Posts filed under ‘USA – Third World Country’
From David Sirota over at Pando.com in an article titled: For Economic Stimulus, Pensions Beat Stadiums and Server Farms.
There [in Detroit], as if proudly advertising its reverse-Robin Hood class war, the city is simultaneously seeking bankruptcy to avoid pensions payments, while pledging $400 million to build a new hockey stadium.
I would much rather have my tax dollars go toward pensions instead of a hockey stadium. Geezus. It’s a no-brainer.
Americans think of Mexico and Mexicans as a nation of wannabe braceros, itching to cross the border to suck the tit of the American welfare state.
Think again Americans! They’re movin’ on up and getting things done:
Barring an unlikely court upset, the new year in Mexico will bring a national tax of one peso per liter — roughly 10 percent — on sugar-sweetened beverages and 8 percent on junk food. The legislation came about through a strong push by the Nutritional Health Alliance of 22 NGOs and networks representing some 650 nonprofits and grass-roots organizations, and an alignment of interests among President Enrique Peña Nieto, advisers in the Hacienda y Crédito Público (the rough equivalent of the I.R.S.), and members of the opposition parties.
The powerful Mexican soda and junk food industries were hardly asleep at the wheel this fall, and fear of losing their advertisers appears to have led major TV stations to refuse to run commercials advocating the tax. But several factors motivated Mexico’s president and legislature, including the fact that among populous nations, Mexico recently passed the United States to become the world’s most obese. Beyond that, there’s an increasing awareness that Mexico’s accelerating public health crisis could hurt its economy, and that only prevention would make practical the universal, single-payer health care system instituted last year.
Also critical to the new law was an agreement reached by the three major political parties, called “Pact for Mexico,” which essentially committed them all to not blocking anything that a majority wanted; specifically, if the party in office and one of the other two major parties wanted to pass one of 95 reforms necessary for the country to progress the third party would not resist. In other words, the nation’s future trumped partisan interests.
According to the latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, there are 98,700 “ultra high net worth” individuals in the world, defined as those with a net worth of over US$50 million.
That number is up 14,200 from last year, and the report reasons that this shows that the world’s economy is working out well for the ultra rich.
So where do this global elite — roughly the world’s richest — live? Mostly in one country. The United States (see a larger version here):
When they say the division of wealth is as unequal here in the U.S. as it’s been since the Roaring 20s, they mean it.
My Tweet of the Day:
Wall Street investors hungry for advance information on upcoming federal health-care decisions repeatedly held private discussions with Obama administration officials, including a top White House adviser helping to implement the Affordable Care Act.
The private conversations show that the increasingly urgent race to acquire“political intelligence” goes beyond the communications with congressional staffers that have become the focus of heightened scrutiny in recent weeks.
White House records show that Elizabeth Fowler, then a top health-policy adviser to President Obama, met with executives from half a dozen investment firms in 2011 and 2012. Among them was Kris Jenner, a stock picker with T. Rowe Price Investment Services who managed its $6 billion Health Sciences Fund.
Hedge fund executives and other investors are increasingly interested in the timing and nature of health-policy decisions in Washington because they directly affect the profits and stock prices of pharmaceutical, insurance, hospital and managed-care companies. Similar interest surrounds other industry sectors, such as defense, agriculture and energy, whose fortunes are especially dependent on government decisions.
There is no evidence that the private discussions with the two administration officials about health-care decisions provided investors with confidential agency information or that the investors made trades based on what they learned.
But this sort of intelligence gathering has been drawing attention from lawmakers and federal investigators who are looking at whether some traders are gaining access to information that is not available to investors in general or the wider public.
Geezus. DUH! This is government-sanctioned, government-assisted insider trading for God’s sake. Talk about giving the 1% yet another advantage over We the Little People. Unbelievable.
Heading into this new week I’m already exhausted because all the attention in the US media is on Wednesday night’s second presidential debate. Nobody knows what will happen of course. It’s all about speculation. Predictions. What ifs. Could be. This or that.
We’re watching talking heads justify their own existence and their own paychecks.
A friend of mine had some simple advice for me last week: Don’t watch any of the debates so you can…sleep.
I’m thinking she’s right.
And another thing: So much is going on in the world but in order to save/make money, the MSM has laid off their foreign correspondents and the campaign is all they’ve got.
So, here we are. The Debates. That’s it.
If only we could train them to to think we care about real news.
On a windy night in September, whilst most people were sleeping, wind power reached a record of 64.2% of Spain’s electricity demand.
The vast majority of Spain’s power that night came not from fossil fuels but clean, renewable energy generated by wind turbines on the Spanish hills.
And what couldn’t be used in Spain wasn’t wasted.
Some was exported via giant cables linking Spain to the rest of Europe and some was used to pump water uphill so it could be allowed to flow back down later, when demand was higher.
Pumped storage and interconnectors are just two of the way Spain has found to make sure wind works.
And there’s this:
Germany continues to outstrip the rest of the world in solar power capacity, and is adding new solar faster than any other country as well.
The US energy corporatocracy wants to believe that drilling for oil, fracking and transnational pipelines are the key to energy independence. Believe that at your children’s and your grandchildren’s peril.
Countries like Germany and Spain (despite their financial difficulties) are moving ahead with clean energy yet the US is held hostage by companies who wouldn’t mind destroying the entire planet to make a profit.
16+ million people follow Kim Kardashian on Twitter. Kim tweets about having and buying things:
Think about the (mostly young) women who follow her. Life is all about moccasins, loafers, being blond and bikinis.
In case you missed it, the United States isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore. Here’s why:
Beginning scene of the new HBO series The Newsroom explaining why America’s Not the Greatest Country Any Longer… But It Can Be.
Even though we are a country that supposedly values the family, we suck when it comes to putting those beliefs into practice:
Just in time for Mother’s Day, an annual ranking of the best and worst countries in which to be a mom puts the USA in 25th place, up from 31st last year.
The improvement in the USA’s rank is due largely to increases in its already high educational status, which benefits the economic potential of women and mothers, says Carolyn Miles, president of the charity.
The USA still performs below average overall and quite poorly on a number of measures, Miles says, including:
•Lifetime risk of dying from childbirth. Mothers in the USA face a one-in-2,100 risk of maternal death, the highest of any industrialized nation.
•Mortality rate of children. The death rate for children younger than 5 is eight per 1,000 births, on par with Bosnia and Herzegovina. A child in the USA is four times as likely as a child in Iceland to die before age 5. Forty countries performed better than the U.S.
•Maternity leave policies. Policies in the USA are among the least generous of any wealthy nation. It is the only developed country, and one of only a handful of countries in the world, that does not guarantee working mothers paid leave. “The U.S. has moved up, but it’s still not great, falling near the bottom among most wealthy nations,” Miles says.
This is the kind of thing I think of when I hear people yell, “USA! USA! USA! We’re No. 1!”
This takes guts:
3,600 Lockheed Martin Workers Go on Strike in Texas
Strikes involving thousands of workers in the “right-to-work” state of Texas are extraordinarily rare. Yet on Monday, 3,600 Lockheed Martin workers, members of IAM Local 776 who make F-35 and F-16 fighter jets in Fort Worth, Texas, went out on strike to protest proposed healthcare and pension cuts.
Workers are upset about a proposed contract that would make workers’ pay much higher insurance deductibles. Lockheed Martin has already implemented this plan for its nonunion employees.
Workers are also upset about a plan that would eliminate defined-benefit pensions for new hires. In recent years, many other unions have agreed to this concession while retaining defined-benefit plans for current union members—a group of 15,000 GE workers agreed to a similar change for future hires last summer. Lockheed workers in Texas, however are fed up.
“The first time…, they take away pension for new hires. Next time around, when new hires [are in the union], they say ‘we are going to freeze the pension.’ Of course, the new hires that don’t have a pension aren’t going to strike, so then the pension is frozen,” says IAM spokesman Bob Woods. “Companies like Lockheed Martin simply want to eliminate defined benefit pensions plans.”
The union feels confident, though, that Lockheed Martin—the largest federal defense contractor, with $17.34 billion in federal projects last year—would be unable to operate the Texas plant without the skill of its unionized workforce.
“Every three years they want to come and take some other benefit. Everyone is sick and tired of it. These folks are prepared to be on strike for a long time” says Wood.
And there’s this just out this morning:
Lockheed Martin Profit Rises 20% as Stevens to Retire
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the world’s largest defense company, reported first-quarter profit rose 20 percent as Robert Stevens, the chairman and chief executive officer, announced plans to retire.
Again, these workers must
have balls of steel be really, really pissed to strike in this environment when it’s fashionable to hate unions and when replacement workers are a dime a dozen. I admire their courage.
It will be very interesting indeed to see what happens here. Not only does this involve a relatively large under of people (harder to ignore) but it is a strike against a company that sucks in Our Tax Dollars as if it’s breastfeeding. What should we require — if anything — of companies that rely so heavily on Our Tax Dollars? Seems to me that in this instance, given it’s 20% profit increase, it’s trying to shift more and more money upward by slowly but surely screwing the workers and heck, I’d rather have the workers get good pay and good pensions than give even more (of my tax) money to the honchos.
Oh, and speaking of honchos, in 2010 the CEO of Lockheed Martin (Robert Stevens, the guy who’s retiring), raked in a total compensation package of $19,118,612. $19+ million.
This is a battle between the 1% and the 99%.
I’ll keep you posted.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the pipsqueak who’s wholly owned by the Koch Brothers and a “hero” to Mitt Romney, is good at one thing for sure. Screwing things up. Take creating jobs for example. This would be the headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel yesterday: State Posts Largest Percentage Job Loss in U.S. Over Past Year.
Here’s a graph that accompanied the article. Check out the red line at the bottom. That’s Romney’s “hero’s” work.
So folks, if you like what Scott Walker’s doing in Wisconsin, vote for Mitt and all of our states will have red lines after their names. It’ll be kinda like what’s happening in the UK where they’re proving that austerity doesn’t work. British Economy Slips Back Into Recession.
Ah yes, the world moves on into the future. This happened in India while the United States spent its time taking rights away from women and talking about how many members of the communist party are in the House of Representatives.
Just 14 months ago, the Indian state of Gujarat announced that it was building a $2.3-billion solar park — the largest photovoltaic power station the world has seen so far.
Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, revealed this Thursday via Twitter than the solar park had been switched on.
(Look closely at the upper left hand corner of the photo. I think that’s a gigantic wind turbine.)
So, again, while we were taking ourselves back to the 1950s, India was building the largest solar farm on the planet.
USA! USA! USA!
This is the amazing blogger Andrew Sullivan (on the left) walking into the White House last night with his spouse, Aaron Tone, on their way to the state dinner with British PM David Cameron.
What a wonderful picture. Despite all the gloom, it reminds me that yes, we’re slowly making progress despite having to drag the ball and chain of the Republicans along with us:
Bravo to President Obama for having the guts to invite these two and bravo to Andrew and Tony for their pride and confidence.
If we didn’t click on headlines like this, “news” organizations wouldn’t publish them:
Geezus. Thoughts about the collapse of civilization come to mind.
WHILE the economy remains stubbornly sluggish and home sales nationwide continue to sag, Manhattan’s real estate market has largely stabilized, with apartments in some neighborhoods selling for prices not seen since the headiest days of the boom.
But on the road to recovery, one segment of the market has outpaced the rest: ultraluxury, which analysts roughly define as properties costing $7 million and up. At these lofty heights, there was only the slightest of hiccups after the crash, and in the ensuing years, values have soared, with some apartments doubling in price.
Normally, that news would mean rising prices in every other segment of the market, from the tiniest starter studios to family-size four-bedroom co-ops. But that is not happening, even with interest rates at record lows and prices considered reasonable by Manhattan standards.
“There is a greater disconnect between the very top of the market and everything else than I have ever seen in my 25 years in the business,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
That last sentence is remarkable: A guy with 25 years “in the business” has never seen such a disconnect between the “very top of the market and everything else.” Seems to me that’s quite the visual aid when it comes to imagining the 1% versus the 99%.
Do you think every single business can be trusted to give their workers a lunch break without it being mandated by law? You know, out of the goodness of their heart? Republicans in New Hampshire do: New Hampshire Republicans Propose Bill To Eliminate Workers’ Lunch Breaks.
Folks, if you think there are” too many government regulations” and that those regulations are strangling businesses, vote Republican, because this is what they mean when they say they want to undo those “job killing regulations.” They want to make it so businesses can do anything they want, including screw you out of a lunch break.
You think corporations run things now? Just wait.
I just got these two tweets from China:
And then I did the Google:
Smog, commonly referred to as “fog” by the propagandistic Chinese government, is reeking havoc in China:
(December 7, 2011) Whether it’s fog or smog, thousands of people have been delayed during the last few days by the almost-opaque air around Beijing Capital International Airport.
The delays since Sunday evening at one of the busiest, most modern airports in the world raise questions about whether air pollution in China has gotten bad enough to derail the country’s economic growth. Nearly 1,000 flights have been canceled and 10 highways in northern China had to be closed due to lack of visibility.
Chinese authorities say the murk is fog, purely a weather phenomenon, acknowledging only that there was “light pollution.” The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which has its own air monitor on the roof, however, reported Sunday night that the index of fine particulate matter had soared to 522 micrograms per cubic meter, which is off the charts. (A reading between 300 and 500 is considered “hazardous.”)
Beijingers bought more than 20,000 face masks on Taobao, a shopping site; and people took to the Internet to mock their government’s reporting of air quality.
“They are treating citizens as idiots,” complained a young man on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog. A middle-aged man wrote sarcastically, “The city looks like a fairyland but thanks to the government, it is only ‘slight pollution.’”
The poor air quality Tuesday resulted in the cancellation of more than 370 flights. The U.S. Embassy monitor reported the particulate matter as “very unhealthy.”
The life the Chinese are living is brought to you by a government that is bent on development and growth, sans regulation. This is what the Republicans want to bring to the US of A. I.e., give corporations free rein to do whatever they want because that CREATE JOBS. Yeah, so we have (low paying) jobs but then what? We’re can’t take our kids outside, walk the dog or grow veggies in the garden, and we die of emphysema or heart failure on our day off.
Oh, and again, ain’t it great that our “liberal media” seems to have gone into 27/7 campaign coverage mode (due to last until November) so we conveniently don’t hear about things like this? And, as usual, any “news” that occurs outside the literal borders of the United States isn’t covered. What a disastrous combo.
Here’s a heads up regarding Grover Norquist’s new project. (Was I asleep when he was elected president of everything?)
Sorry for the lack of a snipet. I’ve had it up to here with dictators today.
Read his craziness at the link above. He thinks building wind turbines and installing solar energy panels on homes across the country will kill jobs.
Ugh. There are no words…
“Officials” responsible for tap water in Louisiana blame deaths from contaminated water there on a ceramic pot. No, I’m not kidding:
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has issued a warning about improper Neti pot use, which has been linked to two deadly infections.
A 51-year-old woman from DeSoto Parish and a 20-year-old man from St. Bernard Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, died after using Neti pots containing tap water to flush their sinuses. Both became infected with Naegleria fowleri, a parasite known as the brain-eating amoeba.
“If you are irrigating, flushing or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a Neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution,” Louisiana State epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said in a statement. “Tap water is safe for drinking but not for irrigating your nose.”
Tap water is safe for drinking but not for irrigating one’s nose? A ceramic pot is the lynch pin in all this?
That makes no sense.