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marmar

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Gender: Male
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 70,252

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Is Team Clinton Campaigning Against President Obama on Iran Diplomacy?


Is Team Clinton Campaigning Against President Obama on Iran Diplomacy?

Thursday, 28 January 2016 11:27
By Robert Naiman, Truthout | Op-Ed


Watching the fourth Democratic debate in South Carolina on January 17, many people understandably got the impression that Hillary Clinton was campaigning for President Obama's third term. But in the aftermath of the debate, her team attacked Bernie Sanders for supporting President Obama's efforts to engage Iran.

The attack was dishonest. An honest attack would have been: "Look, Hillary Clinton has a difference of opinion with President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry about diplomacy with Iran. Obama and Kerry want to accomplish whatever can be accomplished through engagement with Iran. Yes, enforce the agreement on Iran's nuclear program, but don't stop there. See if we can work with Iran to help defeat ISIS in Iraq. See if we can work with Iran to end the civil war in Syria. See if we can work with Iran to end the war in Yemen. See if we can work with Iran to help end the war in Afghanistan."

Clinton, on the other hand, wants to jack up confrontation with Iran on every possible front. She wants to define the "Iran deal" to be as small as possible, limited exclusively to Iran's nuclear program, so she'll have a free hand to escalate against Iran on other fronts. And her problem with Bernie Sanders on Iran diplomacy is that he supports the Obama-Kerry view, that we should accomplish whatever we can by engaging with Iran, rather than the view that we should try to have as much confrontation with Iran as we can get away with without attacking the Iran deal directly.

That would have been an honest attack.

But such an honest attack, team Clinton might have feared, could provoke pro-diplomacy, antiwar sentiments among Democrats. So instead of the honest attack, team Clinton took the Obama policy, crossed out Obama's name and wrote in "Sanders," and launched the same attack they did on Obama in the 2008 campaign: Obama/Sanders is naïve on dealing with Iran. ..........(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34604-is-team-clinton-campaigning-against-president-obama-on-iran-diplomacy




Iowa Spotlight (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/iowa_caucus_craziness_20160130


Uri Avnery on the Current Reality of the Israeli Peace Movement


Uri Avnery
January 30, 2016


HAMELIN, A small town in Germany (not so far from where I was born), was infested with rats. In their despair, the burghers called upon a rat-catcher and promised him a thousand guilders for liberating them from this plague.

The rat-catcher took his pipe and played such a sweet melody that all the rats came out of their holes and joined him. He marched them to the Weser river, where they all drowned.

Once freed from this plague, the burghers saw no reason to pay. So the piper took out his pipe again and produced an even sweeter melody. The enchanted children of the town gathered around him and he marched them straight down to the river, where they all drowned.

Binyamin Netanyahu is our pied piper. Enchanted by his melodies, the people of Israel are marching behind him towards the river.

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

THE ISRAELI Peace Camp is in despair. No savior is in sight. Many just sit in front of their TV set and wring their hands.

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

Let me first say that I admire Schocken. “Haaretz” (“The Land”) is one of the last bastions of Israeli democracy. Cursed and detested by the entire rightist majority, it leads the intellectual battle for democracy and peace, All this while the written media are in dire financial straits, in Israel and around the world. From my own experience as a magazine owner and editor – who lost this battle – I know just how heroic and heartbreaking this job is. ...............(more)

http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/uri-avnery-on-the-current-reality-of-the-israeli-peace-movement




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




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