We Say Fight Back!
Seattle Boss Threatens Test Boycotters Seattle school officials sent a letter Wednesday asking principals to inform all their teachers by day’s end that they will be disciplined if they refuse to give district-required tests.
But at a rally Wednesday afternoon at Seattle Public Schools headquarters, teachers boycotting the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, said they would not back down because the tests are an unreliable measure that hurts students.
The boycott, which started at Garfield High, now includes a handful of teachers at ORCA K-8 and 32 staff members at Chief Sealth. Teachers at many other schools have sent letters of support, as have parents and students. seattletimes.com/html/education/2020199641_newtestboycottxml.html
Seattle Boss Jose Banda is a Bad Person Mr. Banda has spent the past four years as Superintendent of the 20,000-student Anaheim City School District. During this time, the District saw increased student achievement for all students, including English Language Learners. In addition, the District narrowed the achievement gap and 19 of 24 schools met their school-wide Academic Performance Index (API).
Under Mr. Banda’s direction, the District created a focused approach to instruction, assessment and interventions, while at the same time maintained fiscal solvency during one of the worst economic crises in the state’s history. Mr. Banda also developed strong relationships with the business community, city government and service organizations, as evidenced by an innovative math partnership with the MIND Institute and the successful passage of a $170 million construction bond in 2010. www.westseattleherald.com/2012/05/17/news/update-seattle-schools-superintendent-jose-banda-
The Scary Letter If a teacher refuses to administer the MAP assessment after a clear direction by you, such conduct is considered insubordination. When a staff member engages in insubordination, such action will lead to appropriate disciplinary action as outlined in School Board Policy 5281 Staff Disciplinary Action and Discharge. Previously, the discipline imposed by the District when a teacher refused to administer a required assessment was a 10-day, unpaid suspension.
If you have staff who have either not administered the test on the date required by you or have given you clear notice that they do not intend to administer the test, you are required to give that staff person this communication, preferably in a letter or email that you send and hand to them:
State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives. As you are aware, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a District assessment that teachers are required to administer. You are receiving this communication because you are required to administer this assessment. Based on information that I possess, I believe you have either refused to or have declined to administer the MAP assessment.
For staff who disagree with MAP assessment, I acknowledge that you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Your disagreement with the appropriateness of the MAP assessment, however, does not excuse your obligation as a certificated employee to provide this assessment consistent with District directives.
Thus, I am specifically requiring that you administer the MAP assessment by the Feb. 22, 2013 deadline, notwithstanding your apparent disagreement with the District’s decision to require this assessment. Your refusal to administer the assessment consistent with District requirements and this directive will lead to discipline. Discipline that has been imposed for such insubordination in the past has included a 10-day, unpaid suspension. Please contact me immediately if you have concerns over getting this assessment done by Feb. 22, 2013. SEE FURTHER ON THIS LINK FOR RESPONSES TO THE THUG http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/seattle-superintendent-threatens-punitive-actions-against-boycotting-teachers-a-seattle-teacher-responds-others-around-the-country-write-letters-in-protest/
Phone: (206) 252-0180
Fax: (206) 252-0209
The Little Red Schoolhouse
So Long, Detroit Schools The financial slide inside the state’s largest school district will continue through 2016, leaving Detroit Public Schools with 28 fewer schools, 1,688 lost positions and 13,000 fewer students, according to a deficit elimination plan obtained by The Detroit News.
District and state officials say the drastic cuts will bring DPS’ deficit to zero by that time and with it the possibility of emerging from state control. The district has been under an emergency financial manager since March 2009.
Despite closing schools and shedding thousands of employees, DPS still will have a budget deficit the next two years.
To reach its goals, DPS is slashing expenses by $120 million in 2013-14, by $42 million in 2014-15 and by $33 million in 2015-16.
That will allow the district to whittle its current deficit of $72 million to $46 million in 2014 and $21 million in 2015, according to the deficit elimination plan, which state officials approved last week.
By 2016, the year DPS projects a small surplus, the district expects to have less than 40,000 students — under a quarter of its enrollment in 2000. From The Detroit News: www.detroitnews.com/article/20130124/SCHOOLS/301240362#ixzz2J2RXmaSJ
Why the National Education Power Grab? Because the Education Agenda is a Class and Empires’ war agenda, but here are details In December, California’s application for a waiver from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act was denied by the U.S. Department of Education. This, we were told, was because California had failed to embrace the federal department’s reform agenda, especially on issues of evaluating teachers.
The denial is disturbing for what it reveals: namely, that the American education system is being reshaped in a truly fundamental way, and with little debate. National policymakers now behave as if they believe their role in making education policy ought to be much the same as that of the states in setting goals and standards, creating accountability systems, defining teacher quality, determining strategies for producing high-quality teachers and improving low-performing schools. Left unresolved, the conflicts this creates about who is in charge are likely to worsen. www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-tucker-nationalization-of-education-20130124,0,5846090.story
Michigan Loves those Prisons (how the world loves a cage) Between 2002 and 2012, state spending per student on higher education declined 35 percent even as public spending per prisoner increased 42 percent, Business Leaders for Michigan said Monday. In 2002, Michigan spent $2 billion on higher ed and $1.7 billion on prisons. A decade later, the state spent $1.3 billion on public colleges and universities and $2 billion on prisons.
From The Detroit News: www.detroitnews.com/article/20130122/OPINION03/301220321#ixzz2J3NfSCCQ
UTLA Bosses Sign on to test-based evaluations (merit pay’s backbone) A landmark agreement to use student test scores for the first time in evaluating Los Angeles Unified teachers was approved by union members Saturday.
United Teachers Los Angeles reported that 66% of 16,892 members who voted approved the agreement with the nation’s second-largest school district. L.A. Unified now joins Chicago, New York and many other cities in using testing data as one measure of a teacher’s effect on student academic progress. About half the union’s 34,000 members voted. www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-utla-evals-20130120,0,5009372.story?track=rss
Rose: Character Education Won’t Defeat Capital’s Poverty Character education – teaching kids to be responsible and to persevere – isn’t enough to bring poor students out of poverty or close the achievement gap. Policymakers need to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and the significant obstacles poor children face. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0123/Character-education-is-not-enough-to-help-poor-kids
Bowling Green SU–Losing 11 percent of the Profs won’t hurt quality Nearly 11 percent of Bowling Green State University’s faculty will be eliminated for the 2013 fall semester, the school announced Friday.
The reduction of 100 full-time jobs at the main campus and Firelands campus in Huron, Ohio, will be accomplished through attrition, retirements, and the expiration of some one-year teaching contracts, a BGSU spokesman said.
The college has 932 full-time faculty members on the campuses.
Provost Rodney Rogers said in a statement the reductions are not expected to affect the quality of education for the 20,000 students enrolled at BGSU. http://www.toledoblade.com/Education/2013/01/18/BGSU-to-cut-100-faculty-positions-in-fall.html
The International Hot War of the Rich on the Poor
Glenn Ford on Obamagogue’s InHogUration Spectacle “He merely peppered the speech with progressive buzzwords and references – just enough notes to get the faithful to fill in the empty spaces with their own internal music.”
Like an abusive spouse who preys on the emotional desperation and dependency of his domestic victim, Barack Obama knows that all he need do is offer some cheap street corner flowers and a few sweet words, and the previous nights and months and years of beatings will be forgiven. Just hum a bar or two of an old, shared song, and the battered partner will supply a full symphony of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra – because she needs to hear it, if only inside her own head.
After four years of chasing Republican skirts in search of a grand austerity bargain; of debauching himself in marathon binges of global lawlessness and aggressive war; of defiling the Bill of Rights through preventive detention and massive domestic spying; of callous neglect of the jobs and lost wealth crisis afflicting the most loyal members of his political family; and of brazen cavorting with the vile and filthy rich, sheltering them from incarceration for crimes against the national and global economy, Barack Obama slunk home on the morning of January 21, to be smothered with kisses.
Much of what passes for the Left, and for traditional African American leadership, agreed with the New York Times’ assessment that Barack Obama’s second inaugural address represented a firm embrace of “a progressive agenda centered on equality and opportunity.” Significantly, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell echoed the sentiment: ”The era of liberalism is back…the speech certainly brings back memories of the Democratic Party in ages past.”
It is in the mutual interest of corporate media and rightwing Republicans to move the bar of “progressive” politics ever rightward. However, for African Americans and white progressives, it amounts to erasing their own political legacies from history.
“There is no agreement to end U.S. combat involvement in Afghanistan, and no intention of achieving one.”
Actuality, Obama embraced nothing: he merely peppered the speech with progressive buzzwords and references – just enough notes to get the faithful to fill in the empty spaces with their own internal music. It was classic Obama.
“A decade of war is now ending,” said the Second Incarnation of Obama, sounding a false “peace” note. If he was talking about Afghanistan, that’s a damnable lie. There is no agreement to end U.S. combat involvement in Afghanistan, and no intention of achieving one – only the stated goal to lower troop levels. The Pentagon is fielding contingencies to reduce U.S. troop strength to between 6,000 and 20,000. (When Obama entered office there were 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which he raised to about 100,000 in the “surge” of 2011.) Although the administration line is that most of the remaining Americans will be “trainers,” they will include thousands of Special Forces troops to continue “counterinsurgency” and “counterterrorism” operations. Special Forces are “trainers” and “force multipliers” by U.S. military definition, “training” native troops while engaged in combat missions. U.S. air forces, drone and manned, will continue to pound targets. Obama’s nearly completed “codification” of U.S. drone policies exempts the CIA from any clear rules for “targeted-killing” drone operations in neighboring Pakistan for at least a year, to allow them to do as much damage as possible in the quest for Obama’s version of peace. But history may record Obama’s greatest crime against peace as changing the definition of war. According to his unique doctrine, the U.S. cannot be in a state of war, or even “hostilities” with another people or country, unless Americans are killed in the process. Thus, Obama refused to report to the U.S. Congress under the War Powers Act following eight months of bombardment of Libya, claiming no state of war had existed since no Americans had died. By this logic, the U.S. is empowered to bomb anyone, anywhere on the planet at will, without the constraints of national or international law, as long as care is taken to protect the lives of U.S. personnel. http://blackagendareport.com/content/white-house-un-reality-show
Rapper forced off Stage at InHoguration A rap artist was forced off the stage at an inaugural event in Washington, D.C. Sunday night after he performed an anti-Obama diatribe.
The scene unfolded at The Hamilton one block from the White House as Lupe Fiasco, a Grammy-nominated rapper from Chicago, began performing ‘Words I Never Said,’ a single he recorded in February of 2011.
‘I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bull***t, just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets,’ he rapped. ‘… Rush Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist, Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say s**t. That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either, I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful and I believe in the people.’
Fiasco’s microphone was cut and a handful of security personnel surrounded him on stage. He was reportedly asked to move on to the next song and refused, so he was asked to leave.
As he moved off the stage, Fiasco turned to the audience and waved his hand, then took a bow. The crowd was shouting his name. facelessinblack.tumblr.com/post/41140532944
No Peace Dividend Ahead–Stiglitz Nearly 12 years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan began, a war-weary America is getting ready to leave. But there will be little in the way of a peace dividend for the US economy once the fighting stops.
The direct costs of the war are already $700bn. The original mission was to root out al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But in 2003, the US shifted nearly all of its attention and resources to Iraq. The Taliban regrouped and strengthened in Afghanistan, making the conflict far more expensive. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda shifted operations into Pakistan, Yemen and Mali, where France this month sent troops. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/da88f8fe-63e9-11e2-84d8-00144feab49a.html#axzz2J2FsPPGs
After the Petraeus (Broadwell/Kelly) Surge, a 9 hour gun battle in Kabul A nine-hour siege Monday in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital left at least seven people dead, including three police officers, and brought a normally bustling section of the city to a standstill amid explosions and gunfire.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which started around 5:30 a.m., when at least four attackers stormed the lightly-defended headquarters of the Kabul Traffic Police, before taking up positions and firing light and heavy weapons down on an adjacent compound that houses the Afghan Border Police. During the attack a car bomb went off outside the headquarters and at least two of the attackers detonated suicide vests, according to a Ministry of Interior statement.
A traffic policeman on the scene said the attackers had found the building’s armory, which contains heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives. Kabul’s police chief, however, denied in an interview that the attackers had reached the armory. www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/afghanistan/nine-hour-battle-grips-kabul-1.204702
Hey Obamagogue! AQ is not “on the run” As the uprising closed in around him, the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi warned that if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa. “Bin Laden’s people would come to impose ransoms by land and sea,” he told reporters. “We will go back to the time of Redbeard, of pirates, of Ottomans imposing ransoms on boats.” In recent days, that unhinged prophecy has acquired a grim new currency. In Mali, French paratroopers arrived this month to battle an advancing force of jihadi fighters who already control an area twice the size of Germany. In Algeria, a one-eyed Islamist bandit organized the brazen takeover of an international gas facility, taking hostages that included more than 40 Americans and Europeans.
Coming just four months after an American ambassador was killed by jihadists in Libya, those assaults have contributed to a sense that North Africa — long a dormant backwater for Al Qaeda — is turning into another zone of dangerous instability, much like Syria, site of an increasingly bloody civil war. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/world/africa/in-chaos-in-north-africa-a-grim-side-of-arab-spring.html?ref=global-home&_r=1&
Iraq: War Still on in a broken country It’s not easy being a prominent Sunni in Iraq these days. This past December, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of several bodyguards of Rafi al-Issawi, the minister of finance and one of the most influential and respected Sunni leaders in Iraq. In response, tens of thousands of Sunnis took to the streets of Anbar, Mosul, and other predominantly Sunni cities, demanding the end of what they consider government persecution. Issawi has accused Maliki of targeting him as part of a systematic campaign against Sunni leaders, which includes the 2011 indictment of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges. This is not the first time that Maliki has gone after Issawi, either. In 2010, during tense negotiations over the makeup of the government, Maliki accused Issawi of leading a terrorist group — a claim that the U.S. military investigated and found baseless. Not coincidentally, this most recent incident occurred days after President Jalal Talabani, always a dependable moderator in Iraqi politics, was incapacitated by a stroke
The Surge Myth The Iraq War’s “surge” also did nothing to change the trajectory of an eventual American defeat there. Perhaps the only real accomplishment of the “surge” was to let President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney enjoy a decent interval between their departure from government in early 2009 and the unceremonious U.S. departure from Iraq in late 2011.
In the final accounting of the neocon adventure of conquering Iraq, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had died; some 30,000 were wounded; and an estimated $1 trillion was squandered. What was ultimately left behind was not only a devastated Iraqi population but an authoritarian Shiite government (in place of Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian Sunni government) and an Iraq that had become a regional ally of Iran (rather than a bulwark against Iran).
The hard truth is that this bloody folly was not “salvaged” by the “surge” despite what the likes of Michael O’Hanlon and George F. Will claim. The “surge” simply extended the killing for a few more years and bought Bush and Cheney their “decent interval.” www.opednews.com/articles/2/The-Iraq-War-Surge-Myth-by-Robert-Parry-130118-974.html
In the absence of a class conscious movement–barbarism: The Ghost Dance Arab Spring The Egyptian government appeared to have lost control of the major city of Port Said on Saturday after a court sentenced 21 fans to death for their role in a deadly soccer riot, and their supporters attacked the prison where they were being held, as well as the police and court buildings. By evening, fighting in the streets of Port Said had left at least 30 people dead, mostly from gunfire, and injured more than 300. Fearful residents stayed in their homes. Doctors in the city said the local hospital was overloaded with casualties and pleaded for help. Water had run out in some places. Rioters attacked the Port Said power plant, and for a time closed off the main roads to the city. www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/world/middleeast/egypt-riots-soccer-verdict.html?ref=global-home
General Allen Cleared (shocker). But Guilty of Skankchasing. He runs wars???? The Pentagon’s inspector general has cleared the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he exchanged inappropriate e-mails with the same Tampa socialite involved in the scandal that prompted David H. Petraeus to resign as CIA director, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The FBI uncovered messages from Marine Gen. John R. Allen during its investigation of Petraeus last year. The tenor of some of the e-mails, which senior defense officials described as racy and flirtatious, prompted Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to order a formal inquiry. www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/gen-john-allen-cleared-in-misconduct-inquiry/2013/01/22/479c776a-64dd-11e2-9e1b-07db1d2ccd5b_story.html?hpid=z2
Techno War Means Layoffs The Pentagon has begun laying off 46,000 contract and temporary civilian employees in an effort to cut back on military spending, the No. 2 Pentagon official said on Friday.
Full time civilian employees, which number in the hundreds of thousands, also will be furloughed for one day a week for 22 weeks, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in an interview with wire service reporters. edition.cnn.com/2013/01/25/us/pentagon-layoffs/
Klare—If Tigers Fight Lurking just behind the Iranian imbroglio, however, is a potential crisis of far greater magnitude, and potentially far more imminent than most of us imagine. China’s determination to assert control over disputed islands in the potentially energy-rich waters of the East and South China Seas, in the face of stiffening resistance from Japan and the Philippines along with greater regional assertiveness by the United States, spells trouble not just regionally, but potentially globally.
The possibility of an Iranian crisis remains in the spotlight because of the obvious risk of disorder in the Greater Middle East and its threat to global oil production and shipping. A crisis in the East or South China Seas (essentially, western extensions of the Pacific Ocean) would, however, pose a greater peril because of the possibility of a U.S.-China military confrontation and the threat to Asian economic stability.
The United States is bound by treaty to come to the assistance of Japan or the Philippines if either country is attacked by a third party, so any armed clash between Chinese and Japanese or Filipino forces could trigger American military intervention. With so much of the world’s trade focused on Asia, and the American, Chinese, and Japanese economies tied so closely together in ways too essential to ignore, a clash of almost any sort in these vital waterways might paralyze international commerce and trigger a global recession (or worse). www.tomdispatch.com/post/175640/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_the_next_war/?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=c9f90c615a-TD_Klare1_22_2013&utm_medium=email#more
Those Nasties at Lackland – A top Air Force general testifying at a congressional hearing Wednesday about the growing sexual scandal at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas said officials “clearly failed” to establish order and discipline among instructors at the base….As of this week, 32 basic training instructors at Lackland are under investigation stemming from sexual misconduct allegations and 59 alleged victims have been identified by the base.
A report in mid-November found that a fractured command culture and “leadership gap” at Lackland helped fuel the scandal. Six basic training instructors at the base have been convicted of sexual misconduct dating to 2008 and nine trials are scheduled. Staff Sgt. Eddy C. Soto faces a possible life sentence at trial next week for the alleged rape of a female trainee. www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-lackland-scandal-hearing-20130123,0,6650101.story
The International Economic War of the Rich on the Poor
Morgan Stanley’s Holocaust Mortgages On March 16, 2007, Morgan Stanley employees working on one of the toxic assets that helped blow up the world economy discussed what to name it. Among the team members’ suggestions: “Subprime Meltdown,” “Hitman,” “Nuclear Holocaust” and “Mike Tyson’s Punchout,” as well a simple yet direct reference to a bag of excrement.
Ha ha. Those hilarious investment bankers.
Then they gave it its real name and sold it to a Chinese bank. …let’s review what the documents suggest is the big picture.
In the fall of 2005, bank employees shared nonpublic assessments of how the subprime market was a house of tarot cards.
In February 2006, the bank began creating Stack in part so that it could bet against it.
In April 2006, the bank created its own internal hedge fund, led by Mr. Hubler, who shorted the subprime market. Among the traders in this internal shop were people who helped create Stack and other deals like it, and at least two employees who had access to the private due diligence reports.
Mr. Hubler’s group had no investment position in Stack, according to the person briefed on the matter, but it sure looks as if the bank saw what was coming and tried to position itself for a subprime market collapse.
Finally, by early 2007, the bank appeared to realize that the subprime market was faring even worse than it expected. Even the supposedly safe pieces of C.D.O.’s that it owned, including its piece of Stack, were facing losses. So Morgan Stanley bankers set to scouring the world to peddle as a safe and sound investment what its own employees were internally deriding.
Morgan Stanley declined to comment on whether it made money on its Stack investments over all. But it looks to have turned out well for the bank. In Stack, it managed to fob off a nuclear bomb to the Taiwanese bank.
Unfortunately for Morgan Stanley, it had so many other pieces of C.D.O.’s, so many nuclear warheads, that it couldn’t find nearly enough suckers around the world to buy them all.
And so when the real collapse came, Morgan Stanley was left with billions of dollars in losses.
That hardly seems exculpatory. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/financial-crisis-lawsuit-suggests-bad-behavior-at-morgan-stanley/?ref=global
Banksters Still Not Imprisoned At the core of the program is an examination of what was at the core of the banking practices that precipitated the crisis – the banks knowingly packaged and sold toxic mortgage loans to investors. These dubious loans should never have been given in the first place. The banks knew that and merrily stepped around financial safety standards to keep the game going.
Particular attention is paid to Countrywide Financial, which, in 2006, financed 20 per cent of all mortgages in the United States. Its business plan was simple, we are told – “a loan for every customer” was the motto. Even if the customer had no income. A former employee, who questioned the viability of some loans, was told, “If they can fog a mirror, we’ll give ’em a loan.” Total jiggery-pokery.
So mortgages, based on unverified information and inevitably headed for collapse, were sold and resold, with everybody along the banking line getting a fee, and nobody being bothered to make it stop www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/the-untouchables-pbs-show-finds-wall-street-can-get-away-with-murder/article7587220/
Worth Repeating from Last Week–Taibbi, Secrets and Lies of the Bailout www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailout-20130104
Stiglitz on the Inequality Boom Noted American economist Joseph Stiglitz admonished US economic policies as fueling inequality at the World Economic Forum in Davos Thursday. Meanwhile the Nobel laureate said European leaders had no “sense of what they need to do and will do.”
Stiglitz noted the fact that a full quarter of American wealth is owned by the richest one per cent of the country’s population.
The point was meant to illustrate growing inequality in the US, fabled to be an equal-opportunity society – but where the wealthy have seen their fortunes double since 1980 while wages have flatlined and housing and education prices have gone through the roof.
He pointed out that median US income has been roughly the same for two decades despite rising costs.
“America likes to think of itself as a land of equality and opportunity, the so-called American dream is very deep to our sense of identity,” Stiglitz, who served as the chief economist of the World Bank from 1997 to 2000, said in an interview with the BBC on the sidelines of the conference. “The stats show otherwise, the US has one of the worst opportunity rates of any of the advanced economies.” http://rt.com/news/stiglitz-us-euro-inequality-708/
Davos–Bubble Bubble Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) President Gary Cohn warned of a potential drop in fixed-income prices as bankers and policy makers in Davos celebrated surging demand for financial assets.
Debt markets that have seen junk-bond yields drop to record lows may face a “substantial repricing” if interest rates spike or investors begin pulling money out of fixed income, Cohn, 52, said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. …Low interest rates have stoked demand for riskier assets. Yields on dollar-denominated junk bonds dropped to an unprecedented 6.46 percent on Jan. 22, and prices rose to 105.6 cents from as low as 54.8 cents in December 2008, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.
The declining yields have created a potential for a “bond bubble” that could result in significant losses for debt investors, Fitch Ratings said in a Dec. 19 statement. Oaktree Capital Group LLC’s Howard Marks said in a Jan. 7 memo to clients that the “scramble for return has brought elements of pre-crisis behavior very much back to life.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-24/credit-bubble-seen-in-davos-as-cohn-warns-of-repricing.html
How Can the Dow and World Wide Unemployment Boom Simultaneously More than 197 million people worldwide are jobless, and an additional 39 million have simply given up looking for work, a United Nations agency said on Monday, warning that government budget-balancing was hurting employment and would probably lead to more job losses soon. With global growth stalling five years after the financial crisis upended much of the world economy, the number of jobless is expected to rise by 5.1 million this year, to more than 202 million, the International Labor Organization said in a special report. And it predicted there would be a further three million newly jobless people next year.
High unemployment rates in the developed world — 7.8 percent in the United States, 11.8 percent in the euro zone — weigh on demand and hold back economic growth. ..The labor organization also spotlighted youth unemployment, noting that there were 73.8 million young people unemployed worldwide. It estimated that an additional half million would join the ranks of the jobless this year. The youth unemployment rate, now 12.6 percent, will probably rise to 12.9 percent by 2017, the agency said. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/business/global/un-agency-warns-of-rising-unemployment.html?ref=global-home&_r=0
Judge Lets Madoff Bro Party rather than Get to the Hoosegow Let them eat lox! Peter Madoff — the prison-bound brother of Ponzi-scheming schmuck Bernie — partied hearty with friends and family at his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah yesterday, seemingly oblivious to the thousands of victims bilked because of his complicity in a multibillion-dollar fraud.
And the party will continue today, when the Madoffs trip the light fantastic at 404 NYC, a sleek event space on 10th Avenue that has hosted the likes of Chloe Sevigny, Parker Posey and Ethan Hawke.
Peter Madoff, 67, was slapped with a 10-year sentence on Dec. 20, but a judge — who received pleas from family and clergy to let the granddad attend the event — delayed Madoff’s incarceration until Feb. 6. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/lox_him_up_I2fHfIyowSsDxZ2A9UJ9jJ?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newletter%20-%20AUTO%202013-01-20
An Interlude for the Moor “At any rate, it is but a requirement of the capitalist mode of production that the number of wage-workers should increase absolutely, in spite of its relative decrease. Labour-power becomes redundant for it as soon as it is no longer necessary to employ it for 12 to 15 hours daily. A development of productive forces which would diminish the absolute number of labourers, i.e., enable the entire nation to accomplish its total production in a shorter time span, would cause a revolution, because it would put the bulk of the population out of the running. This is another manifestation of the specific barrier of capitalist production, showing also that capitalist production is by no means an absolute form for the development of the productive forces and for the creation of wealth, but rather that at a certain point it comes into collision with this development. This collision appears partly in periodical crises, which arise from the circumstance that now this and now that portion of the labouring population becomes redundant under its old mode of employment. The limit of capitalist production is the excess time of the labourers. The absolute spare time gained by society does not concern it. The development of productivity concerns it only in so far as it increases the surplus labour-time of the working-class, not because it decreases the labour-time for material production in general. It moves thus in a contradiction. ” http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm
The Reason the Interlude above Came to Mind three years after Google invented one, automated cars could be on their way to a freeway near you. In the U.S., California and other states are rewriting the rules of the road to make way for driverless cars. Just one problem: What happens to the millions of people who make a living driving cars and trucks — jobs that always have seemed sheltered from the onslaught of technology?
“All those jobs are going to disappear in the next 25 years,” predicts Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston. “Driving by people will look quaint; it will look like a horse and buggy.”
If automation can unseat bus drivers, urban deliverymen, long-haul truckers, even cabbies, is any job safe?
Vardi poses an equally scary question: “Are we prepared for an economy in which 50 percent of people aren’t working?” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10629864
Demand 20 Hours Work/40 Hours Pay, or starve Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over.
And the situation is even worse than it appears.
Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.
They’re being obliterated by technology. bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-impact-recession-tech-kill-middle-class-jobs
The Emergence of Fascism as a Popular Mass Movement
Thousands Demand: Disarm The Workers and the Poor Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims and messages such as “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” joined a rally for gun control on Saturday, marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.
Participants were led by Mayor Vincent Gray and other officials Saturday morning, and the crowd stretched for about two blocks along Constitution Avenue. Police blocked off half the road.
From The Detroit News: www.detroitnews.com/article/20130126/NATION/301260379#ixzz2J9eD2CaM
Solidarity for Never
So Long Unionites The nation’s unions lost 400,000 members in 2012 as the percentage of U.S. workers represented by a labor union fell to 11.3 percent, its lowest level since the 1930s – declining by 0.5 percent over the last year.
Michigan accounted for about 10 percent of the nation’s loss of unionized workers as the Wolverine State fell to the seventh most-unionized state, from fifth in 2011.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the biggest hit was in public sector unions, where many states and cities have cut back on their unionized workforce.
Among public sector workers, 35.9 percent are in a union – down from 37.0 percent in 2011, as the public sector shed nearly 250,000 union workers.
The public sector union rate is more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers. In the private sector, 6.6 percent are unionized, down from 6.9 percent in 2011.
Union membership fell in 34 states.
From The Detroit News: www.detroitnews.com/article/20130123/BIZ/301230391#ixzz2IsFyamax
Spy versus Spy
THE CIA AND THE MEDIA
How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up
BY CARL BERNSTEIN
In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.
Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go‑betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without‑portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring‑do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full‑time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations. The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception for the following principal reasons:
■ The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence‑gathering employed by the CIA. Although the Agency has cut back sharply on the use of reporters since 1973 primarily as a result of pressure from the media), some journalist‑operatives are still posted abroad.
■ Further investigation into the matter, CIA officials say, would inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships in the 1950s and 1960s with some of the most powerful organizations and individuals in American journalism.
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.
By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. (much more at www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php)
Racist FBI profilers Sued A 36-year-old Ohio woman who is half-Jewish and half-Arab filed a lawsuit today against the FBI and other federal agencies, saying she was yanked off an airplane at Metro Airport on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, strip-searched, and jailed more than four hours in a dirty cell because of her ethnic background.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Detroit on behalf of Shoshana Hebshi of Sylvania Ohio, who was on a Frontier Airlines flight that landed in Detroit on Sept. 11, 2011. She and two Indian-American men sitting in her row were targeted by federal agents who entered the plane, ordered them off the plane, handcuffed them, and pushed them down the stairs into vehicles, Hebshi said. www.freep.com/article/20130122/NEWS05/130122080/shoshana-hebshi-profiling-detroit-metro?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
The Magical Mystery Tour
Cardinal Mahony’s Rapist Sanctuaries
Fifteen years before the clergy sex abuse scandal came to light, Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and a top advisor plotted to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement, including keeping them out of California to avoid prosecution, according to internal Catholic church records released Monday. The archdiocese’s failure to purge pedophile clergy and reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement has previously been known. But the memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese’s chief advisor on sex abuse cases, offer the strongest evidence yet of a concerted effort by officials in the nation’s largest Catholic diocese to shield abusers from police. The newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, reveal in church leaders’ own words a desire to keep authorities from discovering that children were being molested.
In the confidential letters, filed this month as evidence in a civil court case, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent them from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators. www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-church-files-20130122,0,3114631.story
LA Rapist Priest Scandal Deepens The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Tuesday it plans to review newly released records from the late 1980s that show then-Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and a top aide worked to conceal pedophile priests from law enforcement.
The office “will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us,” a spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said. The records offer the strongest evidence yet of a concerted effort by officials in the nation’s largest Catholic diocese to shield abusers from police. The newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, reveal in church leaders’ own words a desire to keep authorities from discovering that children were being molested.
The records contain memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese’s chief advisor on sex abuse cases. In the confidential letters, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they had abused young boys.
Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent the priests from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators. Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologized repeatedly for errors in handling abuse allegations.] http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/church-molestation-cases-distict-attorney.html
Superstitious Anti Semite Dies Despite an increasingly secularized population, Cardinal Glemp advanced his agenda. Compulsory religious education resumed in public schools, a law requiring the news media to conform to “Christian values” was adopted, and abortions were sharply restricted. His appeals to abolish a constitutional separation of church and state went unheeded, but he gave his blessing to Poland’s market economy.
Cardinal Glemp was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism, notably for his 1989 remarks resisting an agreement to move a Carmelite convent from Auschwitz, where millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis. After Jews complained, the Vatican agreed in 1987 to put the convent in a nearby interfaith center. But as a deadline passed and Jews staged protests, the cardinal went on the offensive, saying:
“Do you, esteemed Jews, not see that your pronouncements against the nuns offend the feelings of all Poles, and our sovereignty, which has been achieved with such difficulty? Your power lies in the mass media that are easily at your disposal in many countries. Let them not serve to spread anti-Polish feeling.” He added, “Dear Jews, do not talk with us from the position of a people raised above all others, and do not dictate conditions that are impossible to fulfill.” …In 2001, Cardinal Glemp was again accused of anti-Semitism when he refused to accompany President Kwasniewski to the village of Jedwabne to apologize for the 1941 massacre of 1,600 Jews, most of them burned alive in a barn by Polish neighbors. The cardinal disavowed “ostentatious penance” in advance, and said, “I prefer not to have politicians impose on the Church the way it is to fulfill its act of contrition for the crimes committed by certain groups of people.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/world/europe/cardinal-jozef-glemp-of-poland-is-dead-at-83.html?pagewanted=2&ref=obituaries
The Best and Worst Things in the History of the World
Michigan Supreme Court Justice to Plead out to Bank Fraud Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will find herself on the other side of the bench on Tuesday when she’s likely to plead guilty to bank fraud charges related to questionable real estate transactions, legal experts say.
Hathaway, who resigned from the high court Monday, will appear at 10:30 a.m. in U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara’s Ann Arbor courtroom, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit.
Legal experts predict Hathaway likely will plead guilty to the fraud charge because it was filed as a criminal “information,” meaning the defendant has cut a deal with prosecutors before being arraigned.
From The Detroit News: www.detroitnews.com/article/20130123/METRO/301230343#ixzz2J3J1BPjB