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sambista



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PostPosted: 08/27/14 7:21 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

An Arizona gun range instructor was accidentally shot dead by a 9-year-old girl he was showing how to fire an automatic Uzi, police said.

Shocked

nydailynews.com



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 08/27/14 11:48 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

To hell in a handbasket or merely Darwinian? He seemed like a nice guy but teaching a child to use an Uzi is twisted and altogether wrong and who knew but apparently it's stupid and dangerous as well. So very glad that little girl wasn't shot but she probably isn't going to have a happy-go-lucky future due to having killed a man and now so famously. Her parents deserve everything they're going to get.



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pilight



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PostPosted: 08/27/14 11:49 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

jammerbirdi wrote:
To hell in a handbasket or merely Darwinian? He seemed like a nice guy but teaching a child to use an Uzi is twisted and altogether wrong and who knew but apparently it's stupid and dangerous as well. So very glad that little girl wasn't shot but she probably isn't going to have a happy-go-lucky future due to having killed a man and now so famously. Her parents deserve everything they're going to get.


Israelis teach their kids to use them younger than that



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justintyme



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PostPosted: 08/27/14 12:10 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
jammerbirdi wrote:
To hell in a handbasket or merely Darwinian? He seemed like a nice guy but teaching a child to use an Uzi is twisted and altogether wrong and who knew but apparently it's stupid and dangerous as well. So very glad that little girl wasn't shot but she probably isn't going to have a happy-go-lucky future due to having killed a man and now so famously. Her parents deserve everything they're going to get.


Israelis teach their kids to use them younger than that

There is an argument for talking bigger risks when you live in a perpetual war zone.



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 08/27/14 12:25 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
jammerbirdi wrote:
To hell in a handbasket or merely Darwinian? He seemed like a nice guy but teaching a child to use an Uzi is twisted and altogether wrong and who knew but apparently it's stupid and dangerous as well. So very glad that little girl wasn't shot but she probably isn't going to have a happy-go-lucky future due to having killed a man and now so famously. Her parents deserve everything they're going to get.


Israelis teach their kids to use them younger than that


I sincerely doubt it. Not saying it hasn't happened or that I object to stereotyping in some cases but I really doubt that statement is any more true than claiming we Americans teach nine-year-old girls to shoot sub-machine guns. We don't. And those who do might not live to tell about it.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 08/27/14 2:14 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
jammerbirdi wrote:
To hell in a handbasket or merely Darwinian? He seemed like a nice guy but teaching a child to use an Uzi is twisted and altogether wrong and who knew but apparently it's stupid and dangerous as well. So very glad that little girl wasn't shot but she probably isn't going to have a happy-go-lucky future due to having killed a man and now so famously. Her parents deserve everything they're going to get.


Israelis teach their kids to use them younger than that


then thank god the usa ain't israel.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 01/03/15 7:33 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

i'm shamelessly posting a good bite of this nyt editorial because of both the times' and wall street journal's paywalls. this sh*t is important, and it happens because we let it happen. these soulless hoarders violate us at every level and are free to saunter about the globe unchecked, while penny-ante criminals, by comparison, are caged like dogs in prison. what the freak is wrong with this picture?!

Betting on Default
Imagine a lender demanding that you miss a payment. That is the situation described in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, GSO Capital Partners, the debt-investing arm of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, refused to renew a $122.3 million loan to the Spanish gambling company Codere unless it delayed paying interest on other existing debt. Why? It turns out that GSO had placed a bet that Coderes existing debt would not be paid on time. When, lo and behold, the payment was late, GSO collected on its bet.

The bet in this scenario was a credit default swap, in which one party to the transaction say, a bank, hedge fund, insurer or other institutional investor agrees to pay the other party in the event of a bond default. Credit default swaps, a type of derivative, can be used to hedge against losses on bonds that investors own, or to speculate on how the underlying companies will perform.

If this sounds familiar, it should. In the years leading up to the financial crisis, banks and investors gorged on toxic mortgage bonds that were supposedly insured against loss with credit default swaps. When the bonds went bad, many swaps turned out to be worthless as well, necessitating bailouts to cushion catastrophic losses.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law was supposed to curb speculation in swaps. But as The Journal has reported, hedge funds are increasingly using swaps to wager on whether weak firms will live or die. RadioShack, the troubled consumer electronics retailer, is one of several prominent examples. In December, RadioShacks total debt came to about $1.4 billion, but swaps outstanding on the performance of the debt totaled $23.5 billion. Similarly, J.C. Penney, the ailing department store chain, had total debt of some $8.7 billion, but swaps outstanding on the debt totaled $19.3 billion.

Those gaps suggest excessive speculation, though it is hard, if not impossible, to gauge the precise exposure of funds to big losses. What is known is that a hedge fund that is betting on a companys default has an incentive to push it over the edge. Conversely, a fund that is betting a troubled company will not default has an incentive to keep it afloat, at least long enough to avoid a big payout. Either way, the company becomes a pawn in a financial game.

nytimes.com



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sambista



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PostPosted: 01/04/15 5:54 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The Economics (and Nostalgia) of Dead Malls

Premature obituaries for the shopping mall have been appearing since the late 1990s, but the reality today is more nuanced, reflecting broader trends remaking the American economy. With income inequality continuing to widen, high-end malls are thriving, even as stolid retail chains like Sears, Kmart and J. C. Penney falter, taking the middle- and working-class malls they anchored with them.

It is very much a haves and have-nots situation, said D. J. Busch, a senior analyst at Green Street. Affluent Americans will keep going to Short Hills Mall in New Jersey or other properties aimed at the top 5 or 10 percent of consumers. But theres been very little income growth in the belly of the economy.

nytimes.com


seems jc penney and the like are also being helped along by the credit default speculation described in the post before this . . . vicious circle.


on a side note, i recently read an article posted on linkedin about "common sense" and (the need for) "cultural sense." i'd say this quote in the story is a good example of a lack of cultural sense.

Quote:
Everybody has memories from childhood of going to the mall, said Jack Thomas, 26, one of three partners who run the site in their spare time.


this man presumes "everybody" shares his myopic view. malls were still few and far between in my childhood, when "going shopping" meant getting dressed up on a level close to "sunday best" and going downtown. it was a day's affair and often included lunch grand or mundane (at a white-tablecloth restaurant or a woolworth's counter) and/or a movie matinee. so going to the mall was not something i remember doing as a kid.



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 08/03/15 3:08 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Short but not too sweet. Shocked Everyone who posted their complete and utter outrage upon discovering that big game hunting actually exists but apparently missed this story or just didn't have any outrage left after Cecil... I hereby place it in the OFFICIAL... etc. etc.

Where it belongs.

Pulling Down Underwater Borrowers

After Lucy Circe became disabled and could no longer work, she applied to Bank of America for a mortgage loan modification on her Vermont home. Over more than two years, starting in 2012, the bank repeatedly requested copies of documents that had already been provided, asked for proof that she was no longer married to a man she did not even know, and made other errors, like asking why Ms. Circe had indicated that she didnt want to keep her property when she had actually told the bank she did.

None of it made sense. But a disturbing report on the federal governments Home Affordable Modification Program issued on Wednesday suggests that Ms. Circes experience was anything but unique.

Advertised in 2009 as a lifeline for as many as four million troubled borrowers, the program was one of the Obama administrations signature efforts to help homeowners. But the report, by Christy L. Romero, the government official with authority to monitor the program, shows that six years later, just 887,001 borrowers are participating in loan modifications deals that reduce the costs of mortgages.

It appears that the program has allowed big banks to run roughshod over borrowers again and again.

Instead of helping some four million borrowers get loan modifications, the report noted, banks participating in the program have rejected four million borrowers requests for help, or 72 percent of their applications, since the process began.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 09/22/15 10:33 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

some days, when i read the news, i feel like we're holding a steady course toward end times. actually, i feel like that most days, but some days are more pronounced. at the same time, i think i - we - will have to suffer all of the downfall but not live to see the actual end, if you know what i mean. probably makes no sense, but i figure when everything ends, some people will survive and experience the rebirth of society. i'd like to live that long, because i believe the only good that will come of our demise is a good, fresh, clean start.

okay. anyway, i'm surprised no one has posted outrage/disgust over two things:

1. this drug company, turing, increasing the price of life-saving daraprim from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet. overnight.
nytimes.com

2. volkswagen willfully defrauding 11 million diesel car owners worldwide over emissions.
nytimes.com

granted, you could pick any number of events to be outraged/disgusted about.

on a personal note, i'm disheartened by what's happening - what has been happening for many years, but elevated recently by a severe economic downturn - in brasil, and rio specifically. you may have read or heard about these assaults on the beaches in the south zone, where i live (copacabana, ipanema). they're called arrastes, or dragnets, taken from the word describing how fishermen cast their nets to catch a high volume of fish. on the beach, young men, often from the slums, "drag" the beaches, robbing people in their paths. the beefed-up police force - which, from my view, does as little as possible to get involved - is a joke to them because they can outrun them or simply play "catch me if you can" by running into the water.

the beach is the great safety value for rio; it's the one place where poor and rich are on even footing. now, with the brasilian dollar in the tank, corruption, recession, president dilma's approval rating in the single digit, it's worse. just last weekend, there were many arrastes, and now citizens have taken to facebook and such to call vigilantes to arms against these thieves.
dailymail.co.uk video
at the same time, the police have started grabbing young black males off buses headed toward the beach, arresting them solely on the presumption that they would be up to no good. the courts have since declared this unconstitutional, for what that's worth.

i often wonder why i'd want to live here, despite all of rio's intoxicating appeal. but i also wonder why my country is, would be, any different, with black people arrested, shot at, killed for dubious reasons.

i can only hope that NO ONE comes to the olympics, and brasil realizes it has to stop slapping lipstick on the pig.

sorry for the rant. i'm on news overload.



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 11/01/15 12:17 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Oh boy. Once again, we are so fucked.

Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and ROBERT GEBELOFFOCT. 31, 2015

On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express, beneath an explainer on interest rates and late fees, past the details about annual membership, is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.

Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home.

Among the class actions thrown out because of the clauses was one brought by Time Warner customers over charges they said mysteriously appeared on their bills and another against a travel booking website accused of conspiring to fix hotel prices. A top executive at Goldman Sachs who sued on behalf of bankers claiming sex discrimination was also blocked, as were African-American employees at Taco Bell restaurants who said they were denied promotions, forced to work the worst shifts and subjected to degrading comments.

Some state judges have called the class-action bans a get out of jail free card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources.

Patricia Rowe of Greenville, S.C., learned this firsthand when she initiated a class action against AT&T. Ms. Rowe, who was challenging a $600 fee for canceling her phone service, was among more than 900 AT&T customers in three states who complained about excessive charges, state records show. When the case was thrown out last year, she was forced to give up and pay the $600. Fighting AT&T on her own in arbitration, she said, would have cost far more.

By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to practices like predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination, court records show.

This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history, William G. Young, a federal judge in Boston who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.

----------------------------------------------

This is the first part in a series examining how clauses buried in tens of millions of contracts have deprived Americans of one of their most fundamental constitutional rights: their day in court.


sambista



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PostPosted: 11/01/15 1:05 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

jammerbirdi wrote:
Oh boy. Once again, we are so fucked.

Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and ROBERT GEBELOFFOCT. 31, 2015

On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express, beneath an explainer on interest rates and late fees, past the details about annual membership, is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.

Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home.

Among the class actions thrown out because of the clauses was one brought by Time Warner customers over charges they said mysteriously appeared on their bills and another against a travel booking website accused of conspiring to fix hotel prices. A top executive at Goldman Sachs who sued on behalf of bankers claiming sex discrimination was also blocked, as were African-American employees at Taco Bell restaurants who said they were denied promotions, forced to work the worst shifts and subjected to degrading comments.

Some state judges have called the class-action bans a get out of jail free card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources.

Patricia Rowe of Greenville, S.C., learned this firsthand when she initiated a class action against AT&T. Ms. Rowe, who was challenging a $600 fee for canceling her phone service, was among more than 900 AT&T customers in three states who complained about excessive charges, state records show. When the case was thrown out last year, she was forced to give up and pay the $600. Fighting AT&T on her own in arbitration, she said, would have cost far more.

By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to practices like predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination, court records show.

This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history, William G. Young, a federal judge in Boston who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.

----------------------------------------------

This is the first part in a series examining how clauses buried in tens of millions of contracts have deprived Americans of one of their most fundamental constitutional rights: their day in court.


yeah. we have courts to weigh and mete out justice, but a clause in a contract nullifies the courts. out of control, though we've had this no-choice for some time. in everything. i love employment contracts, which forbid people to work for a competitor when they leave the job their signing up for. some contracts actually list out the companies you can't work for when you leave. the "don't mess with us because we can mess you up" clause.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 11/02/15 3:06 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

this is more like for a "mad as hell" thread, but here it is:

$43 Million of Your Tax Dollars Bought a Single Gas Station in Afghanistan

A new report from military watchdog SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) concludes that the Department of Defense spent almost $43 million on a single compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station in the town of Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan.

Special Inspector General John Sopko, who reports to Congress, noted that an equivalent gas station in Pakistan cost no more than $500,000 to construct, and that this level of expenditure appears gratuitous and extreme.

When pressed for a reason why this expense was 86 times what it should have been, the DOD did not provide an explanation, Sopko wrote, contending that no one remains at the Department who can answer substantive questions about the CNG project.

time.com



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norwester



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PostPosted: 11/02/15 5:34 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The whole arbitration thing is a blight on our system. I mean, arbitration itself isn't necessarily bad. There's a lot that can be settled out of court through the process that is easier and quicker, and a way to also avoid overburdening the courts with minutiae.

But the fact that courts are actually throwing out class action lawsuits due to some random arbitration clause? I thought that there was an argument to be had that customers are forced to either sign these user agreements, or have no service. When we're talking about internet, cell phones, etc. it's not like people have much choice, overall, in what service they go with. And really no choice, since those clauses are in all contracts. Anyway, the point being, as explained to me by one lawyer friend (I'll have to follow up with him, because I think his expertise is actually employment law, not contractual law) is that there's some sort of phrase that applies which means that the customer is not waiving their rights.

Anyway, I am worried about the inequity in the system, and how the continued thriving of parts of the economy is making it kind of invisible to those who might make a difference, or as in the case of many Americans they don't try to address the present because they are eternally imagining themselves as soon to be part of the part that actually functions...a bunch of hopeful millionaires, or whatever.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 11/03/15 6:42 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

norwester wrote:
The whole arbitration thing is a blight on our system. I mean, arbitration itself isn't necessarily bad. There's a lot that can be settled out of court through the process that is easier and quicker, and a way to also avoid overburdening the courts with minutiae.

But the fact that courts are actually throwing out class action lawsuits due to some random arbitration clause? I thought that there was an argument to be had that customers are forced to either sign these user agreements, or have no service. When we're talking about internet, cell phones, etc. it's not like people have much choice, overall, in what service they go with. And really no choice, since those clauses are in all contracts. Anyway, the point being, as explained to me by one lawyer friend (I'll have to follow up with him, because I think his expertise is actually employment law, not contractual law) is that there's some sort of phrase that applies which means that the customer is not waiving their rights.

Anyway, I am worried about the inequity in the system, and how the continued thriving of parts of the economy is making it kind of invisible to those who might make a difference, or as in the case of many Americans they don't try to address the present because they are eternally imagining themselves as soon to be part of the part that actually functions...a bunch of hopeful millionaires, or whatever.


i'd be curious to know what your lawyer friend says. i always think about my early jobs in union shops, like i had a choice to join the union. you either joined the union, or you didn't have the job. actually, no one ever asked. they just had you fill out the forms to have your union dues deducted from your paycheck. the strength of unions rests on mandatory membership.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 11/04/15 6:22 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

what planet does this guy live on?

Quote:
Turing Pharmaceuticals, which ignited a firestorm by acquiring a 62-year-old drug and increasing its price fiftyfold overnight, said on Tuesday that it would lower the price somewhat by the end of the year and take steps to broaden financial support to patients.

But the company, in a meeting on Tuesday in Washington with some of its critics, did not say how much the price would be lowered. In an interview with an H.I.V. activist this week, however, Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager who founded and runs Turing, said the reduction would be on the order of 10 percent, an amount not likely to mollify many people.


nytimes.com




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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 11/07/15 9:59 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Oh God do we have another one for this thread. I'll do a better link to it later. NYTimes, again. LLCs defrauding vulnerable New Yorkers out of their real estate. Absolutely disgusting story.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/nyregion/real-estate-shell-companies-scheme-to-defraud-owners-out-of-their-homes.html?_r=0

Coming amid waves of gentrification, the reports of deed theft have helped feed the unease felt in neighborhoods where longtime residents blacks and Hispanics, the poor and middle class are increasingly being priced out. A report last year by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Center for NYC Neighborhoods found that the schemes disproportionately affected black and Hispanic homeowners.

When LLCs are taken to court, those behind them often remain a step ahead and impossible to find. Theyre shell companies, said Jomo Gamal Thomas, a lawyer who has represented several deed fraud victims. Theres no guarantee youll get your money back.

In Bedford-Stuyvesant and other pockets of the city, white-collar criminals are employing a variety of schemes to snatch properties from their owners. Often, they use the secrecy afforded to shell companies, leaving victims groping for redress, unable to identify their predators or even, in some cases, to prove a crime has been committed.

Attention lately has focused on the growing use of shell companies to buy prized real estate in Manhattan and other glittering destinations for global wealth. But the stealthy practice of deed theft illustrates another way that limited liability company law used to create such entities has been twisted and stretched to conceal the ownership of real estate. This is particularly true in Brooklyn neighborhoods where profits in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from quick turnaround sales have become common.

Sham LLCs are a huge problem in terms of their lack of transparency, in terms of who is behind the property and who is behind these schemes, said Jennifer Sinton, a lawyer with South Brooklyn Legal Services, which is representing Ms. Campbell in an effort to reclaim her home.

Deed thieves often scan legal notices for mortgages in arrears, typically targeting properties like Ms. Campbells that are in poor repair or abandoned. Vulnerable homeowners including older and disabled adults are sometimes tricked into signing over their properties, while believing they are getting financial relief.

In other cases, signatures are simply forged on deeds. The thieves, meanwhile, hide behind inscrutable mazes of limited liability companies, rented post office boxes and fake addresses.


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PostPosted: 11/08/15 4:00 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The amount of fraud we allow to be perpetrated in this nation is tragic. I hope issues like this get more traction. When they don't, I hint it's because people are falsely thinks my, "Well, I'm not dumb enough to let that happen to me." When, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd think the War on Terror is the best thing to ever happen to white collar criminals (or even those who do legal, amoral things in the name of profit), because overnight the FBI budget for investigating such things was slashed precipitously, and all funds were funneled into finding terrorists.

Look, I know there are terrorists out there. I'm not anti-security or defense. But I can't help but think that the amount of damage done domestically by these criminals and their ilk (Wall Street included) is much more damaging to the fabric of our society than the few acts of terrorism we experience domestically every few years.

This broken social contract...one of jammer's favorite topics wherein Americans in their optimism don't believe that working hard and playing by the "rules" will get them nothing. These lower-class/poor white men dying at an alarming rate. They don't understand, I'd wager, why following the rules didn't work for them. In their confusion they try to blame "others", turn to alcohol or drugs, vote Republican Wink

No one is protecting the little guy. And the big guys like it that way. Presidential candidates keep shouting about "fixing" America, and I can only shake my head at how disingenuous they're being. The system has worked exactly as it should: the power and money in the hands of the few. The elite. Those who have the money or monetary support to run for President.



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PostPosted: 11/08/15 4:20 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Thank you, norwester. You get it.

I would add to your justice / homeland sec dept priority / funding questions... that this is why so many people were maybe rightly shaking their heads over the justice department's going after international soccer.


sambista



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PostPosted: 11/08/15 6:30 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

norwester wrote:
The amount of fraud we allow to be perpetrated in this nation is tragic. I hope issues like this get more traction. When they don't, I hint it's because people are falsely thinks my, "Well, I'm not dumb enough to let that happen to me." When, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd think the War on Terror is the best thing to ever happen to white collar criminals (or even those who do legal, amoral things in the name of profit), because overnight the FBI budget for investigating such things was slashed precipitously, and all funds were funneled into finding terrorists.

Look, I know there are terrorists out there. I'm not anti-security or defense. But I can't help but think that the amount of damage done domestically by these criminals and their ilk (Wall Street included) is much more damaging to the fabric of our society than the few acts of terrorism we experience domestically every few years.

This broken social contract...one of jammer's favorite topics wherein Americans in their optimism don't believe that working hard and playing by the "rules" will get them nothing. These lower-class/poor white men dying at an alarming rate. They don't understand, I'd wager, why following the rules didn't work for them. In their confusion they try to blame "others", turn to alcohol or drugs, vote Republican Wink

No one is protecting the little guy. And the big guys like it that way. Presidential candidates keep shouting about "fixing" America, and I can only shake my head at how disingenuous they're being. The system has worked exactly as it should: the power and money in the hands of the few. The elite. Those who have the money or monetary support to run for President.


very well said, norwester. the broken social contract explains a lot of things, to my mind, including increased aggression by the "once hads" or "should have hads" or "why don't i haves" against the "why do they haves," which includes police power flexing, workplace violence, nut-case rages, immigrant intolerance and general acting out. we're the proverbial crawdads in a bucket.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 11/09/15 5:03 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Despair, American Style

A couple of weeks ago President Obama mocked Republicans who are down on America, and reinforced his message by doing a pretty good Grumpy Cat impression. He had a point: With job growth at rates not seen since the 1990s, with the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance hitting record highs, the doom-and-gloom predictions of his political enemies look ever more at odds with reality.

Yet there is a darkness spreading over part of our society. And we dont really understand why.

There has been a lot of comment, and rightly so, over a new paper by the economists Angus Deaton (who just won a Nobel) and Anne Case, showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans has been rising since 1999. This deterioration took place while death rates were falling steadily both in other countries and among other groups in our own nation.

Even more striking are the proximate causes of rising mortality. Basically, white Americans are, in increasing numbers, killing themselves, directly or indirectly. Suicide is way up, and so are deaths from drug poisoning and the chronic liver disease that excessive drinking can cause. Weve seen this kind of thing in other times and places for example, in the plunging life expectancy that afflicted Russia after the fall of Communism. But its a shock to see it, even in an attenuated form, in America.



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eclair



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PostPosted: 11/11/15 12:02 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Happy to see you all are upholding the tradition. I love this thread.



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sambista



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PostPosted: 11/12/15 7:38 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

so, i'm reading the day's news, and the new york times has this:

A Reporter's View of the Refugee Crisis
Times journalists share their experiences and emotions covering the monumental migration that is changing Europe.


now, before i even clicked the link, for some reason, my mind hypercarded to the great depression and the dust bowl - images of vagabonds carrying their worldly belongings down dirt roads to somewhere that might be a better place, able-bodied unemployed snaking along avenues for a bowl of soup and a piece of bread, families congregating as newly sprung shanties called "hoovervilles." and i thought, "this is how it happens." we get glimpses of what's to come, and if we're among the lucky ones, we never get the full force of it until much later, until too late. i suspect there are few, if any, rebkellians who were alive during the great depression, so we can only read about it and be astounded by the images captured at the time. but there are signposts, for sure - global warming, the beginning of the end of full-time employment with benefits (everyone will be new-age "temps" within years, i'm afraid), and now this mass, intercontinental wandering and human suffering. will we have to wait for it all to become history before everyone looks back at the archives and thinks, "my god!"?

Sometimes it is clear in an instant that the world has changed: a jetliner slices into an office tower; a leader is felled.

But more often, history unfolds incrementally. For months, we have watched it do so in literally millions of steps, as hundreds of thousands of people trudge from some of the worlds most conflict-ridden and poorest regions toward Europe and what they hope will be more secure and prosperous lives.

It is a development remarkable in its scale, and in what it says about the limits of borders in a globalized, interconnected world. And it is producing countless stories of courage, loss, heroism and avarice that are forcing societies to confront issues of race, religion, security and national identity.

The images of migrants staggering through the Continent, bedraggled and weary, make many wonder how something like this can be happening in the 21st century.

Yet the same forces that have shrunk the world for people in its wealthier precincts instantaneous, pocket-size communication, mundane air travel, globalized culture have also been an invitation, or perhaps a taunt, to those in less fortunate circumstances. Confronted with war, persecution and poverty, the migrants are well aware that people are living far better in a not-too-distant place, and that their smartphones and social networks can help guide them there.

These shifting forces, almost gravitational in power, amount to a huge challenge to those of us seeking to chronicle and explain events unfolding from Kunduz, Afghanistan, to Birmingham, England. It is an enormous story whose varied causes still need illumination, but the very relentlessness of it can create a sense of weariness among readers. How many stories about Syrians tumbling ashore in Lesbos can they absorb? How many pictures of dead children can they stomach?


On the Job: Reporting Europe's Refugee Crisis



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 11/12/15 9:41 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

sambista wrote:

Yet the same forces that have shrunk the world for people in its wealthier precincts instantaneous, pocket-size communication, mundane air travel, globalized culture have also been an invitation, or perhaps a taunt, to those in less fortunate circumstances. Confronted with war, persecution and poverty, the migrants are well aware that people are living far better in a not-too-distant place, and that their smartphones and social networks can help guide them there.
[/size]

On the Job: Reporting Europe's Refugee Crisis


The New York Times has a staked out a tremendous franchise in covering misery around the globe. They remain as well the best source for incredible investigative stories on socio-economic horrors in the US. But they clearly feature horrors elsewhere to an extent that dwarfs their coverage of social ills here.

I've been wanting to say this for the last few months. Don't lose sight of my second sentence there and I'm grateful as we all should be that this newspaper uncovers and brings to light probably the majority of the stories I have posted in this thread. But it's the tip of the iceberg here in the US. This is a country of unspoken things. That stuff is going to get us all.

Critics on the Left used to rightly attack the Times for not covering the great contemporaneous horrors that were occurring around the world. That's changed and that's great. But they need to shift into a different gear in this country. Put much more of the incredible photography and reporting that they publish from places like Europe to work in the newspaper on behalf of the people who are suffering here. Again, I'm not saying they aren't doing it and doing the best job of it in many respects but it's just not enough.

Anyway. I quoted that sentence because I think that's a real extraction of the crux of a problem there. People are seeing like never before. There's an impatience, like never before. It's not hard to expand on this and understand that massive and even not so massive movements of desperate populations IS going to threaten the stability, happiness, standards of living, and human accomplishments of more affluent and modernized societies.

I think we all here are going to live to see the ugliness that people and nations are capable of either in coming after what others have or in defending what they have. Sui generis moment for the human race. Technology, media, and ease of travel have made it so.


sambista



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PostPosted: 11/12/15 10:24 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

i wouldn't disagree with you about the nyt's disproportionate, in-depth coverage overseas. not to defend, maybe more to explain, but the times hasn't been immune to huge losses in the industry's shift from print to web. hell, it was a mexican billionaire whose investment bailed out the times in 2009, and staffers are still being laid off every six months or so. (oh, i'm sorry - buyouts, not layoffs, if you want to play word games). it sold the boston globe, which was a huge transaction, along with other significant properties, and the globe has been sold to others a few times more since. only recently has the nyt digital product shown signs of clearing the red zone.

all that to say, the nyt has staked its claim heavily on overseas coverage. few media outlets, apart from sound-bite tv, remain with such an extensive network of foreign bureaus. so perhaps the mantra is "let's do what we do best (with what we have)."

i'm not saying that's the right way to go, but it is what it is. the gray lady ain't what she used to be.

if you want to demand, or just wish, that home turf news coverage gets better, you should look to gannett, which publishes usa today and owns dozens of smaller papers that are geographically well-dispersed around the country.



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