie Hakim.



Option B preserves some service by keeping one track open. But "some" is the operative word here. Because of the need to single-track through the tunnel, "we'd reduce our service by about 80 percent," said Hakim. Meanwhile, the length of the work doubles...to three years.



Under each scenario, subway service on nearby lines like the A, C, G, J, and M would be increased, and the G would run full-length trains. The MTA would also run extra bus service over the Williamsburg Bridge, create shuttle bus service within Brooklyn to nearby subway stops, and consider new ferry service from North 7th Street to 20th Street in Manhattan. And once passengers get off the ferry at 20th Street, Hakim said, they'll be greeted by new Select Bus Service, the MTA's brand of bus rapid transit. "SBS on steroids," as she put it, "to bring people where they want to go." ....................(more)

http://www.wnyc.org/story/come-l-high-water-sandy-damage-leaves-mta-tough-choices




The Big Sell: Making People Care About Infrastructure Repair


The Big Sell: Making People Care About Infrastructure Repair

Mary Wisniewski On May 16, 2016
Source: McClatchy


May 15--In comic book movies, transportation infrastructure problems are easy to spot.

Bridges fall. Asphalt shatters. And unless Ironman funds the repairs out of his personal fortune, big public debt issues are ahead.

In real life, damage to roads and rails tends to be gradual, though ultimately just as ruinous to regional well-being.

With a new Illinois capital program delayed as the state goes 11 months without a budget, transit leaders have been sounding the alarm in both Washington, D.C., and Springfield about the dangers of waiting too long to invest in infrastructure. Business, labor and transit leaders will ramp up discussion nationwide Monday for the start of the thrillingly named Infrastructure Week.

It's a tough sell -- roads, buses and trains seem to work just fine until they don't, and politicians don't like to raise gas taxes or other user fees. Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Leanne Redden admits that funding for bridges, signals and tunnels is not a sexy topic, but it's crucial to keep the system going the way it should. .............(more)

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/12207965/the-big-sell-making-people-care-about-infrastructure-repair




Recession Watch: Freight Volume Drops, Worst Level since 2010


Recession Watch: Freight Volume Drops, Worst Level since 2010
by Wolf Richter • May 14, 2016


Inventory glut, lousy consumer demand, the global economy…

Freight shipments by truck and rail in the US fell 4.9% in April from the beaten-down levels of April 2015, according to the Cass Transportation Index, released on Friday. It was the worst April since 2010, which followed the worst March since 2010. In fact, shipment volume over the four months this year was the worst since 2010.

This is no longer statistical “noise” that can easily be brushed off.

The Cass Freight Index is based on “more than $26 billion” in annual freight transactions by “hundreds of large shippers,” regardless of mode of transportation, including by truck and rail. It does not cover bulk commodities, such as oil and coal and thus is not impacted by the collapsing oil and coal shipments. The index is focused on consumer packaged goods, food, automotive, chemical, OEM, heavy equipment, and retail.

In a similar vein, the Association of American Railroads reported last week that loads of containers and trailers fell 7.5% in April year-over-year. “Intermodal” is a direct competitor to trucking. Combined, they’re a measure of the goods-based economy. ..................(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/05/14/recession-watch-freight-volume-drops-worst-level-since-2010/




Chris Hedges: Welcome to 1984


from truthdig:


Welcome to 1984

Posted on May 14, 2016
By Chris Hedges


The artifice of corporate totalitarianism has been exposed. The citizens, disgusted by the lies and manipulation, have turned on the political establishment. But the game is not over. Corporate power has within its arsenal potent forms of control. It will use them. As the pretense of democracy is unmasked, the naked fist of state repression takes its place. America is about—unless we act quickly—to get ugly.

“Our political system is decaying,” said Ralph Nader when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It’s on the way to gangrene. It’s reaching a critical mass of citizen revolt.”

This moment in American history is what Antonio Gramsci called the “interregnum”—the period when a discredited regime is collapsing but a new one has yet to take its place. There is no guarantee that what comes next will be better. But this space, which will close soon, offers citizens the final chance to embrace a new vision and a new direction.

This vision will only be obtained through mass acts of civic mobilization and civil disobedience across the country. Nader, who sees this period in American history as crucial, perhaps the last opportunity to save us from tyranny, is planning to rally the left for three days, from May 23 to May 26 at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., in what he is calling “Breaking Through Power” or “Citizen’s Revolutionary Week.” He is bringing to the capital scores of activists and community leaders to speak, organize and attempt to mobilize to halt our slide into despotism.

“The two parties can implode politically,” Nader said. “They can be divided by different candidates and super PACs. But this doesn’t implode their paymasters.”

“Elections have become off-limits to democracy,” he went on. “They have become off-limits to democracy’s fundamental civil community or civil society. When that happens, the very roots shrivel and dry up. Politics is now a sideshow. Politics does not bother corporate power. Whoever wins, they win. Both parties represent Wall Street over Main Street. Wall Street is embedded in the federal government.” ...............(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/welcome_to_1984_20160514





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