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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 72,733

Journal Archives

Time catching up to Serena and Roger?



(ESPN) The symmetry seems ominous. It's certainly borderline eerie. Once again, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are sidelined during a major tennis event.

Williams pulled out of Madrid, a top-tier event for both the ATP and WTA, last Friday, citing the flu. On Monday, Federer also withdrew after an old back injury flared up during a Saturday practice session.

Federer and Williams, the twin pillars on which the game's current global popularity rests, are both 34 years old. With a quarter of the year elapsed, each of them has played just three events. While both have earned the right to be selective, neither has won any of those events.

Both players have repeatedly said they have no plans to retire any time soon. But the bodies of the players might be telling them otherwise. .................(more)

http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/15446612/tennis-opportunities-dwindling-roger-federer-serena-williams




The global economy is in bad shape and getting worse


by Nouriel Roubini


NEW YORK (Project Syndicate) — The International Monetary Fund and others have recently revised downward their forecasts for global growth — yet again. Little wonder: The world economy has few bright spots, and many that are dimming rapidly.

Among advanced economies, the United States has just experienced two quarters of growth averaging 1%. Further monetary easing has boosted a cyclical recovery in the eurozone, though potential growth in most countries remains well below 1%. In Japan, “Abenomics” is running out of steam, with the economy slowing since mid-2015 and now close to recession. In the United Kingdom, uncertainty surrounding the June referendum on continued European Union membership is leading firms to keep hiring and capital spending on hold. And other advanced economies — such as Canada, Australia, Norway — face headwinds from low commodity prices.

Things are not much better in most emerging economies. Among the five BRIC countries, two (Brazil and Russia) are in recession, one (South Africa) is barely growing, another (China) is experiencing a sharp structural slowdown, and India is doing well only because — in the words of its central bank governor, Raghuram Rajan — in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Many other emerging markets have slowed since 2013 as well, owing to weak external conditions, economic fragility (stemming from loose monetary, fiscal, and credit policies in the good years), and, often, a move away from market-oriented reforms and toward variants of state capitalism.

Worse, potential growth has also fallen in both advanced and emerging economies. For starters, high levels of private and public debt are constraining spending, especially growth-enhancing capital spending, which fell (as a share of GDP) after the global financial crisis and has not recovered to pre-crisis levels. That fall-off in investment implies slower productivity growth, while aging populations in developed countries — and now in an increasing number of emerging markets (for example, China, Russia, and Korea) — reduce the labor input in production.

The rise in income and wealth inequality exacerbates the global saving glut (which is the counterpart of the global investment slump). As income is redistributed from labor to capital, it flows from those who have a higher marginal propensity to spend (low- and middle-income households) to those who have a higher marginal propensity to save (high-income households and corporations). ....................(more)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-global-economy-is-in-bad-shape-and-getting-worse-2016-05-02




Keiser Report: Secrets of TTIP & TPP




Published on Apr 23, 2016

Max and Stacy discuss that if man is what he hides, as André Malraux said, then the EU is a corporatist, monopolist loving intellectual land-grabber, for the EU hides secret trade deals. They also discuss Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan instructing his coalition not to ‘forcibly’ proceed with ratifying the TPP (another secret trade deal) until after elections this summer as voters are against it. In the second half, Max interviews independent Irish politician and MEP, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, about the top secret TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.



The global economy is in bad shape and getting worse


by Nouriel Roubini


NEW YORK (Project Syndicate) — The International Monetary Fund and others have recently revised downward their forecasts for global growth — yet again. Little wonder: The world economy has few bright spots, and many that are dimming rapidly.

Among advanced economies, the United States has just experienced two quarters of growth averaging 1%. Further monetary easing has boosted a cyclical recovery in the eurozone, though potential growth in most countries remains well below 1%. In Japan, “Abenomics” is running out of steam, with the economy slowing since mid-2015 and now close to recession. In the United Kingdom, uncertainty surrounding the June referendum on continued European Union membership is leading firms to keep hiring and capital spending on hold. And other advanced economies — such as Canada, Australia, Norway — face headwinds from low commodity prices.

Things are not much better in most emerging economies. Among the five BRIC countries, two (Brazil and Russia) are in recession, one (South Africa) is barely growing, another (China) is experiencing a sharp structural slowdown, and India is doing well only because — in the words of its central bank governor, Raghuram Rajan — in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Many other emerging markets have slowed since 2013 as well, owing to weak external conditions, economic fragility (stemming from loose monetary, fiscal, and credit policies in the good years), and, often, a move away from market-oriented reforms and toward variants of state capitalism.

Worse, potential growth has also fallen in both advanced and emerging economies. For starters, high levels of private and public debt are constraining spending, especially growth-enhancing capital spending, which fell (as a share of GDP) after the global financial crisis and has not recovered to pre-crisis levels. That fall-off in investment implies slower productivity growth, while aging populations in developed countries — and now in an increasing number of emerging markets (for example, China, Russia, and Korea) — reduce the labor input in production.

The rise in income and wealth inequality exacerbates the global saving glut (which is the counterpart of the global investment slump). As income is redistributed from labor to capital, it flows from those who have a higher marginal propensity to spend (low- and middle-income households) to those who have a higher marginal propensity to save (high-income households and corporations). ....................(more)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-global-economy-is-in-bad-shape-and-getting-worse-2016-05-02




US Manufacturing Sinks Deeper into Mire, Sep. 2009 evoked


US Manufacturing Sinks Deeper into Mire, Sep. 2009 evoked
by Wolf Richter • May 2, 2016


The decline of US manufacturing in the cacophony of regional and national indices, which started in mid-2014, is a sight to behold. Today we got two national indices for April. Both added more gloom to the scenario.

Of the national manufacturing indices, Markit’s PMI, which is based on surveys of purchasing managers, had been the more positive one – if that’s the right word. But it too has steadily been losing ground since mid-2014, when it hovered around 57 (above 50 = expansion).

In April, the index dropped to 50.8, from 51.5 in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, which as the report put it, “signaled the slowest improvement in overall business conditions” since September 2009.

Output volumes compared to March were “close to stagnation,” with the “weakest rise” since October 2009. But at an annual rate, output actually fell 3% — so an actual decline in output:

Anecdotal evidence suggested that subdued client demand, uncertainty about the economic outlook, and lower energy sector capital spending had all acted as a drag on manufacturing production in April.


Reduced demand for exports hit new orders. The backlog of work declined for the third month in a row as weak new orders couldn’t keep up. And “the latest fall in unfinished business was the sharpest since September 2009.” .............(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/05/02/us-manufacturing-sinks-into-mire-pmi-markit-ism/




Houston Office Market Melts Down


Houston Office Market Melts Down
by Wolf Richter • May 2, 2016


[font color="blue"]Leasing activity plunges, availability & sublease space balloon[/font]

Office leasing activity in Houston in the first quarter plunged 25% from the already beaten-down levels a year ago, to 1.56 million square feet (msf), worse even than during the Financial Crisis, according to commercial real estate services firm Savills Studley.

That’s down 59% from the 3.8 msf of signed deals in the fourth quarter 2014, back when the oil bust was still considered a blip and hadn’t yet impacted the office market.

The availability rate rose by 4 percentage points from a year ago to 24.5%, or 47.4 msf for Greater Houston. A horrendous office glut! The availability for Class A buildings jumped by 5.3 percentage points to 26.5%, the “highest mark in more than a decade as sublease space continues to hit the market.”

There were large variations: In Houston downtown, where “only” half of the office space is occupied by energy and engineering firms, the availability of Class A buildings soared 5.7 percentage points during the quarter to 21.5%; but in the Katy Freeway sub-market, where about 90% of the office space is occupied by energy firms, availability hit 33.6%. In the Greenspoint sub-market, it hit a stunning 48%!

These are the effects of the collapse of the energy sector timed impeccably with a majestic construction boom. ...........(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/05/02/houston-office-space-leasing-plunges-availability-soars/





What Small Farms Need to Compete With Corporate Food

from YES! Magazine:



What Small Farms Need to Compete With Corporate Food
Most small farms have to follow the same rules as big corporate ones. In Maine, flexible food ordinances have increased the number of small farmers.

Kate Stringer posted Apr 27, 2016




When Heather Retberg started selling raw milk a few years ago, she ran up against an obstacle that she felt sure would ruin her family’s farm.

Retberg, of Penobscot, Maine, remembers the state quality assurance and regulations inspector walking up her driveway to deliver the news: Her farm of two goats and six cows didn’t have the proper facilities to bottle and sell raw milk. Nor could it continue to use the neighbor’s facility to slaughter its chickens.

The family had few options: Construct their own facilities, costing thousands of dollars they didn’t have; drive hours to an approved facility and risk exposing the food to pathogens; or stop farming.

“I had this feeling in my gut, ‘oh no we’re done,’” Retberg said. “This is how small farms disappear.”

But they didn’t disappear. In March 2011, the Retbergs attended a town meeting to discuss a proposed local law: the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance. It protected small farmers’ rights to produce their own food without licensure and inspection. The ordinance passed, prompting the Retbergs the very next day to affix a sign at the end of their driveway advertising raw milk, along with poultry and eggs.

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

Achieving food sovereignty while ensuring food safety is a question that regulators, farmers, and lawmakers grapple with. Safety issues around raw milk produce a steady stream of headlines. According to data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raw milk is roughly 150 times more likely than pasteurized to cause disease.

But small farmers say the size of their operations gives them greater control over safety. They also say they feel a financial pressure to keep their food safe: One mistake could put a small farmer out of business, while large-scale farms rebound more easily, as California-based Foster Farms did from its 2013 Salmonella outbreak that caused 634 illnesses in 29 states and Puerto Rico. ...............(more)

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/what-small-farms-need-to-compete-with-corporate-food-20160427




How to Create an "Ecology of Change" by Combining Movement Uprisings With Long-Term Organizing


How to Create an "Ecology of Change" by Combining Movement Uprisings With Long-Term Organizing

Sunday, 01 May 2016 00:00
By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview



[font size="1"]Transformational change attempts to achieve long-term social, political and economic change through combining acts of resistance and movement-building. (Photo: niXerKG / Flickr)[/font]


In this interview, Mark and Paul Engler, authors of This Is an Uprising, examine the strategy differences between traditional schools of organizing and mass mobilizations. They argue that each plays an important role in creating social change and should be used in conjunction to be most effective in reaching a shared goal.

Mark Karlin: How do you define momentum-driven organizing? What makes it distinctive from a general media perception that acts of resistance and disruption are only spontaneous and short-term?

Mark and Paul Engler: Every once in a while, we see outbreaks of mass protests that capture the public spotlight -- whether it's millions of immigrants taking to the streets 10 years ago this spring, or huge student demonstrations in Quebec or Chile, or an occupation on Wall Street that spreads to hundreds of other cities and town. Media [are] almost always caught off guard by these types of mobilizations. Reporters label them "emotional" and "spontaneous." But the argument of our book is that there is actually a craft to uprising. If we study the playbook of strategic nonviolence, we can see that there are important principles and tactics that guide successful mobilizations. What we call "momentum-driven organizing" is a way of approaching mass protest in a deliberate and strategic manner -- consciously seeking to spark, nurture and sustain periods of mass defiance, and also figuring out ways that these can complement other efforts to create social change.

There is an amazing body of knowledge about civil resistance that has emerged over the past 50 years. We want to make more people aware of this field of study. And we want to show people the incredible potential that exists if we apply it to some of the social and political challenges we are facing right now in the United States.

It's not just media, however, that look at many actions of revolt as "failed" if they do not make immediate change. Many progressives share this perspective. What is your response to supporters of social justice who dismiss acts of resistance as courageous but failed?

A lot of people who are trained in traditional schools of community organizing or in the labor movement are focused on the power of building up organizations for the long haul. Because mass mobilizations don't fit very well within their organizing model, there can be a lot of skepticism -- and even hostility -- when mass protests erupt. If you start to dig deep into social movement history, you see that this tension that has emerged again and again throughout the decades. And yet, grassroots forces have been most effective when they have harnessed both the power of organization and the power of widespread defiance. By shedding light on how these different organizing traditions help to create change in different ways, we hope to break down some of that hostility and to encourage more creative thinking about how "movements" and "organizations" can work together.

Because mass mobilizations can burst dramatically on to the scene, but then fade out and seemingly disappear within a short period of time, they are often dismissed as flukes that do not have a long-term impact. Some organizers think that, in any case, these outbreaks cannot be relied upon. And yet, history shows that moments of mass protest can be critical in changing the political landscape and provoking major reforms. Instead of dismissing these things out of hand because we are unfamiliar with how they work, our book argues that we need to study them more carefully and learn how to tap their power. ..............(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/35862-how-to-create-an-ecology-of-change-by-combining-movement-uprisings-with-long-term-organizing




China’s Furious Stimulus-and-Debt Binge Backfires


China’s Furious Stimulus-and-Debt Binge Backfires
by Wolf Richter • May 1, 2016


[font color="blue"]Fabled transition to a service economy? Forget it.[/font]

The export and manufacturing powerhouse of the world, the locomotive – along with the US – of the global economy, and an indicator of the global economy itself, disappointed economists once again. The operative word in the media today is “unexpectedly.”

China has been on an glorious debt-and-stimulus binge for the past few months. New corporate borrowing shot up to record levels as the People’s Bank of China opened all valves, and juice rushed through the state-owned megabanks to corporate borrowers and others all around.

In the first quarter, total debt ballooned by 6.2 trillion yuan (nearly $1 trillion), the largest quarterly jump ever, to a record 163 trillion yuan ($25 trillion), or 237% of GDP, up from 148% of GDP in 2007, according to some of the more benign estimates. Others peg total debt as high as 282% of GDP. Corporate debt alone is now estimated at 160% of GDP. But no one knows for sure. With the Chinese economy, everyone is groping in the dark.

It’s not the debt itself that scares observers, but the speed with which this debt has ballooned. It’s impossible to invests this sort of moolah this quickly in productive activities whose proceeds would allow for this debt to be serviced. .............(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/05/01/china-stimulus-debt-binge-falls-flat-manufacturing-service-pmi/




Chris Hedges: The Socialist Alternative


from truthdig:


The Socialist Alternative

Posted on May 1, 2016
By Chris Hedges


SEATTLE: The disintegration of the ruling political parties, along with the discrediting of the established political and economic elites, presage radical change. This change may come from the right. It may result in a frightening proto-fascism. If it is to come from the left it must be pushed forward by dogged activists and citizens who are willing to accept that stepping outside the system will mean surrendering all hope of power for perhaps a decade. To continue to engage in establishment politics, especially attempting to work within the Democratic Party, will further empower corporate capitalism and extinguish what remains of our democracy.

Willingly entering the political wilderness requires a vision that is worth sacrificing and fighting to achieve. It means that some of those who begin the revolution against corporate capitalism will not live to see its culmination. It will mean marginalization, harassment, persecution, prison and, if the movement becomes effective, state violence. History has taught us that. But given the alternative—the planet’s ecosystem destroyed by the fossil fuel and the animal agriculture industries, greater pillaging by corporate oligarchs and the rise of a global security and surveillance system that takes from us all pretense of liberty—the battle is worth it.

Kshama Sawant, the socialist City Council member in Seattle, and her Socialist Alternative Party have begun to create change where it will first be most effective—locally. She has created a petition calling on Bernie Sanders to run as an independent presidential candidate through November on a third-party ticket.

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

“Europe is a guide,” she said. “The roots of the European Union were entirely pro-capitalist, pro-banker and pro-bond holder. It was sold as an experiment in democracy and equality. That was a sham. Britain is looking at dropping out of the European Union. The framework of capitalism does not provide a solution to the refugee crisis. The right wing is offering solutions and gaining ascendancy in countries such as Sweden, France and Greece. This is not because people are predisposed to be right wing or anti-refugee. It comes from the vacuum of a real socialist alternative to capitalism. This vacuum creates the fodder for the right wing. It is precisely because of the rise of right-wing movements that we need to build a genuine left-wing movement. The right wing won’t be countered by supporting Clinton.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_socialist_alternative_20160501




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