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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: 68,714

Journal Archives

Black Friday crowds thin in subdued start to U.S. holiday shopping

Crowds were thin at U.S. stores and shopping malls in the early hours of Black Friday and on Thanksgiving evening as shoppers responded to early holiday discounts with caution and bad weather hurt turnout.

Major retail stocks including Target and Wal-Mart fell in early trading.

Bargain hunters found relatively little competition compared with previous years. Some on Friday morning said they had already shopped online or visited the mall the night before. That reflects the new normal of U.S. holiday shopping, where stores open up with deals on Thanksgiving Thursday itself, rather than waiting until Black Friday.

In an effort to attract the most eager holiday shoppers and fend off competition from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), U.S. retailers have increasingly extended their holiday deals by opening stores on the evening of Thanksgiving.

That has hurt Black Friday sales in previous years, a trend analysts expect will continue this year.

"We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust," analysts at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey said in a research note. "Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores." ................(more)

Read more at Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/27/us-usa-holidayshopping-idUSKBN0TG19S20151127#tuyslVSxiwhgAfRF.99

For Laquan McDonald and All Victims of Police Brutality, We Have To Win

from In These Times:

For Laquan McDonald and All Victims of Police Brutality, We Have To Win
If the progressive movement can’t organize itself to fight back against racism and injustice in Chicago and around the country, police murders like those of Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray and Rekia Boyd will never stop.


There is no ache more profound as the experience of losing a loved one, so my heart goes out to LaQuan McDonald's family. This young man is more than a symbol of a violent and morally bankrupt system—he was someone’s child. So, let my first words be words of love and condolences of his family.

Sixteen shots. Four hundred some-odd days. Countless tears and empty promises. Laquan was murdered by the state. And we have to recognize that this moment is not an isolated incident—not in Chicago and not in America. Anyone who believes that Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel or State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez care at all for this boy is deluded and disconnected from the realities our black communities face. These three have no concept of truth. They can’t handle the burden of admitting that they have failed in their most sacred duty, to protect and serve, and instead have become symbols of oppression, corruption and racism. Their pretty words are full of poison, and their villainous record speaks louder than any press conference. They never loved us, and they never will.

While this city erupted in pain and protest, Mayor Emanuel was at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, keeping up the charade that everything is just fine in Chicago. Alvarez’ office waited over a year to charge Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, until a dogged journalist pried the dash cam video out of the department’s hands and forced them to release it to the public. And we all know her office let officer Dante Servin get away with 22-year-old Rekia Boyd’s 2012 murder for as long as they could get away with it. McCarthy’s blue wall of silence has Alvarez’s office on one side and city hall on the other. None of them can be trusted, and none of them should be able to keep their jobs.

But, those of us in the “movement” are not without blame. If “we who believe in freedom shall not rest,” that means as long as one of us is oppressed, none of us should rest comfortably. After marching in the streets last night, being led by the fearless leadership of Black youth in our city, I have been chastened to do better by my community. We have to examine how our own “liberal” and “progressive” systems allow oppression and privilege to taint our decisions, even in the midst of displays of solidarity. Last night, I saw the press flock to white allies, who were readily available with a soundbite, instead of redirecting the focus to the youth and Black folks who were leading the fight. If our theory of change is that the people most affected by the issues of injustice should be leading us, then we have to practice what we preach. ..................(more)


Thanksgiving shopping at stores ‘was a bust’

Traffic at stores declined on Thanksgiving Day and into the wee hours of Black Friday analysts say, though executives at major retailers were pleased with the turnout.

“We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust,” said analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in a note. They conducted channel checks in the New York metro area, New England and the Southeast region starting on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the night into Black Friday.

SunTrust said specialty retail and apparel team members who went to malls “had no problem finding parking or navigating stores” and “there seemed to be more browsing than buying and less items purchased.” .................(more)


Five Ways Sanders Could Democratize the Financial Sector That Clinton Won't Touch

Five Ways Sanders Could Democratize the Financial Sector That Clinton Won't Touch

Friday, 27 November 2015 00:00
By Geoff Gilbert, Truthout | Op-Ed

Politics is about power. Every presidential candidate in both primaries, with the lone exception of Bernie Sanders, relies primarily on powerful, wealthy interests to fund her or his campaign. This campaign finance structure compromises the intellectual integrity of politicians backed by big money, limiting both the goals of their policies and the means available to achieve them. These politicians often find themselves incapable of differentiating between the public interest and the interests of their wealthy constituents. This corrupting influence of power lies at the core of the disagreement between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on their plans for the financial sector.

Throughout her career, Clinton has received huge amounts of money from the giant banks and funds that dominate the financial sector. Perhaps because she cannot imagine a financial sector without giant banks and funds at its core, Clinton focuses on regulating rather than abolishing them. Sanders, too, seeks to regulate the power of these giant entities, but he also plans to weaken their power by reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which would break up the big banks. He has also signaled that he would seek eventually to replace big banks with more democratic structures - the credit unions and community banks that he called, in the last Democratic debate, the future of US banking.

Their disagreement is essentially about the distribution of economic power within the financial industry. Clinton effectively argues that consolidation within the industry is not connected to the industry's recent high-profile mistakes. The best way for the industry to achieve better results, Clinton says, is for the government to regulate bad practices. Sanders contends industry concentration is the root of the problem. A more decentralized financial sector, Sanders frequently argues on the stump, is the key to getting the financial sector to fuel a strong US economy rather than profit at its expense. By shifting capital to credit unions and community banks, Sanders hopes to spur financial investment in creating jobs, goods and services in the United States. Such a shift in power, especially toward credit unions, can significantly deepen democratic control of the financial industry.

To understand the two candidates' disagreement, it's best to take a step back to think about financial sector basics: capital formation for productive investment. What that means is banks and other investment vehicles are supposed to pool together our savings and then lend some of the savings out to fund the businesses that employ the people who make the products and provide the services that we need and desire. Today's financial sector is no longer concerned with the second part of its mission: productive investment. It invests its money, the basis for which is our savings, to achieve the highest rate of return found anywhere in the world. Gone is the emphasis on creating jobs and funding small businesses in the United States. Accordingly, real US unemployment is unable to fall below 10 percent nearly eight years after the start of the Great Recession and multinational corporations dominate our economy at the expense of small businesses. Our financial sector no longer provides its promised social return. ................(more)


Consumers Lose Grapple with Reality, “Decline in Economic Aspirations” Sets in

Consumers Lose Grapple with Reality, “Decline in Economic Aspirations” Sets in
by Wolf Richter • November 27, 2015

People can easily “adapt to the worst conditions….”

The most important economic entity in the world, the one that every economist tries to decipher, the entity that is supposed to pull the world economy out of its funk with debt-fueled, beyond-their-means, damn-the-torpedoes splurges, has done a lousy job.

The American consumer has been lackadaisical despite, as the EIA gushed, the lowest gas prices “heading into a Thanksgiving holiday weekend since 2008.” Instead of spending that windfall on something else, they have the temerity to save some of it.

So the savings rate, according to the Commerce Department on Wednesday, rose to 5.6% in October, the highest – and for our shocked and appalled economists the worst – level in nearly three years.

“I think this is tied to a decline in economic aspirations,” University of Michigan consumer survey director Richard Curtin told Bloomberg to explain the rising savings rate and the so-so results of the consumer sentiment index that had just been released.

November’s final reading of the sentiment index edged up to 91.3 from 90 in October. While consumers at the lower end of the scale began hoping for wage increases, and thus became more optimistic, those at the top end of the spectrum, accounting for more than half of consumer spending, grew more worried about their financial prospects. ...............(more)


Donald Trump's wall (cartoon)


The NYT Praises Bernie Sanders’ Immigration Plan: ‘Reality-Based, Moderate, Practical and Hopeful’


via truthdig:

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ immigration plan “starts with the right premise: that immigrants should be welcomed and assimilated, not criminalized and exploited,” The New York Times’ editorial board declares. “His proposals seek to uphold American values, bolster the rule of law, bolster the economy and protect and honor families.”

While Hillary Clinton, his top contender for the Democratic nomination, has delivered “a similar list of worthy proposals,” the editors add, she offers “fewer specifics and less breadth than” Sanders.

They continue:

Since the immigration reform bill was killed, in 2013, the party that killed it — the Republicans — has dragged the immigration debate to grotesque depths that go well beyond the usual nativist bigotry. Republican presidential candidates are arguing, in all seriousness, about sealing the border with fantastical 2,000-mile fences and weaponized drones; merging state, local and federal authorities and private prisons into one all-seeing immigration police state; forcibly registering American Muslims; mass-deporting 11 million Mexicans and others in a 21st century Trail of Tears; and turning away thousands of refugees fleeing war and terrorism in the Middle East. (...)

Recognizing Congress’s chronic inaction on immigration, Mr. Sanders promises to use executive authority well beyond what President Obama has done. He would protect young immigrants and their parents from deportation, and give “broad administrative relief” to young immigrants, to the parents of citizens and legal permanent residents and to others who would have been allowed to stay under the 2013 Senate bill. This affirms the humane and sensible principle behind that legislation — that 11 million unauthorized immigrants should stay and contribute, not be isolated and expelled.

The Sanders plan tackles an ugly truth — that racial profiling and the nation’s vast deportation and detention machinery have made suspected criminals of millions of people who don’t fit the definition. His promise to “decouple” federal immigration enforcement from local policing would be a sharp break from dragnet policies that expanded under President Obama. Mr. Sanders rightly defends “sanctuary city” policies that protect public safety by building trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

Mr. Sanders’s promise to increase immigrants’ access to the justice system, with more funding for courts and lawyers, stands in sharp contrast to the Republican view of unauthorized immigrants as a shadow society of criminals who haven’t been deported yet. Mr. Sanders instead sees them as parents, breadwinners, taxpayers, bulwarks of the economy and of the communities they live in, aspiring Americans trapped by unjust laws and oppressive policing.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Our glorious Thanksgiving unraveling: Race, protest, patriotism — and the forming, finally, of a ...

Our glorious Thanksgiving unraveling: Race, protest, patriotism — and the forming, finally, of a true American spirit

(Salon) It is fascinating to watch these student protests arising around the country—the University of Missouri, Yale, Princeton, many others. Students, your timing could not be more arresting: Intentionally or otherwise, you give all of us something to be thankful for today and, one hopes, all days to come.

The proceedings that stir me most are those at Princeton. Students from the Black Justice League started a sit-in at the president’s office last week, demanding that Woodrow Wilson’s name be stripped from all buildings and academic programs bearing his name. Talk about grand ambitions. One may as well propose taking St. Patrick’s name off that big pile of marble on Fifth Avenue at 51st Street in Manhattan.

Wilson, a Southerner and scion of a Presbyterian minister, was a Princeton graduate, a scholar, what we would today call a public intellectual and, before becoming the 13th resident at the White House, Princeton’s president. He is famous for his Fourteen Points, the League of Nations and a certain kind of intrusive internationalism now known as Wilsonianism. Every president who has served during your lifetime was one or another kind of Wilsonian or neo-Wilsonian or what have you. (I await more eagerly than I can say our first post-Wilsonian president.)

Wilson was also a racist—a grand-scale racist. He took his inherited ring-for-the-servants racism global. In 1901, while American soldiers were slaughtering Filipinos who had fought for their independence from Spain, Wilson published an essay in The Atlantic called “Democracy and Efficiency.” In it he explained America’s duty in the century then to come. “The East is to be opened and transformed, whether we will or no. The standards of the West are to be imposed upon it,” he wrote. These “underdeveloped people,” he explained, were “still in the childhood of their political growth.”


Among much else, it is for the task our time hands us that one must be thankful this Thanksgiving. What is the task? To construct a post-exceptionalist idea of ourselves. We need this just as badly was we need a post-exceptionalist president.


Waldo Frank, a now-forgotten writer who deserves better, published a book in 1929 called “The Re-Discovery of America.” In it he asked in rhetorical fashion, “What nation knows so little of its own beginnings?” ................(more)


Chris Hedges and Alexa O’Brien on the Militarization of Higher Education

In this episode of his new teleSUR show, “Days of Revolt,” Chris Hedges discusses the militarization of higher education institutions with journalist Alexa O’Brien. Uncovering the trail of money and influence from the national security state to college programs, Hedges and O’Brien identify the ways in which this apparatus has long ­been in effect, and what it could mean for the future.


Calling Out the Republican Party as a Hate Group

Calling Out the Republican Party as a Hate Group

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 00:00
By Michael I. Niman, Truthout | Op-Ed

In October, about a week before Election Day, a Republican candidate running for a city council seat rang my doorbell in Buffalo, New York, with the hope of securing my vote. Despite a very well-funded campaign coordinated by a seasoned Republican strategist, the candidate, Peter Rouff, was still a long shot. The last time a registered Republican was elected to the Buffalo City Council was over a generation earlier, in 1981.

Rouff seemed like an affable guy. He was a dinosaur, cut from a mold that his party threw away decades earlier, who suddenly found himself transported into the future. He was a liberal New York Republican, a species no one younger than a baby boomer could recognize or fathom, the ghost of John Lindsey or Jacob Javits.

But this is 2015. So, after shaking hands and hearing him out on his concerns for our community, I asked him, "How'd you get associated with a hate group?" The local Republican Party, despite having no power in local government, still maintained an official Facebook page, where they posted Donald-Trump-grade drivel, joking about putting a coal facsimile of President Obama's head on Mount Rushmore, promoted notions of an epidemic of Black-on-white "hate crimes," and so on. Rouff countered that I was using harsh language. It only took a few days for his Republican handlers to prove the accuracy of my language, sending out two racially coded mailers.

After writing a local piece about the Rouff mailers, including the line about association with a hate group, I started getting mail along the lines of, "I think I'm going to use that line the next time a Republican asks for my vote." But this got me thinking. Why not use this line anytime I find myself in the presence of a Republican? Why ignore what has, especially recently, become the obvious? On what grounds can I justify ignoring a racist movement? Because calling out someone's association with a hate group is impolite? Or are we just taking our lead from the mainstream media, which has a long history of being toxically polite in their tolerance for mainstream racists and misogynists? .............(more)


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