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Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:36 PM


Weekend Economists Take Five: December 7-9, 2012

The musical world lost a jazz giant this week.

Dave Brubeck, worldwide ambassador of jazz, dies at 91


In his seven-decade career, Dave Brubeck was both an artistic and a commercial success, a pianist and composer who expanded the musical landscape and who crossed other borders as one of the world’s foremost ambassadors of jazz.

He had an inventive style that brought international music into the jazz mainstream, but he was more than a musical innovator: He was an American original.

Mr. Brubeck died Dec. 5 at a hospital in Norwalk, Conn., one day before his 92nd birthday. His manager, Russell Gloyd, said Mr. Brubeck was on his way to a regular medical checkup when his heart gave out.

Considered one of the greatest figures of a distinctively American art form, Mr. Brubeck was a modest man who left a monumental legacy. His 1959 recording “Time Out,” with its infectious hit “Take Five,” became the first jazz album to sell 1 million copies. He toured once-forbidden countries in the Middle East and in the old Soviet empire and was honored by presidents and foreign dignitaries.

He wrote hundreds of tunes, including the oft-recorded “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke.” His quartet, featuring alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, was one of the most popular jazz groups in history, and he kept up a busy performing schedule into his 90th year.

He also composed ambitious classical and choral works, released nearly 100 albums, and remained a charismatic and indefatigable performer into old age. In December 2010, the month Mr. Brubeck turned 90, his quartet won the readers’ poll of DownBeat magazine as the best group in jazz — 57 years after he first won the poll.

A bespectacled cowboy who grew up on a remote California ranch, Mr. Brubeck was known for his complex rhythmic patterns, which he said were inspired by riding his horse and listening to its syncopated hoofbeats striking the ground. He studied in the 1940s with the experimental French composer Darius Milhaud, who encouraged his interest in jazz. Mr. Brubeck was among the first jazz musicians to make wide use of polytonality, or playing in more than one musical key at a time. He was an early advocate of “world music,” adopting exotic sounds that he heard in his travels.

After Mr. Brubeck formed a quartet in the early 1950s, his wife, Iola, suggested that the quartet perform on college campuses, which produced a nationwide sensation, with record sales to match.

“We reached them musically,” he told the New York Times in 1967. “We had no singers, no beards, no jokes. All we presented was music.”

With their curly hair and horn-rimmed glasses, Desmond and Mr. Brubeck looked like professorial brothers and were unlikely jazz stars. The two had an instant musical bond and could anticipate each other’s bandstand improvisations, as Desmond’s ethereal, upper-register saxophone soared above Mr. Brubeck’s driving keyboard attack.


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Reply Weekend Economists Take Five: December 7-9, 2012 (Original post)
Demeter Dec 2012 OP
Demeter Dec 2012 #1
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 #33
kickysnana Dec 2012 #51
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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:39 PM




Dave Brubeck, who died in hospital this morning, the day before his 92nd birthday, didn't write "Take Five", the million-selling tune which defined his career to a large public and remains one of the most famous in jazz.

That was the work of Paul Desmond, the saxophonist in Brubeck’s quartet who played its sinuous solos as Brubeck’s percussive piano swung in 5/4 time. But it was Brubeck who was, as much as anyone, the unlikely, white, bespectacled face of jazz in the 1950s....

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Response to Demeter (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:10 AM

33. Another absolutely splendid WEE choice

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #33)

Sun Dec 9, 2012, 04:33 AM

51. ++++

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:40 PM

2. Shadowy donor behind record 'super' PAC checks



A Tennessee lawyer who is the mysterious source of millions of dollars in contributions that were steered to national political candidates doubled his investments before Election Day and funneled an additional $6.8 million to a prominent Tea Party group.

William Rose of Knoxville says he's not obligated to disclose the origin of more than $12 million he routed through two nascent companies he owns.

The money went to the FreedomWorks for America "super" political committee, which spent it on high-profile congressional races. Rose made the latest contributions even as news organizations were investigating suspicious donations traced to him during October.

The contributions are emblematic of the murky world of who gives money to politicians after new federal rules allowing unlimited and anonymous donations.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #2)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:46 PM

4. I wonder what his skim was on the deal.

I guess it's good work if you can get it.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:43 PM

3. A Good Jobs Report Might Be Bad For The Jobless by Marilyn Geewax



The Labor Department's glad tidings Friday about the uptick in job creation last month might morph into bad news next month for many of the long-term unemployed.

That's because the boost in November hiring, with employers adding 146,000 jobs, might make it more difficult for Democrats to argue in favor of having Congress renew the extension of benefits for people out of work more than six months.

As things stand, four in 10 Americans who receive unemployment insurance will lose their extended benefits if federal aid expires as scheduled on Dec. 29.

If that were to happen, "it would be devastating for these unemployed workers and their families; in many cases, this is the only income they have," says Judy Conti, a lobbyist with National Employment Law Project, a group that advocates for low-wage workers. "It's the middle of winter — when people need heat and food and shelter."

But conservatives now have a stronger argument to make when they say the job market is healthy enough to offer opportunities to those who have been out of work a long time. In November, the unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point to 7.7 percent, the lowest level in four years....


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Response to Demeter (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:16 PM

9. Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 7.7 Percent as Job Growth Slows



Self-employment jumped by 163,000 in November.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November, its lowest level since December of 2008. However, the immediate cause was a drop of 350,000 in the size of the labor market as reported employment actually fell by 122,000. The establishment survey reported job growth of 146,000. With the prior two months growth revised downward by 49,000, this brings the average over the last three months to 139,000. This is somewhat worse than the 158,000 average rate of job growth over the last year.

The private sector accounted for almost all the November job growth, adding 147,000 jobs. Average growth over the last three months has been 153,000. All the loss in public sector employment over this period was attributable to decline in employment of 50,000 in local government education. Without the loss of jobs in this sector, government employment would have been essentially flat over the last year.

Retail was the biggest job gainer in November, which added 53,000 in November, 33,000 of which were in clothing. After showing little change for the prior three years, the retail sector has added 140,000 jobs over the last three months, with clothing being responsible for almost half (68,000) of these jobs. Some of these gains are almost certainly the result of changing seasonal patterns with retailers pulling forward holiday hiring. That suggests weaker growth going forward.

Construction employment fell by 20,000, more than reversing a 15,000 gain reported in October. Employment in the sector has been essentially flat over the last year. Manufacturing lost 7,000 jobs. Employment in the sector has been essentially flat since June after rising by 26,000 a month over the prior seven months. Temporary employment rose by 18,000 and health care added 20,000 jobs, slightly less than its average of 26,000 over the last year.

One anomaly was a jump of 14,600 jobs (4.0 percent) in the motion picture industry. This will be reversed in future months.

Women got somewhat more than half the gains (91,000 jobs) over the last month. This reverses the pattern for the last couple of years in which men were coming out ahead. The better job growth for men was not due to the comeback of traditional areas of male employment, such as construction and manufacturing, but rather by men getting a disproportionate share of the jobs created in areas such as retail and health care...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:18 PM

10. Today’s Job Numbers Show Why Job-Creation Must Take Precedence Over Deficit Reduction



Today’s jobs report shows an economy that’s still moving in the right direction but way too slowly, which is why Washington’s continuing obsession with the federal budget deficit is insane. Jobs and growth must come first.

The cost of borrowing is so low — the yield on the ten-year Treasury is near historic lows — and the need for more jobs and better wages so high, and our infrastructure so neglected, that it’s insanity not to borrow more to put more Americans to work rebuilding the nation.

Yes, unemployment is down slightly and 146,000 new jobs were created in November. That’s some progress. But don’t be blinded by the hype coming out of Wall Street and the White House, both of which want the public to believe everything is going wonderfully well.

The fact is some 350,000 more people stopped looking for jobs in November, and the percent of the working-age population in jobs continues to drop — now at 63.6%, almost the lowest in 30 years. Meanwhile, the average workweek is stuck at 34.4 hours....

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Response to Demeter (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 09:54 PM

15. Low Wage Sectors Drive Employment Growth


Leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, retail and temporary jobs — all low wage sectors — have been responsible for over half (51%) of the private sector job growth the last year.

Weak wage growth is function of slack in the labor force and a lack of negotiating power amongst job holders and seekers.


People using up their resources, increasing number of working poor.

But then we have the better jobs, second tier at GM, $16 an hr. Almost enough to avoid half-price lunches in the public school program, something half - 50% - of all families qualify for in the Boise school system. Except for the ones that qualify for free because they have even less. for some of them the next meal they get after they leave Friday will be the breakfast they get at school on Monday. Maybe they could send them home with some standardized tests and a peanut butter spread.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:55 PM

5. Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF



THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability. Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households.

...About four decades ago, most of the children S.S.I. covered had severe physical handicaps or mental retardation that made it difficult for parents to hold jobs — about 1 percent of all poor children. But now 55 percent of the disabilities it covers are fuzzier intellectual disabilities short of mental retardation, where the diagnosis is less clear-cut. More than 1.2 million children across America — a full 8 percent of all low-income children — are now enrolled in S.S.I. as disabled, at an annual cost of more than $9 billion...






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Response to Demeter (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:14 AM

35. Amen, Sister

Goddess, I hate "Liberals." Talk about Whited Sepulchers. Pompous, pontificating slugs - no, even slugs have their place in the natural world - Chris Hedges nailed their useless asses.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:12 PM

46. You've hit upon my top pet peeve.....

For most of her life, my daughter was raised in a single mom household. I busted my ass to meet her needs, set a good example for her, and see to it she could do for her self when she grew up. I thought more of my responsibilities than my pleasures. I did not want her exposed anymore to her shiftless dad than was necessary.

And yet, if you listen to some numb nuts, single moms are the cause of the fall of America or what ever crises bests us. Well if it is so fucking bad....why don't you help them. Pay parity would be a start. A little time flexibility around the schedule might be helpful. And for God's sake, would it kill you to give the women or men time off with pay when their kids are sick. Many parents I know save their sick days to take off when their kids are sick and they go to work sick.

Just some simple kindness and human charity goes a long way.

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Response to AnneD (Reply #46)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:53 PM

47. Some people think marriage is the magical answer to poverty



Marriage only works if the people in the marriage work....together.

Those that cannot work with another DO NOT BELONG IN A MARRIAGE!!!

That's why we have murder/suicides, for chrisakes! That's why we have divorce!

That's why we have birth control!



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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:59 PM

6. Secret Service probed over lost computer files


The Secret Service said on Friday it is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security over the loss of computer files on the Washington Metro system. In 2008, a contract employee lost two computer tapes on the Metro while transporting them from one facility to another, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said. The investigation was first reported by CNN and Fox News. The Secret Service notified transit police and the Department of Homeland Security, but were unable to locate the tapes. .


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Response to Demeter (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 02:04 AM

22. Do you suppose they were labeled "top Secret Service tapes"?

Otherwise some kid would most likely just try to play them and either chuck them or tape over them depending on the medium.

Little Devil on my shoulder says: "Perhaps someone with an agenda needed a shake up in the Secret Service and this would sure do it."

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:09 PM

7. Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity are leading the charge for Snyder's 'right-to-work' bill





Gov. Snyder's right-to-work initiative has the coordinated support of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative non-profit organization that funded Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to strip that state's public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

AFP was founded by wealthy industrialists Charles and David Koch. Their business interests in Wisconsin include a branch of their pulp and paper giant Georgia-Pacific, a coal subsidiary, timber plants and a pipeline network.

“Michigan passage of right-to-work legislation will be the shot heard around the world for workplace freedom," AFP said in a press release Thursday. "A victory over forced unionization in a union stronghold like Michigan would be an unprecedented win on par with Wisconsin that would pave the way for right to work in states across our nation."

The organization's sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, has produced a 15-page booklet titled "Unions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: How forced unionization has harmed workers and Michigan."

AFP also recruited 300 supporters to demonstrate in favor of Gov. Snyder's proposed bill, just as organized unions rallied their members in opposition.

Asked how much AFP has contributed to support the right-to-work bill, spokeswoman Annie Patnaude said, "I need to check with my boss, but so far we have offered our supporters cookies and coffee."

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Response to Demeter (Reply #7)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:26 PM

11. Koch-Funded ALEC and Americans For Prosperity Launch Assault on Michigan Unions



In a sudden change of heart, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that he would sign so-called "right to work" legislation designed to gut union membership in the auto capital of the world...This is a change in tune for the Governor who previously said that the legislation was not a "policy priority" because it was "too divisive.".....Yesterday in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder and his GOP controlled lame-duck legislature pulled a fast one, introducing and then ramming through the House and the Senate so-called "right to work" legislation. The bill was introduced at 11 a.m., passed the House at 5 p.m. by a narrow margin and the Senate at around 6:00 p.m. When the process is complete and the bill is signed, Michigan will become the 24th right to work state.

Why the rush? The GOP majority felt it might not have the votes once the newly elected legislature was seated in January. The bill is designed so it cannot be repealed by popular referendum. (NOVEMBER'S BALLOT INCLUDED A PROPOSAL TO INCORPORATE BARGAINING RIGHTS INTO THE MICHIGAN CONSTITUTION--IT WAS DEFEATED) The Capitol was chaotic today as police pepper-sprayed protesters and locked down the building, forcing Democrats to seek a court order to get the doors open again. "It's not only anti-worker, its anti-democratic," Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero told MSNBC.

Right to work bills prohibit unions from requiring all members to pay dues. The laws make it much harder for unions to organize and exist. They have long been used in the South to push down wages and weaken worker movements. The Michigan bill will apply to both public and private sector unions.

At a time when working families are struggling, the Michigan GOP decided it was a fine time to push for a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, while at the same time kneecapping their chief opponents in the political arena -- organized workers....

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Response to Demeter (Reply #11)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 11:14 PM

20. The situation in Michigan is just sickening.


It is very difficult for me to even read articles about it because I'm from W. Mich. (as you may recall, Demeter), and have many friends and relatives there.

It's not the same state that I know. Just the tuition at the state universities is unreal compared to what I paid.

Now this.

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #20)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:20 AM

21. It will be an uncivil war, like Wisconsin's was


And I wish I had some faith that good would triumph...but I 've seen too much of the dark side of Michiganders.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #21)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 04:48 AM

24. Living in W. Michigan, I saw plenty of the dark side.


That Wisconsin battle was really rough, but with the Koch brothers footing the bill, I'm sure that the pukes will find a way to make things tough.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #21)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 01:03 AM

86. Did you read that Dick (Scamway) De Vos is involved as well?


I saw a reference to it over the weekend but didn't bookmark it.

It's not surprising at all, really.

The Koch Brothers are evil, but the De Vos-Prince bunch has done tremendous damage in Michigan and abroad. Pure pond scum.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:13 PM

8. A Public Bank for Scotland Could Ensure Economic Sovereignty



With the Scottish National Party in control, independence is on the table. One way Scotland could exercise true economic sovereignty - and control over the national currency, credit and debt - would be to have its own publicly-owned bank, one that served the interests of the Scottish people...The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Bank of Scotland have been pillars of Scotland's economy and culture for more than three centuries. So when the RBS was nationalized by the London-based UK government following the 2008 banking crisis, and the Bank of Scotland was acquired by the London-based Lloyds Bank, it came as a shock to the Scots. They no longer owned their oldest and most venerable banks.

Another surprise turn of events was the triumph of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election. Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom, but it has had its own parliament since 1999, similar to US states. The SNP has rallied around the call for independence from the UK since its founding in 1934, but it was a minority party until the 2011 victory, which gave it an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament. Scottish independence is now on the table. A bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament with the intention of holding a referendum on the issue in 2014.

Arguments in favor of independence include that it will allow the Scottish people to make decisions for Scotland themselves, on such contentious issues as having nuclear weapons in their seas and being part of NATO. They can also directly access the profits from the North Sea oil off Scotland's coast. Arguments against independence include the fact that Scotland's levels of public spending (which are higher than in the rest of the UK) would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes. North Sea oil revenues will eventually decline.

One way budgetary problems might be relieved would be for Scotland to have its own publicly-owned bank, one that served the interests of the Scottish people. True economic sovereignty means having control over the national currency, credit and debt...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #12)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:45 PM

14. Hi, My name's Cliff. Why don't you drop over some time.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #14)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:32 PM

16. Don't Mind If I Do


Where's the Dim Sum and Rum?

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:32 PM



Last edited Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:31 PM - Edit history (1)



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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:38 PM

17. Former aide to Wisconsin governor sentenced in embezzlement case




A former aide to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday for embezzling tens of thousands of dollar from a fund for families of U.S. soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The aide, Kevin Kavanaugh, was also sentenced to two years of extended supervision and ordered to pay back the $51,200 he embezzled from Operation Freedom, a military appreciation event held each year at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Kavanaugh, who was convicted by a jury in October, worked for Walker when the first-term Republican governor served as Milwaukee County executive.

Kavanaugh, 62, was the treasurer of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a charity involved in Operation Freedom, from 2006 to 2009. Walker appointed him to serve on the Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission during Walker's term as county executive. Walker originally ran the Operation Freedom event through his county office. It was later turned over to the Purple Heart organization after Walker received legal advice the event should be handled by a charitable organization.

Tim Russell, another Walker aide, was implicated in the same investigation and pleaded guilty in November to diverting more than $21,000 to his personal bank account.

The investigation is part of a wider probe into Walker's county executive office.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:46 PM

18. How do we ‘pay’ for Hurricane Sandy? October 31, 2012 Marshall Auerback



As the costs of this once-in-a-generation storm mount for America’s east coast, there will invariably be cries that the country is bankrupt, and will therefore be unable to ‘pay’ the cost of reconstruction. Even now, as the news has been unfolding the mainstream neo-liberal ideologues have been out in force preaching that the US government was now facing a major fiscal crisis and its capacity to deal with this event was severely limited. Imagine the reactions of the people in shock after the event to hear the news bulletins telling them that their government was crippled and unable to help. It certainly didn’t go down well after Hurricane Katrina.

The reality is that the claims by the macroeconomists were not ground in any credible theory. It is bad enough they provide this misinformation and lies when unemployment is rising. But when thousands of people are facing the calamity of destruction of the sort being leveled by this historic storm, it is nothing short of being obscene lies – all courtesy of our neo-liberal economist brethren. As long as the budget deficits are filling the spending gap left by external deficits and private domestic saving (as a sector) and the economy is not over-stretching the real capacity of the resource base to respond to this nominal demand in real terms (that is, by producing output) any statements to this effect are to be interpreted as conservative ideological rhetoric.

When the US engages in a war, nobody ever invokes the issue of “affordability” or asks the question, “How do we pay for this?”. Yet somehow in anything having to do with social reconstruction, entitlements, infrastructure, disaster relief, the question invariably arises. But these same conservative ideologues will never, for example, suggest that we send our defence budget over to Beijing to see if those who allegedly “fund” the US will help pay for a war. Congress just appropriates the money, plain and simple. In fact, Wall Street, which has substantially cut its campaign donations for Obama and the Democrats because of their meager proposals to impose more regulation on the financial sector, has been leading this charge of affordability. Yet when the government intervenes with bailouts, Wall Street stands with hat in hand. And when the Fed created literally trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street’s banks, nobody raised the issue of “offsetting cuts” to pay for. And that is because there is no problem (this is regardless of the question as to whether that was money well spent). The simple fact is that government deficits (facilitated by the central bank crediting bank accounts on behalf of the treasury and accepting some treasury paper for accounting purposes) can continue to fill spending gaps, the only constraint being real resources, rather than “fiscal sustainability” or “affordability”.

So all those commentators who think that Hurricane Sandy (or any other natural disaster for that matter) has exacerbated the US fiscal crisis – by which they mean – the government cannot afford to pay for the reconstruction – should now desist. The “problem” that has been keeping them awake at nights is solved. If the bond markets are sick of the corporate welfare that the issuance of government bonds provides them (that is, a risk-free annuity), then the Treasury can just ring up the Fed and tell them to keep crediting those bank accounts. To the extent that there is real problem for the US, it will be the lost capacity that has resulted from the extensive damage. This might limit the speed in which the economy can grow for a while. It is unlikely that there will not be enough real resources available to actually facilitate the reconstruction. If there are then the Government will free to purchase and mobilise them. That won’t stop many “Very Serious People” from using this natural disaster as an excuse to misinform the population on fiscal policy. Count on it.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 11:01 PM

19. From "Them and Us: Struggles of a Rank-and-File Union


coauthored by James J. Matles and James Higgins. Matles left his machine shop job in the thirties to serve as an industrial union organizer, eventually the general secretary of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, or UE.

Matles to a convention in the late sixties...

"Yes, some people think we're just a bunch of nuts. Why do we have an international union where our officers are living the same lives as the rank-and-file? the fact of the matter is we have always been convinced that if you want to maintain the rank-and-file nature of our union, if you want to maintain democracy in our organization, if you want officers and representatives to whom no shop grievance is too small to handle, no matter whether it affects one worker or one penny, you must have an organization where your officers and your organizer feel like the members and not feel for the members. There is a big difference."

He wasn't wrong then and he isn't wrong now. Wonder what that would do applied to the country?

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Sat Dec 8, 2012, 03:32 AM

23. Musical Interlude

Him and Paul be tearing it up again!
RIP, Mr. Brubeck:

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Sat Dec 8, 2012, 07:15 AM

26. Ohio Supreme Court rules for homeowners in foreclosure case



The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that a third-party mortgage company cannot foreclose on a property that it did not have a connection to at the time of the initial complaint. The ruling, considered a victory for homeowners, stemmed from a 2009 situation in which a couple in Xenia, in Southwest Ohio, attempted to sell their home through a short sale after falling behind on mortgage payments, only to be forced into foreclosure by a company that later bought their home at a sheriff's sale.

Duane and Julie Schwartzwald bought their house in November 2006 for $251,250. The lender was Legacy Mortgage, which then sold the promissory note and mortgage to Wells Fargo Bank. Duane Schwartzwald lost his job in September 2008 and the couple fell behind in payments. They went into default in January 2009 and in March 2009 Wells Fargo listed the property for a short sale. Within a month the Schwartzwalds were in a contract to sell their home for $259,900.

But then another company, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, filed a complaint for foreclosure even though the corporation did not yet have any entitlement to the property. In May 2009, the corporation was able secure the promissory note and mortgage from Wells Fargo, and a lower court allowed the foreclosure. The corporation then purchased the home at a sheriff's sale. A state appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling. The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday, however, overturned the lower court's ruling and dismissed the foreclosure decree, saying the law clearly requires an entity to have legal standing to a property when a foreclosure complaint is first filed.

By its own admission, the corporation did not, according to court records.

"Federal Home Loan concedes that there is no evidence that it had suffered any injury at the time it commenced this foreclosure action," Justice Terrence O'Donnell wrote for the court. "Thus, because it failed to establish an interest in the note or mortgage at the time it filed suit, it had no standing to invoke the jurisdiction of the common pleas court."

The high court said it does not matter that the company a month after filing its foreclosure complaint secured the promissory note.

"The lack of standing at the commencement of a foreclosure action requires dismissal of the complaint," the court wrote.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 07:17 AM

27. Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 07:21 AM

28. The Junk Is Back in Junk Bonds



Junk bonds — debt issued by companies with low credit ratings — are growing junkier by the day, with ever weaker companies issuing bonds for ever riskier purposes. The bonds’ falling quality and rising risk, described recently in The Times by Nathaniel Popper, show gaps in investor protection. They also revive concerns about how private equity owners of companies that issue the bonds are using that money. Demand for junk bonds has soared this year, as both institutional and individual investors have sought higher yields in a near-zero interest rate world. As demand has risen, ever shakier companies have been able to find buyers for their debt, leading to a decline in recent weeks in the average credit rating of junk-bond-issuing companies.

At the same time, the reason for issuing junk debt has changed for the worse. For most of this year, companies used the proceeds from junk bonds to refinance high-rate debt, a move that shores up a company’s financial health. But, in recent weeks, more of the proceeds have gone to pay dividends to private equity owners, a move that can weaken a company by increasing its debt load without strengthening its underlying business. As critics of private equity rightly point out, the result is too often job losses and even bankruptcy, while private equity owners are vastly enriched in the process.

Mr. Popper also found that there has been a big increase in the issuance of bonds with “optional interest payment,” which allow borrowers to skip cash interest payments if the company runs into trouble. That’s a sign that the company has doubts about its ability to repay — scarily reminiscent of the reckless borrowing that characterized the run-up to the financial crisis. Not surprisingly, institutional investors are starting to shun these junkier junk bonds. But individual investors haven’t received the message. They added some $2.1 billion in junk bonds to portfolios in the first three weeks of October, often in retirement accounts, compared with a net outflow of $256 million from institutional investors....

The recent developments in junk bond investing also highlight, again, the dubious practices and privileges of private equity firms. One portfolio manager who buys junk bonds told Mr. Popper that he screened offerings to avoid those that “are going for no productive purpose.” Piling ever more debt on companies with dim prospects of repayment — in order to pay dividends to the private equity owners — would certainly qualify.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 07:26 AM

29. Sauce for the Gander


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Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:05 AM

30. Has Chinese Currency Manipulation Succeeded in Breaking Japanese Manufacturers?



Tonight’s Financial Times has a eye-popping story, that the survival of Sharp, one of Japan’s top consumer products manufacturers, is in doubt:

Sharp has admitted there is “material doubt” about its ability to stay in business as it warned of a second year of record losses, deepening the gloom surrounding Japan’s once dominant consumer electronics industry…

The warning came a day after Panasonic stunned investors by projecting a second consecutive $10bn loss. Panasonic’s share price dropped a further 19 per cent on Thursday.

Sharp and Panasonic, along with Sony, are the most consumer-focused of Japan’s large technology companies. All three have suffered as prices for flatscreen televisions and other household items plunged globally.

A strong yen and competition from lower-cost manufacturers elsewhere in Asia have turned the products that once underpinned their success into financial millstones. Last year, the three groups suffered a combined net loss of Y1.6tn – a figure that Sharp and Panasonic will come close to matching between them this year.

The story correctly notes that an immediate cause of Sharp’s problems are botched investments in liquid crystal display manufacture. But a big, arguably the biggest, part of the story, is how long the yen has remained in nosebleed territory. Most observers thought a yen above 90 would be catastrophic for Japanese exporters, even allowing for the fact that they have moved a lot of production to lower-cost centers elsewhere in Asia. And the yen maintained that price from the crisis onward, and more recently has sustained the astonishing level of above 80 even in the face of intervention by the Bank of Japan. And there’s a reason for that. China has been buying yen, forcing Japan to buy dollars to keep the yen from going even higher. In other words, China has been accumulating yen and shifting the “dollar manipulation” onto Japan. The common view, that China is the largest foreign buyer of US Treasuries, is dated. In 2012 to date, Japan has purchased more, and its dollar reserves nearly equal China’s.

This post from Tim Duy in 2010, “Yen Intervention, or Why Japan is Now Carrying China’s Water,” lays out how this worked:

Now, suppose Japanese officials believe that intervention is required regardless of the G-20. Presumably, they will give US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner a phone call to at least keep him in the loop, if not to receive his implicit consent. One wonders if Geithner will recognize what he would be consenting to: Japanese intervention, if it occurs, means that Chinese authorities managed to get Japan to acquire their Dollar reserves for them. Instead of buying Dollars, China buys Yen, which in turn induce Japan to buy Dollars. This maintains the artificial capital flows to the US while allowing China to escape accusations of being a “currency manipulator.”

Since then, Japan’s currency challenge only intensified, culminating in last week’s almost comical complaint from Japanese policymakers:

Japan’s government said it will seek discussions with China over the nation’s record purchases of Japanese bonds as an appreciating yen threatens to undermine an economic recovery.

Japan is closely watching the transactions and will seek to maintain close contact with Chinese authorities on the issue, Vice Finance Minister Naoki Minezaki told lawmakers in Tokyo. Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda suggested at the same hearing that it’s inappropriate for China to buy Japan’s bonds without a reciprocal ability for Japanese to invest in China’s market.

Did policymakers recognize the irony of their situation? It is not exactly a secret that Japan has made frequents excursions into the currency markets. But apparently they feel that intervention should be limited to Dollar purchases. Surely another Asian nation wouldn’t play the same game on them?

Alas, the Chinese did – under pressure to “loosen” the renminbi – and pushed the Japanese into intervening last night to tame the surging Yen. In effect, the Chinese managed to get the Japanese to do their Dollar buying for them. Honestly, I have a hard time faulting the Japanese. They are facing a serious deflation problem, and pumping Yen into the system is an appropriate response (all though, they might simply sterilize the intervention, which would be, in my opinion, a policy error).

Note that this post was written shortly after China announced that it was moving to more “market based” rates, which pretty much everyone (save yours truly) thought was a Big Deal, and in the next few months, indeed proved to mean far less in the near term than breathless commentators had thought (all you needed to do was read how the new basket mechanism worked, it was really not hard to foresee this outcome). China had announced this change shortly before Geithner looked likely to designate China a currency manipulator, which served to buy more time. Duy continues by speculating whether Geithner was fooled by this subsequent move (of directing its currency manipulation through the yen) or playing along:

So, Geithner finally realizes the extent of the Chinese nonevent. Recall the press fanfare that accompanied the initial Chinese currency announcement – journalists falling all over themselves to speak brightly of China’s economic maturation. How many of those stories were sourced by Treasury officials crowing about the breakthrough that allowed them to avoid labeling China a currency manipulator? And where does this leave Geithner? Either complicit in trumping up the most minor of policy adjustments, or completely sucker punched by his Chinese counterparts. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse.

What it all boils down to is this: There apparently is no motivation for global central banks to stop directing capital inflows at the US in an effort to support mercantilist objectives. If it isn’t China, it will be some other economy. And equally apparent, there is no motivation among US policymakers to address such government directed capital flows.

So this outcome was predictable. In some ways, it’s impressive that Japanese manufacturers were able to hold out this long in the face of the the catastrophically high level of the yen. But as someone who worked with the Japanese, I’m sorry to see these great companies on the ropes. Japanese, unlike Americans, respect entrepreneurs because they promote employment, and they also take a craftsman-like pride in high quality production. It’s sad that companies that upheld those values may not make it, in large measure to financial and geopolitical issues (the US unwillingness to rock the boat with China) rather than pure competitive merits.

Update 7:00 AM: I put this in comments, and decided it needed to go in the post proper:

OK, due to the hour, I did truncate the argument maybe more than I should have.

1. China still runs a dirty float. It manages the RMB in a wide band v. a basket of currencies. The dollar is far and away the biggest currency in this basket (IIRC, ~ 60% ). So even though QE in theory weakens the dollar, China will move its RMB price to (substantially) adjust. A modified race to the bottom.

2. Nevertheless, China’s terms of trade with the US have been worsening, not due to the RMB per se, but price increases in China due to inflation. If you have a fixed currency exchange rate, and you have 10% inflation and your trade partners have 0% inflation, your goods will be 10% more costly to them in a year.

3. But sending the yen to the moon has meant (to the extent it can) Japan has gotten hit even worse than China. So while China has lost some exports to US repatriation of manufacturing (yes, that IS happening) and smaller Asian markets (Vietnam, Bangladesh), it has reduced these losses by eating into Japan’s market via goosing the yen.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:08 AM

31. Five Job-Destroying CEOs Trying to “Fix” the Debt by Slashing Corporate Taxes and Cutting Social Sec



...if not for some pesky real-world facts. You see the same corporations peddling this line have already been paying next to nothing in taxes. And instead of creating jobs, they’ve been destroying them. Here are five examples of job-cutting, tax-dodging CEOs who are leading Fix the Debt.

1. Randall Stephenson, AT&T

U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 54,000

Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 6.3%

2. Lowell McAdam, Verizon

U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 30,000

Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -3.3%

3. David Cote, Honeywell

U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 4,000

Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -14.8%

4. Kenneth Frazier, Merck

U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 13,000

Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 13.2%

5. Terry Lundgren, Macy’s

U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 7,000

Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 20.7%


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Response to Demeter (Reply #31)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:10 AM

32. The 6 Economic Facts of Life in America That Allow the Rich to Run off with Our Wealth


Do you ever wonder why it takes the average family 47 years to make as much as a hedge fund honcho makes in one hour?



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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:13 AM

34. Crystal Ball Department: Bankruptcy Filings to Rise in a Few Years



Good times in the economy mean goods times a few years later for bankruptcy professionals who deal with consumer cases. We saw this from the mid-1990s through the 2000s. The last big party in the bankruptcy world was in 2010 (1.5 million non-business cases filed!), a few years after the end of the last debt binge came to a crashing halt starting in 2007. The reverse is also true. Bad times in the economy make for fewer bankruptcy filings a few years later, which is what we have been seeing lately.

Those of us who blog on Credit Slips get frequent calls from reporters asking about bankruptcy filing statistics, specifically: what do they mean? Filings, which are mostly consumer filings, have gone down steadily for two years now, so it gets hard to come up with anything new to say, as Bob Lawless recently wrote here. When filings go down, reporters new to the bankruptcy beat often think that means the economy must be getting better. Wrong. What drives bankruptcy filings is debt. Decreases in debt are followed a few years later by decreases in bankruptcy, and increases in debt are followed by increases in bankruptcy. The Great Recession that started in 2007 resulted in a great decline in household debt due to a combination of reduced access to credit and consumers voluntarily cutting back on debt-driven spending because of a lack of consumer confidence.

It’s so old hat to talk about the continuing decline in bankruptcy filings, produced by a long process of household deleveraging (meaning taking on less debt and instead paying off old debt), that I’m going out on a limb with a prediction. We may finally be seeing signs of a reversal in progress—consumer confidence going up, which should drive up debt volume, and presto chango, we’ll see more bankruptcy in a few years. Bankruptcy attorneys, take heart: recovery will mean a return to your good times, too, but a few years hence. What are the signs? After rising two months in a row, consumer confidence is the highest it has been since February of 2008, just after the beginning of the Great Recession. Because consumer spending is the single biggest driver of economic activity, growing consumer confidence is closely watched as an indicator of economic expansion. Confidence is still low compared to levels in good economic times, but the trend line is up. On the other hand, superstorm Sandy may shake consumer confidence in the East in the short term, especially among those who lost hours on the job. But soon Sandy is bound to drive huge spending on reconstruction, and some of that will be with borrowed money.

I certainly don't think it is a good thing that growth of our economy depends on debt-driven consumer spending. But as Walter Cronkite signed off every night, often with sardonic intent, "That's the way it is."

In addition to consumer demand, there’s another component to recovery: credit supply. There are signs of upward movement there along with in demand, seen in nonmortgage credit: household debt increased in the second quarter of this year at the highest rate since the beginning of 2008. See here. Mortgage credit is still tight, but overall access to credit (aka debt) seems to be up. Once full steam recovery kicks in, with credit supply meeting demand, bankruptcy filings will be up again, too—in a few years. In 2016 or 2017, the bankruptcy world may be partying like it's 2010.

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Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:14 AM

36. Merkel: Euro debt crisis will last 5 years or more




German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe's sovereign debt crisis will last at least five more years.

Merkel says the continent is on the right path to overcome the crisis but "whoever thinks this can be fixed in one or two years is wrong."

Two years ago some heavily indebted European countries were dragged into the turmoil that first gripped global financial markets in 2007.

Greece in particular has been struggling with the austerity conditions imposed on it by countries such as Germany.

But Merkel told a regional meeting of her Christian Democratic Party on Saturday that the time had come for "a bit of strictness."

Otherwise, she says, Europe won't be able to attract international investment.

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Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:16 AM

37. Goldman Sachs slashes number of partners



Goldman Sachs has dropped 33 partners since it last disclosed the number of elite bankers at the firm, according to regulatory filings. Being a Goldman partner is one of the most coveted positions on Wall Street, unlocking access to a lucrative compensation scheme on top of the prestige the title holds. The bank's partners own more than 11% of shares between them, valued at more than $6bn (£3.7bn).

But as Goldman looks to slash costs, it has cut partners. According to the outgoing chief financial officer, David Viniar, up to 20% of Goldman partners typically leave every two years. High-profile partners including David Heller and Ed Eisler, two co-heads of Goldman's securities business, and Lucas Van Praag, the bank's long-time communications chief, have left the bank. Some partners appear to have chosen to drop their coveted status in favour of retaining their jobs. Since the end of 2010, the bank has cut more than 3,000 employees worldwide as it seeks to reduce annual expenses by $1.9bn.

According to the regulatory filing the bank has 407 partners, with 33 people dropped from the list since February. Two bankers, Mark Schwartz, chairman of the company's Asia-Pacific region, and Richard Phillips, a specialist in natural resources mergers and acquisitions, were added to the latest filing.

Goldman selects new partners every two years. It named 110 in 2010 and is to announce its latest partners on 14 November.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:17 AM

38. Foreclosures Drawing Cash as 401K Returns Sag: Mortgages



David and Michelle Haisley from Fort Wayne, Indiana, weren’t happy with the performance of their retirement funds, so they made another investment -- a foreclosed home for $27,000. Haisley, a heating and air-conditioning technician, said he worked on the house before it went into default and decided to make an offer when he saw it listed at about a third the price of surrounding homes. They’ve already found tenants for the house and David said they’ll buy another foreclosure if they can find the right deal.

“It’s an income stream for us, and when it’s time, we’ll sell it and make more money than we could from our 401K,” said Haisley, 49, who rents out the property for $900 a month for an annual return of more than 20 percent, excluding appreciation. “There’s nowhere for prices to go but up, so it seemed like a pretty safe bet.”

As the housing market recovers from the worst bust since the Great Depression, neophyte investors like the Haisleys are following the lead of private-equity firms like Blackstone Group LP, investing in properties they can pick up cheaply, rent and sell when values rise enough. Home prices rose 4.6 percent from a year earlier in August, the biggest gain since the end of the real estate boom in 2006, according to a CoreLogic Inc. index...

“I’d rather buy real estate than gamble on the stock market or get almost no return from putting my money in a bank,” said Barton Wallace, 60, a real estate investor and broker in Hingham, Massachusetts, who owns four rental properties. “I don’t have any problem getting tenants.”

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:33 AM

39. Off to the Real World (tm) Keep On Posting!


and I'm not looking forward to it....gray, damp, cold...it's November, for the second month in a row....always November and never Christmas.....

Thanks hamerfan! Your music contributions are always greatly appreciated!

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Response to Demeter (Reply #39)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:41 AM

41. see ya miss demeter!

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:41 AM

40. saturday always has my attention!

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Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:43 AM



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans swiped their credit cards more often in October and borrowed more to attend school and buy cars. The increases drove U.S. consumer debt to an all-time high.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion in October from September. Total borrowing rose to a record $2.75 trillion.

Borrowing in the category that covers autos and student loans increased by $10.8 billion. Borrowing on credit cards rose by $3.4 billion, only the second monthly increase in the past five months.

The strong rise in borrowing came in a month when Americans cut back on consumer spending, reflecting in part disruptions from Superstorm Sandy.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:46 AM

43. Lagarde urges US leaders to break fiscal cliff deadlock


Christine Lagarde told the BBC's Katty Kay there would be ripple effects worldwide if the US went over the fiscal cliff

Christine Lagarde has urged US leaders to reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff", warning that the uncertainty was damaging the global economy.

The head of the International Monetary Fund told the BBC that the US had a duty "to try to remove uncertainty and doubt as quickly as possible".

The fiscal cliff refers to US tax rises and spending cuts set to automatically come into force in January.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #43)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:55 PM

48. Bullshit, Christine


If the fiscal cliff stops people from doing idiotic deals, I'm all for it.
And if going over the fiscal cliff puts a barrier in globalism, so much the better.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 09:50 AM

44. Treasury accepts losses as small banks exit bailout program


At 9 a.m. on Nov. 30, the Treasury Department began auctioning off its shares in seven community banks scattered across the country. Each of these institutions had taken money from the government in 2009 during the financial crisis.

By the time the bidding closed at 6 p.m. Monday, the Treasury had collected about $62 million.

Not a bad outcome, until you consider the government’s original investment: $75 million.

It was not the first time the government walked away with a loss. In 10 similar auctions conducted to date, Treasury has sold off its investments in 84 financial firms, accepting losses of about $241 million.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 11:13 AM

45. Musical Interlude II

Take The A Train by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Dave Brubeck... Piano
Paul Desmond... Alto Saxophone
Eugene Wright... Upright Bass
Joe Morello... Drums

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:59 PM

49. I think I should call this the Bullshit thread


Looks like all the horrible people came out with a new crop of lies, believing no one will notice, now that the election is over, and the People don't have to be pandered to any longer....

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 04:18 PM

50. Musical Interlude III

Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet (my favorite version):

So damn cool.

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Sun Dec 9, 2012, 07:42 AM



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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sun Dec 9, 2012, 07:56 AM

53. Sunday Morning, 8 AM


I have no work for .... 25 hours!

What shall I do with a free day? Dishes, laundry, cleaning, Xmas cards, bylaws, rehearsal for next week's concert, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Response to Demeter (Reply #53)

Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:10 AM

54. Read a book! See a movie!

Enjoy the day!

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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #54)

Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:19 AM

56. I'll try


It's just that I don't know what to do when I'm not over-scheduled....

The Kid is still sick, or the movie would win, hands down.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:17 AM

55. Make up your own jokes!



Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

What are you, a purist?

Here is the formula:

{set up} Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

{punchline, always Obama fan rationalization or word salad}

So herewith:

Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

  • Because we didn’t “make him do it!” (JH)

  • Don’t question his motives this close to the election! (VL)

    And of course the classics:

    Why do you hate Obama?

    You’re a racist!

    Also too:

  • What, you’d rather have Mitt Romney cross the road!? (VL)

  • Nobody could cross the road in their first term!

  • Because his heart was in the right place!

  • Obama went near the road, and it was historic! (VL)

    Historic indeed, also too transformational.


  • Because many of the places are already on this side.

  • Because it is owned by the banksters, and they voted for Mitten’s “Gordon Gekko” Romney.

  • He didn’t have to because everyone believed he did.

  • ‘Cause he already claimed the middle of it.

  • Because it’s easier to send a drone to the other side!

  • Because the road was filled with IEDs

  • He was spending his time fixing his fences, because that’s where he sits most of the time.

  • There wasn’t enough stimulus!

  • Because Bowles and Simpson told him we can’t afford the price of road-crossing tokens any more.

  • It was recently privatized and the toll was too high.

  • “Look, first of all JPMorgan is one of the best-managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got and sometimes even he can’t get to the other side of the road.”

  • He did cross part of the road....You see… um… the middle, neither right nor left… um… is where compromise and incremental progress can be found. By… um… standing in the middle… um… he shows what a great chicken… um… *SPLAT*

  • Because there was too much money to be made by letting the road continue to fall apart as the infrastructure was sold off to banks and other private equity interests.

  • He took one step into the road and called it a day. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

  • The rhetoric was soaring. On a chill day in January it kept us warm as we were witness to history. But reality is cold. Perhaps we were naive. We underestimated the intransigence of a Republican party that had grown increasingly extreme. Was there ever any chance that that road could be crossed?

  • He didn’t have 60 Senate votes to get him there.

  • The Republicans obstructed him.

  • He will. Obviously, you don’t understand 11-dimensional chess.

  • Obama has always wanted to cross the road, and once the election is over, he will finally be able to do so. That’s why we all must vote for him.

  • The Republicans wanted him to remain on the right side of the road. Obama had often stated how he wanted to cross to the left side of the road, and skillfully maneuvered the Republicans into getting them to agree to his staying on the right side of the road.

  • It was an Overton road. Obama didn’t need to cross it because it moved to the right on its own.

  • Bush didn’t cross the road and he was widely criticized for this. So when Obama didn’t cross the road, it was obviously the right thing to do, or rather not do.

  • Obama didn’t need to cross it because it moved to the right on its own.

  • He DID cross the road, he just doesn’t get any credit for it.

  • We must remember not to let actually crossing the road be the enemy of promising to cross the road.

  • Because he is waiting for the road to cross him.

  • Because the Republicans wanted him to cross the road and he wanted to stay where he was.

  • If you listened to what he said in 2008, he never said he would cross the road.

  • Because he was already on the other side .. (arm pump) BAM!!

  • *sigh* That’s just not how the road works!


    “Romneys such a liar, it’ll turn out he didn’t strap his dog to the car roof after all”
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    Response to Demeter (Reply #55)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:30 AM

    60. Obama Inauguration Accepting Unlimited Corporate Cash ALAS, NOT A JOKE



    Corporations have the green light to donate unlimited money to help fund President Obama's second inaugural festivities this January, sources close to the planning tell Politico, a break from the Obama team's decision four years ago to cap donations at $50,000 from individuals and shun corporate cash entirely in the interest of "chang[ing] business as usual in Washington."

    Politico's sources say Obama will reject donations from lobbyists and political action committees, as he did for his first inauguration. Team Obama also reportedly plans to screen all corporate donations to eliminate any conflicts of interest, and considers the decision to accept the cash common sense after an election flooded with record-breaking spending:

    But the sources say the new decision is driven by pragmatism: The president and his team just wrapped up the most expensive campaign in history—with costs topping $1 billion—and they've determined that their donors are simply tapped out.

    The cost of an Inauguration can run into the tens of millions. Obama spent $47 million in 2009. And raising that in a matter of six weeks is too difficult without throwing open the flood gates, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.



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    Response to Demeter (Reply #60)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:39 AM

    63. A Sign That Obama Will Repeat Economic Mistakes By Robert Scheer ALSO NO JOKE



    Please don’t tell me that these reports in the business press touting Sallie Krawcheck as a front-runner for chairman of the SEC or even a possible candidate to be the next Treasury secretary are true. Who is she? Oh, just another former Citigroup CFO, and therefore a prime participant in the great banking hustle that has savaged the world’s economy. Krawcheck was paid $11 million in 2005 while her bank contributed to the toxic mortgage crisis that would cost millions their jobs and homes. Not that you would know that sordid history from reading the recent glowing references to Krawcheck in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News that stress her pioneering role as a leading female banker—a working mother no less—but manage to avoid her role in a bank that led the way in destroying the lives of so many women, men and their children. Nor did her financial finagling end with Citigroup, as Krawcheck added a troubling stint in the leadership at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America to her résumé.

    A woman who would be an excellent choice as the most experienced as well as principled candidate to head the SEC or Treasury is Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, who labored to protect consumers rather than undermine them. Indeed, her outstanding book “Bull by the Horns,” chronicling her fight in the last two administrations to hold the banksters accountable, should be required reading for the president and those who are advising him on selecting his new economic team. The SEC is supposed to supervise the banks rather than abet them in their chicanery. And although the Treasury Department has been a captive of Wall Street lobbyists for most of the modern era, one would expect something better from the second coming of Barack Obama. Those are key appointments in determining whether the president can turn around the still-moribund economy by channeling the spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Or will he continue to plod along on the course set by George W. Bush, bailing out the banks while ignoring beleaguered homeowners and the many other victims of this banking-engineered crisis?

    Obama was given a pass on the economy by voters only because Mitt Romney was an even more craven enabler of Wall Street greed. But the outlines of the Bush Wall Street payoff remain in place, with the Federal Reserve continuing to bail out the banks with virtually free money and the purchase of $40 billion in toxic mortgage-based bonds every month to add to the more than trillion dollars in that junk that the Fed previously had taken off the banks’ books....The money printing by the Fed is at the heart of the massive debt crisis. But it has been great for the bankers, with compensation at the 32 largest banks slated to hit an all-time high of $207 billion this year, according to a Wall Street Journal estimate. This reward for ripping off the public is almost three times the amount the federal government spends on education. Once again the bankers are blessed for their failures, receiving such wildly excessive compensation despite the fact that banking revenue is down 7.2 percent over the last two years.

    A prime example is Krawcheck’s old bank, Citigroup, whose new CEO this week announced that the company has been forced to engage in a major retrenchment, eliminating 11,000 jobs and closing 84 branches. The bank has been deeply troubled ever since the housing meltdown it helped trigger first began, and it was saved from bankruptcy only by a direct infusion of $45 billion in taxpayer money and a commitment of an additional $300 billion in underwriting of Citigroup’s bad paper...The ugly tale of America’s Great Recession is inextricably entwined with the deplorable practices of Citigroup, the too-big-to-fail bank made legal by Bill Clinton’s signing off on reversing the Glass-Steagall law that prevented the merger of investment and commercial banks. The first beneficiary of the revised law was the newly created Citigroup, saved from bankruptcy a decade later by the taxpayers....I shouldn’t be surprised that Krawcheck would be considered a viable nominee for a central position in managing our economy. After all, her colleague in the top ranks at Citigroup during the years of financial depravity, Robert Rubin, is considered a significant adviser to the Obama administration, and his protégés, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, are still directing policy. It was Rubin who pushed through the reversal of Glass-Steagall, an act of betrayal of the public interest that was rewarded with obscene amounts of money when he ultimately took the job of leading the bank he made legal. The very fact that these folks remain influential, as witnessed by Krawcheck being considered to head the SEC rather than being the subject of one of its much-needed investigations, gives further evidence of the enduring but ultimately terminal illness of crony capitalism.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:22 AM

    57. If You Think Elizabeth Warren Is Going To Act Like A Junior Senator, Think Again by Neil Barofsky



    ... I had the opportunity to work with Warren in our respective roles in providing oversight of the bank bailouts, and she never struck me as someone who would keep her head down and mouth shut in the name of serving institutional concerns. Instead, she seemed to be guided by doing what she believed to be the right thing, even if it was not always in her personal interest to do so. One anecdote I recount in Bailout occurred in 2010, just weeks before the enactment of Dodd-Frank and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

    Part of the setup of the new bureau was that it initially would be housed in Treasury, meaning that it would be under the supervision of Geithner. Elizabeth, who is a gifted questioner, had routinely tortured Geithner during his occasional testimony before the Congressional Oversight Panel, and there was open speculation in the press that he was opposing her appointment as director.

    A couple of weeks before our lunch I had watched her absolutely pummel Geithner at a hearing. I had thought she might go lightly on him with the Consumer Protection Bureau job still up in the air. After all, she was making no secret of her desire for the job, and the White House had to be watching her every move. But she just lit him up, attacking HAMP’s design as ineffective and pointing out the damage that had been inflicted on families who had suffered through failed trial modifications. I thought it was a remarkably principled act, the exact opposite of what any other person in Washington angling for a high-profile job would have done.

    So my bet is that Warren will use her newly minted Senate platform to continue her demonstrated commitment to being a loud and passionate advocate for those whose voice is often not heard in Washington, even if it means offending the sensibilities of some of her new colleagues.

    I also think that the Senate has never seen anyone quite like Warren. The experiences she has gained as a lawyer, law professor, bailout overseer and as the founder of the Consumer Protection Bureau set her apart, and have given her all the necessary tools to be a strong and credible counterweight to the often overwhelming influence of the biggest banks and their armies of lobbyists and supplicants....

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/elizabeth-warren-as-a-junior-senator-2012-11#ixzz2EYp3L0E1

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:27 AM

    58. Missing the Bigger Picture in Greece NOVEMBER 8



    The FT has an update on the Greek bailout:

    Eurozone leaders face a new round of brinkmanship over Greece’s €174bn bailout after international lenders failed to bridge differences on how to reduce Athens’ burgeoning debt levels, pushing the country perilously close to defaulting on a €5bn debt payment due next week.

    The sticking point:

    The IMF remains more pessimistic about Greece’s ability to return to economic growth, the amount it will collect in its €50bn privatisation programme, and how much money is needed to recapitalise the country’s teetering banking system.

    As a result, Brussels and Washington are 5-10 percentage points apart on where Greece’s debt will stand by 2020, the target date in the rescue programme for returning Athens to sustainable debt levels.

    Further complicating negotiations, officials said the IMF is insisting Greek debt levels are reduced to 120 per cent of gross domestic product by 2020, while the European Commission is urging an easing of the target to about 125 per cent by 2022.

    If past experience is any guide, the IMF is correct to be skeptical. But the bigger picture here is that the Troika has repeatedly failed to hit this target of 120 percent, and this time will be no different. 120, 125, or 135 percent is more about political posturing than economic reality. With any of these targets, the ongoing waves of austerity are doing nothing more than pushing Greece deeper into a death spiral. Five years of recession and counting. Unemployment above 25%. Still too many sticks, not enough carrots. And remember, the 120 percent target itself does not guarantee safety. It is largely an artifact of wanting to justify the level of Italian debt. From Reuters:

    The 120 percent figure was fixed on because Italy had debts of 120 percent of GDP at the time and was managing okay. But Italy is a very different case to Greece, with high domestic ownership of its debt, and its situation is now less stable.

    I understand this is considered political dynamite in Europe, but I still think it will be virtually impossible to fix Greece without a direct transfer of resources. A large, official debt forgiveness program. I suspect the alternative - a failed state on Europe's borders - will be more costly in the long-run.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #58)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:51 AM

    66. Investors offer about $38.8 billion in Greek debt buyback



    Greece is set to purchase back about half of its debt owned by private investors, broadly succeeding in a bond buyback that is key to the country's international bailout, a Greek government official said on Saturday. Greek and foreign bondholders offered the targeted 30 billion euros ($38.8 billion) in the deal, which is central to efforts by Greece's euro zone and International Monetary Fund lenders to cut its debt to manageable levels....The buyback accounts for about half of a broader, 40-billion euro EU/IMF debt relief package for Athens agreed in November. The package broadly doubles the average maturity of its rescue loans to almost 30 years and cuts its interest rates by one percentage point to a level far below 1 percent.

    Under its terms, Athens will spend up to 10 billion euros of borrowed money to buy back bonds with a nominal value of about 30 billion euros. This is nearly half the 63 billion euros of Greek debt held by private investors eligible for the plan. Since the bonds are to be bought far below their nominal value, the country's net debt burden would fall by about 20 billion euros. A successful buyback will ensure that the IMF, which contributes about a third of Greece's bailout loans, will stay on board of the rescue. It would also unlock the payment of 34.4 billion euros of aid later this month. Athens badly needs that money to refloat its ailing economy by replenishing the capital of its cash-strapped banks and settle arrears with government suppliers. OH, YEAH, THAT WILL DO THE TRICK--NOT

    The EU and the IMF have been withholding rescue payments to Greece for six months because it had fallen short of promises to shore up its finances, privatize and make its economy more competitive.

    Athens has received 148.6 billion euros in EU/IMF funds since May 2010. It stands to get almost 90 billion euros more by the end of 2014...MORE BS AT LINK

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:28 AM

    59. since it's Hanuka - a little north african mezze for everyone

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #59)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:13 AM



    It's latke weather, for sure!

    2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes

    1 tablespoon grated onion

    3 eggs, beaten

    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1/2 cup peanut oil for frying


    Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
    In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
    In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on paper towels. Serve hot! makes 10 to 12 latkes

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #72)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:23 AM

    75. happy chanukkah! i LOVE latkes!

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:32 AM

    61. China sees both industrial output and retail sales rise


    China's economic growth rate may be gathering pace again, as the government released strong industrial output and retail sales figures.

    Industrial production rose by 10.1% in November, compared with a year earlier, according to the official data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

    This was better than expected, and the strongest performance since March.

    At the same time, China's retail sales increased by 14.9%. This was also the best showing for eight months.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:34 AM

    62. Fast Food Worker Fired then Re-hired with the Help of Community Support



    On Nov. 30, 200-plus fast food workers returned to their jobs with major support from the community after a historic strike against the fast food industry took place in New York City last week. Crowds of supporters walked along side strikers as they returned to their shifts to help prevent alienation or punishment from the fast food companies. And such was the case except for one employee who was fired from a Wendy’s located in East New York...Sholanda Montgomery, a single mother working to make ends meet, participated in the one-day strike and, upon her return to work, was fired from the Fulton Mall Wendy’s for “absenteeism.” According to New York Daily News, her manager singled out Montgomery before fellow coworkers and strikers arrived to work. But, after a protest led by the efforts of strike organizers and City Councilman Jumaane Williams took place inside the restaurant where customers were urged to leave the restaurant as way of support, Montgomery was re-hired.

    “We weren’t going to give up,” Sherry Jones, a member of New York Communities for Change, said in a New York Daily News article.

    Under the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employees have the right to participate in activity outside a union as stated:

    “Employees who are not represented by a union also have rights under the NLRA. Specifically, the National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activity”, which is when two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment. A single employee may also engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer’s attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action.”

    In reality, employers have fired employees under the radar for other “disciplinary reasons.” This loop hole leaves employees boggled down with “retaliation cases” that could take months if not years to settle in court all while being out of work or forced to take time off. The Fast Food Workers Committee has filed such various grievances with the NLRB against fast food companies for threats and retaliation bestowed on employees pre-strike. Since Montgomery’s firing went public and was eventually reversed within hours, it is said that the community’s support is breaking ground in the Fast Food Forward Campaign. No other punishments have occurred since the one-day strike against the fast food industry. And in the minds of many activists, the community is the backbone for this ongoing campaign, not the law.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:45 AM

    64. Tax not 'voluntary', Alexander tells firms


    Danny Alexander has told multinational firms that paying tax is an obligation, not "a voluntary choice" they can make to please their customers.

    The chief secretary to the Treasury was speaking in regard to Starbucks, which last week said it would voluntarily pay more UK corporation tax.

    Mr Alexander told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that the government was continuing efforts to tackle tax avoidance.

    He said this work was taking place both in the UK and abroad.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:46 AM

    65. Drones Come Home, to U.S. Privacy Activists’ Dismay By Judith Scherr



    Better known as drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles piloted by military in the U.S. hunt and kill suspected enemy combatants abroad. Now the drones are coming home to beef up local law enforcement. But people across the U.S. are pushing back, contending that domestic drones could invade personal privacy or chill free speech by monitoring political activities.

    “They want to use it for intelligence gathering – that’s spying,” Linda Lye of the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union told media at a hastily called press conference Dec. 4 outside the Alameda County administration building in downtown Oakland. That morning, the Alameda County sheriff’s request for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors’ acceptance of Homeland Security grant funds for a drone was almost buried in a 66-item meeting agenda. But when the Northern California ACLU – a member of Alameda County Against Drones – learned of the sheriff’s request, they called the press conference to expose a process they said ignored the community. The sheriff subsequently removed his request from the agenda. And so, rather than a cursory board review, the supervisors’ Public Protection Committee will hold a comprehensive discussion on the drone question in January.

    “Public policy should not be made by stealth attack,” Lye said, calling for debate on “the important questions of whether a drone is even appropriate in our community and if so, what safeguards should be in place before we buy a drone.”

    Speakers at the press conference pointed to special circumstances in Oakland that call for protection against law enforcement abuse.

    “When we see in the (sheriff’s Jul. 20 application to Homeland Security) that the drones could be used for large crowd control, naturally everybody thinks of Occupy Oakland,” said Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, referring to alleged police abuse of Occupy activists.

    The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is just one of many law enforcement agencies across the country lining up for free money for drones from Homeland Security. They often point to popular uses for the technology, such as searching for missing children or escaped convicts. But those concerned with privacy issues note that the technology allows drones to peer through walls and ceilings, monitor cell phone calls and texts, read license plates, recognise faces and record a person’s every move. Some domestic drones, like the ShadowHawk acquired by Monterey, Texas, are able to carry “less lethal” weapons, such as tear gas and rubber bullets.

    As the Afghanistan war winds down, the defence industry is intensifying its push for domestic drones, which Susan Aluise, writing in investorplace.com, calls the “next market opportunity”.

    “Just when you think the (drone) market cannot go any higher, it does,” says Forecast International’s unmanned vehicles analyst Larry Dickerson, quoted on the Defense Professionals website. “No matter how many systems are built, operators want more.”

    Dickerson estimates the industry’s value over the next decade at 70.9 billion dollars, with the civilian market worth 600 million to one billion dollars. The industry is fueled by a 60-person congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus whose members have pocketed some eight million dollars in drone-related campaign contributions over the past four years, according to a Hearst Newspaper and Center for Responsive Politics investigation. Citizens concerned with drone misuse are lobbying local officials. Buffalo, New York and Portland, Oregon activists want their city governments to ban drones entirely from airspace above the city. Syracuse, New York petitioners are calling for an ordinance that “declares Syracuse and its airspace to be a SURVEILLANCE DRONE FREE ZONE wherein such drones are banned from airspace over the City of Syracuse until Federal legislation is adopted that adequately protects the population as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:56 AM

    67. New Taxes to Take Effect to Fund Health Care Law



    For more than a year, politicians have been fighting over whether to raise taxes on high-income people. They rarely mention that affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law. The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week.

    Affluent people are much more likely than low-income people to have health insurance, and now they will, in effect, help pay for coverage for many lower-income families. Among the most affluent fifth of households, those affected will see tax increases averaging $6,000 next year, economists estimate....To help finance Medicare, employees and employers each now pay a hospital insurance tax equal to 1.45 percent on all wages. Starting in January, the health care law will require workers to pay an additional tax equal to 0.9 percent of any wages over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. The new taxes on wages and investment income are expected to raise $318 billion over 10 years, or about half of all the new revenue collected under the health care law.

    Ruth M. Wimer, a tax lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery, said the taxes came with “a shockingly inequitable marriage penalty.” If a single man and a single woman each earn $200,000, she said, neither would owe any additional Medicare payroll tax. But, she said, if they are married, they would owe $1,350. The extra tax is 0.9 percent of their earnings over the $250,000 threshold. Since the creation of Social Security in the 1930s, payroll taxes have been levied on the wages of each worker as an individual. The new Medicare payroll is different. It will be imposed on the combined earnings of a married couple.

    Employers are required to withhold Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes from wages paid to employees. But employers do not necessarily know how much a worker’s spouse earns and may not withhold enough to cover a couple’s Medicare tax liability. Indeed, the new rules say employers may disregard a spouse’s earnings in calculating how much to withhold. Workers may thus owe more than the amounts withheld by their employers and may have to make up the difference when they file tax returns in April 2014. If they expect to owe additional tax, the government says, they should make estimated tax payments, starting in April 2013, or ask their employers to increase the amount withheld from each paycheck. In the Affordable Care Act, the new tax on investment income is called an “unearned income Medicare contribution.” However, the law does not provide for the money to be deposited in a specific trust fund. It is added to the government’s general tax revenues and can be used for education, law enforcement, farm subsidies or other purposes. Donald B. Marron Jr., the director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, said the burden of this tax would be borne by the most affluent taxpayers, with about 85 percent of the revenue coming from 1 percent of taxpayers. By contrast, the biggest potential beneficiaries of the law include people with modest incomes who will receive Medicaid coverage or federal subsidies to buy private insurance.

    Wealthy people and their tax advisers are already looking for ways to minimize the impact of the investment tax — for example, by selling stocks and bonds this year to avoid the higher tax rates in 2013.



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    Response to Demeter (Reply #67)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:58 AM

    68. Arithmetic on Taxes Shows Top Rate Is Just a Starting Point By JACKIE CALMES



    Despite hints in recent days that President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner might compromise on the tax rate to be paid by top earners, a host of other knotty tax questions could still derail a deal to avert a fiscal crisis in January.

    The math shows why. Even if Republicans were to agree to Mr. Obama’s core demand — that the top marginal income rates return to the Clinton-era levels of 36 percent and 39.6 percent after Dec. 31, rather than stay at the Bush-era rates of 33 percent and 35 percent — the additional revenue would be only about a quarter of the $1.6 trillion that Mr. Obama wants to collect over 10 years. That would be about half of the $800 billion that Republicans have said they would be willing to raise.

    That calculation alone suggests the scope of the other major tax issues to be negotiated beyond tax rates. And that is why many people in both parties remain unsure that a deal will come together before Jan. 1. Without agreement, more than $500 billion in automatic tax increases on all Americans and cuts in domestic and military programs will take hold, which could cause a recession if left in place for months, economists say.

    “The question is making sure that we hit a revenue target that’s required for a truly balanced deficit-reduction plan,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee. “And when the president and all of us say this is a question of math, we mean it. It’s very hard to make the numbers work without the top rates going back to the full Clinton-era levels.”


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #68)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:01 AM

    69. The Cracks in the Nation’s Foundation



    ...The need for investment in public works, never more urgent, has become a casualty of Washington’s ideological wars. Republicans were once reliable partners in this kind of necessary spending. But since President Obama spent about 12 percent of the 2009 stimulus on transportation, energy and other infrastructure programs, Republicans have made it a policy to demonize these kinds of investments.

    When the president asked recently for a modest $50 billion for transportation improvements in the “fiscal cliff” talks, Republicans literally laughed out loud. There will be no stimulus in any deal, said Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, the incoming chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    Obviously the economy needs another boost, in part because the austerity being demanded by Republicans is likely to slow down growth. Big government construction projects put people to work, and those new jobs have enormous ripple effects — $1.44 in benefits for every government dollar spent on public works. An infrastructure bank for energy and water projects, started with $10 billion in government seed money, could leverage hundreds of billions in private investments.

    But the biggest reason to spend money on these projects is that they are desperately needed in every city and state. Around the country, there are 70,000 structurally deficient bridges; one of them, in southern New Jersey, collapsed under a train last week, sending tank cars full of flammable gas into a creek. There are 4,000 dams in need of repair, and the electrical grid in this supposedly advanced country ranks 32nd in the world in reliability, behind Slovenia’s. Those Republicans who deride this investment as worthless stimulus might want to explain to freezing homeowners why it is too expensive to bury fragile power lines. The president’s $50 billion proposal for highways, rail, mass transit and aviation, hard as it will be to achieve, is only a slim down payment on the real job. (He proposed the same package last year as part of the American Jobs Act, which Republicans ignored.) Most estimates put the cost of basic repairs at more than $2 trillion, and that does not even include long-range upgrades to the electrical grid, storm protection and mass transit....


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #67)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:16 AM

    73. Obama: Republicans blocking middle-class tax cuts



    President Barack Obama said Saturday that Republicans in the House are blocking a bill that would prevent a tax increase on the first $250,000 of income earned by all Americans.

    The Democratic-controlled Senate has approved the measure, but Obama said House Republicans have "put forward an unbalanced plan that actually lowers rates for the wealthiest Americans." Obama supports a plan to raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000.

    In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said "the math just doesn't work" on the GOP plan.

    Obama's comments mark the fourth time since his re-election that he has used the radio address to push for middle-class tax cuts as part of a plan to avert a looming fiscal cliff — and his most sharply partisan tone...

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:04 AM

    70. A government so quick to join the race to the bottom is no friend of tax reform


    We have learned two things in recent days: that scandal-hit coffee chain Starbucks has "listened to customers" and will now voluntarily overpay corporation tax by £20m across two years; and that George Osborne has pledged in parliament to "lead the international effort to prevent artificial transfers of profits [by multinational firms] to tax havens".

    Both commitments generated a few headlines helpful to those opposed to the nefarious tax management tactics routinely deployed by large companies. And while they might not have been enough to derail UK Uncut's protests on Saturday in 40 espresso bars around Britain, they will doubtless have tempered levels of outrage among a wider, mainstream audience.

    But is this really a turning point? Rhetoric aside, there is still little indication that this government – let alone corporations active in the UK – has a genuine appetite for permanent tax reform.

    Take the chancellor's autumn statement: no sooner had he paid lip service to the idea of co-ordinated international action to repair the credibility of corporation tax than he had moved on to announce yet another cut to the UK rate. With palpable relish, he bragged that UK corporation tax, which had been at 24%, was to drop to 21% by 2014. Other countries were "scrambling to keep up".

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:08 AM

    71. A Lost Civilization By MAUREEN DOWD OUTSTANDING!



    ... Someday, it will be the subject of a National Geographic special, or a Mel Gibson movie, where archaeologists piece together who the lost tribe was, where it came from, and what happened to it. The experts will sift through the ruins of the Reagan Presidential Library, Dick Cheney’s shotgun casings, Orca poll monitoring hieroglyphics, remnants of triumphal rants by Dick Morris on Fox News, faded photos of Clint Eastwood and an empty chair, and scraps of ancient tape in which a tall, stiff man, his name long forgotten, gnashes his teeth about the 47 percent of moochers and the “gifts” they got.

    Instead of smallpox, plagues, drought and Conquistadors, the Republican decline will be traced to a stubborn refusal to adapt to a world where poor people and sick people and black people and brown people and female people and gay people count.

    As the historian Will Durant observed, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”


    Outside the Republican walled kingdom of denial and delusion, everyone else could see that the once clever and ruthless party was behaving in an obtuse and outmoded way that spelled doom. The G.O.P. put up a candidate that no one liked or understood and ran a campaign that no one liked or understood — a campaign animated by the idea that indolent, grasping serfs must be kept down, even if it meant creating barriers to letting them vote....Although Stuart Stevens, the Romney strategist, now claims that Mitt “captured the imagination of millions” and ran “with a natural grace,” there was very little chance that the awkward gazillionaire was ever going to be president. Yet strangely, Republicans are still gobsmacked by their loss, grasping at straws like Sandy as an excuse....Who would ever have thought blacks would get out and support the first black president? Who would ever have thought women would shy away from the party of transvaginal probes? Who would ever have thought gays would work against a party that treated them as immoral and subhuman? Who would have ever thought young people would desert a party that ignored science and hectored on social issues? Who would ever have thought Latinos would scorn a party that expected them to finish up their chores and self-deport?

    Republicans know they’re in trouble when W. emerges as the moral voice of the party. The former president lectured the G.O.P. on Tuesday about being more “benevolent” toward immigrants.



    ...history will no doubt record that withering Republicans were finally wiped from the earth in 2016 when the relentless (and rested) Conquistadora Hillary marched in, General Bill on a horse behind her, and finished them off.


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #71)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:49 PM

    85. From your lips...

    To God's ear.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:19 AM

    74. German Finance minister doesn't rule out Eurogroup candidacy



    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble declined to rule himself out as a candidate to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as chairman of euro zone finance ministers, in an interview published on Sunday.

    Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister, said he would step down as Eurogroup chief at the end of this year or early next, leaving policymakers just four weeks to find a successor to fill a potential power vacuum. He has headed the group since 2005....Juncker's mandate was initially set to expire in July, and at that time Schaeuble was widely seen as the front-runner to replace him, possibly as part of a deal with France on a rotating chairmanship which would later pass to Moscovici. But Juncker was persuaded to stay on a few more months to help manage the region's sovereign debt crisis. Moscovici said last week it was too early to speculate on his candidacy, but he also did not rule himself out.

    "The German government wants the candidate to come from the circle of finance ministers, and we have seen that it has proved very worthwhile when the chairman can mediate between different positions," Schaeuble told Bild am Sonntag. Diplomats have said the irascible Schaeuble, 70, has alienated colleagues in southern Europe and is not currently seen as a likely successor...


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:24 AM

    76. Democrats want jobless benefits in 'cliff' deal



    Hovering in the background of the "fiscal cliff" debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas. "This is the real cliff," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. He's been leading the effort to include another extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed in any deal to avert looming tax increases and massive spending cuts in January. "Many of these people are struggling to pay mortgages, to provide education for their children," Reed said this past week...Emergency jobless benefits for about 2.1 million people out of work more than six months will cease Dec. 29, and 1 million more will lose them over the next three months if Congress doesn't extend the assistance again.

    Since the collapse of the economy in 2008, the government has poured $520 billion — an amount equal to about half its annual deficit in recent years — into unemployment benefit extensions. White House officials have assured Democrats that Obama is committed to extending them another year, at a cost of about $30 billion, as part of an agreement for sidestepping the fiscal cliff and reducing the size of annual increases in the federal debt.

    "The White House has made it clear that it wants an extension," said Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

    Republicans have been relatively quiet on the issue lately...


    ...Long-term unemployment remains a persistent problem. About 5 million people have been out of work for six months or more, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics. That's about 40 percent of all unemployed workers. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, the lowest in nearly four years. But much of the decline was due to people so discouraged about finding a job that they quit looking for one...The Congressional Budget Office said in a study last month that extending the current level of long-term unemployment benefits another year would add 300,000 jobs to the economy. The average benefit of about $300 a week tends to get spent quickly for food, rent and other basic necessities, the report said, stimulating the economy. The liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute found that extended unemployment benefits lifted 2.3 million Americans out of poverty last year, including 600,000 children. States provide the first 20 weeks to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits for eligible workers who are seeking jobs. When those are exhausted, federal benefits kick in for up to 47 more weeks, depending on the state's unemployment rate. The higher a state's unemployment rate, the longer state residents can qualify for additional weeks of federal unemployment benefits. Only seven states with jobless rates of 9 percent or more now qualify for all 47 weeks. Congress already cut back federal jobless benefits this year. Taken together with what states offer, the benefits could last up to 99 weeks. Cutting the maximum to 73 weeks has already cut off benefits to about 500,000 people...

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:28 AM

    77. More young American adults are leaving the nest



    As the job market improves, more people in their 20s and early 30s are renting and buying, according to real estate experts and government statistics....After riding out the tough economy in their parents' basements, more young American adults are starting to break out on their own, pushing up the nation's mobility rate and giving an important boost to the housing market and the broader recovery.

    Thanks to improving job prospects and super-low mortgage rates, adults in their 20s and early 30s are moving into their own apartments and buying homes in increasingly greater numbers, according to real estate experts and government statistics.

    Census Bureau data show that the nation added more than 2 million households in the 12 months that ended March 31, about triple the annual average for the previous four years. Most of the gain came from baby boomers, but young adults are hitting the road as well...



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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:28 AM

    78. The High Price of Excessive and Stressful Work by César Chelala


    When Luo Yang, who was in charge of research and development on the J-15 carrier-based fighter jet, died of a heart attack on November 25, he was under extreme stressful work conditions. He died on the day that the J-15 had completed a successful landing on the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier.

    For many experts, Luo Yang’s death after such stressful conditions and overwork, was an example of what the Japanese call karoshi, literally translated as “death from overwork,” or occupational sudden death, whose main causes are heart attack and stroke due to stress.

    Karoshi has been more widely studied in Japan, where the first case of this phenomenon was reported in 1969. It was a 29-year-old married male, working in the shipping department of Japan’s largest newspaper company. It wasn’t until the end of the 1980s that the general media paid attention to this problem, particularly after several high-ranking business executives, still in the prime of their life, suddenly died without any previous signs of illness.

    In 1987, as people’s concerns about karoshi increased, the Japanese Ministry of Labor began to publish statistics on the problem. Concomitantly, death by overwork lawsuits have been on the rise in Japan, prompted by the deceased person’s relatives demanding compensation payments.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #78)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:38 AM

    79. Well! On That Note


    I wrap up my contributions to this thread and head for a bubble bath...

    Have a good week, everyone. Thank you especially, X, for your continuing collaboration.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #79)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:43 AM

    81. have a good long and hot soak!

    and maybe a mimosa to go with -- it is sunday after all.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:39 AM



    GUNNEDAH, Australia (AP) -- Tony Clift's family has plowed the rich black soil of Australia's Liverpool Plains for six generations. The thought of selling never crossed his mind - until a Chinese company came to town.

    Shenhua Watermark Coal offered to buy farms at unheard-of prices. The decision wasn't easy, Clift says. His pioneer ancestors settled the land in 1832. But farming is a business nowadays, and selling his 6,500 acres (2,600 hectares) made business sense.

    "If someone offers you a whole heap of money, you've got to take it," says the 50-year-old father of two, sitting at the kitchen table of the palatial hilltop home he built with the windfall. A sea of yellow stretches out below, canola fields planted on less fertile land he bought 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:47 AM



    BERLIN (AP) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger has accused the German leader of isolating the country in Europe as he seeks to kick-start his campaign for elections next year, pledging to make social policy and promises of tougher financial regulation central issues.

    The center-left Social Democrats held a special party convention Sunday to elect former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck officially as their candidate to take on Merkel when Germans elect a new Parliament next fall.

    Party leaders nominated Steinbrueck in September. The Social Democrats are trailing in polls and Steinbrueck's start has been marred by controversy over his high earnings for giving lectures in recent years.

    The 65-year-old Steinbrueck said taxes for top earners need to go up to finance spending on education and infrastructure but stressed that keeping down debt is essential.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #82)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 12:27 PM

    83. Bye-bye, Baby


    It's the beginning of the end for Merkel....somebody spoke the TRUTH.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Dec 9, 2012, 02:53 PM

    84. Musical Interlude IV

    Audrey by Dave Brubeck:

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