Published on Nov 6, 2013
Thom Hartmann talks about how the super-rich used our infrastructure and sent their profits overseas.
There are hundreds of formerly prosperous communities all over America that are being steadily transformed into rotting, decaying hellholes. The good paying middle class jobs that once supported those communities are long gone, and they have been replaced with low paying service jobs if they have been replaced at all. When you visit those communities, it is almost as if all of the hope has been sucked right out of the air. It can be absolutely heartbreaking to look into the hollow eyes of someone that has totally given in to despair, but unfortunately the number of Americans that are giving up on the economy continues to grow. Today, the labor participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years, and more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program. It is easy to say that they should just “get a job”, but as I have written about repeatedly, our economy simply is not producing enough jobs for everyone anymore. The percentage of working age Americans with a job has remained at the same level that it was at during the worst days of the last recession, and meanwhile the quality of our jobs has continued to steadily decline. Median household income has fallen for five years in a row, but the cost of living continues to rise rapidly. The middle class is being systematically shredded, and poverty is growing at an alarming rate. The U.S. economy has been in decline for a long time, and the really bad news is that it appears that this decline is about to accelerate.
We are a nation that consumes far more wealth than we produce. We are a nation that buys far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us. We are a nation that has a “buy now, pay later” mentality.
As a nation, we have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world. 40 years ago, the total amount of debt in our system (government, business and consumer) was about 2 trillion dollars. Today, it is more than 56 trillion dollars.
The consequences of decades of incredibly foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us, and it is those at the bottom of the food chain that will suffer the most.
I could spend the rest of this article quoting 30 or 40 more statistics that show how bad things are, but today I wanted to do something different. Today, I wanted to share some quotes from some of my readers about what they are seeing where they live. The following are 20 quotes from ordinary Americans about the economic despair that is rapidly growing like a cancer all around us…
“Yes, the American economy is in the pits. I know five languages, have three degrees (including two graduate degrees), and have lived overseas for 16 years and I still can’t find a job in the USA. Everything is broken in America. Maybe I should give up my American citizenship.”
“I’ve been struggling since I finished college in the summer of 2010. My dream is to work in the courts, law enforcement but it’s almost impossible to get a call back for an interview. I interviewed with Garland, Texas PD for a position in the city jail and I made the final 30 of 300 applicants that applied for the 3 positions.”
“I have two Master’s degrees, am 61 years old and earning $10 per hour. What does that say about the current economy?”
#4 Cincinnati Dave:
“I work for one of the banks mentioned in your article. I was in mortgages. I saw all of this coming, so several months ago I asked to get into another area of the bank and fortunately, for me, they granted by request. A lot of people are losing their jobs and there is really no prospects out there for anything else whereby the same kind of money could be made. I will make nothing near what I had been earning but am at the least grateful to be employed. This is all so sad to watch happen.”
“I used to work for WF processing mortgages. The week that the rates went up, I was out of work, not one extra week of work.”
“The U.S. economy is producing mostly part-time, low-wage jobs. These jobs barely pay enough to put food on the table.”
“What I am aware of, is every person I know, who had to switch jobs in the last five years took a pay cut. The smallest cut among my friends was 10%, the average was closer to 18%. No we are heading down a bad road, and we are past the point of no return.”
“After spending most of my life in the middle class, I now consider myself lower class due to age and income. Nothing wrong with that. I am still able to provide myself with what I need and some of my ‘wants’. I am like most retirees today.”
Published on Jul 25, 2013
http://www.democracynow.org – Kicking off a series of speeches about the economy, President Obama told a crowd in Illinois on Wednesday that reversing growing inequality and rejuvenating the middle class “has to be Washington’s highest priority.” During his remarks, Obama failed to mention the bankruptcy filing by Detroit, where thousands of public workers are now fighting to protect their pensions and medical benefits as the city threatens massive cuts to overcome an estimated $18 billion in debt. Detroit’s bankruptcy “is an example of a failed economic system,” says economist Richard Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at University of Massachusetts. “There are so many other cities in Detroit’s situation, that if the courts decide that it is legal to take away the pension that has been promised to and paid for by these workers, you have [legalized] theft. It is class war, redistributing income from the bottom to the top.”
The beginning of the year has traditionally been a time of optimism when we all look forward to the exciting things that are going to happen over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of things about 2013 that we already know are going to stink. Taxes are going to go up, good paying jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be destroyed, the number of Americans living in poverty will continue to soar, our infrastructure will continue to decay, global food supplies will likely continue to dwindle and the U.S. national debt will continue to explode. Our politicians continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess, and yet they continue to expect things to magically turn around. But that is not the way that things work in the real world. Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes. Instead of realizing that what we are doing is not working, our “leaders” continue to give us more of the same. As a result, there are going to be a lot of things about 2013 that will not be great. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything will be “okay” somehow is not going to help anyone. We’ve got to make people understand exactly what is happening and why it is happening if we ever hope to see real changes.
The following are 16 things about 2013 that are really going to stink…
#1 Taxes Are Going To Go Up
Even if a fiscal cliff deal is reached, some taxes will still go up next year. And if no deal is reached, there will be a whole bunch of different tax increases in 2013.
According to CBS News, these tax increases would be very painful for the middle class…
If lawmakers fail to work out any sort of deal, there will be severe long-term consequences for the economy: According to the Tax Policy Center, going off the “cliff” would affect 88 percent of U.S. taxpayers, with their taxes rising by an average of $3,500 a year; taxes would jump $2,400 on average for families with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000. Because consumers would get less of their paychecks to spend, businesses and jobs would suffer.
#2 The Middle Class Is About To Be Scorched By The Alternative Minimum Tax
Of more immediate concern for the middle class is the Alternative Minimum Tax. Many Americans have never heard of the AMT, but it is truly one of the worst things about our tax code.
If Congress does not act, and right now it does not look promising, millions of middle class households will see a massive increase in their tax bills for 2012.
According to one analysis, households that are forced to pay the AMT will end up paying an extra $3,700 in taxes…
Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, more than 26 million households will for the first time face the AMT, which threatens to tack $3,700, on average, onto taxpayers’ bills for the current tax year. Because those people have never paid the AMT, they have no idea they are in its crosshairs — put there by a broader stalemate over tax policy that has kept Congress from limiting the AMT’s reach.
Do you have an extra $3,700 sitting around to send to Uncle Sam?
If not, you had better contact your representatives in Congress and scream like crazy about passing a fix for the AMT. They have always gotten it done before, but this year there is so much animosity between the Republicans and the Democrats that nothing may end up getting done.
#3 The Economy Will Continue To Get Worse
Despite all of the talk in the mainstream media and from our politicians that our economy is getting better, the truth is that the U.S. economy continued to decline in 2012. If you doubt this, just read the 75 statistics in this article.
And there are a whole host of signs that the economy is starting to slow down even more as we enter 2013. For example, consumer confidence in the United States has experienced its largest two-month drop in over a year, and retail sales during the holiday season turned out to be quite disappointing.
#4 Good Paying Jobs Will Continue To Be Shipped Out Of The United States
Thanks to decades of “free trade agreements”, workers in the United States must directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
We continue to see millions of jobs being shipped out of the country and our politicians stand by and do nothing.
Most Americans have no idea how this emerging one world economic system works. The beautiful product that you buy at the big retail store may have been made by someone working in some of the most horrific conditions imaginable.
A 42-year-old woman named Julie Keith recently found this letter inside a box of Halloween decorations that had been made in China…
“If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.
People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).
People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others.”
But both political parties continue to tell us how wonderful it is that we are trading with communist China. They see no problem with the fact that good paying jobs that used to be performed in America are now being performed by slave laborers on the other side of the planet. And most Americans continue to support this system by filling their shopping carts with lots of stuff that has “made in China” stamped on it.
#5 Small Businesses Will Continue To Be Destroyed
At the same time, small businesses all over America are being strangled to death by taxes and regulations. Just consider the following numbers from a previous article…
We are told that the economy is supposed to be “recovering”, but the number of “startup jobs” at new businesses has fallen for five years in a row. According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, there were almost 12 startup jobs per 1000 Americans back in the year 2006. By 2011, that figure had fallen to less than 8 startup jobs per 1000 Americans.
How is our economy ever going to thrive if we keep killing off our small businesses?
#6 Hunger And Poverty Will Continue To Explode To Unprecedented Levels
As the U.S. economy bleeds jobs and loses small businesses, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to explode.
Here are some numbers to show to people who still don’t understand how desperate the situation is…
-Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
-According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.
#7 The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Will Continue To Increase
If the economy is recovering, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps continue to soar?
As I wrote about yesterday, about 17 million Americans were on food stamps back in the year 2000.
Today, more than 47 million Americans are on food stamps.
Does anyone want to explain to me how that is a sign that things are getting better?
Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.
How much worse do things have to get before people realize that what we are doing is not working?
#8 Millions Of Americans Are About To Lose Their Unemployment Benefits
During this economic crisis, an unprecedented number of American families have been relying on unemployment benefits in order to stay afloat.
Well, if no agreement is reached in Washington D.C., millions of Americans will shortly lose those benefits…
According to a new NYU study, middle and lower-class household net worth has fallen to a 43-year low. (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
According to a recent study by New York University economics professor Edward N. Wolff, median net worth is at the decades-low figure of $57,000 (in 2010 dollars). And as the numbers in his study reflect, the situation only appears worse when all the statistics are taken as a whole.
According to Wolff, between 1983 and 2010, the percentage of households with less than $10,000 in assets (using constant 1995 dollars) rose from 29.7 percent to 37.1 percent. The “less than $10,000″ figure includes the numerous households that have no assets at all, or “negative assets,” which is otherwise known as “debt.”
Over that same period of time, the wealthiest 1 percent of American households increased their average wealth by 71 percent.
As noted by Daily Finance, from 1983 to 2010 the share of total wealth held by the richest 10 percent of American households increased from 68.2 percent to 76.7 percent. Meanwhile, all the rest of Americans lost financial ground.
An August Pew Research Center study found that many in the middle-class are divided on how they believe his gap widened.
By Michael Snyder | Blacklisted News
The middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. Once upon a time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world. The rest of the globe looked at us in envy and wondered what we were doing right.
But now everything seems to be going wrong for the middle class. Millions of our jobs have been shipped out of the country and competition for the remaining jobs is keeping wages at depressed levels. Meanwhile, the cost of living just keeps going up and up and middle class budgets are being stretched and strained like never before.
Millions more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty every single year, and government dependence is at an all-time high. Finding a solution to the decline of the middle class is absolutely central to fixing the economic problems in this country.
Without a large, thriving middle class this would not be America. The truth is that people from all over the world want to come here because they want to work hard, buy a house, raise a family and provide a better future for their children.
This has traditionally been “the land of opportunity”, but now the middle class is rapidly declining and none of our politicians seem to have any solutions. With each passing day, the American Dream is slipping through the fingers of millions of hard working American families. We owe it to them to get this thing fixed.
The following are 84 statistics that prove that the decline of the middle class is real and that it is getting worse….
So what do all of you think about the decline of the middle class?
Hey, buddy, how you doing these days?
Every three years, the Federal Reserve takes a break from abstract studies filled with hieroglyphics to ask Americans that simple question. It’s called the Survey of Consumer Finance, and its latest report makes one thing clear: The American middle class is sick as a dog.
The report, which covers the year 2010, is painstakingly detailed. I combed through the tables and pulled out data for those in the 40th to 59th income percentiles — call it middle-class America.
What it shows probably won’t surprise you — I think most of us are numb to bad news — but as one analyst put it, this is “the most important story in America” right now.
Let’s start with real (inflation-adjusted) incomes:
Source: Federal Reserve.
From 1989 to 2010, the U.S. economy grew by 66% (measured by real GDP). But real incomes for middle-class Americans essentially stagnated during that time, from $41,000 in 1989 to $43,000 in 2010. Things had looked better earlier in the 2000s, but most income gains that took place in the 1990s were wiped out in the last few years. For the 1998-2010 period, the economy as a whole grew by about 28%, but middle-class family income was unchanged. In his book The Great Divergence, Timothy Noah adds stark detail: “From 1980 to 2005, 80 percent of the total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1%.”
The story for real middle-class family net worths is even bleaker:
Source: Federal Reserve.
There’s your American dream, folks. Two decades of prosperity when real GDP grew from $7.8 trillion to $13 trillion, and the net worth of middle-class American families went… down by 7%. Pundits these days ask in worry if we’re facing a lost decade. Most Americans have already been through two (and counting).
Not surprisingly, the housing bust is responsible for most of the decline in net worths. Many of those wounds came about through greed and temptation — households borrowing more than they could ever afford, buying a second home to flip, zero-interest mortgages… you know the story. The takeaway from that is that the housing-driven net-worth gains from 2001 to 2007 were fictitious, meaning the 2010 figures in this chart are probably the most realistic of the last decade. The temporary rise, not the sudden decline, is the outlier here.
And how are families doing rebuilding their net worths? Awful. This chart shows the percentage of middle-income families who reported they could save anything in the previous year:
Published on May 29, 2012 by democracynow
DemocracyNow.org – Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt where protests erupted last night after final results were announced in the country’s first-ever competitive presidential election. The top two candidates in the first round of the race are Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under Hosni Mubarak — who was ousted in a popular uprising 15 months ago. “[Shafik] speaks the language of Mubarak’s regime and what that means is the retention of broad discretionary powers given to the executive and given to security forces, a very strong role for Security Agency involvement whether the intelligence services or Ministry of Interior Security agencies to ensure stability and control over protests, which as far as he is concerned, are the source of instability,” says Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. Morsi and Shafik will face each other in a runoff vote set to begin June 16. Special thanks to Democracy Now! video producer Hany Massoud.
To watch the complete weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org/
Published on May 29, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish
The Filipino government has fired the country’s top judge, after he failed to declare millions of dollars in assets.
Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached by the Senate on Tuesday, on charges of betraying public trust, as part of a new effort to clean up corruption in the country.
Al Jazeera’s Marga Ortigas reports.
Published on May 29, 2012 by danielofdoriaa
Tony Blair gets worries as a protester manages to get past security and accuse Tony Blair of war crimes at the Leveson inquiry.
Recorded from Sky News, 28 May 2012
Link added by request:-
Tony Blair Appointed Senior Advisor to JPMorgan Chase
London – The judicial inquiry into Britain’s phone hacking scandal was set to hear testimony on Monday from Tony Blair, a former prime minister who sought the endorsement of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers but once described the press as “feral.”
Mr. Blair’s appearance may, paradoxically, offer welcome relief for Prime Minister David Cameron, switching attention from the close relationship between Mr. Murdoch and the current government to the tycoon’s ties to its Labour Party predecessor.
For much of last week, the judicial inquiry headed by Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson sought to probe what seemed a cozy relationship between the Murdoch empire and the office of Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt at a time when Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation was seeking to acquire full ownership of BSkyB, Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster.
Mr. Hunt, who was the minister overseeing the bid, has been depicted as favorable to the takeover at a time when his role required impartiality. He is to testify before the Leveson inquiry on Thursday.
The $12 billion bid was abandoned last year as the phone hacking scandal broke over parts of the Murdoch media outpost in Britain.
In Mr. Blair’s case, the ties date to 1990s when Mr. Murdoch’s top-selling tabloid, The Sun, swung its support behind Mr. Blair’s Labour Party before the 1997 general election and later took credit for the Labour victory. Two years before the election, Mr. Blair, then leader of the opposition, flew to an Australian island to address News Corporation executives as the Labour Party sought to reverse a hostile relationship with the press.
One of Mr. Blair’s former close aides and allies, Lord Peter Mandelson, told the Leveson inquiry last week that it was “arguably the case” that the relationship between Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown “became closer than was wise.”The bonds endured: Mr. Blair was reported in the British media to have acted as godfather to one of Mr. Murdoch’s ‘s children in 2010.
While his government took power on a huge wave of popularity, Mr. Blair’s close alliance with former President Bush in the Iraq war and accusations that he had misled Britons about the conflict contributed to a gradual souring of his relationship with newspapers.
Shortly before he left office in 2007, he told an audience: “The fear of missing out means today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out.”
He also quoted a past prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, who berated the news media for having “power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot through the ages,” a charge that borrowed from Kipling.
Shortly before the 2010 general election, in which Mr. Cameron came to power as head of a coalition government with the junior Liberal Democrats, The Sun abandoned Labour to swing behind Mr. Cameron’s Conservatives.
Three parties quit Nepal’s Maoist-led government on Monday as the Himalayan republic slipped deeper into crisis after the prime minister called elections following the failure to agree on a new constitution aimed at ending years of instability.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has called for Nov 22 elections to resolve the constitutional impasse, sparking a backlash from politicians and Nepalis who have seen the country lurch from one crisis to the next after a civil war ended in 2006.
With political rivals calling for the prime minister’s resignation, the desertion of three parties from his coalition may force Bhattarai to step down, but it is not likely to derail fresh elections.
However, the political row could trigger months of street protests and violence in one of the world’s poorest countries, wedged between India and China.
Security forces in Kathmandu remained on “high alert” after clashes between protesters and police injured more than a dozen people over the weekend. The streets were quiet in the capital on Monday, which was a public holiday.
But protesters took to the streets again in southern pockets of the country, angry at the ongoing deadlock.
“Political parties are not interested in a constitution. They simply want power and money for themselves and don’t care about us,” said Bal Bahadur Lama, a 63-year-old laborer in the Nepali capital.
Bhattarai is Nepal’s fifth prime minister since the end of the civil war, which killed more than 16,000 people and ended the rule of a centuries-old monarchy.
Efforts for a new constitution have been scotched by demands for the country to be divided into states along ethnic lines, which triggered violent protests in recent weeks and saw ethnic groups stage demonstrations outside the parliament building.
The call for new elections prompted three smaller allies of the Maoist-led government to quit on Monday morning.
“The prime minister brought the election proposal suddenly without consulting us,” said Ishwar Pokharel, from the Communist UML party, who resigned as deputy prime minister.
“The government has no constitutional or political legitimacy to hold new elections,” he told Reuters.
Critics accuse the Maoists, whose guerrilla army fought against the monarchy during the war, of using the elections as a cynical ploy to remain in power.
Prolonged instability in Nepal, with immense potential to generate hydro-electric power could have regional implications as energy-hungry China and India could compete to influence an unstable neighbor, dependent on aid and tourism.
It happened again yesterday morning. There was an accident on the Schuykill Expressway so I had the pleasure of navigating through the 30 Blocks of Squalor, again. After having made at least 25 posts about the 30 Blocks of Squalor over the years, I keep thinking I’ve run out of things to say. But it seems to be a never ending treasure trove of insights about our society and the people who live in this country. It was a particularly grey day in Philadelphia with a dreary overcast and intermittent rain. It seemed fitting for this trek through the slowly decaying landscape leading to my workplace in West Philly. I’ve talked previously about the stretch of highway leading to the 30 Blocks of Squalor. It’s called West Chester Pike (Route 3) and it cuts through Delaware County where I grew up. It cuts through Havertown, Haverford, Drexel Hill, and Upper Darby and eventually spits you out at 69th Street, where I’ve previously detailed the flash mob of savages rampaging through the Sears stealing everything in sight (all caught on surveillance cameras to be shown on a future reality TV show). In a shocking turn of events, Sears decided to later close this retail establishment.
The 30 minute excursion along West Chester Pike and then the 30 Blocks of Squalor (Chestnut St from 69th St to 39th St) is like traveling through Dante’s nine circles of hell. Every mile leads you deeper and deeper into the abyss. My observations along this route are of a country in a slow methodical steady decline that has been underway for decades and shows no signs of abating.
The neighborhoods and towns along West Chester Pike were occupied by the rising middle class during the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s. These towns were where blue collar middle class families built a life and raised their families. The fathers worked in factories, refineries, schools, power plants and thousands of other productive enterprises. Americans made stuff back then. Most wives stayed home and raised the three or four children in the small brick row homes or small detached singles that dotted the landscape. These neighborhoods were entirely white and most were church going. Most of the adults had not graduated college, but they were still able to move up the economic ladder through hard work, saving, and living within their means. Their children were guaranteed an even better life if they studied hard, went to college, and got an office job as an accountant, engineer, marketing executive, or in some other promising profession.
This progression began to transform into regression in the 1980s and the slow steady descent has picked up speed. There is now a grey pallor that seems to engulf this once thriving corridor. The houses that were built in the 1950s and 1960s and kept up by middle class families that took pride in their neighborhoods have been deteriorating for years. The homes are in disrepair. The bricks have grown dingy from years of pollution buildup and lack of power washing. Porches and awnings are sagging. The woodwork hasn’t seen a paint brush since the 1970s. Trash is strewn in the streets. Gardens are no longer tended to. Lawns are overgrown with weeds. The inhabitants of these neighborhoods either don’t care or don’t have the financial wherewithal to maintain their homes. On the current trajectory, these once proud neighborhoods will eventually resemble the 30 Blocks of Squalor.
Published on May 29, 2012 by TheRealNews
People from Montreal’s communities bang pots and pans to show support as students broaden demands
Published on May 29, 2012 by democracynow
DemocracyNow.org – Two years after directing the Academy Award-winning documentary, “Inside Job,” filmmaker Charles Ferguson returns with a new book, “Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America.” Ferguson explores why no top financial executives have been jailed for their role in the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We also discuss Larry Summers and the revolving door between academia and Wall Street as well as the key role Democrats have played in deregulating the financial industry. According to Ferguson a “predatory elite” has “taken over significant portions of economic policy and the political system and also, unfortunately, major portions of the economics discipline.”
To watch the complete weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org/
Published on May 29, 2012 by RussiaToday
In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss ‘asymmetric accounting,’ flatulent dark market clubs in austerity London and the $72 trillion claim against Limewire, while President Obama settles for $26 billion for widescale, systemic mortgage fraud. In the second half of the show Max talks to Jan Skoyles of TheRealAsset.co.uk about her campaign to Buy Britain’s Gold Back.
Follow Max Keiser on Twitter: http://twitter.com/maxkeiser
Published on May 29, 2012 by IBTimesTV
Dewey and Lebeouf, a crippled law firm has made history as the biggest collapse of a law firm in U.S history. The firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday night, and will seek approval to liquidate its business after failing to find a merger partner.
Dewey is one of the largest law firms in the U.S, and was hit by the loss of the vast majority of its roughly 300 partners to other firms amid concerns about compensation and a heavy debt load. But employees had been warned at the beginning of the month that there was in fact a chance the firm could shut down.
The firm is expected to keep around 90 employees to assist in the liquidation over the next few months. Dewey has stated there was a number of reasons that caused the company’s ultimate demise, including partnership compensation arrangements, capitol expenses and compensation expectations.
Dewy has now already terminated 433 of its 533 New York employees, and the firm will now go down in history as the biggest collapse of a law firm in US history.
The gap between the wealthiest and poorest retirees is growing
Growing numbers of older Americans are spending their retirement years in poverty, according to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute study. The proportion of older people living below the poverty line has been growing steadily since 2005, and many of those people are falling into poverty as they age and spend down their savings.
Poverty rates for people ages 65 to 74 climbed from 7.9 percent in 2005 to 9.4 percent in 2009, according to the EBRI analysis of University of Michigan health and retirement study data. For older retirees ages 75 to 84, there was an even steeper increase, from 7.6 percent to 10.7 percent over the same time period. But it’s the oldest retirees who are the most likely to live in poverty: 14.6 percent did so in 2009.
Many older Americans are falling into poverty as they age. In 2009, the most recent year included in the study, 6 percent of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty, up from 4.6 percent in 2005. And while 3.3 percent of people ages 75 to 84 fell newly into poverty in 2005, that number increased to 5.6 percent by 2009.
One of the biggest drivers of poverty in old age is failing health and the associated medical costs. Most retirees living below the poverty line (70 percent) have suffered acute health conditions such as cancer, lung disease, heart problems, or stroke, compared with 48 percent for those above the poverty line, according to health and retirement study data. And almost all senior citizens living in poverty (96 percent) have some sort of health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, psychological problems, or arthritis, versus 61.7 percent of retirees with incomes above the poverty line.
“Medical expenditures go up for the elderly as they age and medical expenses have been rising over the past decade very rapidly,” says Sudipto Banerjee, a research associate at EBRI and author of the report. “A lot of people have to move to nursing homes, and nursing homes are very expensive. People who live there, they lose their income and assets very quickly.”
Many people also spend down their retirement savings too quickly, especially during recessions. “As people age, personal savings and pension account balances are depleted,” says Banerjee. “Also, the rising poverty rates noted correspond to the two economic recessions that occurred during the last decade. I would expect that as the economy does better, the rates will go down.”
Once you have spent your nest egg, your only remaining source of income is likely to be Social Security. Social Security payments are based on your earnings during your 35 highest earning years in the workforce. Those who didn’t work for 35 years get smaller payments because zeros are included in the average.
Poverty rates for women were nearly double that of men in almost all years between 2001 and 2009. In 2009, poverty rates were 7 percent for men and 13 percent for women. And both men and women who are single have significantly higher poverty rates than married couples. When one spouse dies, the total Social Security benefit received by the household often decreases.
The Census Bureau reports that 9 percent of people age 65 and older lived below the poverty threshold in 2010. But there is an incredible amount of geographic diversity in poverty rates, ranging from over 25 percent in Opelousas-Eunice, La., and Gallup, N.M., to less than 2 percent in Pocatello, Idaho, Helena, Mont., and Ames, Iowa.
A recent Urban Institute study predicts that poverty rates for people at age 67 are likely to decline in the future. The analysis projects that 7 percent of Depression-era babies are expected to live in poverty at age 67, compared with 6.1 percent of late baby boomers and 5.7 percent of Generation Xers. However, retirement poverty is expected to increase for people without advanced education. For example, the study predicts that retirement poverty rates for high-school dropouts could increase from 13.5 percent among Depression-era babies to 24.9 percent for the oldest baby boomers.
Older retirees may have few opportunities to pull themselves out of poverty once they have crossed that threshold. The elderly may not have many opportunities for employment, and could be limited by health issues.
The Urban Institute expects retirement income inequality to increase dramatically over time. The study found that among Depression-era babies, the median income in the top income quintile will be 7.5 times higher than in the bottom income quintile. For Generation Xers, the retirement income gap will increase to a factor of 10.4. “More income for boomers and Generation Xers is from retirement accounts and less from defined-benefit pensions, and a larger share of income will be from earnings,” says Barbara Butrica, senior research associate at the Urban Institute and coauthor of the report. “If we look at their [retirement income] replacement rates, Generation Xers and boomers are projected to be significantly worse off on a relative basis.”
Published on May 29, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish
The massacre in the Syrian area of Houla has prompted Australia to expel two Syrian diplomats, and France now says that it will be expelling the Syrian ambassador to Paris.
Earlier on Tuesday, in Damascus, UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan met Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, to discuss a peace plan that looks to be in tatters.
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan reports.
Published on May 29, 2012 by RussiaToday
The most gruesome episode in Syria’s uprising is quickly turning into a PR battle, as each side, and their allies, portion blame for the slaughter in Houla. Just four days after the murders of over a hundred men, women and children – the media has been flooded with images furthering one, or the other agenda.
Commenting on the BBC’s blunder with the Iraq picture, journalist and human rights investigator Keith Harmon Snow says there’s simply no way it could have been posted by mistake.
The BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria.
Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.
The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.
It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”.
The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”.
A BBC spokesman said the image has now been taken down.
Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.
“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.
“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam.
“What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.
He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.
“Someone is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose.”
A spokesman for the BBC said: “We were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet in the early hours of this morning following the most recent atrocities in Syria.
“We used it with a clear disclaimer saying it could not be independently verified.
“Efforts were made overnight to track down the original source of the image and when it was established the picture was inaccurate we removed it immediately.”
The new Iranian Majlis (parliament) has strongly condemned the ruthless massacre of defenseless Syrians in Houla, saying the US is responsible for the attack.
“The barbaric massacre of the innocent people of Houla, in Homs, is reminiscent of the merciless terrorist atrocities in Sabra and Shatila and is a blatant symbol of terrorist acts and mass murder in this juncture of human history,” the 9th Majlis lawmakers said in a statement Monday.
On May 25, deadly clashes broke out between Syrian forces and armed groups in Houla, located in the central province of Homs.
Head of the UN observer mission in Syria Major General Robert Mood said in a briefing via video from Damascus to an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Sunday that UN observers in Houla estimate 108 people were killed, including 49 children and 34 women.
The Iranian lawmakers said there is no doubt the terrorists responsible for such atrocities are armed and trained by the West and its regional allies and are dispatched into Syria by some of its neighbors.
“The US should be held accountable for its incorrect policies in Syria,” they said.
The lawmakers called on the United Nations Security Council to prevent the shipment of weapons into Syria.
Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also condemned the ”suspicious attack” in the village of Houla and stressed the necessity of identifying and punishing the perpetrators.
“The attack has been carried out in order to create chaos and instability in Syria and its perpetrators are trying to block the way to a peaceful resolution,” Mehmanparast said on Sunday.
Libyan Tuaregs Flee to Algeria Amid Reports of Ethnic Cleansing
More than 55 Libyans from the Tuareg tribe have crossed over into Algerian territory in the last two days through the border crossing at Debdeb in the province of Illizi. They left the town of Ghadames and its surrounding villages out of fear of reprisals by armed groups against certain individuals, and particularly against Tuareg families.
Sources inside the Libyan city of Ghadames told El-Khabar that the Tuareg tribes have been subjected to ethnic cleansing for the past eight months. The Ghadames tribe, which is backed by forces affiliated with the National Transitional Council, is allegedly carrying out these acts. The latter burned and destroyed hostels and stables belonging to the Tuareg tribe and expelled them from the city, forcing them to flee into Algeria.
According to the escapees, many Tuareg members were subjected to “illegal” detention in secret locations under inhumane conditions. They added that members of the Ghadames tribes are searching for Tuareg members everywhere, even in hospitals, to kill and torture them. They have also recently arrested a large number of them, including women.
Tuareg representatives from the Libyan city of Ghadames expressed their fear of physical liquidation by the Ghadamesites, especially after the arrival of a large number of NTC troops who support them to the area in the last couple of days. According to the Tuaregs, the escalation of events have put them in danger, and international intervention is now required to save them from death. Libya has more than 500,000 Tuaregs distributed among the cities of Ghadames, Ghat, Ubari and Sabha, where they have established close relations with some Libyan families.
According to information out of Ghadames, the situation is now stable after a week of armed clashes between young members of local Tuareg families and the Ghadamesites. The latter have waged a war which the Tuareg described as “vengeful.” Fourteen people have been killed, including a military field commander named Issa Tlili, and at least 20 others from both sides have been wounded by gunfire. The Debdeb crossing of the Algeria border is now closed and prohibits the entry of escapees from the deteriorating security situation in Ghadames. These orders come from the highest authorities in the country, as confirmed by official sources to El-Khabar.
Now, hundreds of Libyan Tuaregs who have escaped from hell are stranded at the Algerian-Libyan border and suffering harsh conditions. They are unable to enter Algeria since they do not carry passports or other proof of their identities.
Published on May 29, 2012 by RussiaToday
A powerful data-snatching virus targeting computers in Iran, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries has been discovered by Russian experts. The worm has been used for years for what seems to be state-sponsored cyber espionage.
This week has been full of illuminating disclosures concerning the American criminal-justice system. Last Monday, a Columbia Law School project showed convincingly that Carlos DeLuna, executed for homicide by the state of Texas in 1989, was innocent of the crime; the project also showed who actually committed the crime. The revelation was shocking in part because DeLuna’s name had never figured among the dozen or more prisoners executed by Texas whose guilt has been vigorously and publicly contested; even his own lawyers seemed to have assumed his guilt.
Four days later, news broke in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham – executed by Texas in 2004 for murders, dubbed the “Texas witch trials,” that involved bizarre allegations of occultism related to the defendant’s love of heavy-metal music – when a state district-court judge reviewing the case concluded that Texas had wrongfully convicted and executed Willingham. The judge, who cited “overwhelming, credible and reliable evidence” presented at a hearing in October 2010, prepared an order of posthumous exoneration, but its issuance was effectively blocked by a state appellate court, which criticized the continued exploration of the Willingham case.
Now, a joint project by students and faculty at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University law schools has assembled the details (.pdf) of more than 2,000 exonerations since 1989.
The ABA Journalarticle on the report notes:
873 exonerations from 1989 through March 1, 2012 [were examined] in close detail, of which nearly half were wrongly convicted of murder. Of those, 101 were sentenced to death….
In half of the 873 detailed exonerations, 43 percent of the cases involved mistaken eyewitness identification, and 24 percent of the cases involved false or misleading forensic evidence. Researchers also noted 1,170 individuals cleared in “group exonerations” related to 13 police-corruption scandals across the country, the Columbus Dispatch reports. It took an average of 11 years, from conviction to exoneration, for wrongfully convicted people to be cleared.
The cities with the most exonerations were Chicago and Dallas – but should not necessarily be taken as evidence of a wrongful-conviction problem in those two cities. Rather, their rankings point to the fact that special projects were launched in both cities to review dubious convictions – often making use of new DNA-evidence techniques – after scandals exposed corruption involving police and prosecutors. Similar scandals erupted in other jurisdictions, notably New Orleans, but no special review efforts took place.
CBS News legal commentator Andrew Cohen asks the obvious questionprompted by the report:
How does this happen? Why are there so many wrongful convictions when there is so much at stake for both the defendants and the victims and when we pride ourselves on a legal system designed to ensure meaningful judicial review? The reasons are legion. It matters where you are convicted, for example, and the color of your skin matters too. And it matters who your police and prosecutors and judges are. The report reveals that in a whopping 56 percent of murder-case exonerations the initial convictions was based upon “official misconduct.”
It isn’t surprising that the system misfires – judges, prosecutors, and jurors are human, and thus fallible. Indeed, the 2,000 instances of exoneration documented by the study are undoubtedly only a sampling of the false convictions produced by the nation’s criminal-justice system since 1989 – they are simply the misfires the system itself has acknowledged. Unfortunately, our system is highly resistant to recognizing such misfires. The data therefore serve to highlight those judicial defenders of capital punishment who insist, as Antonin Scalia has put it, that “capital cases are given especially close scrutiny at every level” – an observation that could only be made by someone who is either woefully ignorant about the actual process or determined to shill for it.
Judicial reticence about exonerations and support for capital punishment rest, at their core, on hollow professions of certitude about case results, coupled with two other considerations. The first is an economically driven perspective that views process as a sort of metered utility, arguing that society can expend only so much time and effort on court activities before reaching a remedy and bringing the proceedings to a conclusion. This view has been applied with special vigor to capital-punishment cases, which in the view of conservatives require far too much judicial time and energy. The second consideration relates to confidence in the criminal-justice system. It argues that once a final conviction has been pronounced, it should not be unsettled lest that confidence be undermined. But this view essentially confuses justice with the vanity of its human actors, especially those prosecutors and judges who fear the embarrassment associated with being proven wrong (a trait which is itself disqualifying of a good prosecutor or judge).
The Michigan – Northwestern exoneration database provides another powerful tool for understanding a badly flawed criminal-justice system. Legislatures, prosecutors, and courts must be challenged to extract from it a clearer understanding of the system’s weaknesses, and to accept with humility the compromised role they have thus far played.
Another phenomenon merits notice here, too: In the war-on-terrorism detention cases, students at dozens of law schools across the United States (led by Seton Hall) played a critical role in disclosing abuse and misconduct by American government actors. Likewise, death penalty and innocence projects have been fueled by the extraordinary diligence of students at Columbia, Michigan, Northwestern, and many other universities. It is remarkable to contrast the complacency and self-satisfaction of many figures at the highest echelons of our legal system with the relentless questioning and demands for improvement from students who are committed to their ideals.
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