Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rick Perlstein: The March on Washington in Historical Context

Next week, as no one will be allowed to forget, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the August 28, 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom. In a country in which ignoring history is just about the national pastime, somehow this event—what it was like, and what it accomplished—is remembered indelibly. But here is what we have forgotten: how the event was thought about before it happened. In a way, the contrast between how the March on Washington was envisioned by most Americans on August 27, and how it was recalled on August 29, was its greatest accomplishment of all—the reason it became one of history’s hinges.

How to Be More than a Mindful Consumer

The way we make and use stuff is harming the world—and ourselves. To create a system that works, we can't just use our purchasing power. We must turn it into citizen power. 

by Annie Leonard

Since I released "The Story of Stuff" six years ago, the most frequent snarky remark I get from people trying to take me down a notch is about my own stuff: Don't you drive a car? What about your computer and your cellphone? What about your books? (To the last one, I answer that the book was printed on paper made from trash, not trees, but that doesn't stop them from smiling smugly at having exposed me as a materialistic hypocrite. Gotcha!)

Let me say it clearly: I'm neither for nor against stuff. I like stuff if it's well-made, honestly marketed, used for a long time, and at the end of its life recycled in a way that doesn't trash the planet, poison people, or exploit workers. Our stuff should not be artifacts of indulgence and disposability, like toys that are forgotten 15 minutes after the wrapping comes off, but things that are both practical and meaningful. British philosopher William Morris said it best: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

Plutocrats' New Pitch: Let Us Rob You Now So You Can Plan Ahead for Poverty

By Lynn Stuart Parramore

So I thought I’d oblige them, what the heck.

Judging from the shrill headline in their mailing [full text here [4]], these men (and a token woman or two) wish to sell me on the idea of “Social Security Reform and the Cost of Delay.”

The cost of delay? Boys, I hear you on that. Any delay in ripping me off must be very costly — for you.

Can we save our urban water systems?

New Rochelle, NY, August 15, 2013—Existing urban water systems are at the end of their design lifetimes. New, innovative solutions are needed, and these must combine technology and engineering with an understanding of social systems and institutions. The current issue of Environmental Engineering Science, the Official Journal of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, focuses on Re-inventing Urban Water Systems. Of particular note is an insightful article that presents the challenges and opportunities facing urban water system innovation, available free on the Environmental Engineering Science website.

Paul Krugman: Those Not-So-Good Old Days

In an online article for New York magazine, the commentator Jonathan Chait mocked Robert Samuelson for his recent column in The Washington Post lamenting the rise of the Internet. I don’t especially want to pile on, but this is an occasion to say something about my own perceptions of how the Web has changed journalism.

Now, obviously the Internet is causing big commercial problems for news organizations. And that is a real problem; someone does have to do basic reporting, which means that someone else has to pay the bills. But that will have to be the subject of another post one of these days.

Larry Summers Decided to 'Take Off the Gloves' in Fed Chair Campaign

Allie Jones, Aug 21, 2013

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who has been hanging out in Cape Cod all summer, did not want to campaign for Federal Reserve chair at first. According to The Washington Post's Zachary A. Goldfarb, Summers told his friends "no lobbying" when his name was first batted around to replace Ben Bernanke. Now, Summers has decided to "take off the gloves," and has instructed friends and former colleagues to counter attacks against him.

Paul Krugman: This Age of Bubbles

So, another BRIC hits the wall. Actually, I’ve never much liked the whole “BRIC” — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — concept: Russia, which is basically a petro-economy, doesn’t belong there at all, and there are large differences among the other three. Still, it’s hard to deny that India, Brazil, and a number of other countries are now experiencing similar problems. And those shared problems define the economic crisis du jour.

What’s going on? It’s a variant on the same old story: investors loved these economies not wisely but too well, and have now turned on the objects of their former affection. A couple years back, Western investors — discouraged by low returns both in the United States and in the noncrisis nations of Europe — began pouring large sums into emerging markets. Now they’ve reversed course. As a result, India’s rupee and Brazil’s real are plunging, along with Indonesia’s rupiah, the South African rand, the Turkish lira, and more.

Why Can’t Democracy Trump Inequality?

Sam Pizzigati

Fifty years ago, average Americans lived in a society that had been growing — and had become — much more equal. In 1963, of every $100 in personal income, less than $10 went to the nation’s richest 1 percent.

Americans today live in a land much more unequal. The nation’s top 1 percent are taking just under 20 percent of America’s income, double the 1963 level.

But no Americans, in all the years since 1963, have ever voted for doubling the income share of America’s most affluent. No candidates, in all those years, have ever campaigned on a platform that called for enriching the already rich.

The More Likely Reason for Spying: It's For Protecting the Profits of the Oligarchs


Coincidentally, after reading that the world’s last Amazon rainforest is disappearing for oil profits, a review on Matt Damon’s new film “Elysium” appeared on the same page.  It described the earth as gray, barren, little more than a polluted prison for all those not wealthy enough to live on the luxury space station “Elysium,” hovering a short 20-minute shuttle ride above earth. The poor are left to fight in squalid conditions, which is the deplorable situation right now for over half the world’s children. 

Dean Baker: AP Goes Off The Deep End With Deficit Scold David Walker

On Wednesday the Associated Press fielded its entry in the classics in bad reporting on economic policy contest: a profile it did of David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office and also former president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The piece presented everything that Walker said at face value, making no effort to put his scare story in any context nor to verify his assertions.

The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda 

The scariest explanation of all? That the NSA and GCHQ are just showing they don't want to be messed with.

Bruce Schneier | Aug 22 2013, 1:01 PM ET

Last Sunday, David Miranda was detained while changing planes at London Heathrow Airport by British authorities for nine hours under a controversial British law -- the maximum time allowable without making an arrest. There has been much made of the fact that he's the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter whom Edward Snowden trusted with many of his NSA documents and the most prolific reporter of the surveillance abuses disclosed in those documents. There's less discussion of what I feel was the real reason for Miranda's detention. He was ferrying documents between Greenwald and Laura Poitras, a filmmaker and his co-reporter on Snowden and his information. These document were on several USB memory sticks he had with him. He had already carried documents from Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro to Poitras in Berlin, and was on his way back with different documents when he was detained.

The DOJ Has Corrupted the Rule of Law by Not Prosecuting Wall Street Financial Looters


Journalist and scholarly muse Thomas Frank noted in a recent e-mail to colleagues,

September 15 will mark five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the official beginning of the slump that never ends. It was a moment that smashed the faith of millions of people. And so it’s time for a look back: What did the nation learn from that moment of complete disillusionment?

Well, basically nothing. We came to the turning point and didn’t turn.

US Economic Policy: Keeping Wages Flat Since 1979 

Pro-worker policies have been under attack for a generation, but the last decade has been simply devastating, says report

- Jon Queally, staff writer 
In the United States of America the rich get richer, the poor stay poor, and the middle class—if they're lucky—just stay "flat".

For the last tens years, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, the failure of the economy to provide a living wage to a majority of its workers has created a decade of stagnation.

From Spying on "Terrorists Abroad" to Suppressing Domestic Dissent: When We Become the Hunted

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00  
By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview 

If you're wondering why the ongoing revelations about the development and use of a massive public and private surveillance complex should be of concern to you, read what Michael German, senior policy counsel for the ACLU (and former FBI agent), says about the new book, Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance:
Heidi Boghosian's 'Spying on Democracy' is the answer to the question, 'If you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care if someone's watching you?' It's chock full of stories about how innocent people's lives were turned upside-down by public and private-sector surveillance programs. But more importantly, it shows how this unrestrained spying is inevitably used to suppress the most essential tools of democracy: the press, political activists, civil rights advocates and conscientious insiders who blow the whistle on corporate malfeasance and government abuse.
Truthout recently spoke with Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, about the ever-expanding government/corporate surveillance state.

It’ll Take More Than an Apocalypse to Unseat House Republicans

By Jonathan Chait

There is a morally intuitive connection between crime and punishment that is leading many people in Washington to speculate that the dysfunction of the Republican House could cost the party in the midterm elections. If House Republicans are preventing any alternative to terribly designed budget sequestration, blocking agreement on immigration reform, and threatening fiscal and economic crises in order to posture against Obamacare, the fair and rational thing would be for voters to punish them. Such ideologically diverse analysts as Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, Byron York, and Ruy Teixeira have all floated variations of this possibility.

Unfortunately, life isn’t fair or rational.

The Deep State, the Permanent Campaign, and the Frayed Fabric of American Democracy

By James Fallows

Obviously I consider yesterday's Senate developments to be (modestly) good news. The McConnell-era Republican minority had finally over-reached in subjecting Barack Obama to a burden no other president has faced: routine filibuster blockage of his own executive-branch appointees and attempted de-facto nullification of several agencies. The Reid-era Democratic majority finally decided to draw the line. When they stuck together, with their 51+ votes, McConnell and his minority backed down. [Fake ad from Daily Kos.] 

So we have returned, for our 44th president, to some of the rules that applied for presidents #1 through #43. That this counts as a "breakthrough" is really a reminder of how far things have devolved. I refer you to my main theme, laid out in detail in dispatches like these (onetwothree): that America has almost everything working in its favor, except for the increasingly flawed structure of our governing institutions.

The Snowden Effect, Continued

Scott Walker's War Against Free Speech Escalates: Elected Official, News Editor Arrested in WI

In a nation already at war with itself...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2013, 1:57pm PT 
By now, you've certainly heard of the outrageous 9-hour detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport under Great Britain's supposed "Terrorism Act" over the weekend. As Rachel Maddow amazingly, but justifiably, found it necessary to point out loudly last night, "journalism is not terrorism", and both the British government and U.S. government (which has admitted receiving a "heads-up" about the planned detention by British authorities in advance, but didn't stop it from happening) should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable for the outrage.

Paul Krugman: One Reform, Indivisible

Recent political reporting suggests that Republican leaders are in a state of high anxiety, trapped between an angry base that still views Obamacare as the moral equivalent of slavery and the reality that health reform is the law of the land and is going to happen.

But those leaders don’t deserve any sympathy. For one thing, that irrational base is a Frankenstein monster of their own creation. Beyond that, everything I’ve seen indicates that members of the Republican elite still don’t get the basics of health reform — and that this lack of understanding is in the process of turning into a major political liability.

NAFTA on Steroids: The TransPacific Partnership and Global Neoliberalism

Monday, 19 August 2013 09:23
By Cliff DuRand, Truthout | News Analysis

A world without democracy, ruled by a technocratic elite serving the interests of US and global capital - protecting "investor rights" against national laws and regulations - is now being created in secret negotiations over free-trade treaties, one of which, the TransPacific Parnership (TPP), may be sewn up this fall. Can popular will stop it?

For four decades now, we have seen corporate-led neoliberal globalization transforming nation-states into globalized states that serve the interests of transnational capital above the interests of national populations. This tendency has been strong in states both of the global North and of the global South. Everywhere sovereignty is being compromised. The ideal political system most suitable for such globalized states is polyarchy, since it legitimates relatively autonomous elite rule. However, even in such a managed "democracy," there are moments when elites can be made accountable to national populations through the struggles of social movements. Occupy Wall Street was the beginning of such a social movement.

Study finds cost of future flood losses in major coastal cities could be over $50 billion by 2050

Climate change combined with rapid population increases, economic growth and land subsidence could lead to a more than nine-fold increase in the global risk of floods in large port cities between now and 2050.

'Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities', published in Nature Climate Change, is part of an ongoing project by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to explore the policy implications of flood risks due to climate change and economic development. This study builds on past OECD work which ranked global port cities on the basis of current and future exposure, where exposure is the maximum number of people or assets that could be affected by a flood.

Don’t Get Complacent About Social Security. They Still Want to Cut It.

Richard Eskow

In every successful struggle there’s a time to celebrate a hard-fought victory. When it comes to Social Security, this is not that time.

It’s true that, after including the “chained CPI” benefit cut in his latest budget, President Obama seems to have dropped the idea. And it’s true there’s no talk of a “grand bargain” on the horizon.  But it would still be a serious mistake to become complacent about Social Security.

Multinationals Are Plotting to Steamroll What's Left of Our Democracy to Make Huge Profits

By Dave Johnson

Scott Walker Goes All 1798: Arrests Elected Official, Editor in Wisconsin

Social Security Is the Only Reason Most Americans Can Afford to Retire

By Ross Eisenbrey | August 14, 2013

As we celebrate the 78th birthday of Social Security today, it’s worth noting the vital role the program continues to play in Americans’ retirement security. Though Americans are increasingly turning to savings in 401(k)-type accounts, Social Security remains the most reliable and equitable system of retirement savings. The expected stream of Social Security benefits for a household at the median is not very much less than for a household in the top 10 percent—in 2008, the median household age 65-69 had $315,300 of Social Security wealth, while a household at the 90th percentile had $643,100, a little more than twice as much.1

New IPCC Report: Climatologists More Certain Global Warming Is Caused By Humans, Impacts Are Speeding Up

By Joe Romm on August 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

The Fifth — and hopefully final — Assessment Report (AR5) from the UN Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) is due next month. The leaks are already here:
Drafts seen by Reuters of the study by the UN panel of experts, due to be published next month, say it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities – chiefly the burning of fossil fuels – are the main cause of warming since the 1950s.
That is up from at least 90 percent in the last report in 2007, 66 percent in 2001, and just over 50 in 1995, steadily squeezing out the arguments by a small minority of scientists that natural variations in the climate might be to blame.

Government Agents Went to the Guardian Offices and Oversaw Smashing of Hard Drives to Erase Snowden Files 

By Alex Kane

Rusbridger described [3]various attempts at intimidation that the British government made before he agreed to finally destroy the hard drives. In an interview with the BBC [4], Rusbridger explained that "given that there were other copies and we could work out of America, which has better laws to protect journalists, I saw no reason not to destroy this material ourselves rather than hand it back to the government." Rusbridger said that the alternative to destroying the hard drives--a move forced by the government--was a court case with little prospect of winning.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chomsky: The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy, But You'll Never Hear About It in Our 'Free Press'

In a powerful speech, Chomsky lays out how the majority of US policies are practically opposite of what wide swathes of the public wants. 
August 15, 2013  |  The following is a transcript of a recent speech delivered Noam Chomsky in Bonn, Germany, at DW Global Media Forum, Bonn, Germany. You can read more speeches by Chomsky here.

I'd like to comment on topics that I think should regularly be on the front pages but are not - and in many crucial cases are scarcely mentioned at all or are presented in ways that seem to me deceptive because they're framed almost reflexively in terms of doctrines of the powerful.

In these comments I'll focus primarily on the United States for several reasons: One, it's the most important country in terms of its power and influence. Second, it's the most advanced - not in its inherent character, but in the sense that because of its power, other societies tend to move in that direction. The third reason is just that I know it better. But I think what I say generalizes much more widely - at least to my knowledge, obviously there are some variations. So I'll be concerned then with tendencies in American society and what they portend for the world, given American power.

Ralph Nader: Paul Volcker’s Latest Hurrah

When towering Paul Volcker speaks, people tend to listen. Formerly the no-nonsense chairman of the Federal Reserve, he proposed measures after the Wall Street crash of 2008 to deal with the “too big to fail” intimidations of the giant banks. With fewer gigantic banks after the Crash, Congress and Obama listened, in some measure, to his ideas for reforms and enacted the so-called Volcker amendment.

Now at age 85, Volcker has launched the Volcker Alliance to improve public administration and implementation of policies and by doing so advance the public interest to improve protections and services for the people. Public trust means more people will participate in governmental decisions and hold government officials responsive and accountable.

How False History Props Up the Right

August 17, 2013

Exclusive: The Right’s policy nostrums are failing across the board – from free-market extremism to austerity as a cure for recession to continuing the old health-care dysfunction – leaving only an ideological faith that this is what the Framers wanted. But that right-wing “history” is just one more illusion, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

There is a logical way to think about governance – one that was shared by the key Framers of the U.S. Constitution – that the federal government should have sufficient authority to do what is necessary to fulfill the goals that the document laid out about promoting the general welfare and protecting the nation.

Put differently, the actual “originalist” thinking behind the Constitution was what might be called “pragmatic nationalism,” not what today’s Right tries to pretend it was, an ideological commitment to a tightly constrained federal government hemmed in by a strong system of “states’ rights.”

US Arms Industry Would Lose Big from Egypt Aid Cut-Off

by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS- The United States, which has refused to cut off its hefty 1.3 billion dollars in annual military aid to Egypt, continues to argue that depriving arms to the 438,500-strong security forces will only “destabilise” the crisis-ridden country.

There is perhaps a more significant – but undisclosed – reason for sustaining military aid flows to Egypt: protecting U.S. defence contractors.

Companies Quietly Fracking Off California Coast For Decades, Regulators To Zoom In

ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 15, 2013, 7:49 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California regulators on Thursday were set to take up offshore fracking after revelations that the practice had quietly occurred off the coast since the late 1990s.

The California Coastal Commission added the issue at the last minute to its agenda during its monthly meeting. A recent report by The Associated Press documented at least a dozen instances of hydraulic fracturing in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a disastrous 1969 oil spill that spurred the modern environmental movement. Federal regulators earlier this year approved a new project that has yet to begin.

Matt Taibbi: Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal

The federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education - saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy

On May 31st, president Barack Obama strolled into the bright sunlight of the Rose Garden, covered from head to toe in the slime and ooze of the Benghazi and IRS scandals. In a Karl Rove-ian masterstroke, he simply pretended they weren't there and changed the subject.

The topic? Student loans. Unless Congress took action soon, he warned, the relatively low 3.4 percent interest rates on key federal student loans would double. Obama knew the Republicans would make a scene over extending the subsidized loan program, and that he could corner them into looking like obstructionist meanies out to snatch the lollipop of higher education from America's youth. "We cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class," he said sternly, "out of a college education."

Richard Eskow: The "Bankization" of America

August 15, 2013
The share of our national income which goes to corporate profit is the highest it’s been since they started tracking it in 1929, while the share going to people – as salary and wages – is the lowest. And the percentage of that corporate profit which goes to Wall Street is also the highest on record.

We’re becoming a financialized economy. Never before has the manipulation of money counted for so much and the real-world economy of people and consumer goods counted for so little.

And none of it is an accident.

Paul Krugman: Moment of Truthiness

We all know how democracy is supposed to work. Politicians are supposed to campaign on the issues, and an informed public is supposed to cast its votes based on those issues, with some allowance for the politicians’ perceived character and competence.

We also all know that the reality falls far short of the ideal. Voters are often misinformed, and politicians aren’t reliably truthful. Still, we like to imagine that voters generally get it right in the end, and that politicians are eventually held accountable for what they do.

Chris Hedges: Murdering the Wretched of the Earth

Posted on Aug 14, 2013

Radical Islam is the last refuge of the Muslim poor. The mandated five prayers a day give the only real structure to the lives of impoverished believers. The careful rituals of washing before prayers in the mosque, the strict moral code, along with the understanding that life has an ultimate purpose and meaning, keep hundreds of millions of destitute Muslims from despair. The fundamentalist ideology that rises from oppression is rigid and unforgiving. It radically splits the world into black and white, good and evil, apostates and believers. It is bigoted and cruel to women, Jews, Christians and secularists, along with gays and lesbians. But at the same time it offers to those on the very bottom of society a final refuge and hope. The massacres of hundreds of believers in the streets of Cairo signal not only an assault against a religious ideology, not only a return to the brutal police state of Hosni Mubarak, but the start of a holy war that will turn Egypt and other poor regions of the globe into a caldron of blood and suffering. 

You Might Have an Invisible Facebook Account Even if You Never Signed Up

By Austin Krause on August 1, 2013 in News

Previously we covered how to protect your privacy by preventing people from tagging your photos in both Facebook and Picasa. Consider this a follow-up as it looks like Facebook is a bit more involved in privacy intrusions than anyone had previously thought.

In a recent bug fix, Facebook inadvertently revealed that it’s creating dossier-like profiles on its users based on third-party information. This applies even if you never signed up for a Facebook account. But what does that mean exactly?

Paul Krugman: A Frenzy Over the "Female Dollar"

I've spent five years and more watching the inflationphobes, who weren't particularly sensible to begin with, descend into shrill, unholy madness.

They could have reacted to the failure of their predictions — the continued absence of the runaway inflation that they insisted was just around the corner — by stepping back and reconsidering both their model and their recommendations. But no. At best, there has been a proliferation of new reasons to raise interest rates in a depressed economy, with nary an acknowledgment that previous predictions were dead wrong. At worst, there are the new conspiracy theories — we actually have double-digit inflation, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics is spiriting the evidence away in its black helicopters and burying it in Area 51.

Craigslist has cost U.S. newspapers $5 billion

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 14:21 EDT

The online classified service Craigslist has cost US newspapers at least $5 billion in revenue since 2000, researchers say.

The study, to be published in the journal Management Science covering the period 2000 to 2007, found Craigslist has had a huge impact on local US newspapers, which have in the past relied heavily on classifieds.

Anti-homophobia measures reduce binge drinking for all students

Canadian high schools with anti-homophobia policies or gay-straight alliances (GSAs) that have been in place for three years or more have a positive effect on both gay and straight students' problem alcohol use, according to a new study by University of British Columbia researchers.

GSAs are student-led clubs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their straight allies. Their purpose is to provide support and advocacy and help make schools more inclusive.

Dean Baker: N.Y. Times Claims Summers Was Closet Regulation Supporter

August 14, 2013

The supporters of Larry Summers drive to be Fed chair are desperately trying to rewrite history so that this world class champion of financial deregulation was actually a prescient supporter of tighter regulation all along. Exhibit A in this historical rewriting is a report on predatory lending that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Treasury Department put out in 2000, when Summers was Treasury Secretary. The report is featured as an example of Summers’ commitment to regulation in a NYT article comparing Larry Summers’ and Janet Yellen’s record on regulation.

Matt Taibbi: DOJ Compounds Stat Screwup by Whitewashing Old Eric Holder Speech

Courtesy of old friend Paul Thacker, former Hill staffer and currently a fellow at Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, here's an interesting addendum to Bloomberg's highly embarrassing Eric-Holder-Caught-Juking-the-Stats story that came out this Sunday.

It turns out that Barack Obama's Justice Department, in the person of Attorney General Holder, didn't just grossly overstate the success of its Mortgage Fraud Task Force. In what at best is a bonehead mistake, the Department channeled 1984 and whitewashed a web page, re-transcribing an old speech of Holder's to better reflect the "updated" version of the mortgage facts.

Did You Know the Deficit Is Shrinking? Most Americans Don't, Thanks to Shameless Deficit Hawk Propaganda

By Lynn Stuart Parramore

Here are the facts: The U.S. budget deficit has been shrinking at a rapid rate over the last few months. The deficit peaked at 10.2 percent of GDP in 2009, but over the past four quarters, it has shrunk to a mere 4.2 percent of GDP. What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office predicts [4] that the deficit will fall to 2.1 percent of GDP in 2015.

Conservative hostility to science predates climate science

By David Roberts

Climate scientists must not advocate particular policies,” says Tamsin Edwards, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol, thus reigniting for the eleventy-gazillionth time the argument about whether it is advisable for climate scientists to become “advocates.”

I’ve been through this debate so many times that I’ve come to disagree with just about everything everyone says about it, which probably means I should take a vacation. But in the end I just don’t think it matters that much whether climate scientists back particular policies or not. It’s unlikely to make much difference either way.

What Do You Do When You No Longer Need Your Slaves?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 14:28 
By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed 

What does America do when she no longer needs her slaves or surplus workers?

The 1880’s reconstruction era was the first time in our history that America had seen a large surplus of non-white labor.

In the 1870’s many former slaves were integrated into the labor force, but white backlash in the 1880’s and 1890’s led to a permanent underclass through nearly a century of “separate but equal.”

Love and work don't always work for working class in America, study shows

The decline and disappearance of stable, unionized full-time jobs with health insurance and pensions for people who lack a college degree has had profound effects on working-class Americans who now are less likely to get married, stay married and have their children within marriage than those with college degrees, a new University of Virginia and Harvard University study has found.

The research, "Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape," will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City on Aug. 13 at 10:30 a.m.

Thom Hartman: ALEC Is Writing Middle-Class-Destroying Legislation

August 12, 2013

ALEC is holding its annual conference in Chicago, where corporate lobbyists and Conservative lawmakers will get together – have a few drinks – and create more corporate-friendly, middle-class-destroying legislation. At annual ALEC meetings, corporate lobbyists sit down with Conservative lawmakers to craft bills – and then those lawmakers go back to their home states to get those bills passed and signed into law. According to Bloomberg, ALEC gets nearly 200 bills passed every year in state legislatures around the country.

ALEC was founded by men like Paul Weyrich, who infamously once said that he didn’t want everyone to be able to vote. True to form, ALEC‘s recent voter suppression ID laws are spreading from state to state like a bad cold. While ALEC is primarily known for voter suppression ID and Stand Your Ground Shoot-First laws, it’s reach goes much farther. The Conservative organization is well known for promoting voucher programs that drain public schools of resources by using taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school profits. ALEC also uses its “model legislation” to push laws that to limit union rights and organized labor – primarily through so-called “right to work” laws.

Paul Krugman: When a Political Party Goes Off the Deep End

Is writing economic/political commentary like writing detective stories?

In some ways, I think, it is; certainly I have always taken to heart some passages in Raymond Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder," especially the passage in which he distinguishes between the inherent importance of themes and the extent to which they are a good subject for writers: "Other things being equal, which they never are, a more powerful theme will provoke a more powerful performance. Yet some very dull books have been written about God, and some very fine ones about how to make a living and stay fairly honest."

Stiglitz and Other Heavyweight Champion Economists in Epic Battle Over Austerity Policies That Devastate Millions

By William K. Black

The personalities involved have a great deal to do with the feud, but as Paul Krugman wrote on May 23, 2013, “It’s Not About You [4].”

Dean Baker: The Smart Boys: Larry Summers and Jeff Bezos

Monday, 12 August 2013 09:52 

The news in the last couple of weeks has had endless references to two people who we have been repeatedly told are brilliant: former Treasury Secretary and top Obama advisor Larry Summers and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The paeans to the genius of both men say a great deal about the quality of public debate in elite circles.

Larry Summers has been in the news because President Obama told a number of reporters of his desire to have Summers replace current Federal Reserve Board chair Ben Bernanke when his term ends in January. This caught many by surprise, since Janet Yellen seemed the obvious pick for this position.

Debunking the Minimum Wage Myth: Higher Wages Will Not Reduce Jobs

Aug 7, 2013    Emily Chong

As fast food workers strike across the nation, progressives must separate fact from fiction in order to secure a living minimum wage.

Fast food workers are going on strike from New York to Seattle to demand higher wages, highlighting the never-ending controversy over the consequences of raising the minimum wage. Many news stories seem to suggest that economists have decided a higher minimum wage will cause job loss. However, with more analysis, we undercover the truth: there is no clear link between a higher minimum wage and reduced employment.

In defense of the 30-year mortgage

By Mike Konczal, Updated: August 10, 2013

When writers are forced to discuss the complicated world of housing reform, as they have had to do after President Obama’s recent housing speech, they usually rush to one of two meta-conversations.

The first is whether or not we emphasize homeownership too much, and whether we should encourage more people to rent.

The second is whether or not the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which President Obama and many approaches to Fannie/Freddie reform want to preserve, is a luxury, and a subsidy not worth preserving after the crisis.

Paul Krugman: Milton Friedman, Unperson

Recently Senator Rand Paul, potential presidential candidate and self-proclaimed expert on monetary issues, sat down for an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. It didn’t go too well. For example, Mr. Paul talked about America running “a trillion-dollar deficit every year”; actually, the deficit is projected to be only $642 billion in 2013, and it’s falling fast.

But the most interesting moment may have been when Mr. Paul was asked whom he would choose, ideally, to head the Federal Reserve and he suggested Milton Friedman — “he’s not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have.” The interviewer then gently informed him that Friedman — who would have been 101 years old if he were still alive — is, in fact, dead. O.K., said Mr. Paul, “Let’s just go with dead, because then you probably really wouldn’t have much of a< functioning Federal Reserve.”

Your Mortgage Documents Are Fake!

Prepare to be outraged. Newly obtained filings from this Florida woman's lawsuit uncover horrifying scheme (Update)

By David Dayen

If you know about foreclosure fraud, the mass fabrication of mortgage documents in state courts by banks attempting to foreclose on homeowners, you may have one nagging question: Why did banks have to resort to this illegal scheme? Was it just cheaper to mock up the documents than to provide the real ones? Did banks figure they simply had enough power over regulators, politicians and the courts to get away with it? (They were probably right about that one.)

A newly unsealed lawsuit, which banks settled in 2012 for $95 million, actually offers a different reason, providing a key answer to one of the persistent riddles of the financial crisis and its aftermath. The lawsuit states that banks resorted to fake documents because they could not legally establish true ownership of the loans when trying to foreclose.

Why Are the Greek People Agreeing to Their Own Destruction?

Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00  
By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout | Interview 

In his career as an investigative journalist, economist, and bestselling author - Vultures' Picnic, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy - Greg Palast has not been afraid to tackle some of the most powerful names in politics and finance. From uncovering Katherine Harris' purge of African-American voters from Florida's voter rolls in the year 2000 to revealing the truth behind the "assistance" provided by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to ailing economies, Palast has not held back in revealing the corruption and criminal actions of the wealthy and powerful. In a recent interview on Dialogos Radio, Palast turned his attention to Greece and to the austerity policies that have been imposed on the country by the IMF, the European Union, and the European Central Bank.

Smart enough to know better: Intelligence is not a remedy for racism

NEW YORK CITY — Smart people are just as racist as their less intelligent peers — they're just better at concealing their prejudice, according to a University of Michigan study.

"High-ability whites are less likely to report prejudiced attitudes and more likely to say they support racial integration in principle," said Geoffrey Wodtke, a doctoral candidate in sociology. "But they are no more likely than lower-ability whites to support open housing laws and are less likely to support school busing and affirmative action programs."

The Problem with 401(k) Plans

By James Kwak

Apparently my former professor Ian Ayres has made a lot of people upset, at least judging by the Wall Street Journal article about him (and co-author Quinn Curtis) and indignant responses like this one from various interested parties. What Ayres and Curtis did was point out the losses that investors in 401(k) plans incur because of high fees charged at the plan level and high fees charged by individual mutual funds in those plans. The people who should be upset are the employees who are forced to invest in those plans (or lose out on the tax benefits associated with 401(k) plans.)

Gaius Publius: IRS is using NSA data now too. Who in town isn’t?

8/9/2013 11:10am

This is no longer an NSA data, or DEA data story. It’s a federal, state and local government data-trafficking story. Your Google-collected, Verizon-collected data seems to very broadly available. How broadly? Way more than you thought. Read on for the grizzly details.

We recently reported, along with others, on how the DEA has been getting data from the NSA to aid in their “war on drugs” — then getting prosecutors and cops (DEA and otherwise) to cover up the source of their tips to protect their ability to prosecute.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Global Power Project, Part 9: Global Power Project, Part 9: Banking on Influence With Morgan Stanley

Friday, 09 August 2013 10:18
By Andrew Gavin Marshall, Occupy.com | News Analysis

Morgan Stanley, one of the largest banks in the United States, reported a 66% increase in earnings in July over the same period last year. Morgan Stanley had taken more than $107 billion of U.S. taxpayer money through the bailout programs in the wake of the financial crisis that it helped to create, making it the largest U.S. recipient of bailout funds.

Like the other big banks, Morgan Stanley had been busy paying settlements for the massive criminal fraud conspiracies it engaged in, particularly related to the housing crisis. In 2011, the banks came to a $40 million settlement with the state of Nevada over mortgage fraud.

Dean Baker: Fiddling with Fannie and Freddie Only Sets Us Up for Another Crash

Best leave the mortgage market in government control or abolish Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entirely and let moral hazard rule
President Obama's announcement of his plans for a restructured mortgage market was painful for those who remember the bubble and crash. It seems as though he learned nothing from this disaster.

The key problem in the bubble years was the ability of private actors to profit by taking huge risks in issuing and securitizing bad mortgages, while handing the downside risk to taxpayers. This was the story with Countrywide, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the rest.

It was also the story with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their prior incarnation, before the collapse of the bubble sent them into conservatorship. The pre-conservatorship Fannie and Freddie were run as for-profit companies. Their top executives made Wall Street-type salaries, pocketing tens of millions of dollars a year.


Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?

by Sarah Stillman
August 12, 2013

On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”

They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.

Dean Baker: Glass-Steagall Now: Because the Banks Own Washington

August 8, 2013
A bipartisan group of senators recently put forward a proposal for new Glass-Steagall legislation that would restore a strict separation between commercial banks and speculative trading. Anyone familiar with the ways of Washington knows that such legislation is badly needed. It is the only way to prevent the Wall Street gang from continuing to rip off the public and subjecting the rest of us to the risks of their speculation.

The idea of the original Glass Steagall was to create two completely distinct types of banks. On the one hand there would be the standard commercial banks with which most of us are familiar. These are the banks where people have checking and savings accounts and where they might go to take out a mortgage or small business loan.

The Horrific Specter of the "Post-Fleming Amendment" Fundamentalist Christian Military

Posted by Mikey Weinstein

From its inception, our American republic has been a melting pot among nations. Citizens originating from every region of the world, from every religious background and no religious background, and from every ethnicity have sought to make a living for themselves and their families within our borders. This cultural and ethnic alloy has only been made possible by the foundational protections established within our Constitution, its construing federal and state case law, and the subordinate laws serving to uphold it. Recently, a perversion of the sacrosanct principle of freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution has found its way to Congress through the evil bigotry of a repugnant Christian fundamentalist carpetbagger and Congressman by the name of John Fleming [2] (R-LA 4th).

The Constitutionally-derelict Rep. Fleming believes that any way to abridge the ability of servicemembers to express their deeply-held religious convictions somehow constitutes a conspiratorial "threat" to their rights of free speech. At first glance, his Religious Liberty Amendment [3] to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 would seem innocuous enough. In actual practice, however, the bill would give carte blanche to those who would wreak havoc on the morale, good order, and discipline of U.S. servicemembers who faithfully serve in the United States armed forces. What Fleming's amendment would do is add any type of "actions and speech" to the protected religious freedoms of servicemembers, thus rendering commanders all but helpless to stop potential problems until such actions or speech reach the point that they "actually harm" (a euphemistic phrase for “irreparably damage”) good order and discipline.

Paul Krugman: Phony Fear Factor

We live in a golden age of economic debunkery; fallacious doctrines have been dropping like flies. No,
monetary expansion needn’t cause hyperinflation. No, budget deficits in a depressed economy don’t cause soaring interest rates. No, slashing spending doesn’t create jobs. No, economic growth doesn’t collapse when debt exceeds 90 percent of G.D.P.

And now the latest myth bites the dust: No, “economic policy uncertainty” — created, it goes without
saying, by That Man in the White House — isn’t holding back the recovery.

I’ll get to the doctrine and its refutation in a minute. First, however, I want to recommend a very old essay that explains a great deal about the times we live in.

Secrecy Has Already Corroded Our Democracy in Real Ways

By Conor Friedersdorf

This summer, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, an author and longtime champion of the Patriot Act, emerged as one of the most concerned voices arguing that the law is being used to violate the rights of Americans. A letter the Wisconsin Republican sent to Attorney General Eric Holder singles out Section 215, the law's "business records" provision. "As the author of the Patriot Act,"  he wrote, "I am extremely disturbed by what appears to be an overbroad interpretation." He was referring to Edward Snowden's revelation that Team Obama collects data on the phone calls of almost all Americans.

Sensenbrenner began to question whether our constitutional rights are secure. "I do not believe the released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act," he wrote. "How could the phone records of so many Americans be relevant to an authorized investigation?" His newfound skepticism came as a pleasant surprise to critics of the surveillance state. Two years ago, when key provisions of the Patriot Act were scheduled to sunset, Sensenbrenner proudly and unapologetically lobbied for the re-authorization of the law he helped write. Congress ought to make provisions including Section 215 permanent, he argued back then. "Section 215 of the Act allows the FISA Court to issue orders granting the government access to business records in foreign intelligence, international terrorism, and clandestine intelligence cases," he said. "The USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 expanded the safeguards against potential abuse of Section 215 authority, including additional Congressional oversight, procedural protections, application requirements, and judicial review."

As Our Planet Fries, Think We Are Headed for Renewable Energy? Think Again

By Michael T. Klare

Many other experts share this view, assuring us that increased reliance on “clean” natural gas combined with expanded investments in wind and solar power will permit a smooth transition to a green energy future in which humanity will no longer be pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  All this sounds promising indeed.  There is only one fly in the ointment: it is not, in fact, the path we are presently headed down.  The energy industry is not investing in any significant way in renewables.  Instead, it is pouring its historic profits into new fossil-fuel projects, mainly involving the exploitation of what are called “unconventional” oil and gas reserves.

Energy Markets Are Manipulated

by Washingtons Blog - August 1st, 2013, 12:00pm

Big Banks Manipulated Energy Markets In California and the Midwest … Ripping Off Tens of Millions of Dollars in 9 Months

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that JP Morgan has massively manipulated energy markets in  California and the Midwest, obtaining tens of millions of dollars in overpayments from grid operators between September 2010 and June 2011.

As shown below, big banks have manipulated virtually every other market as well – both in the financial sector and the real economy – and broken virtually every law on the books.

Big Banks Conspiracy is destroying America

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Imagine 100 Goldman Sachs banks running America and the world. It’s happening. Forget politicians, Big Banks rule the world.

It was just a few years ago in “The Great American Bubble Machine,” a Rolling Stone feature, that Goldman was indicted by Matt Taibbi: “The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Detroit is Not Broke!

By Scott Baker

The on-again-off-again pending bankruptcy of what was formerly America's 4th largest city, Detroit, has been all over the news lately. In all of these stories, whether blaming the collapse of the domestic auto industry, profligate workers taking pensions, or, even closer to the truth, speculators (read: banks) who precipitated a housing collapse, and even the fact that only 53% of City property owners paid their 2011 property taxes while approximately $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected for 2011, of which $131 million was due to the City - there is one glaring omission of coverage, whether Detroit is, in fact, broke. One would think that with such extensive coverage of everything from the city's crumbling infrastructure to its money-and-personnel starved police department's pathetic 10% crime-solving rate and 58-minute police department responses, that at least some research would have been given to whether Detroit is, in fact, out of money. Note; I didn't say, "whether Detroit is bankrupt." Bankruptcy is a legal finding. Being out of money is a statement of fact. There is a crucial difference, as we shall see.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Study Finds 5 Ways Conservative Media Erode Trust In Scientists

A new study shows five ways conservative media decrease trust in scientists, leading their audience to doubt climate change.

Former Fox News host Glenn Beck once declared "Do I believe scientists? No. They've lied to us about global warming." But the study, by the Yale Project on Climate Communication, concludes that it's actually the other way around: conservative media consumers don't believe in scientists, therefore they don't believe in global warming.

L.A. Story

The Pay Is Too Damn Low

by James Surowiecki, August 12, 2013

A few weeks ago, Washington, D.C., passed a living-wage bill designed to make Walmart pay its workers a minimum of $12.50 an hour. Then President Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage (which is currently $7.25 an hour). McDonald’s was widely derided for releasing a budget to help its employees plan financially, since that only underscored how brutally hard it is to live on a McDonald’s wage. And last week fast-food workers across the country staged walkouts, calling for an increase in their pay to fifteen dollars an hour. Low-wage earners have long been the hardest workers to organize and the easiest to ignore. Now they’re front-page news.

The workers’ grievances are simple: low wages, few (if any) benefits, and little full-time work. In inflation-adjusted terms, the minimum wage, though higher than it was a decade ago, is still well below its 1968 peak (when it was worth about $10.70 an hour in today’s dollars), and it’s still poverty-level pay. To make matters worse, most fast-food and retail work is part time, and the weak job market has eroded what little bargaining power low-wage workers had: their earnings actually fell between 2009 and last year, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Obama outlines plans to dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

President cautioned that the 'era of expecting a bailout' was over in a speech in Phoenix – the epicentre of the housing bubble

Dan Roberts in Washington
theguardian.com, Tuesday 6 August 2013 17.35 EDT

Efforts to unravel housing subsidies that fuelled the financial crash reached a milestone on Tuesday as Barack Obama said the national housing recovery was now strong enough to begin dismantling federal mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In a speech in Phoenix, the epicentre of the housing bubble, the president outlined a series of steps he said could limit the negative impact on home buyers of scrapping these billions of dollars in loan guarantees but insisted there was no alternative if future housing bubbles were to be avoided.

Fannie and Freddie, as the two federally-created entities became known, were blamed for encouraging an era of reckless lending and were bailed out by the US government at a cost of $187bn.

ORNL research reveals new challenges for mercury cleanup

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 5, 2013 — More forms of mercury can be converted to deadly methylmercury than previously thought, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Geoscience. The discovery provides scientists with another piece of the mercury puzzle, bringing them one step closer to understanding the challenges associated with mercury cleanup.

Earlier this year, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered two key genes that are essential for microbes to convert oxidized mercury to methylmercury, a neurotoxin that can penetrate skin and at high doses affect brain and muscle tissue, causing paralysis and brain damage.

Scientists discover key to easing aquaculture's reliance on wild-caught fish

For the first time scientists have been able to develop a completely vegetarian diet that works for marine fish raised in aquaculture, the key to making aquaculture a sustainable industry as the world's need for protein increases. "This makes aquaculture completely sustainable," said Dr. Allen Place. "The pressure on natural fisheries in terms of food fish can be relieved. We can now sustain a good protein source without harvesting fish to feed fish."

Obama Negotiates Cuts to Medicare as the Program Reaches its 48th Anniversary

Tuesday, 06 August 2013 14:16  
By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report 

President Obama announced a new "grand bargain" for middle class job creation last week while speaking to an audience at an Amazon.com facility in Tennessee. His plan would cut corporate tax rates and create a business tax that would fund investment on infrastructure projects and education. But will the president agree to cut Medicare in a deal with Republicans? 

Congressional Republicans responded to President Obama in their own address, which heavily criticized the Affordable Care Act for stymieing businesses from hiring and suppressing work hours. 

Dean Baker: The Economy Is Awful and Larry Summers Should Not Be Fed Chair

In his recent defense of Larry Summers President Obama appeared to be badly confused about the state of the economy. This apparently leads him to believe that the country should be grateful to Larry Summers for his successes, as opposed to furious at him for his failures.

Obama’s story is that the economy was in a free fall when he took office and the program that was in large part designed by Summers helped turn it around. While it is true that the economy was in free fall, there was no reason to expect that to continue regardless of what policies were pursued. Note that in every single wealthy country the sharp drop in output at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was stopped and reversed by the end of the year. Other countries were not able to rely on the genius of Larry Summers in setting their policies.

Law to Clean Up ‘Nuisances’ Costs Innocent People Their Homes

by Isaiah Thompson, Special to ProPublica,
Aug. 5, 2013, 6:39 a.m.

When Rochelle Bing bought her modest row home on a tattered block in North Philadelphia 10 years ago, she saw it as an investment in the future for her extended family — especially for her 18 grandchildren.

Bing, 42, works full-time as a home health assistant for the elderly and disabled. In summer when school is out, her house is awash with grandkids whom Bing tends to while their parents work. And the home has been a haven in troubled times when her children needed help or a father went to jail. One of Bing’s grandchildren lives there now.

Take a Close Look at Craziness of the GOP's Attempts to Destroy Obamacare — It'll Take Your Breath Away

By Beverly Bandler

Ornstein has noted that there are traditional and respectable ways for legislators to act toward an existing law that they disagree with – and then there is what the current Republicans are doing toward Obamacare.

As Ornstein has commented: “When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable — unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better — not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people.

The more nefarious US foreign policy, the more it relies on media complicity

Americans are shielded from the ugly consequences of US military power by our journalists' self-censorship

Mark Weisbrot
theguardian.com, Monday 5 August 2013 09.30 EDT
The US still has military spending that is higher in real, inflation-adjusted terms than it was during the peak of the Reagan cold war build-up, the Vietnam war and the Korean war. We seem to be in a state of permanent warfare, and – we have recently learned – massive government spying and surveillance of our own citizens. This is despite an ever-receding threat to the actual physical security of Americans. Only 19 people have been killed by acts of terrorism in the US since 11 September 2001, and none or almost none of these was connected to foreign terrorists. Also, there are no "enemy states" that pose a significant military threat to the US – if any governments can be called "enemy states" at all.

One of the reasons for this disconnect is that most of the mass media provide a grossly distorted view of US foreign policy. It presents an American foreign policy that is far more benign and justifiable than the reality of empire that most of the world knows. In a well-researched and thoroughly documented article published by the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Keane Bhatt provides an excellent case study of how this happens.

Ozone-protection treaty had climate benefits, too, study says

The global treaty that headed off destruction of earth's protective ozone layer has also prevented major disruption of global rainfall patterns, according to a new study in the Journal of Climate.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol phased out the use of chloroflourocarbons, or CFCs, a class of chemicals that destroy ozone in the stratosphere, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to reach earth's surface. Though the treaty aimed to reverse ozone losses, the new research shows that it also protected the hydroclimate. The study says the treaty prevented ozone loss from disrupting atmospheric circulation, and kept CFCs, which are greenhouse gases, from warming the atmosphere and also disrupting atmospheric circulation. Had these effects taken hold, they would have combined to shift rainfall patterns in ways beyond those that may already be happening due to rising carbon dioxide in the air.

The Big Lie Goes After Obamacare

By Christopher Flavelle 2013-08-02T16:35:51Z

Opponents of Obamacare are trying to persuade people who are eligible for subsidized health insurance not to sign up. Let's consider what makes that campaign so offensive.

The logic, explains Twila Brase, president of the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, goes like this: Obamacare depends on state insurance exchanges to expand health coverage, and those exchanges in turn depend on a sufficient number of young and healthy people to buy coverage. So groups such as hers are telling people not to buy coverage on the exchanges, in an effort to bring the whole law tumbling down.

The Great American Do-It-Yourself Retirement Fraud, Brought to You By Big Finance & Co.

By Helaine Olen
“For retirement, the answer is 4-0-1-k,” proclaimed Tyler Mathisen, then editor of Money magazine in 1996. “I feel sure that someday, like a financial Little-Engine-That-Could, it will pull me over the million-dollar mountain all by itself.”

For this sentiment, and others like it, Mathisen was soon rewarded with an on-air position at financial news network CNBC, where he remains to this day. As for the rest of us? We were had.

The United States is on the verge of a retirement crisis. For the first time in living memory, it seems likely that living standards for those over the age of 65 will begin to decline as compared to those who came before them—and that’s without taking into account the possibility that Social Security benefits will be cut at some point in the future.

Did Goldman Sachs Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer?

A month after ace programmer Sergey Aleynikov left Goldman Sachs, he was arrested. Exactly what he’d done neither the F.B.I., which interrogated him, nor the jury, which convicted him a year later, seemed to understand. But Goldman had accused him of stealing computer code, and the 41-year-old father of three was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Investigating Aleynikov’s case, Michael Lewis holds a second trial.

By Michael Lewis

To Sergey Aleynikov’s new way of thinking, every American could benefit from some time in jail, but in the event that you are yourself actually arrested and sent away, “there are certain practical aspects to keep in mind.” First, dress warmly. Detention centers tend to be freezing cold, even in summer, and so if you happen to be wearing shorts or short sleeves you’re in for a spectacularly unhappy night. Second, carry no cash. “If you have money, they charge you a convenience fee,” he explains. “If you don’t have it, they don’t charge you. The less money you have on you, the better.” Third, memorize a couple of emergency contact phone numbers. On the night of his first arrest he discovered he didn’t actually know his wife’s cell-phone number. He’d always phoned her by name from his cell phone’s address book, but his phone was one of the first things they’d taken from him.

The fourth, and final, rule was by far the most important: Don’t say a word to government officials. “The reason you don’t,” he says, “is that, if you do, they can place an agent on a witness stand and he can say anything.”