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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: 65,622

Journal Archives

Chris Hedges: A Society of Captives


from truthdig:



by Chris Hedges


Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to launch a pilot program in New York City to place body cameras on police officers and conduct training seminars to help them reduce their adrenaline rushes and abusive language, along with the establishment of a less stringent marijuana policy, are merely cosmetic reforms. The killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island was, after all, captured on video. These proposed reforms, like those out of Washington, D.C., fail to address the underlying cause of poverty, state-sponsored murder and the obscene explosion of mass incarceration—the rise of the corporate state and the death of our democracy. Mass acts of civil disobedience, now being carried out across the country, are the only mechanism left that offers hope for systematic legal and judicial reform. We must defy the corporate state, not work with it.

The legal system no longer functions to protect ordinary Americans. It serves our oligarchic, corporate elites. These elites have committed $26 billion in financial fraud. They loot the U.S. Treasury, escape taxation, drive down wages, break unions, pillage pension funds, gut regulation and oversight, destroy public institutions including public schools and social assistance programs, wage endless and illegal wars to swell the profits of arms merchants, and—yes—authorize police to murder unarmed black men.

Police and national intelligence and security agencies, which carry out wholesale surveillance against the population and serve as the corporate elite’s brutal enforcers, are omnipotent by intention. They are designed to impart fear, even terror, to keep the population under control. And until the courts and the legislative bodies give us back our rights—which they have no intention of doing—things will only get worse for the poor and the rest of us. We live in a post-constitutional era.

Corporations have captured every major institution, including the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and deformed them to exclusively serve the demands of the market. They have, in the process, demolished civil society. Karl Polanyi in “The Great Transformation” warned that without heavy government regulation and oversight, unfettered and unregulated capitalism degenerates into a Mafia capitalism and a Mafia political system. A self-regulating market, Polanyi writes, turns human beings and the natural environment into commodities. This ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. The ecosystem and human beings become objects whose worth is determined solely by the market. They are exploited until exhaustion or collapse occurs. A society that no longer recognizes that the natural world and life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves. This is what we are undergoing. Literally. ................ (more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_society_of_captives_20141207



Images from Garner protests at Detroit's Noel Night celebration on Saturday










DETROIT, MI -- Noel Night, in its 42nd year, had all the traditional attractions Saturday.
There was popcorn and hot cocoa. There were street performers and ice sculptures. Visitors toured historic buildings and local shops enjoyed the large, cheery crowds.

But this year was different, and not because of the unicyclists in top hats or the artists who carried around "mobile forest" of Christmas trees.

There was a constant chanting of the words "We can't breathe!" and other protest phrases throughout the night, coming from not one, but several large groups of demonstrators.

Angry over police-involved killings around the country and a pair of grand jury decisions not to indict officers involved in violent deaths, multiple crowds of protesters marched down Woodward Avenue and staged a "die-in" demonstration outside the Detroit Institute of Arts on Saturday as thousands gathered for Midtown's massive annual holiday party. ...............(more)

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/12/detroit_protesters_voice_anger.html





Bill Black: New York City: Aggressive “Broken Windows” Policing but Carte Blanche for Banksters


New York City: Aggressive “Broken Windows” Policing but Carte Blanche for Banksters
Posted on December 6, 2014 by William Black

By William K. Black
Kansas City, MO: December 6, 2014


New York City exemplifies two perverse criminal justice policies that drive many criminologists to distraction. It is the home of the most destructive epidemics of elite financial frauds in history. Those fraud epidemics hyper-inflated the housing bubble and drove the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The best estimate is that the U.S. GDP loss will be $21 trillion and that 10 million Americans lost their jobs. Both numbers are far larger in Europe. The elite “C Suite” leaders of these fraud epidemics were made wealthy by those frauds through bonuses that measured in the billions of dollars annually.

The most extraordinary facts about the catastrophic fraud epidemics, however, is New York City’s reaction to the fraud epidemics. Not a single Wall Street bankster who led the fraud epidemics has been prosecuted or had their fraud proceeds “clawed back.” Not a single Wall Street bankster who led the fraud epidemics is treated as a pariah by his peers or New York City elites. New York City’s elected leaders have made occasional criticisms of the banksters, but Mayor Bloomberg was famous for his sycophancy for the Wall Street banksters that made him wealthy. In 2011, Mayor Bloomberg attacked the “Occupy Wall Street” movement for daring to protest the banksters.

“‘I don’t appreciate the bashing of all the hard working people who live and work here and pay the taxes that support our city,’ said Bloomberg, during a press conference in a Bronx library.

‘The city depends on Wall Street.’

‘Jamie Dimon is one of the great bankers,’ said Bloomberg. ‘He’s brought more business to this city than any banker in (the) modern day. To go and picket him, I don’t know what that achieves. Jamie Dimon is an honorable person, working very hard, paying his taxes.’

Bloomberg also questioned why the protestors were picking on wealthy bankers and other corporate titans.


It is, of course, depraved to claim that because banksters are made wealthy through fraud and pays a small portion of that wealth in taxes they should not be held accountable for those frauds because they are important to local finances. The claim becomes all the more risible when we take into account that under Dimon’s leadership JPMorgan became infamous for engaging in and facilitating billions of dollars in tax evasion that cost many governments, including NYC, enormous amounts of tax revenues. As a final indignity, most of the purported amounts that JPMorgan paid in settlements with DOJ are actually paid by the U.S. Treasury because DOJ allowed JPMorgan to treat large amounts of those payments as tax deductible. DOJ’s senior leadership used this as one of their cynical means of making the settlements paid by the banks appear far larger than they actually were. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/12/new-york-city-aggressive-broken-windows-policing-carte-blanche-banksters.html



Rep. Alan Grayson: ‘88 seconds to Debate the TPP’?





Chris Hedges Defending Our Civil Liberties Nov. 23rd 2014





Published on Dec 4, 2014

Chris Hedges, joined by Romero Institute Chief Counsel Daniel Sheehan and Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry, discusses the state our country is in and what we as citizens can do about it.


Wall Street to Workers: Give Us Your Retirement Savings and Stop Asking Questions


from In These Times:



by David Sirota


If you are a public school teacher in Kentucky, the state has a message for you: You have no right to know the details of the investments being made with your retirement savings.

That was the crux of the declaration issued by state officials to a high school history teacher when he asked to see the terms of the agreements between the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System and the Wall Street firms that are managing the system’s money on behalf of him, his colleagues and thousands of retirees.

The denial was the latest case of public officials blocking the release of information about how billions of dollars of public employees’ retirement nest eggs are being invested. Though some of the fine print of the investments has occasionally leaked, the agreements are tightly held in most states and cities. Critics say such secrecy prevents lawmakers and the public from evaluating the propriety of the increasing fees being paid to private financial firms for pension management services.

The secrecy trend is spreading throughout the country. Last month, for instance, Illinois officials denied an open records request for information identifying which financial firms are managing that state’s pension money. Like their Kentucky counterparts, Illinois officials asserted that the firms’ identities "constitute trade secrets." Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act includes special exemptions for information about private equity firms. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17416/wall_street_to_workers_give_us_your_retirement_savings_and_stop_asking_ques



Party On!: The War Party Ascendant


from TomDispatch:


Party On!
The War Party Ascendant

By Tom Engelhardt


It was the end of the road for Chuck Hagel last week and the Washington press corps couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about writing his obituary. In terms of pure coverage, it may not have been Ferguson or the seven-foot deluge of snow that hit Buffalo, New York, but the avalanche of news reports was nothing to be sniffed at. There had been a changing of the guard in wartime Washington. Barack Obama’s third secretary of defense had gone down for the count. In the phrase of the moment, he had “resigned under pressure.” Sayonara, Chuck!

With a unanimity that crossed political lines, the accounts read as if written by a single reporter. The story went something like this: two years earlier, President Obama had brought in Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and former Republican senator with a reputation for being leery about the overuse of American military power, to wind down the war in Afghanistan, rein in military critics, and put the Pentagon budget on something closer to a peacetime footing. After a bruising Senate confirmation hearing from which he never recovered, he proved poor at “messaging” the president’s policies, had a “crappy relationship” with National Security Adviser (and Obama buddy) Susan Rice, proved a weak manager at the Department of Defense as well as a “weak link” in the Obama national security team, and could never break into the president's tight-knit circle of insiders who -- everyone agreed -- had a nasty habit of “micromanaging” America’s wars (rather than, it seemed, letting the military do what needed to be done). In the end, the president “lost confidence” in him. It was a “mutual” firing or at least Hagel had advanced somewhat voluntarily toward the edge of the cliff before being pushed off.

A subcategory of Hagel reports also bloomed, again adding up to something like a single story. In them, various journalists and commentators offered instant speculation on whom the president would invite to fill Hagel’s post. Topping everyone’s “short list”: Senator and former Army Ranger Jack Reed of Rhode Island, war fightin’ liberal and former Pentagon official Michčle Flournoy (much beloved by neocons and Republicans), and hawkish former Pentagon “weapons buyer” Ashton Carter (the ultimate nominee). Unfortunately for the press, Reed and Flournoy promptly made mincemeat out of the collective wisdom of the moment, emphatically removing their names from consideration. Politico reported the Flournoy rejection this way: “Flournoy’s withdrawal comes amid speculation President Barack Obama is looking for a candidate who would be deferential to a White House that’s increasingly exerting control over Pentagon decisions.” Nothing, however, could stop the march of the news, whose focus simply switched to other potential job applicants. Striking was the eagerness of assorted journalists and pundits to act like employment agency headhunters vetting exactly the same list of candidates for the president.

Such journalism, of course, qualifies as the very definition of insiderdom and it led, implicitly or explicitly, to the crowning of Barack Obama as a “war president” for the final two years of his term. In the end, however, the media was less reporting on developments than reproducing them. The result: a record as collectively claustrophobic as post-9/11 Washington itself. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175930/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_war_to_the_horizon/#more



Temporary Work is Bad for Your Cognitive Health


By Antonio Cabrales, Juan Dolado, and Ricardo Mora. Originally published at VoxEU


The negative consequences of dual labour markets have been extensively documented, but so far little attention has been paid to their effects on workers’ on-the-job training and cognitive skills. This column discusses evidence from PIAAC – an exam for adults designed by the OECD in 2013. Temporary contracts are associated with a reduction of 8–16 percentage points in the probability of receiving on-the-job training, and this training gap can explain up to half of the gap in numeracy scores between permanent and temporary workers.

Starting with the seminal work by Saint-Paul (1996), there has been a large literature documenting the negative consequences of dual labour markets in several EU countries.1 Among them, Spain is often cited as the most extreme example, since its labour market is characterised by a large gap between the firing costs of workers with permanent and temporary contracts, and by lax regulation of the use of temporary contracts. Yet, so far not much attention has been paid to the effects of dual labour markets on workers’ on-the-job training (OJT) and the subsequent effect of the latter on cognitive skills.2 A new element to add to the ample evidence of the negative effects of duality on other dimensions of worker’s performance is provided by the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), the exam for adults designed by the OECD in 2013, in the spirit of the PISA exams but for the working-age population.

Employment Protection Legislation and On-the-Job Training

In a recent paper (Cabrales et al. 2014), we present evidence suggesting that (everything else equal) workers under temporary contracts receive less employer-sponsored training than workers under permanent contracts and that, through this channel, labour market dualism also reduces the cognitive abilities of the former relative to the latter. One plausible mechanism leading to the gap in on-the-job training relies on the large turnover rate among temporary workers, which is induced by the much less stringent employment protection legislation they enjoy relative to permanent workers. Given this differential, whenever collective bargaining prevents neutralising severance pay (i.e. a transfer from employers to workers) through enough wage flexibility, firms will prefer to use temporary contracts in sequence rather than converting them into permanent contracts. As a result, the expected job duration of temporary workers becomes too short, making firms more reluctant to invest in their training. By contrast, the much stronger employment protection enjoyed by permanent workers increases their expected job duration, making firms more eager to invest in them. Thus, in countries with large employment protection gaps and wage rigidity, temporary contracts become dead-end jobs rather than stepping stones, as is often the case in those other countries where employment protection gaps are lower.

Spain is an interesting case study because, since the early 1990s, it has had a large share of temporary work among employees – around 33%. Even after the massive destruction of temporary jobs (almost 2 million) and the mild reduction in the employment protection gap after the labour market reform in 2012, it has fallen only to 24% – still one of the highest rates in the OECD. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/12/temporary-work-bad-cognitive-health.html



State Terrorism and Racist Violence in the Age of Disposability: From Emmett Till to Eric Garner


State Terrorism and Racist Violence in the Age of Disposability: From Emmett Till to Eric Garner

Friday, 05 December 2014 11:50
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed


If you want a picture of the future imagine a boot stomping on a human face forever. - George Orwell


The larger reasons behind Eric Garner's execution seem to be missed by most commentators. The issue is not simply police misconduct, or racist acts of police brutality, however deadly, but the growing use of systemic terror of the sort we associate with Hannah Arendt's notion of totalitarianism that needs to be explored.

When fear and terror become the organizing principles of a society in which the tyranny of the state has been replaced by the despotism of an unaccountable market, violence becomes the only valid form of control. The system has not failed. As Jeffrey St. Clair has pointed out, it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, which is to punish those it considers dangerous or disposable - which increasingly includes more and more individuals and groups. Hannah Arendt was right in arguing that, "If lawfulness is the essence of non-tyrannical government and lawlessness is the essence of tyranny, then terror is the essence of totalitarian domination."

In an age when the delete button and an utterly commodified and privatized culture erase all vestiges of memory and commitment, it is easy for a society to remove itself from those sordid memories that reveal the systemic injustices that belie the presence of state violence and terrorism. Not only do the dangerous memories of bodies being lynched, beaten, tortured and murdered disappear in the fog of celebrity culture and the 24/7 entertainment/news cycle, but the historical flashpoints that once revealed the horrors of unaccountable power and acts of systemic barbarism are both disconnected from any broader understanding of domination and vanish into a past that no longer has any connection to the present.

The murder of Emmett Till; the killing of the four young black girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, in the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama; the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; the killing by four officers of Amadou Diallo; and the recent killings of countless young black children and men and women, coupled with the ongoing and egregious incarceration of black men in this country are not isolated expressions of specific, marginalized failures of a system. They are the system, a system of authoritarianism that has intensified without apology. Rather than being viewed or forgotten as isolated, but unfortunate, expressions of extremism, these incidents are part of a growing systemic pattern of violence and terror that has unapologetically emerged at a time when the politics and logic of disposability has been normalized in American society and violence has become the default position for solving all social problems, especially as they pertain to poor minorities of class and color. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/27832-state-terrorism-and-racist-violence-in-the-age-of-disposability-from-emmett-till-to-eric-garner



David Sirota: A Multi-Billion Dollar Secret


from truthdig:


A Multi-Billion Dollar Secret

Posted on Dec 5, 2014
By David Sirota


If you are a public school teacher in Kentucky, the state has a message for you: You have no right to know the details of the investments being made with your retirement savings. That was the crux of the declaration issued by state officials to a high school history teacher when he asked to see the terms of the agreements between the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System and the Wall Street firms that are managing the system’s money on behalf of him, his colleagues and thousands of retirees.

The denial was the latest case of public officials blocking the release of information about how billions of dollars of public employees’ retirement nest eggs are being invested. Though some of the fine print of the investments has occasionally leaked, the agreements are tightly held in most states and cities. Critics say such secrecy prevents lawmakers and the public from evaluating the propriety of the increasing fees being paid to private financial firms for pension management services.

The secrecy trend is spreading throughout the country. Last month, for instance, Illinois officials denied an open records request for information identifying which financial firms are managing that state’s pension money. Like their Kentucky counterparts, Illinois officials asserted that the firms’ identities “constitute trade secrets.” Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act includes special exemptions for information about private equity firms.

The denial from Illinois pension officials followed a decision earlier this year by Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, to reject a newspaper’s open-records request for information about state pension investments. The treasurer’s office argued that financial firms have the right to “minimize attention” around their compensation. Last week Raimondo, who is now Rhode Island’s governor-elect, held a closed-door meeting of the state investment commission to review the state’s $61 million investment in a controversial hedge fund. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_multi-billion_dollar_secret_20141205



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