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marmar

Profile Information

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: 66,217

Journal Archives

No Moderate Republicans Exist Anymore (video link)


Watch: http://www.bloomberg.com/video/time-for-gop-to-accept-aca-as-law-of-the-land-dowd-GLNT5l1LQNuHK7T92rVEqQ.html



Ban on sugary drinks to take effect at University of Michigan health system


from the Detroit Free Press:



The University of Michigan Health System and the medical school soon will stop selling sugary drinks in their cafeterias and vending machines.

The Detroit News reports Monday the policy is set to take effect in mid-November and applies to sodas, sweetened coffees, sports drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks and sweetened tea.

Health system spokesman Pete Barkey says it’s part of an “effort to model healthy behaviors.”

According to Barkey, officials were sensitive to concerns the new policy would hamper hospital visitors who may want a comforting drink at a traumatic time. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20130930/NEWS05/309300046/sugary-drinks-ban-university-of-michigan



A World in Which No One Is Listening to the Planet’s Sole Superpower


from TomDispatch:


A World in Which No One Is Listening to the Planet’s Sole Superpower
The Greater Middle East’s Greatest Rebuff to Uncle Sam

By Dilip Hiro


What if the sole superpower on the planet makes its will known -- repeatedly -- and finds that no one is listening? Barely a decade ago, that would have seemed like a conundrum from some fantasy Earth in an alternate dimension. Now, it is increasingly a plain description of political life on our globe, especially in the Greater Middle East.

In the future, the indecent haste with which Barack Obama sought cover under the umbrella unfurled by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Syrian chemical weapons crisis will be viewed as a watershed moment when it comes to America’s waning power in that region. In the aptly named “arc of instability,” the lands from the Chinese border to northern Africa that President George W. Bush and his neocon acolytes dreamed of thoroughly pacifying, turmoil is on the rise. Ever fewer countries, allies, or enemies, are paying attention, much less kowtowing, to the once-formidable power of the world’s last superpower. The list of defiant figures -- from Egyptian generals to Saudi princes, Iraqi Shiite leaders to Israeli politicians -- is lengthening.

The signs of this loss of clout have been legion in recent years. In August 2011, for instance, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ignored Obama’s unambiguous call for him “to step aside.” Nothing happened even after an unnamed senior administration official insisted, “We are certain Assad is on the way out.” As the saying goes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Similarly, in March 2010, Obama personally delivered a half-hour-long chewing out of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a politician Washington installed in office, on the corruption and administrative ineptitude of his government. It was coupled with a warning that, if he failed to act, a cut in U.S. aid would follow. Instead, the next month the Obama administration gave him the red carpet treatment on a visit to Washington with scarcely a whisper about the graft and ill-governance that continues to this day. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175753/tomgram%3A_dilip_hiro%2C_the_mystery_of_washington%27s_waning_global_power/#more



Majority of Americans Have No Ability to Save


http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/majority_of_americans_have_no_ability_to_save_20130928


Majority of Americans Have No Ability to Save
Posted on Sep 28, 2013


Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to nothing in emergency savings, a survey released by Bankrate.com shows.

CNN Money reports:

Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all.

… Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.


—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


The Year Persistence Edged Plutocracy


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:



The Year Persistence Edged Plutocracy
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

Exactly a hundred years ago, decades of progressive struggle finally paid off and outfitted America with a tool for braking the unlimited accumulation of grand private fortune.


By Sam Pizzigati




The federal income tax this week turns a century old. A hundred years ago, on October 3, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the first modern federal tax on income.

John Buenker has been researching and writing about the events — and attitudes — that led to that signing for a good bit of the last 50 years. His 1985 book, The Income Tax and the Progressive Era, remains the single most insightful history of the years of struggle that led to federal income taxation.

That history clearly matters to Buenker, an emeritus historian at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. But should this history also matter to the rest of us?

Actually, John Buenker’s income tax history may matter more today than ever before. Here in 2013, after all, Americans face almost the same exact challenge our counterparts in 1913 faced. They lived amid a staggeringly intense concentration of wealth and income. We do, too.

Today’s plutocrats, in fact, strike Buenker as even “more dangerous than the Robber Barons of yore.”

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/the-year-persistence-edged-plutocracy/#sthash.cktUy1Py.dpuf



Mining Your Life for Their Profit


from In These Times:


Mining Your Life for Their Profit
A behind-the-screens look at how Internet giants sell your personal information.

BY SUSAN J. DOUGLAS


With all the furor over the revelations about the NSA’s spying and its massive overreach in collecting our data, another big spying scandal has gotten less attention: the massive corporate culling—and selling—of our personal information to, basically, other corporations. We now live in the era of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Foursquare, where millions of us willingly share personal information, rendering old notions of privacy obsolete. And now, many are turning a blind eye as corporations become increasingly cavalier about obtaining the information we don’t actively volunteer. The lengthy, jargon-ridden nature of most sites’ privacy statements means that many people don’t bother to read them before clicking “accept.”

Yes, there have been stories about Facebook and Google collecting and selling our personal information, but mostly on the business pages. How many of us really understand the extent of this? And how much more invasive and creepy is it going to get, given the enormous pressures on a behemoth like Facebook to boost its stock prices after the miserable failure of its IPO?

Google recently argued in a court filing that its users should have “no legitimate expectation of privacy” when sending emails through its system, meaning Google asserts that it can scan and read your emails to better determine what ads might be targeted to you. My mail carrier can’t legally open my personal mail, but Google sure thinks it can. Here’s what Google admits it may be collecting: your mobile phone information, including friends’ phone numbers and how long you talk to them, what you search for and look at online, what physical locations you are at, and the number and kinds of apps you use. In March, Google admitted in a $7 million settlement with 37 states that during its “Street View” mapping project, the cars cruising around cities also secretly vacuumed up passwords, e-mail and even medical and financial records from unsuspecting Wi-Fi users.

Then there’s Facebook. OK, so it may be our own fault if we post that drunken picture from our last vacation. And we probably accept that Facebook mines everything we post—our friendship networks, the links we share, our political beliefs, our “likes” and “dislikes.” But in February, Facebook entered into a deal with four companies that collect data about our spending habits, like what we buy in the drug store and supermarket, our web browsing records, and even divorce and other court and financial records. Facebook can now be privy to activities you never share on the site, allowing them to target just the right ads to you on the totally annoying righthand side of your news feed. The FTC is currently investigating two of the companies Facebook has partnered with, Acxiom and Datalogics, to ascertain just how they collect all their data. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15607/mining_your_life_for_their_profit/



The Joy of Hate-Watching ‘Atlas Shrugged’


from In These Times:


The Joy of Hate-Watching ‘Atlas Shrugged’
A Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the trilogy’s final installment is just the icing on the cake.

BY SADY DOYLE

The Atlas Shrugged movies are over-long, stilted, bizarre, and unconvincing—in other words, they're perfect representations of Ayn Rand's philosophy.


Ladies and gentlemen, start your gloating: The producers of Atlas Shrugged, the critically derided, out-of-work-sitcom-actor-infested film “trilogy” based on Ayn Rand's iconic Libertarian doorstopper, are begging in public. This Monday, the A.V. Club broke the news that they've started a Kickstarter campaign aimed at amping up the budget for the third and final installment of the series, and are hoping to raise $250,000 in donations.

On the surface, it might seem that Atlas Shrugged has been deemed as objectively lacking in value by the glorious Free Market, where Man comes to engage with Man in free and uncoerced value-for-value exchange, in a demonstration of Man's transcendent spirit of Individualism and Production through the ultimate form of self-expression that is The Dollar. (Also, maybe Man should pick up some more coffee. You know, while Man is out.) But the producers of Atlas Shrugged assure us that it is much, much more than that. And indeed, your humble columnist agrees. This Kickstarter campaign may be a sign that Atlas Shrugged is at long last embracing its true place in history—not to mention the Glorious Free Market.

But first, some exposition. The Atlas Shrugged project has a long history, full of travail, but the shortest way to sum up that history is: These movies have bombed audaciously. The first installment of Atlas Shrugged, released in 2011—dull and ambitious, with the feel of a very poorly-thought-out made-for-TV movie—cost $20 million to produce. It recouped a little over $4.6 million in theaters. The second installment—for which funds were raised via “private debt sale,” in which every single member of the original cast was replaced by a new actor, and to which many CGI explosions were added—had an estimated production budget of $10 million. It made just $3.3 million in return. So, at this point, what with Atlas Shrugged-mastermind/fitness-equipment-entrepreneur John Aglialoro having lost more than $20 million trying to make the public embrace a movie franchise in which Oswald from The Drew Carey Show plays a brilliant Libertarian scientist, you might assume that they just plain need the cash.

And yet, according to the Kickstarter page, they don't: “The movie is actually already funded and is now headed into production this October,” we are assured. “The Atlas Shrugged Movie Kickstarter campaign is not so much about money though as it is about marketing.” ..............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15670/atlas_shrugged_producers_promote_third_installment_aim_to_enrage_haters_wit/



Obedience to Corporate-State Authority Makes Consumer Society Increasingly Dangerous


Obedience to Corporate-State Authority Makes Consumer Society Increasingly Dangerous

Sunday, 29 September 2013 00:00
By Yosef Brody, Truthout | Op-Ed


Fifty years ago this month, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram published a groundbreaking article describing a unique human behavior experiment. The study and its many variations, while ethically controversial, gave us new insight into human tendencies to obey authority, surprising the experts and everyone else on just how susceptible we are to doing the bidding of others. The original experiment revealed that a majority of participants would dutifully administer increasingly severe electric shocks to strangers - up to and including potentially lethal doses - because an authority told them that pulling the levers was necessary and required (the "shocks," subjects found out later, were fake). People who obeyed all the way to the end did so even as they experienced tremendous moral conflict. Despite their distress, they never questioned the basic premise of the situation that was fed to them: the institution needed their compliance for the betterment of the common good.

Milgram was driven by the need to comprehend Nazi horror, and today his research is rightly recognized as a warning of how easily things can go wrong if people obey authority uncritically and systematically. Yet its social contribution is only rarely understood to have here-and-now implications. We urgently need to update our appreciation of the perils of obedience to accommodate our contemporary global situation.

The most powerful authorities today make demands that can appear pretty reasonable on the surface - yet are driving us toward oblivion. Climate scientists have reached consensus that our behavior, if unchanged, is likely to result in social and environmental devastation, including mass species extinctions and human suffering on an unprecedented scale. Will our society continue to pull levers until we administer catastrophic doses?

The Milgram experiments offer a potentially helpful metaphor for our current predicament, one that I will expand on below. But first a few words on obedience and disobedience more generally. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19050-the-experiment-requires-that-you-continue-obedience-to-corporate-state-authority-in-an-increasingly-dangerous-consumer-society



Chris Hedges: The Sparks of Rebellion


from truthdig:


The Sparks of Rebellion

Posted on Sep 30, 2013
By Chris Hedges


I am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt.

Vladimir Lenin placed his faith in a violent uprising, a professional, disciplined revolutionary vanguard freed from moral constraints and, like Karl Marx, in the inevitable emergence of the worker’s state. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon insisted that gradual change would be accomplished as enlightened workers took over production and educated and converted the rest of the proletariat. Mikhail Bakunin predicted the catastrophic breakdown of the capitalist order, something we are likely to witness in our lifetimes, and new autonomous worker federations rising up out of the chaos. Pyotr Kropotkin, like Proudhon, believed in an evolutionary process that would hammer out the new society. Emma Goldman, along with Kropotkin, came to be very wary of both the efficacy of violence and the revolutionary potential of the masses. “The mass,” Goldman wrote bitterly toward the end of her life in echoing Marx, “clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify!”

The revolutionists of history counted on a mobilized base of enlightened industrial workers. The building blocks of revolt, they believed, relied on the tool of the general strike, the ability of workers to cripple the mechanisms of production. Strikes could be sustained with the support of political parties, strike funds and union halls. Workers without these support mechanisms had to replicate the infrastructure of parties and unions if they wanted to put prolonged pressure on the bosses and the state. But now, with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing base, along with the dismantling of our unions and opposition parties, we will have to search for different instruments of rebellion.

We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers. Most manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and, of those that remain, few are unionized. Our family farms have been destroyed by agro-businesses. Monsanto and its Faustian counterparts on Wall Street rule. They are steadily poisoning our lives and rendering us powerless. The corporate leviathan, which is global, is freed from the constraints of a single nation-state or government. Corporations are beyond regulation or control. Politicians are too anemic, or more often too corrupt, to stand in the way of the accelerating corporate destruction. This makes our struggle different from revolutionary struggles in industrial societies in the past. Our revolt will look more like what erupted in the less industrialized Slavic republics, Russia, Spain and China and uprisings led by a disenfranchised rural and urban working class and peasantry in the liberation movements that swept through Africa and Latin America. The dispossessed working poor, along with unemployed college graduates and students, unemployed journalists, artists, lawyers and teachers, will form our movement. This is why the fight for a higher minimum wage is crucial to uniting service workers with the alienated college-educated sons and daughters of the old middle class. Bakunin, unlike Marx, considered déclassé intellectuals essential for successful revolt. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_sparks_of_rebellion_20130930



Obedience to Corporate-State Authority Makes Consumer Society Increasingly Dangerous


Obedience to Corporate-State Authority Makes Consumer Society Increasingly Dangerous

Sunday, 29 September 2013 00:00
By Yosef Brody, Truthout | Op-Ed


Fifty years ago this month, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram published a groundbreaking article describing a unique human behavior experiment. The study and its many variations, while ethically controversial, gave us new insight into human tendencies to obey authority, surprising the experts and everyone else on just how susceptible we are to doing the bidding of others. The original experiment revealed that a majority of participants would dutifully administer increasingly severe electric shocks to strangers - up to and including potentially lethal doses - because an authority told them that pulling the levers was necessary and required (the "shocks," subjects found out later, were fake). People who obeyed all the way to the end did so even as they experienced tremendous moral conflict. Despite their distress, they never questioned the basic premise of the situation that was fed to them: the institution needed their compliance for the betterment of the common good.

Milgram was driven by the need to comprehend Nazi horror, and today his research is rightly recognized as a warning of how easily things can go wrong if people obey authority uncritically and systematically. Yet its social contribution is only rarely understood to have here-and-now implications. We urgently need to update our appreciation of the perils of obedience to accommodate our contemporary global situation.

The most powerful authorities today make demands that can appear pretty reasonable on the surface - yet are driving us toward oblivion. Climate scientists have reached consensus that our behavior, if unchanged, is likely to result in social and environmental devastation, including mass species extinctions and human suffering on an unprecedented scale. Will our society continue to pull levers until we administer catastrophic doses?

The Milgram experiments offer a potentially helpful metaphor for our current predicament, one that I will expand on below. But first a few words on obedience and disobedience more generally. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19050-the-experiment-requires-that-you-continue-obedience-to-corporate-state-authority-in-an-increasingly-dangerous-consumer-society



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