♪ …and so are the fbi, cia, dhs, corporate spies, the nypd…and a parrrrtridge in a pear tree…
|By: wendydavis Monday May 7, 2012 7:01 pm|
♪ …and so are the fbi, cia, dhs, corporate spies, the nypd…and a parrrrtridge in a pear tree…
|By: Michelle Chen Friday December 13, 2013 8:16 am|
These days, French political culture appears to be retreating from its stereotypical liberalism on one of its best-known “vice” industries: the sex trade. Controversial new legislation in the country would criminalize paid sex—and sex workers see the proposed law as an assault on their dignity and safety.
The legislation—which just passed a vote in the Assemblée Nationale and is slated for a Senate vote soon—does not explicitly outlaw the act of selling sex, but it penalizes its purchase: A prostitution client may be fined up to 1,500 Euros. This penalty would build on a number of existing French constraints on sex work-related activities, such as pimping or running a brothel, that stop just short of outlawing prostitution altogether.
The aim of the legislation, which mirrors a widely praised model policy originating from Sweden, is to “reduce demand” by criminalizing the procurement of sexual services. But the ostensible moral purpose of the law—to protect women, especially underage girls, from exploitation and violence—obscures broader questions of economic agency, sexual prudence and social stigma. And that’s why many of its opponents are the very same people the law purports to “save.”
“What’s proposed with this law is actually not to protect these people. It’s just to increase the criminalization,” says Morgane Merteuil, general secretary of STRASS, a Paris-based national network of sex workers and their allies. STRASS, along with other critics of the legislation, including health experts and human rights groups, has argued that though the legislation does not exactly criminalize the act itself, criminalizing the purchase of prostitution services will still alienate sex workers from law enforcement, the healthcare system and other social supports.
The state of Michigan made Detroit’s problems much worse by slashing revenue sharing. Wall Street sold risky financial instruments to the city, and those jeopardize resolution of this financial crisis. And frankly, the city government’s incompetence and mismanagement dating back decades has contributed to its woes. To return Detroit to long-term fiscal health, the city must find ways to increase revenue and get out of the financial quagmire that threatens to drain its budget even further.
In March, Michigan governor Rick Snyder appointed Kevyn Orr, a corporate bankruptcy lawyer, to be the city’s emergency manager, and Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection a little more than three months into his tenure. Michigan’s voters repealed the emergency manager law last year, but another law went into effect in late March that gave an appointed emergency manager the power to dismiss elected officials, sell off public assets, abrogate labor contracts, and impose new taxes on residents.
I lived in the Detroit area from 1965 until 1974, and again between 1986 and 2000. Although I never lived in the city, I worked at Wayne State University, a few blocks from the G.M. headquarters and adjacent to the infamous Cass Corridor, during those last 14 years. For about the last five of those 14 years, my office was diagonally across Woodward Ave. from the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). I used to go there nearly weekly to eat lunch in its lovely glass-roofed courtyard and see the art. Now it appears that there’s a concerted effort to loot this fine art museum to pay the city’s creditors. The rationale is that the city of Detroit owns the DIA, Detroit therefore owns a collection of expensive art, Detroit owes money, so Detroit should sell its art to pay its debts.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the country’s oldest and best museums, and has been under threat since Kevyn Orr insisted that everything in Detroit is “on the table” to address the financial crisis. In the intervening months, salivating creditors have circled the museum while the institution has tried to keep them at bay. Some of Detroit’s largest creditors have contended in court that the museum’s collection is not an “essential city asset” and should be sold to help pay those who are owed money. Now, for better or worse, there’s a price tag on the collection. The same day the bankruptcy decision was issued, the auction house Christie’s released its appraisal of the worth of the DIA’s art collection at between $452 million and $886 million, although a few masterpieces displayed to the public, such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Wedding Dance and Matisse’s The Window, account for as much as 75% of that estimate. This is a significantly lower amount than the $2 billion that was estimated informally last summer.
Selling even a small number of major art works in a “fire sale” scenario would create a depressed market for them. And even a small sale could lead to a mass departure of philanthropic donors who would be (justifiably) unwilling to give money to an institution that can’t guarantee the preservation of its art collection. More significantly from a fiscal perspective, it would wipe out around $22 million in tax revenue the DIA has received since three counties voted to support the museum with a tax millage in exchange for free admission.
There also are regulations governing American museums that expressly forbid the sale of artworks for any reason other than to acquire other artworks. Michigan’s attorney general issued an opinion in the summer that states specifically that such a sale would violate the law. This is not even to mention the insanity of treating artworks in the public trust as mere “property” to be sold off to pay bills.
A report by Demos, published in November, lays out some of the actual reasons for the city’s problems.
Detroit’s bankruptcy is, at its core, a cash flow problem caused by its inability to bring in enough revenue to pay its bills. While emergency manager Kevyn Orr has focused on cutting retiree benefits and reducing the city’s long-term liabilities to address the crisis, an analysis of the city’s finances reveals that his efforts are inappropriate and, in important ways, not rooted in fact. Detroit’s bankruptcy was primarily caused by a severe decline in revenue and exacerbated by complicated Wall Street deals that put its ability to pay its expenses at greater risk. To address the city’s cash flow shortfall and get it out of bankruptcy, the emergency manager should focus on increasing revenue and extricating the city from these toxic financial deals.
Selling the city’s art won’t accomplish any of that. I hope that effort is stopped, and the priceless art works in the DIA’s collection are preserved for future generations.
|By: Kit OConnell Thursday December 12, 2013 10:45 pm|
Tonight’s musical selection is “Fingertips” by They Might Be Giants, from the album Apollo 18.
What’s on you mind tonight? Got questions? The watercooler is an open conversation.
Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
Shorty Rogers (arr, con)
Conte Candoli, Johnny Audino, Ray Triscari, Harold Land (tp)
Harry Betts, Frank Rosolieno, Kenneth Shroyer, George Roberts (tb)
Art Pepper, Bill Holman, Richie Kamuca, Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Chuck Gentry (Sax)
Lou Levy, Pete Jofly (p) Joe Mondragon (b) Frank Capp, Mal Lewis (ds)
|By: Tom Engelhardt Friday May 6, 2011 7:24 am|
If you’ve heard the phrase “class war” in twenty-first-century America, the odds are that it’s been a curse spat from the mouths of Republican warriors castigating Democrats for engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors like trying to tax the rich. Back in 2011, for example, President Obama’s modest proposal of a “millionaire tax” was typically labeled “class warfare” and he was accused by Congressman Paul Ryan, among others, of heading down the “class warfare path.” Similarly, in 2012, Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls blasted the president for encouraging “class warfare” by attacking entrepreneurial success. In the face of such charges, Democrats invariably go on the defensive, denying that they are in any way inciters of class warfare. In the meantime, unions and the poor are blasted by the same right-wing crew for having the devastatingly bad taste to act in a manner that supposedly might lead to such conflict.
In our own time, to adapt a classic line slightly, how the mighty have risen! And that story could be told in terms of the fate of the phrase “class war,” which deserves its Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart moment. After all, for at least a century, it was a commonplace in an all-American lexicon in which “class struggle,” “working class,” and “plutocrat” were typical everyday words and it was used not to indict those on the bottom but the rich of whatever gilded age we were passing into or out of. It was essentially purged from the national vocabulary in the economic good times (and rabidly anti-communist years) after World War II, only to resurface with the Republican resurgence of the 1980s as a way to dismiss anyone challenging those who controlled ever more of the wealth and power in America.
It was a phrase, that is, impounded by Republicans in the name of, and in the defense of, those who were already impounding so much else in American life. All you have to do is take a look at recent figures on income and wealth inequality, on where the money’s really going in this society, to recognize the truth of Warren Buffet’s famed comment: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Recently, Bill Moyers (who needs no introduction) gave a speech at the Brennan Center in New York City in which he laid out what class warfare really means in this society. The first appearance of the host of Moyers & Company at TomDispatch is a full-throated call to save what’s left of American democracy from — another of those banned words that should come back into use — the plutocrats. Tom
The Great American Class War
Plutocracy Versus Democracy
By Bill Moyers
I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document. By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and — in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular — the defense of a free press.
|By: rjs Thursday December 12, 2013 11:12 am|
myths about deficits and the debt, followed by the reality…on topic speakers, in order of appearance:
|By: Ironcomments Thursday December 12, 2013 12:24 pm|
1. Kiss the rings of the oligarchs. It is essential to gain the approval of the captains of finance and military industries for they will not only finance your pursuit but help you attain your goal. These captains must be assured that their business models will never be threatened by you. Once their fears are assuaged the path to your Dogeship will be paved with gold and the lesser captains (media,health, etc) will fall inline quickly.
2. Pretend to be a populist. While the position of American Doge is an elitist and narcissistic pursuit, you must cultivate an image that the vast majority of the American rabble will believe in and that your personal pursuit of glory is in fact for their benefit. This image making is a delicate task, therefore hiring professionals in propaganda and myth making is key in fooling the serfs. Make the media your friend and if you did step 1 deftly than this will be easy.
3. Never underestimate the fickleness of the masses. Throughout your path on becoming Doge the public will love and hate you, always keep in mind that through proper manipulation this can be controlled, as discussed in step 2, and in time the public will forget or move on to another distraction. Fabricated distractions often work best during the (s)election process but also work well during your Dogeship and can be used to attack your enemies.
4. Remember who your friends are for they will help you in your pursuit,however if your friends become a hindrance, you must publicly denounce them and perhaps betray them as well. This is tied to step 5 and remembering that alliances are ever shifting. Too much loyalty can become a weakness that your enemies can exploit.
5. You must have no reservations about war, lying,spying, mass killings, murder, or anything that is deemed abhorrent by the majority of human society. In reality a moral compass becomes an anchor in your pursuit to becoming a Doge. The more malleable you are to outside and more powerful forces the probability of your Dogeship increases and perhaps lengthens your tenure as Doge.