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marmar

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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 70,152

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Why the Longest Nonstop Flights Are Ending


(Bloomberg Businessweek) Manpreet Gill, the Singapore-based head of fixed income, currencies, and commodities investment strategy at Standard Chartered’s (STAN:LN) wealth management unit, is preparing for a loss on one of his most valuable assets: his time. On Nov. 25, Singapore Airlines (SIA:SP) will stop its 100-passenger daily run from Singapore to Newark, N.J., the world’s longest nonstop commercial flight. After that, Singapore Air passengers such as Gill who are used to making the 19-hour slog in one sitting will have to fly to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after a stop in Frankfurt—adding five hours to their journey. The carrier is stopping the all-business-class service on a four-engine Airbus A340-500 after ending the second-longest flight, from Los Angeles to the island city, on Oct. 22. The routes’ well-heeled flyers are not pleased. “The more time you add on the way,” says Gill, “the further it keeps you from either working or being at home.”

The demise of the two signature flights is the latest sign that the airline industry is putting profitability ahead of glamour. With oil prices tripling in the past decade, Singapore Air has struggled to ferry executives like Gill on the ultralong flights profitably for the past nine years. “The plane burns a lot of fuel but carries very few passengers,” says Siyi Lim, an analyst at OCBC Investment Research in Singapore. “It didn’t make sense to continue.”



The Newark service is more than 10,300 miles, while the Los Angeles flight was about 8,700 miles. The longest nonstop commercial flight by distance will now be Qantas Airways’ (QAN:AU) 8,575-mile flight from Sydney to Dallas, which uses a Boeing (BA) 747-400ER.

Scoring a boarding pass on the world’s longest flight doesn’t come cheap. A round-trip ticket in mid-October on the Singapore-Newark nonstop cost as much as S$13,400 ($10,850). Flights to JFK via Frankfurt are as much as S$10,700. Analysts say the nonstop price premium still wasn’t enough for an aircraft with so few seats. “With the current price of fuel,” says Brendan Sobie, chief analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation in Singapore, “it’s virtually impossible to make money on ultralong-haul flights.” Singapore Air spokesman Nicholas Ionides says the airline doesn’t provide financials for its routes. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-31/fuel-costs-lead-singapore-air-to-end-worlds-longest-nonstop-flights?campaign_id=yhoo



Globe and Mail: Toronto has had enough. Rob Ford must resign


Marcus Gee
The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Oct. 31 2013, 3:38 PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 31 2013, 4:49 PM EDT


Enough. After all the evasions, all the nonsense, all the denials, this should be the end of the road for Mayor Rob Ford.

The revelations on Thursday from police and from court documents give the lie to all the claims from the mayor and his supporters that he is the innocent victim of a conspiracy to sully his name and block his fight to stop the “gravy train.”

That video he said does not exist? It exists, its reality confirmed by no less than the chief of police. This was not the invention of media “maggots,” in the mayor’s words. A video allegedly showing the mayor of Canada’s largest city smoking crack cocaine is in the possession of the authorities.

If that were not enough, the police have compiled a staggering trove of information showing the mayor consorting with a cast of shady characters that includes Alessandro Lisi, a man who stands accused of drug offences and, now, extortion. Whether the mayor himself ends up facing criminal charges, the information in this document places a stain on his office that cannot be removed except by his speedy departure. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/toronto-has-had-enough-rob-ford-must-resign/article15192201/



Why Anytown, USA, Privatizes Its Water System


Why Anytown, USA, Privatizes Its Water System

Thursday, 31 October 2013 09:48
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | Report


In August 2013, Allentown, Pennsylvania, rented its water and waste systems for 50 years because it did not have enough money to pay the pensions owed to its employees or to maintain its water system.

Allentown is not alone in turning to infrastructure privatization to deal with cash-flow problems. Indeed, Allentown is Anytown, USA, as cities, counties and states across the country privatize basic infrastructure built and paid for by prior generations. However, water is not just another type of infrastructure to be sold to the highest bidder. As NASA scientists know, water is life.

The Evolution of Building Big Things

For centuries, groups in the United States have funded and built big infrastructure. Consider barn raising. Neighbors got together, and by the end of the day, there was a new barn. Over time, everyone participated, and everyone who needed a barn got a barn.

As more complex and expensive infrastructure was needed, state, local and federal governments raised funds to pay workers and buy materials to build canals, roads, railroads and water and sewage systems. Those funds came from the equivalent of passing the hat through one-time assessments or through the regular payment of taxes. For decades, federal and state fuel taxes have paid so many cents per gallon of gasoline to fund the building and maintenance of roads. The fuel tax has provided a clear, easy-to-understand link between funding source and the end product - good highways. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/19684-why-anytown-usa-privatizes-its-water-system



Wawrinka, Gasquet book last 2 ATP Finals spots


PARIS (AP) -- Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka took the last two spots in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals after Milos Raonic lost to Tomas Berdych 7-6 (13), 6-4 on Thursday in the third round of the Paris Masters.

Raonic needed at least a runner-up finish in Paris to have a chance to qualify for the London tournament next week, which features the top eight players. This will be Wawrinka's first appearance; Gasquet also qualified in 2007.

''It was more difficult for me to qualify this time than six years ago,'' Gasquet said. ''It was tough for me to come back, and today I believe the tennis is at a very high level. I played a lot better than six years ago.''

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro and Berdych had already assured their spots before playing in Paris. Andy Murray also qualified but withdrew from the event to recover from back surgery. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/wawrinka-gasquet-book-last-2-211147331--ten.html



Chris Hedges, beacon in the fog





This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. Violent revolutions usually give rise to revolutionaries as ruthless as their adversaries. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_invisible_revolution_20131028


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Chris Hedges at Moravian College: The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies




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The anthropologist Joseph Tainter in his book “The Collapse of Complex Societies” looked at the collapse of civilizations from the Roman to the Mayan. He concluded that they disintegrated because they finally could not sustain the bureaucratic complexities they had created. Layers of bureaucracy demand more and more exploitation, not only of the environment but the laboring classes. They become calcified by systems that are unable to respond to the changing reality around them. They, like our elite universities and business schools, churn out systems managers, people who are taught not to think but to blindly service the system. These systems managers know only how to perpetuate themselves and the system they serve, although serving that system means disemboweling the nation and the planet. Our elites and bureaucrats exhaust the earth to hold up a system that worked in the past, failing to see that it no longer works. Elites, rather than contemplate reform, which would jeopardize their privilege and power, retreat in the twilight of empire into walled compounds like the Forbidden City or Versailles. They invent their own reality. Those on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms have replicated this behavior. They insist that continued reliance on fossil fuel and speculations will sustain the empire. State resources, as Tainter notes, are at the end increasingly squandered on extravagant and senseless projects and imperial adventures. And then it all collapses. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_folly_of_empire_20131014


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Chris Hedges: Urban Poverty in America Made Me Question Everything




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It is not the poor who make revolutions. It is those who conclude that they will not be able, as they once expected, to rise economically and socially. This consciousness is part of the self-knowledge of service workers and fast food workers. It is grasped by the swelling population of college graduates caught in a vise of low-paying jobs and obscene amounts of debt. These two groups, once united, will be our primary engines of revolt. Much of the urban poor has been crippled and in many cases broken by a rewriting of laws, especially drug laws, that has permitted courts, probation officers, parole boards and police to randomly seize poor people of color, especially African-American men, without just cause and lock them in cages for years. In many of our most impoverished urban centers—our internal colonies, as Malcolm X called them—mobilization, at least at first, will be difficult. The urban poor are already in chains. These chains are being readied for the rest of us. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread,” Anatole France commented acidly. ....................(more)

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


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How Corporations Destroyed American Democracy - Chris Hedges




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Police abuse is routine in Elizabeth, as it is in poor urban areas across the country. This incident did not make news. But it illustrated that if you are a poor person of color in the United States you know what most us are about to find out—we have no civil liberties left. Police, who arrest some 13 million people a year, 1.6 million on drug charges—half of those for marijuana counts—carry out random searches and sweeps with no probable cause. They take DNA samples from many of those they arrest, even some eventually found to be innocent, to build a nationwide database. They confiscate cash, cars, homes and other possessions based on allegations of illegal drug activity and direct the proceeds into police budgets. And in the last three decades the United States has constructed the world’s largest prison system, populated with 2.2 million inmates. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_origins_of_our_police_state_20130916/


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Chris Hedges - Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle




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The executive, legislative and judicial branches of government have been taken over by corporations and used to protect and promote the criminal activity of Wall Street, the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the looting of the U.S. Treasury by the banking industry and the corporate seizure of all major centers of power. The primacy of corporate profit trumps our right to a living wage, affordable and adequate health care, the regulation of industry and environmental controls, protection from corporate fraud and abuse, the right to a good and affordable public education, the ability to form labor unions, and having a government that serves the basic needs of ordinary citizens. Our voices, our rights and our aspirations are no longer of concern to the state. And if we try to assert them, the state now has mechanisms in place to shut us down. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/locking_out_the_voices_of_dissent_20130714


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Listen: http://rdwolff.com/content/economic-update-social-turmoil-coming

by Richard Wolff and Chris Hedges.
Published on April 12, 2013


Updates on CEO pay, the assault on social security, Maggie Thatcher, and "job creation." Interview with Chris Hedges on deepening social crisis, divisions, and turmoil coming. Response to listeners: on French socialists, hidden money, and workers coops paying taxes.

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Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.

The Department of Justice seizure of two months of records of phone calls to and from editors and reporters at The Associated Press is the latest in a series of dramatic assaults against our civil liberties. The DOJ move is part of an effort to hunt down the government official or officials who leaked information to the AP about the foiling of a plot to blow up a passenger jet. Information concerning phones of Associated Press bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., as well as the home and mobile phones of editors and reporters, was secretly confiscated. This, along with measures such as the use of the Espionage Act against whistle-blowers, will put a deep freeze on all independent investigations into abuses of government and corporate power. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/rise_up_or_die_20130519


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Poll: 1 in 4 Americans would light up a fat one if they could legally


Legalizing marijuana would more than double the potential market for the drug, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

Results show that 26 percent of Americans say they would buy marijuana at least on rare occasions if it was legal in their state, compared to 9 percent who said they buy it at least on rare occasions now. The percentage who said they would buy marijuana often, jumped from 1 percent who do so now to 4 percent who would buy if it was legal.

When asked about their buying frequency, 18 percent of respondents said they would buy marijuana more often than they do now if it was legal. That includes 16 percent who said they never buy marijuana now but would, at least on rare occasions, if it was legal to do so.

Respondents under age 30 were most likely to say both that they would buy marijuana if it was legal (35 percent) and that they do so now (16 percent). But even among those 65 and older -- almost none of whom said they ever buy marijuana now -- 9 percent said they would buy it at least occasionally if it was legal. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/31/pot-poll_n_4179029.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037&ir=Politics



Consumer Confidence in U.S. Declines to More Than One-Year Low


(Bloomberg) Consumer confidence eroded for a fifth straight week, reaching the lowest level in more than a year as pessimism about the economy chipped away at views of conditions closer to home.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell in the period ended Oct. 27 to minus 37.6, the weakest reading since October 2012, from minus 36.1. While the end of the 16-day federal government shutdown helped stabilize a measure of outlooks for the economy, households grew more pessimistic about their finances and the buying climate.

The slump in sentiment during the gridlock over the federal budget and debt ceiling has been deeper than both of the previous two shutdowns in 1995 and 1996. More pessimism among the jobless shows limited employment opportunities are weighing on consumer attitudes about making purchases.

“The combination of fiscal follies in the nation’s capital, slower economic activity and a deceleration in hiring clearly has impacted consumer confidence,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. “While sentiment is likely to rebound in coming weeks, it may not rise to pre-crisis levels.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-31/consumer-confidence-in-u-s-declines-to-more-than-one-year-low.html



Richard Wolff: "old centers of capitalism are suffering the effects of capitalism’s withdrawal"


by Richard Wolff.
Published on October 27, 2013

This article originally appeared at e-International Relations


After 200 years of concentrating its centers in western Europe, north America, and Japan, capitalism is moving most of its centers elsewhere and especially to China, India, Brazil and so on. This movement poses immense problems of transition at both poles. The classic problems of early, rapid capitalist industrialization are obvious daily in the new centers. What we learn about early capitalism when we read Charles Dickens, Emile Zola, Maxim Gorky and Jack London, we see now again in the new centers.

What the October 2013 shutdown of the US government teaches us are new lessons about what is happening to the increasingly abandoned old centers of capitalism. Similar lessons flow from the long, painful economic crises now besetting western Europe and Japan. In simplest terms, these old centers of capitalism are suffering the effects of capitalism’s withdrawal.

The causes of withdrawal are well known. In the century before 1970, it became quite clear that the long history of class struggles inside the old centers of capitalism had produced a basic compromise. Capitalists retained their nearly total control over enterprise decisions: what to produce, how to produce, where to produce, and what to do with the profits. Employees, in exchange for ceding that control, obtained rising real wages. Over the same period, capitalists reorganized the world economy (via formal and informal colonialisms) to serve as the “hinterland” for the capitalist centers in western Europe, north America, and Japan. That hinterland provided the food, raw materials, migrant laborers and part of the market for those old capitalist centers. Real wages in that hinterland stagnated or fell.

In the 1970s, the gap between real wages in the old capitalist centers and those in the hinterland had become enormous. At the same time, the development of jet engines and modern telecommunications opened new opportunities for capitalists in the old centers. Their response is transforming the world. Those capitalists realized that they could manage production and distribution facilities almost anywhere in the world as easily as before they had managed facilities within their town, cities, and countries. The more competitive among them moved quickly to take advantage of the much lower real wages in the hinterland by moving old facilities or establishing new facilities there. The laggards are quickly following to avoid competitive destruction. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://rdwolff.com/content/us-political-dysfunction-and-capitalism%E2%80%99s-withdrawal



Want a New Law? If You’re the Banking Industry, Just Write It Yourself


via truthdig:


Want a New Law? If You’re the Banking Industry, Just Write It Yourself
Posted on Oct 30, 2013


The folks at MapLight, which traces the connections between money and policy, have a disturbingly clear report this week tracking the role the banking industry played in pushing a measure the House is considering that would water down a section of the Dodd-Frank Act covering how banks operate.

In fact, “pushing” understates it. According to The New York Times, the law was largely written by Citigroup’s banking lobbyists—which is like letting the fox tell you which chickens he wants to steal. The Times notes:

In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

The lobbying campaign shows how, three years after Congress passed the most comprehensive overhaul of regulation since the Depression, Wall Street is finding Washington a friendlier place.

The cordial relations now include a growing number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, whose support the banks need if they want to roll back parts of the 2010 financial overhaul, known as Dodd-Frank.

This legislative push is a second front, with Wall Street’s other battle being waged against regulators who are drafting detailed rules allowing them to enforce the law.


That article ran in May. This week, MapLight reports ahead of the vote that the banking industry and other supporters gave $22.4 million in campaign contributions while labor unions and consumer groups opposing the measure donated $3.9 million. The biggest benefactor? Speaker of the House John Boehner, who received $917,500 in contributions from the bill’s supporters. Boehner, of course, is the keeper of the switch deciding which legislation gets to the floor for a vote. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/want_a_new_law_if_youre_the_banking_industry_just_write_it_yourself



Amy Goodman: The Rising Resistance to Obama’s Drone Wars


from truthdig:


The Rising Resistance to Obama’s Drone Wars

Posted on Oct 30, 2013
By Amy Goodman


“I wasn’t scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, ‘Will I be next?’” That is the question asked by 8-year-old Nabila Rehman, from northwest Pakistan. She was injured in a drone attack a year ago, in her small village of Ghundi Kala. She saw her grandmother, Mamana Bibi, blown to pieces in the strike. Her brother Zubair also was injured. Their case has become the latest to draw attention to the controversial targeted killing program that has become central to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and global war-making.

“We really just have a very simple message to the U.S.: How do you justify killing a grandmother? How does that make anyone safer?” Mustafa Qadri posed the question on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Qadri authored a new Amnesty International report titled “‘Will I Be Next?’ U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan.”

Nabila and Zubair are unique among the growing number of drone-strike victims: They were able to appear before Congress, along with their father, Rafiq ur Rehman, to testify about the strike and the devastation it brought to their family. They are featured in a new documentary being released for free on the Internet this week, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” by Brave New Films. In it, Rafiq, a primary-school teacher, describes that day:

“People enjoyed life before the attacks. It was 2:45 on October 24th of 2012. After school finished I went into town to buy school supplies.” When he returned home, they told him his mother was dead. There was a crater where her garden was. She was picking okra with the children. “That’s where my mother was killed,” Rafiq continues. “My family has been destroyed since my mother was killed.” Nine children in all were injured, as this drone strike fit a typical pattern, with one initial strike, followed closely by another to hit the rescuers. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_rising_resistance_to_obamas_drone_wars_20131030



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