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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
July 31, 2012

Chris Hedges on Capitalism's sacrifice zones, resistance and disintegrating societies

Chris Hedges speaks in Guelph, Ontario at a Bookshelf event July 8, 2012.

July 31, 2012

Paul B. Farrell: The Real Crash is dead ahead as 2008 is forgotten

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “Facebook will become the poster child for the current social-media bubble,” warns economist Gary Shilling in his latest Forbes column, “just as Pets.com was for the dot-com bubble.” Yes, Wall Street is repeating the 2000 dot-com crash as today’s social-media bubble crashes and burns.

Think history folks: Remember 2000-2002? The economy suffered a 30-month recession and a brutal bear market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 11,722, then crashed, losing over 4,000 points dropping below 7,500, down more than 43%, with massive losses of more than $8 trillion in market cap.

But it gets worse: Shilling’s bluntly warning: “If we aren’t already in a recession, we’re getting very close.” Yes, he’s more reserved than Nobel economist Paul Krugman, whose latest book goes beyond hinting that the America economy is repeating the 2000-2002 recession, His title says it all: “End This Depression Now!”

But the scariest fact is that America’s warring politicians, CEOs and Super Rich can’t even see the obvious link between the 2012 social-media bubble and the 2008 Wall Street credit bubble that nearly bankrupt our monetary system and forced Congress and the Fed into bailing out our too-big-to-manage banks to an estimated $29.7 trillion in cash, credits, cheap money loans and debt relief. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-real-crash-is-dead-ahead-as-2008-is-forgotten-2012-07-31

July 31, 2012

Keiser Report: Troika of Fraud: Media, Wall St. & Govt

Published on Jul 30, 2012 by RussiaToday

In this episode, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the virtual virtual economy getting hit by a dustbowl and there are no gully washers or toad stranglers on the horizon to bring reliefe; meanwhile out in the virtual real economy it's all the bath-salts and beer you can drink and scalps for sale in California as eminent domain falls into the hands of private bankers
July 30, 2012

Dean Baker: The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare

Published on Monday, July 30, 2012 by Common Dreams
The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare

by Dean Baker

Many people are following the presidential election closely with the idea that the outcome will have a major impact on national policy. However, according to Steven Pearlstein, a veteran Washington Post columnist and reporter, it may not matter who wins the election. In a column last week, Pearlstein told readers that the top executives of some of the country's largest companies are getting together to craft a budget package that they will try to push through Congress and get the president to sign.

While Pearlstein clearly sees these backroom meetings of corporate chieftains in positive terms (he refers to them as "grown-ups" who have been noticeably absent from the conversation about the budget), the rest of us might view this plotting a bit differently. As Pearlstein openly acknowledges, this corporate coup is an end-run around the electorate. As corrupt as the political process may have become, at least we will get a vote in the election. Pearlstein's plotters are not inviting the rest of us into the conversation.

Many of the same folks who brought the economy to ruin just a few years ago are now going to come up with a plan that is supposed to set the budget and the economy on a forward path. At the center of their proposal are big cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

The most popular Social Security cut among this gang is a reduction in the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by 0.3 percentage points. They are betting that ordinary people are too dumb to notice this cut since it is a relatively small amount each year. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/07/30-11

July 30, 2012

The unexpected hazards of riding a roller coaster


JACKSON, N.J. (The Asbury Park Press NJ) - A bird crashed into the face of a person at Six Flags Great Adventure who was riding the Kingda Ka roller coaster on Thursday.

The person, who was identified only as a juvenile male, suffered minor injuries to the face and neck and was taken to an area hospital for treatment, according to Six Flags spokeswoman Kristin Siebeneicher.

Kingda Ka is 45 stories high and its trains reach speeds as high as 128 miles per hour, according to Great Adventure's website.

The collision happened about 4:45 p.m. on the train's return to the station near a hill in the track, Siebeneicher wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
July 30, 2012

Be Not Fooled, Insurance Companies Still Gaming the System

Published on Monday, July 30, 2012 by Common Dreams
Be Not Fooled, Insurance Companies Still Gaming the System

by Donna Smith

Has your insurance company called you recently to ask you to sign up for a wellness or disease management program? Has that same company told you it’s a free service to policyholders and promised you that they do not share the information with the departments and people who administer your benefits and claims? You – like me and millions of other Americans – are being scammed.

Follow the money, my friends, and do not believe for one minute that the same company that would deny medications, health treatments and care to you would suddenly have your best interests at heart. It’s the money. It’s always been the money.

As soon as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed, we were all told that the insurance companies finally would have to spend more of the premium dollars they collect on actual healthcare. Read the nitty-gritty details here.

In short, The Kaiser Family Foundation writes, “The provision requires most insurance companies that cover individuals and small businesses to spend at least 80% of their premium dollars on health care (i.e. medical claims) and quality improvement, leaving no more than 20% for administration, marketing, and profit. Large group plans must spend at least 85 percent of premium dollars on health care. Insurers failing to meet these standards will have to pay rebates to consumers beginning later this year.” .........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/07/30-3

July 30, 2012

Distracted pedestrians stumble into danger

WASHINGTON — A young man talking on a cellphone meanders along the edge of a lonely train platform at night. Suddenly he stumbles, loses his balance and pitches over the side, landing head first on the tracks.

Fortunately there were no trains approaching the Philadelphia-area station at that moment, because it took the man several minutes to recover enough to climb out of danger. But the incident, captured last year by a security camera and provided to The Associated Press, underscores the risks of what government officials and safety experts say is a growing problem: distracted walking.

On city streets, in suburban parking lots and in shopping centers, there is usually someone strolling while talking on a phone, texting with his head down, listening to music, or playing a video game. The problem isn't as widely discussed as distracted driving, but the danger is real.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported. There has been a spike in pedestrians killed and injured in traffic accidents, but there is no reliable data on how many were distracted by electronics. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20120730/US.Distracted.Walking/

July 30, 2012

Dark Knight Rises ...... and falls

USA Today, via Detroit Free Press:

"The Dark Knight Rises" is sinking -- fast.

Despite an easy No. 1 over weak competition this weekend at theaters, the third chapter of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is fading faster than analysts expected, still overshadowed by last week's slaying of 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colo.

The film did $64.1 million, bringing the final chapter's 10-day haul to $289.1 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.

While the haul is sizable, analysts say the movie is unlikely to come near the grosses of 2008's "The Dark Knight," which did $533 million. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20120730/ENT01/120730017/-Dark-Knight-Rises-sinks-after-tragedy?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

July 30, 2012

Itís 2012. Do you know where your 10 billion pounds of beef are?

from Grist:

It’s 2012. Do you know where your 10 billion pounds of beef are?
By Philip Bump

While you’re out and about this weekend, keep your eyes open. It seems that the Department of Agriculture is missing some beef.

In its July 2012 Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Update, the US Department of Agriculture announced some revisions to previous statistics, including a huge downward revision to 2011 beef production stats from 36,195 million pounds to just 26,195 million.

(Here’s the actual report.) So, you know, just 10,000 million pounds less than they’d reported. 10 billion pounds. Three-quarters of the weight of the pyramids at Giza, in case you count your beef in pyramids.

I called the USDA to see if someone could explain a discrepancy of 40 percent from the actual value. I was unable to reach anyone, after trying four different offices. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/news/its-2012-do-you-know-where-your-10-billion-pounds-of-beef-are/

July 30, 2012

Chris Hedges: The Perversion of Scholarship

from truthdig:

The Perversion of Scholarship

Posted on Jul 30, 2012
By Chris Hedges

Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.

There is probably no more inhospitable place to be an intellectual, or a person of color or a member of the LGBT community, than on the campuses of the Big Ten Conference colleges, although the poison of this bizarre American obsession has infected innumerable schools. These environments are distinctly corporate. To get ahead one must get along. The student is implicitly told his or her self-worth and fulfillment are found in crowds, in mass emotions, rather than individual transcendence. Those who do not pay deference to the celebration of force, wealth and power become freaks. It is a war on knowledge in the name of knowledge.

“Knowledge,” as C. Wright Mills wrote in “The Power Elite,” “is no longer widely felt as an ideal; it is seen as an instrument. In a society of power and wealth, knowledge is valued as an instrument of power and wealth, and also, of course, as an ornament in conversation.”

There are few university presidents or faculty members willing to fight back. Most presidents are overcompensated fundraisers licking the boots of every millionaire who arrives on campus. They are like court eunuchs. They cater to the demands of the hedge fund managers and financial speculators on their trustee boards, half of whom should be in jail, and most of whom revel in this collective self-worship. And they do not cross the football coach, who not only earns more than they do but has much more power on the campus. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_perversion_of_scholarship_20120730/

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