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Gender: Male
Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 10,162

Journal Archives

US Intelligence Official: No Evidence ISIL Is Planning Imminent Attack on the US

Gee, I wonder why so many people think ISIS is about to blow up shit in the US?

Where are those pitchforks? Workers Are Constantly on Edge of the Knife

Remember this the next time you ask -- in response to latest travesty -- "where is the outrage?"

"Workers Are Constantly on the Edge of the Knife"
Friday, 12 September 2014 * By Amy B Dean, Truthout | Interview

Picture your typical week: Maybe you have a doctor's appointment or a child's music performance to attend. You may have urgent errands to run on your day off from work. Now, imagine having to achieve these things without knowing your actual work schedule, knowing that at any moment you could be called in to work - or that you could hustle to get to your job and then be told that you're not needed after all, or maybe sent home after only getting an hour's work.

Under what is known as "just-in-time scheduling," employers increasingly require that their employees remain constantly on call and give them little advance notice about schedules. Large retail employers have begun using digital scheduling systems that detect minute fluctuations in business throughout the day and tailor employees' work hours to the precise times when customers are most likely to shop. Instead of using this technology to make life easier and more predictable for everyone, they are using it to maximize profits at their employees' expense. These practices are making it impossible for employees to live normal lives.

Sometimes, employees have told researchers, workers don't know what hours they are scheduled until they show up to punch in. Or, an employee shows up for a scheduled shift and is told to go home - effectively denying that person their day's pay. The impact is a sense of constant precarious living. "Just-in-time scheduling" deprives employees of the ability to plan their lives, to schedule childcare, attend family events or take care of their own health. It also means many employees don't get to work enough hours at one job to make ends meet. This unpredictability of such employment is especially problematic for the 7.5 million part-time workers who say they wish to have full-time positions.

The most abusive forms of "just-in-time scheduling" reflect a wider trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47 percent of hourly-wage workers aged 26-32 say they get a week or less of advance notice about what hours they have to work.


The Fed Just Imposed Financial Austerity on the States

Yesterday, I posted about this too, here:
This article however delves deeper and goes into much more detailed analysis than the one I posted yesterday, so I'm putting it up.

The Fed Just Imposed Financial Austerity on the States
By Pam Martens & Russ Martens * September 4, 2014

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors, together with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency – the top regulators of Wall Street’s largest banks – finalized liquidity rules yesterday that make absolutely no sense to anyone with a historical perspective on how Wall Street operates in a crisis.

The Federal regulators adopted a new rule that requires the country’s largest banks – those with $250 billion or more in total assets – to hold an increased level of newly defined “high quality liquid assets” (HQLA) in order to meet a potential run on the bank during a credit crisis. In addition to U.S. Treasury securities and other instruments backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government (agency debt), the regulators have included some dubious instruments while shunning others with a higher safety profile.

Bizarrely, the Fed and its regulatory siblings included investment grade corporate bonds, the majority of which do not trade on an exchange, and more stunningly, stocks in the Russell 1000, as meeting the definition of high quality liquid assets, while excluding all municipal bonds – even general obligation municipal bonds from states with a far higher credit standing and safety profile than BBB-rated corporate bonds.

This, rightfully, has state treasurers in an uproar. The five largest Wall Street banks control the majority of deposits in the country. By disqualifying municipal bonds from the category of liquid assets, the biggest banks are likely to trim back their holdings in munis which could raise the cost or limit the ability for states, counties, cities and school districts to issue muni bonds to build schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure needs. This is a particularly strange position for a Fed that is worried about subpar economic growth.


Jamie Dimon gets personal call from POTUS, while Seniors get garnished

Jamie Dimon Gets a Personal Call from the Prez; Seniors Get Garnished
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 12, 2014

Senior Citizen HandSometimes we have to pinch ourselves to make sure we are not sleepwalking in a Dickensian dream. Earlier this week we heard Senator Elizabeth Warren tell a Senate Banking session how JPMorgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, got a $8.5 million raise after craftily negotiating away all of the bank’s crimes with the payment of billions in shareholders’ money. (Two of those crimes, by the way, were felony counts for aiding and abetting Bernie Madoff in his Ponzi scheme – also craftily settled under a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, which effectively puts the bank on probation for two years.)

Last night, the Wall Street Journal informed the public that, apparently, none of this criminal activity at JPMorgan has dulled President Obama’s fondness for its CEO Jamie Dimon, who has recently been undergoing treatments for throat cancer. The Journal reported: “During one of his earliest treatments, the Mr. Dimon received a call on his cellphone from President Barack Obama, who wished him a healthy recovery, the bank confirmed.” A President with a kind heart toward those experiencing health issues is, of course, a virtue. But it is more than likely that the President hasn’t similarly dialed up the victims of JPMorgan’s various and sundry wealth transfer assaults when y fall ill.

One day before the news of the President’s phone call to Dimon emerged, we learned from the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that some senior citizens are having their Social Security payments garnished over unpaid student loan debt, forcing them below the poverty threshold. The GAO’s study, derived from the Survey of Consumer Finances, found that 706,000 households headed by those 65 or older still carry student loan debt. Stunningly, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group grew from approximately $2.8 billion in 2005 to an estimated $18.2 billion in 2013. For persons of all ages, Federal student loan debt has risen from $400 billion to more than $1 trillion during the same period.

So our "allies" Turkey, UK and Germany have all refused to help fight ISIS?

But our "enemy" Iran is champing at the bit to help? Interesting developments.

Iran Offers Iraq ‘Everything it Needs’ to Fight ISIS
The Daily Beast * WORLD NEWS * 06.16.14

As ISIS marches closer to Baghdad, the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, Iran, is offering the Iraqi government the use of its army and spies. As President Obama weighs whether to re-enter the Iraq war, the country’s neighbor, Iran, is looking to step into the void.

U.S. and senior Iraqi officials tell The Daily Beast that Iran is now offering the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki its army, its spies and highly trained irregular units from its revolutionary guard corps to root out the Sunni insurgency that now threatens Baghdad. Gen. Qassem Solaimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, arrived in Baghdad last week with an entourage of military advisers to begin preparations for such a counter-offensive. A member of the Quds Force has already allegedly been killed fighting in Iraq.


“The offer to help us with everything we need has been made from the highest levels of the Iranian government,” a senior Iraqi official told The Daily Beast. This official stressed that Iran’s offer to assist Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) was not conditional on Maliki making any immediate reforms or changes to his government.

“We face an existential threat. Unfortunately, when people are desperate, they will take desperate measures. We will go to whomever we can partner with to deal with the immediate threat.”



OMFG! Hell just froze over in Florida

I've been saying now for months, that "I'll believe there are GOOD cops when they start turning in the BAD cops". I can't say that I have EVER heard of this actually happening, until today, and it happened in FLORIDA of all places. Who'da Thunk?

Good Cops Cross ‘Thin Blue Line’ in Florida, Turn on Bad Cops

Why the fuck is The Fed setting the stage to bankrupt local municipalities?

Disaster Capitalism baby!!

Preparing to Asset-Strip Local Government? The Fed's Bizarre New Rules
Monday, 08 September 2014 14:56
By Ellen Brown, The Web of Debt Blog | News Analysis

In an inscrutable move that has alarmed state treasurers, the Federal Reserve, along with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, just changed the liquidity requirements for the nation’s largest banks. Municipal bonds, long considered safe liquid investments, have been eliminated from the list of high-quality liquid collateral. assets (HQLA). That means banks that are the largest holders of munis are liable to start dumping them in favor of the Treasuries and corporate bonds that do satisfy the requirement.

Muni bonds fund the nation’s critical infrastructure, and they are subject to the whims of the market: as demand goes down, interest rates must be raised to attract buyers. State and local governments could find themselves in the position of cash-strapped Eurozone states, subject to crippling interest rates. The starkest example is Greece, where rates went as high as 30% when investors feared the government’s insolvency. Sky-high interest rates, in turn, are the fast track to insolvency. Greece wound up stripped of its assets, which were privatized at fire sale prices in a futile attempt to keep up with the bills.

The first major hit to US municipal bonds occurred with the downgrade of two major monoline insurers in January 2008. The fault was with the insurers, but the taxpayers footed the bill. The downgrade signaled a simultaneous downgrade of bonds from over 100,000 municipalities and institutions, totaling more than $500 billion. The Fed’s latest rule change could be the final nail in the municipal bond coffin, another misguided move by regulators that not only does not hit its mark but results in serious collateral damage to local governments – maybe serious enough to finally propel them into bankruptcy.


J. SCAHILL - "BLACKLISTED: The Secret Gov't Handbook for Labeling You A Terrorist"

BLACKLISTED: The Secret Gov't Handbook for Labeling You A Terrorist

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watch listed.

Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a “clear roadmap” to the government’s terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: “The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed … could cause significant harm to national security.”


SO WE’RE GOING TO WAR AGAIN, and "it seems barely newsworthy"


President Obama has started describing his new strategy to confront the Islamic State, and despite it being a mishmash of wishful thinking and perpetual militarism, the focus of the Washington elites in the press and elsewhere has been almost entirely on the optics: Is he overcoming the perception that he wasn’t doing enough? What will the political reaction be?

The question we should be asking, as I noted on Friday, is: Why the hell does he think it has any chance of working? Granted Obama isn’t talking about launching another all-out invasion ... but he is apparently planning on re-upping the country for another 3-year hitch in the endless war he used to talk about wrapping up.


(Obama's) plan calls for stepped-up airstrikes, inevitably leading to civilian casualties; for the kind of Middle-Eastern diplomatic needle-threading that has consistently eluded him in the past; for a political miracle in Iraq; and, despite all the precedent to the contrary, for American-trained indigenous military forces that actually fight.

It was also understated. As my colleague Glenn Greenwald tweeted:
"How you know you live in an empire: when there's an announcement your govt is about to start a new 3-year war & it seems barely newsworthy."


BOOM!!!! Huge blast kills most leaders of Syrian resistance.

Well this IS a new wrinkle in the ME
mashup of interests & disparate players, isn't it?



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