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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: 64,214

Journal Archives

D.C.: Second Time's The Charm? Contractor To Submit Silver Line For Approval

The Silver Line is approaching an important milestone — again.

The contractor building the Metrorail project through Virginia's Tysons Corner says it will be ready for submission to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) as early as today, triggering a 15-day review process. If approved by the authority’s project managers, the Silver Line may finally be handed to Metro to conduct safety testing and workforce training for up to 90 days.

Second time the charm for 'substantial completion?'

This will be the second time the construction and engineering giant Bechtel says the Silver Line has achieved “substantial completion.” Its work was rejected in the previous submission in February, after inspectors found a long list of problems preventing the issuance of certificates of occupancy for the five rail stations in Tysons and Reston.

“Bechtel announced today that Dulles Transit Partners, the Bechtel-led team building Phase 1 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, has made significant progress on all major work and plans to submit the project to MWAA for substantial completion designation soon,” the contractor said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. .................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/second-times-charm-contractor-submit-silver-line-approval/

America’s Structural Unemployment Crisis in Two Charts

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Testosterone Pit.

The enormous number of people who work only part-time for economic reasons is one the tragedies of the unemployment crisis in this country. It didn’t even start with the financial crisis. Before the 2001 recession, there were a little above 3 million of them. By September 2003, as the economy recovered, there were 4.84 million. Gradually, part-timers got fulltime work, and their number zigzagged back down. In April 2006 dropped, it below 4 million, but only briefly, then edged up again. It never returned to the “normal” that was before the 2001 recession.

Then came the financial crisis, and as layoffs soared, some of the lucky ones who got to stay on were cut to part time. Many of the unemployed, once they found jobs, found part-time jobs. And the number of involuntary part-timers just exploded.


The same structural unemployment drivers are at work with temporary full-time workers. In September 2003, as hiring finally kicked off, there were 2.26 million temps of 130.3 million total nonfarm employees. By summer of 2006, the number of temps had jumped 17.8% to 2.66 million while total nonfarm employment had risen 4.9% to 136.6 million. Then the number of temporary workers began to decline, which was seen as a good sign as the total number of employees was rising; businesses were shifting to regular hires. Or so the story went. But businesses were already having demand issues. The housing construction bubble had started to implode. And for whatever reason, companies started to shed temporary workers.

And look what happened:

The chart (indexed to 100 for September 2003) shows that temp jobs disappeared firstest and fastest. Shortly after the recession, they bottomed out at 1.75 million while total employment bottomed out at 129.7 million in February 2010. So far so good.

Then the Structural Unemployment Drivers Became Apparent

Temp jobs have simply and relentlessly been rocketing ever higher and hit 2.84 million in March, up 62.4% from the post-recession low. Total employment grew as well, but at a stately pace, and reached 137.9 million, up a measly 6.4% from the low. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/wolf-richter-structural-unemployment-crisis.html

Noam Chomsky: Nuclear Weapons Won’t Keep Us Safe

from In These Times:

Nuclear Weapons Won’t Keep Us Safe
The U.S. will spend an estimated $1 trillion on its nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years. And for what cause?


The previous article explored how security is a high priority for government planners: security, that is, for state power and its primary constituency, concentrated private power—all of which entails that official policy must be protected from public scrutiny.

In these terms, government actions fall in place as quite rational, including the rationality of collective suicide. Even instant destruction by nuclear weapons has never ranked high among the concerns of state authorities.

To cite an example from the late Cold War: In November 1983 the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization launched a military exercise designed to probe Russian air defenses, simulating air and naval attacks and even a nuclear alert.


Plans for the future are hardly promising. In December the Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. nuclear arsenal will cost $355 billion over the next decade. In January the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimated that the U.S. would spend $1 trillion on the nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years.

And of course the United States is not alone in the arms race. As Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far. The longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16495/nuclear_weapons_wont_keep_us_safe

Maryland To Raise Minimum Wage to $10.10 an Hour—But Only After Foot-Dragging From Some Dems

(In These Times) Maryland is on the verge of becoming the second state, after Connecticut, to heed President Barack Obama’s call for a new national minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.

Lawmakers moved in a special weekend session to pass a measure hiking the state’s minimum to $10.10 an hour, up sharply from the current minimum of $7.25. The Maryland Senate passed the bill on April 5, and the House of Delegates gave its approval around midday on April 7, just hours before the year’s legislative session ended.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to sign the bill into law promptly. In January, he called the wage hike his top legislative priority for the year.

The victory for low-wage workers, however, has left some progressive groups frustrated and a little angry. The reason? They say the most potent attempts to kill, dilute or delay the bill came from Democratic Party legislators who publicly proclaim their support for the working poor, yet worked behind the scenes to undermine the new minimum wage law. Democrats enjoy large majorities in both houses of the legislature.

“Maryland is a Democratic state, but not necessarily a progressive one,” says Pat Lippold, political director for hospital workers union 1199SEIU, a division of the Service Employees International Union, which helped push for the bill. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16523/maryland_poised_to_raise_minimum_wage_to_10.10_an_hourbut_only_after_resist

Painting for Dummies

George W. Bush Used Top Google Results For All His Paintings; Will He Be Sued For Copyright Infringement?

You may have heard the recent stories about former President George W. Bush's new exhibit of paintings of world leaders. There's been plenty of chatter about the former President picking up painting as a hobby since leaving office. While many may have assumed that he used his experience in meeting with those world leaders in order to have an accurate representation of what they looked like, the truth is that he just pulled results from Google Image search result for each one. Literally. Some people have gone through and done Google Image searches on each of the subjects he painted, and discovered that the paintings were clearly all based on either the very first result, or very near the top search result.

Yes, that's right. George W. Bush is an appropriation artist.

Many of those images are from Wikipedia, where they're under Creative Commons licensing, but others are clearly covered by copyright. As Animal New York notes, the image of former French President Jacques Chirac comes from a photo of the cover of Chirac's book cover, where the copyright on the photo is actually held by the Associated Press. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140409/11243126858/george-w-bush-used-top-google-results-all-his-paintings-will-he-be-sued-copyright-infringement.shtml

Calling Darrell Issa a piece of sh*t is an insult to legitimate excrement

WASHINGTON -- A new report by the Congressional Research Service finds that Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) probe of the Internal Revenue Service is veering into territory last trod by Congress in the McCarthy era.

Issa, chairman of the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform, has been investigating the IRS's botched scrutiny of tax-exempt groups -- most of them conservative, as well as a handful of progressive groups. He has suggested the White House may have been involved in targeting groups for IRS inquiry.

Key to Issa's case is former IRS official Lois Lerner, who at one point ran the department in charge of determining whether organizations qualified for tax-exempt status as "social welfare" groups under section 501(c)4 of the tax code, or whether they carry out too much political activity, which is illegal.

Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in response to Issa's questions. During her first appearance before his committee, she maintained that she had done nothing wrong. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/09/darrell-issa-mccarthy_n_5115014.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

Former-Goldman Sachs VP: Detroit bankruptcy didn’t need to happen

(Metro Times) We dropped by Wayne State University’s law school this morning to hear former Wallace Turbeville, former Goldman Sachs vice president and current senior fellow at Demos, highlight a report he published on Detroit’s bankruptcy last fall. In case you haven’t read it, Turbeville’s findings don’t exactly mesh with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s analysis of the city’s fiscal picture.

Speaking inside the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights on the second day of the Detroit Bankruptcy & Beyond conference, Turbeville offered some pointed remarks about the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history: The way he sees it, Detroit’s bankruptcy “never had to happen, at all.”

Turbeville has contended for some time that the city’s $18 billion debt figure established by Orr is exaggerated, and, as Curt Guyette points out in Metro Times’ cover story from this week, misleading. He also reiterated his point that the city should be addressing its nearly $200 million budget shortfall, rather than long-term debt.

“The city was tipped into this situation; it was largely a (lack) of revenue,” he told the room. “Expenses weren’t the problem.” ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://blogs.metrotimes.com/news-blawg/former-goldman-sachs-vp-detroit-bankruptcy-didnt-need-happen/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MetroTimesBlogsNewsBlawg+%28Metro+Times+Blogs+%C2%BB+News+Blawg%29

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.


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.


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

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