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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: 64,194

Journal Archives

Putting Heroin Users in Jail Won't Help Louisiana's Crime Rate

(Brennan Center for Justice, via Truthout) Louisiana - and our nation - has seen a surge in heroin crime. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, heroin use has climbed steadily since 2007. Law enforcement officials across the nation are reporting an increase of high-purity heroin available at the street level. In Louisiana, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William "Beau" Clark has testified that from 2012 to 2013 heroin deaths jumped seven-fold, from 5 to 35. So far this year he's confirmed seven opiate overdoses with two more pending, a pace equivalent to last year's.

Louisiana is hardly alone. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has declared the opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State address in January to heroin, calling it "a public health crisis."

Note the language. Policymakers are speaking about addiction as a public health problem, not a law enforcement one. Indeed, even U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that strict, mandatory minimum drug sentences should be reserved only for "high-level or violent drug traffickers."

For better or worse, we now know what works in the "war on drugs," a war that even tough-minded former prosecutors such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, have called a "failure." It is not draconian prison sentences for drug offenders that "win" the "war," but addiction treatment. Not only is it cheaper, it reduces recidivism. It also takes less of a toll on the community. One in 28 children currently has a parent behind bars, and one in every five state prisoners nationwide is serving time for a drug offense, which, Holder points out, "is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate." ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/23125-putting-heroin-users-in-jail-wont-help-louisianas-crime-rate



The U.S. Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It


from ProPublica:


The U.S. Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It
One lesson of the Heartbleed bug is that the U.S. needs to stop running Internet security like a Wikipedia volunteer project.

by Julia Angwin
ProPublica, April 15, 2014, 12:50 p.m.


The Heartbleed computer security bug is many things: a catastrophic tech failure, an open invitation to criminal hackers and yet another reason to upgrade our passwords on dozens of websites. But more than anything else, Heartbleed reveals our neglect of Internet security.

The United States spends more than $50 billion a year on spying and intelligence, while the folks who build important defense software — in this case a program called OpenSSL that ensures that your connection to a website is encrypted — are four core programmers, only one of whom calls it a full-time job.

In a typical year, the foundation that supports OpenSSL receives just $2,000 in donations. The programmers have to rely on consulting gigs to pay for their work. "There should be at least a half dozen full time OpenSSL team members, not just one, able to concentrate on the care and feeding of OpenSSL without having to hustle commercial work," says Steve Marquess, who raises money for the project.

Is it any wonder that this Heartbleed bug slipped through the cracks? ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.propublica.org/article/the-u.s.-government-paying-to-undermine-internet-security-not-to-fix-it



Who Goes To Jail? Matt Taibbi on American Injustice Gap From Wall Street to Main Street

pt. I
https://

pt. II
https://


Award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi is out with an explosive new book that asks why the vast majority of white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began, while an unequal justice system imprisons the poor and people of color on a mass scale. In The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, Taibbi explores how the Depression-level income gap between the wealthy and the poor is mirrored by a "justice" gap in who is targeted for prosecution and imprisonment. "It is much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else," Taibbi says.

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

AMY GOODMAN: —in this day and age. Talk about the thesis. What is the divide?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, this book grew out of my experience covering Wall Street. I’ve obviously been doing it since the crash in 2008. And over and over again, I would cover these very complex and often very socially destructive capers committed by white-collar criminals. And the punchline to all of the stories were basically the same: Nobody would get indicted; nobody went to jail. And after a while, I started to become interested specifically in that phenomenon. Why was there no enforcement of any of this? And around the time of the Occupy protest, I decided to write this book, and then I shifted my focus to try to learn a lot more for myself about who does go to jail in this country, because I thought you really can’t make this comparison accurately until you learn about both sides of the equation, because it’s actually much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else.

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

AARON MATÉ: But back to this doctrine that you can’t punish an entire company for the misdeeds of a few because you might hurt the economy, you might hurt shareholders, you know, some of which are pension holders and—pension funds and so forth, how do you get from hurting a—how do you equate hurting an entire company to just not jailing a couple of executives?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, that’s the whole point. They’ve conflated the two things. Originally—so, this—to answer the second part of your original question, "Where does this come from? Where does this doctrine come from?" way back in 1999, when Eric Holder was a deputy attorney general in the—in Clinton’s administration, he wrote a memo that has now come to be known as "the Holder Memo." And in it, he outlined a number of things. Actually, it was originally considered a get-tough-on-corporate-crime memo, because it gave prosecutors a number of new tools with which they could go after corporate criminals. But at the bottom of it, there was this thing that he laid out called the "collateral consequences doctrine." And what "collateral consequences" meant was that if you’re a prosecutor and you’re targeting one of these big corporate offenders and you’re worried that you may affect innocent victims, that shareholders or innocent executives may lose their jobs, you may consider other alternatives, other remedies besides criminal prosecutions—in other words, fines, nonprosecution agreements, deferred prosecution agreements. And again, at the time, it was a completely sensible thing to lay out. Of course it makes sense to not always destroy a company if you can avoid it. But what they’ve done is they’ve conflated that sometimes-sensible policy with a policy of not going after any individuals for any crimes. And that’s just totally unacceptable. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/23115-who-goes-to-jail-matt-taibbi-on-american-injustice-gap-from-wall-street-to-main-street



Chris Hedges: The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies


from truthdig:


The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies (VIDEO)

Posted on Apr 13, 2014
By Chris Hedges

https://


Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of a speech that Chris Hedges gave in Santa Monica, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2013.


The most prescient portrait of the American character and our ultimate fate as a species is found in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” Melville makes our murderous obsessions, our hubris, violent impulses, moral weakness and inevitable self-destruction visible in his chronicle of a whaling voyage. He is our foremost oracle. He is to us what William Shakespeare was to Elizabethan England or Fyodor Dostoyevsky to czarist Russia.

Our country is given shape in the form of the ship, the Pequod, named after the Indian tribe exterminated in 1638 by the Puritans and their Native American allies. The ship’s 30-man crew—there were 30 states in the Union when Melville wrote the novel—is a mixture of races and creeds. The object of the hunt is a massive white whale, Moby Dick, which in a previous encounter maimed the ship’s captain, Ahab, by dismembering one of his legs. The self-destructive fury of the quest, much like that of the one we are on, assures the Pequod’s destruction. And those on the ship, on some level, know they are doomed—just as many of us know that a consumer culture based on corporate profit, limitless exploitation and the continued extraction of fossil fuels is doomed.

“If I had been downright honest with myself,” Ishmael admits, “I would have seen very plainly in my heart that I did but half fancy being committed this way to so long a voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man who was to be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed out upon the open sea. But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself. And much this way it was with me. I said nothing, and tried to think nothing.”

Our financial system—like our participatory democracy—is a mirage. The Federal Reserve purchases $85 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—much of it worthless subprime mortgages—each month. It has been artificially propping up the government and Wall Street like this for five years. It has loaned trillions of dollars at virtually no interest to banks and firms that make money—because wages are kept low—by lending it to us at staggering interest rates that can climb to as high as 30 percent. ... Or our corporate oligarchs hoard the money or gamble with it in an overinflated stock market. Estimates put the looting by banks and investment firms of the U.S. Treasury at between $15 trillion and $20 trillion. But none of us know. The figures are not public. And the reason this systematic looting will continue until collapse is that our economy go into a tailspin without this giddy infusion of free cash. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_myth_of_human_progress_and_the_collapse_of_complex_societies_video_2014



Paul Robeson: A Life

from truthdig:



By Paul Von Blum

“Paul Robeson: A Watched Man”
A book by Jordan Goodman



“Paul Robeson,” historian Joseph Dorinson ruefully wrote in the 2002 introduction to his co-edited collection of essays about him, “is the greatest legend nobody knows.” When the man who was one of the most striking Renaissance people in American history died in 1976, in loneliness and obscurity, his magnificent athletic, scholarly, artistic and political accomplishments were largely erased from national consciousness, stricken from the media and from history books. This tragic void, eerily reminiscent of Stalin-era removal of enemies from photographs and other Soviet documents, was a deep stain on American history, resulting from the worst excesses of McCarthyism from the late 1940s through much of the 1960s.

The long overdue restoration of Robeson’s stellar reputation, fortunately, began shortly after his death, slowly propelling him back to some public recognition. Several books, plays, films and conferences, especially after the 1998 centenary of his birth, highlighting his life and multifaceted activities, complemented such awards and honors as his posthumous election to the College Football Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The belated issuance of a Robeson United States postage stamp constituted an oblique government apology and encouraged people to explore his diverse artistic and political contributions.

The growing literature about Robeson encompasses every feature of his life. Some books and articles are overviews, giving readers an opportunity to understand and gauge the full range of his life and work. Others address particular areas such as his films, music, theater or politics. Jordan Goodman’s new book, “Paul Robeson: A Watched Man,” is an effective and informative treatment of Robeson’s political awakening in the United States and England, and the disgraceful pattern of persecution he suffered, especially during the Cold War years after 1945. Readers who are already familiar with Robeson and seek greater detail about the complex political activities that increasingly became the major focus of his life will find the book especially valuable, though it is also useful for general readers.

Goodman is a British academic who is particularly well positioned to address Robeson‘s political activities in the U.K., especially in the postwar era. He provides informative detail about Robeson’s close associates and contacts in Britain as he worked publicly for peace with the Soviet Union, which resulted in increased surveillance by both British and U.S. intelligence agencies. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/paul_robeson_a_life_20140411



World's Highest Minimum Wage on Ballot in Switzerland


(Bloomberg) Jasmin Eicher has already axed her sole full-time employee to keep afloat her shop selling cards, candles and paper in a Zurich suburb. If Switzerland approves what would be the world’s highest minimum wage, she says the only option would be to close her door.

The Swiss will vote in a national referendum May 18 on whether to create a minimum wage of 22 francs ($25) per hour, or 4,000 francs a month. While about 90 percent of workers in Switzerland already earn more than that, employers say setting Switzerland’s first national wage floor would push up salaries throughout the economy. When adjusted for currency and purchasing power, it would be the highest minimum in the world.

“We couldn’t pay it,” said Eicher, standing behind the counter in her shop in Schlieren. The employee she let go earned 3,500 francs a month. Now she’s by herself, working 10 hours a day, six days a week, and her hopes of hiring a cheaper helper would be dashed if the proposal passed.

“Of course I understand about people not earning enough, but not everyone is worth 4,000 francs. Here in Switzerland we’re already so well-off,” she said. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-13/world-leading-25-hourly-wage-floor-roils-swiss-businesses-jobs.html



Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops


(Bloomberg) At a Dowling College campus on Long Island’s south shore, a fleet of unused shuttle buses sits in an otherwise empty parking lot. A dormitory is shuttered, as are a cafeteria, bookstore and some classrooms in the main academic building.

“There’s a lot of fear here,” said Steven Fournier, a senior who lived in the now-closed dorm for his first three years. “It’s not the same college I arrived at.”

Dowling, which got a failing grade for its financial resources from accreditors last month, epitomizes the growing plight of many small private colleges that depend almost entirely on tuition for revenue. It’s been five years since the recession ended and yet their finances are worsening. Soaring student debt, competition from online programs and poor job prospects for graduates are shrinking their applicant pools.

“What we’re concerned about is the death spiral -- this continuing downward momentum for some institutions,” said Susan Fitzgerald, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in New York. “We will see more closures than in the past.” .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-14/small-u-s-colleges-battle-death-spiral-as-enrollment-drops.html



Taxes, the Rich, and Our Known Universe


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


Taxes, the Rich, and Our Known Universe
APRIL 13, 2014

Pundits and political scientists are always searching for that simple theory that’ll explain just what makes our politics tick. Where should they be looking? How about in the eyes of a billionaire at tax time?


By Sam Pizzigati


Physicists the world over have been all abuzz lately. A new research breakthrough has them tantalizingly close to a “grand unified theory” of how absolutely everything in the physical universe actually works, the holy grail of modern physics ever since the days of Albert Einstein.

A “grand unified theory of everything,” of course, could also come in handy for our political universe. Just imagine how much more comprehensible our world would seem if we had a single “grand” proposition to help us make sense of the strange and unconnected political realities we see all around us.

And what might that grand proposition be? In honor of this week’s tax filing deadline, let’s try this one: Rich people really really don’t like paying taxes.

Can a proposition this simple explain everything?

Well, go ahead. Pick a political phenomenon in the United States today. Somewhere in the shadows, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find a billionaire feverishly pulling levers to avoid paying higher taxes. Or some pol, just as fevered, working to remain in that billionaire’s good graces. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/taxes-rich-known-universe/#sthash.zYMqI5c4.dpuf



U.S. Press Once Again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism

by Juan Cole


This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.


My Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others, judging by the Facebook shares, must be among the more popular pieces I have ever written. It keeps being proven correct by American journalism every day.

I get hot under the collar thinking about all the effort the US government is expending to monitor who we call and where we are when we do it–in the hundreds of millions!– and about all the surveillance of innocent American citizens of Muslim faith and of mosques, when the American fascists receive much less focus. If a group is armed and announces its purpose is to spread hate of another group, wouldn’t that warrant some surveillance? By surveiling us all, precious person power is being wasted.

Thus, we had the horrible day-before-Passover attack on two Jewish community facilities outside Kansas City, KS allegedly committed by a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, which left 3 people dead. My heart goes out to the innocent victims of hate. I put “Kansas” and “terrorism” in a search of Google News and did not get a single hit on this incident, which tells me that no US news services are describing it that way. Heck, the LA Times said authorities are cautioning that it is too soon even to call the shootings a “hate crime.” Since the shooter is said to have shouted “Heil Hitler,” I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was a hate crime. And I’m also pretty sure it was a form of terrorism.

Likewise, if you search for Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who shot down Sikhs, “and terrorism,” you only get opinion pages and blogs, not MSM sites. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/us_press_once_again_declines_call_white_terrorism_kansas_nevada_20140414



"the capitalist organization of production has now finished its period of usefulness in human histor

Richard Wolff has emerged as one of the most prominent progressive economists in America. He appears on Free Speech TV, Link TV, and Pacifica Radio, and has been a repeat guest on Bill Moyers’s program, as well as appearing on Charlie Rose’s show. His books include Capitalism Hits the Fan, Occupy the Economy, and Democracy at Work. Wolff got his B.A. from Harvard, a Master’s from Stanford, and a Ph.D. in economics from Yale. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a visiting professor in the graduate program for international affairs at the New School University in Manhattan, where he lives. Born in 1942 in Youngstown, Ohio, he’s the son of working class parents who were refugees from the Nazis. After his family moved around the Midwest, they relocated to New York. In the 1980s, Wolff ran to be New Haven’s mayor and city councilman on the Green Party ticket.

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

Q: Why do business leaders in the United States and Western Europe favor austerity? Doesn’t it reduce demand for their products, and thus lower their potential profits?

Wolff: The question is good. Why are executives of corporations constantly looking for every conceivable way to lower labor costs? The more successful capitalists are in cutting their wage costs, the less money workers will have to buy back what those same capitalists produce. It’s a contradiction.

Sure, businesses would like lots of purchases. But the only way to deal with a depressed economy would be to tax the rich, who are hoarding their money, and move it into the hands of the middle and lower classes, because they’re in a situation where they’ll spend it as fast as they get it. That would solve the problem of demand, but only at the expense of the rich and corporations.

They’ve made a choice: They’d rather tough it out—stick it to the mass of people, even at the cost of losing customers—than be the one who gets hit with the tab for boosting the masses’ purchasing power.

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

Q: What’s the alternative?

Wolff: A cooperative enterprise is the key alternative to a traditional capitalist enterprise. All the workers, whatever they do inside an enterprise, have to be able to participate in collectively arriving at the decisions about what, how, where to produce, and what to do with the profits in a democratic way. One person, one vote should decide how these things are done.

The reason why we’re interested in making a transition from the top-down capitalist organization of enterprises to a radically different cooperative or democratic organization is simple: We believe the capitalist organization of production has now finished its period of usefulness in human history. It is now no longer able to deliver the goods.

It’s bringing profits and prosperity to a tiny portion of the population, and delivering not the goods but the “bads” to most people. Jobs are steadily more insecure, unemployment is high and lastingly high, benefits are increasingly being reduced, and the prospects for our children are even worse, as more of them go deeper and deeper in debt to get the degrees that do not provide them with the jobs and incomes to get out of that debt. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://rdwolff.com/content/progressive-interview



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