Several thousand people marched from Cobo Hall to Detroit’s Hart Plaza on July 18, decrying the destruction of democracy in Detroit. The rally, organized in part by theMoratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs, took place after a week of actions against the disconnection of water service to households unable to pay their bills. People previously blockaded to keep Homrich, a private contractor employed by the city, from shutting off people’s water on July 10. Another blockade took place the day of the rally, lasting six hours before police arrested a pastor, a veteran journalist in her 70s, welfare rights organizers and others. . . . Acts of resistance and the creation of forward-looking alternatives are in their embryonic stages, and the various forms both take have implications for what democracy will mean in Detroit and elsewhere in the future. “So we have to restore democracy in order for us to be in a position where we can really control our own destiny,” she said.
“Another World” is a film about the grassroots initiatives in Greece that form another world right here and now, away from the crisis and beyond capitalism (Greek narration, English subtitles in captions). We live in an upside world. Right now in the planet there is a unjust distribution and accumulation of wealth, inflation of social injustice, restriction of basic rights and freedom, and an unprecedented depletion of natural resources. Although global GDP has quintupled since 1980, the gap between rich and poor is expanding, while also the number of people living below the poverty line constantly increases. 1% of the richest in the world holds 40% of the world productive resources, while the richest 10% owns more than 85% of global wealth. The constant economic growth of the past decades with emphasis on dirty carbon economy, proved to be unsustainable since intensified inequalities, reduced the living standard destroyed natural resources and finally transformed itself into an underdevelopment disconnected from social welfare.
The UN and world leaders have been debating what to do about climate change for two decades – and gotten nowhere. Their solutions have only gotten fuzzier as the science and impact of climate change have become clearer. Now they’re coming to New York and it’s time for our voices to be heard! Join us as we discuss real alternatives and develop action plans that transform the system, rather than accept it. We are told that technology, market mechanisms, or individual lifestyle changes are what will save the planet. They will not. Because they are all solutions that accommodate the system, not challenge it. The root of the problem is an economic system that exploits people and the planet for profit. It is a system that requires constant growth, exploitation, warfare, racism, poverty and ever-increasing ecological devastation to function.
When Germany and Argentina square off in the Word Cup Final, the whole world will be watching the culmination of what may be the most exciting FIFA World Cup Tournament ever. What most people are unaware of, however, is the brutal conditions that FIFA creates to pull off the games.
The BRICS Development Bank is expected to be officially launched on 15 July 2014, at the next BRICS summit in Brazil. The BRICS Development Bank is a proposed development bank run by the five BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as a potential alternative to the US controlled institutions of the Bretton Woods system–World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The establishment of this development bank was first agreed by the leaders of the BRICS countries at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa, in July 2009. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are expected to sign a treaty to launch the bank in the forthcoming BRICS summit in the northern Brazilian city of Fortaleza.
In this episode of Acronym TV, Derek Poppert of Global Exchange talks with Dennis about his Re-Think The Cup series. In a recent piece from the series, FIFA: Return The Beauty To The Beautiful Game, Derek writes: “So who wins the World Cup? While it may seem that decision is still getting played out in stadiums across Brazil, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is surely laughing from his luxury suite. The winner had already been decided well before the first match even began. FIFA’s 4 billion dollars in untaxed revenue from the event is the trophy. It appears to be of little interest to Mr. Blatter or other FIFA execs that this trophy has come on the backs of 200,000 low-income people being forcefully evicted from their homes to make room for the event, 8 construction workers dying in the frenzied rush to erect stadiums on time, or 14 billion dollars in Brazilian taxpayer money being spent on the tournament in the face of poverty, inequality, and widespread social issues within Brazil.”
The third and final estimate (until the annual GDP revisions) of first quarter 2014 real GDP growth released June 25 by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis was a 2.9% contraction in GDP growth, a 5.5 percentage point difference from the January forecast of 2.6% growth. Apparently, the first quarter contraction was dismissed by those speculating in equities as weather related, as stock averages rose with the bad news. Stock market participants might be in for a second quarter surprise. The result of many years of changes made to the official inflation measures is a substantially understated inflation rate. John Williams (www.shadowstats.com) provides inflation estimates based on previous official methodology when the Consumer Price Index still represented the cost of a constant standard of living. The 1.26% inflation measure used to deflate first quarter nominal GDP is unrealistic, as Americans who make purchases are aware. A reasonable correction to the understated deflator gives a much higher first quarter contraction. The two main causes of inflation’s understatement are the substitution principle introduced during the Clinton regime and the hedonic adjustments ongoing since the 1980s that redefine price rises as quality improvements. Correcting for excessive hedonic adjustments gives a first quarter real GDP contraction of 5%. Correcting for hedonic and substitution adjustments gives a first quarter real GDP contraction of 8.5%.
Once upon a time, financing the purchase of a home with a mortgage loan, compared to today, was much simpler. After saving the customary 20% down payment, the borrower would meet with the local banker for a long-term, fixed-rate loan. Once income and character were investigated, qualified and then approved, the borrower signed a mortgage note, and gave a mortgage in exchange for a loan. A mortgage note is the personal promise to repay a loan. A mortgage (lien) collateralizes or secures the mortgage note. Foreclosure can force the sale of the collateral (home) to repay the debt. It was at the same local bank where the borrower made monthly loan payments for the life of the loan. If and when the borrower had a problem making a scheduled payment due to an unexpected expense or temporary hardship it wasn’t necessarily an earthshaking event.
The Seattle Rolling Rebellion used artful activism to draw attention to getting money out of politics in a fun and engaging way at Greenlake and Woodland park in Seattle. They used giant puppets including a crazy six armed bloated corporate being with an ill-fitting human mask over a money bag scarecrow head and money leaking out everywhere. Each of it’s giant hands on a long snaky arm, is held up on a pole by judges with money and corporate logos on the robes and fat cats, sweeping the crowd, and intermittently capturing our Lady Liberty giant puppet. Luckily caped superheros wielding giant pencil swords come to the rescue and, free her.
Think a higher minimum wage is a job killer? Think again: The states that raised their minimum wages on January 1 have seen higher employment growth since then than the states that kept theirs at the same rate. The minimum wage went up in 13 states — Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — either thanks to automatic increases in line with inflation or new legislation, as Ben Wolcott reports in his analysis at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The average change in employment for those states over the first five months of the year as compared with the last five of 2013 is .99 percent, while the average for all remaining states is .68 percent.
Eleanor Goldfield is a creative activist and writer based in Los Angeles. She works with organizations to create digital content as well as live events to combine pop culture and politics – art killing apathy; her political hard rock band Rooftop Revolutionaries being a primary example of this. As a writer, she writes for several political publications on our corporatocratic government and all the issues stemming from that.
Interest rates go up Tuesday for students taking out new federal loans. This hike is relatively minimal but could foreshadow more increases to come. The change stems from a high-profile, bipartisan deal brokered last year by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama that ties the rates to the financial markets. Interest rates go from 3.86 to 4.66 percent on undergraduate Stafford loans. Graduate student loans go from 5.41 percent to 6.21 percent. Interest rates on Plus loans for parents go from 6.41 percent to 7.21 percent. For every $10,000 borrowed, the average borrower under the hike will pay back about $4 more every month when they begin paying back the money – about the price of a fancy latte. If the economy continues to improve, however, these kinds of rate hikes could continue. Congress stipulated that the rates for new loans be reset annually, but that borrowers keep the rate they were given for the life of the loan. The compromise in Congress was reached after rates doubled last July.
The Occupy movement started on Wall Street and now its sibling, the grassroots movement to restore community wealth, has come to New York City. On Wednesday, a broad coalition of community activists joined with four allies on the New York City Council to draw attention to the epidemic of foreclosures and to call for immediate action to help rescue homeowners who are drowning in debt. At a press conference at City Hall, they released an eye-opening report, Thousands of Homeowners Still Drowning in Underwater Mortgages: How Toxic Loans Keep Fueling Foreclosures and the Need for Eminent Domain, designed to jump-start a campaign to address the problem. The report, sponsored by New York Communities for Change and the Mutual Housing Association of New York, reveals that tens of thousands of New York City homeowners are still at risk of foreclosure, because their mortgages are underwater and the banks aren’t providing any relief.
Almost everywhere we look, there is an emerging debate on the importance of sharing in relation to the grave challenges of our time. This conversation is most apparent in the sharing economy movement that has now taken the United States and Western Europe by storm, opening up a new set of questions about how sharing – that most simple human value and ethic – can really serve the needs of all people and the planet. For many, the practice of sharing represents a global cultural shift towards empathy, trust and generosity, and holds the greatest source of hope for economic and social transformation. For others, the idea of integrating the principle of sharing into economic relations is vitally important and invigorating, but toothless as a strategy for resolving the world’s crises if it remains beholden to corporate interests and the growth imperative. What’s seldom recognised, however, is how the global conversation on sharing is often conducted implicitly and unknowingly by campaigners, activists and progressive analysts. For example, in the now mainstream discussion on how to reform the systems and structures that lead to inequality, there is the implicit question of how to share resources more equally among society as a whole. While the best-selling economist Thomas Piketty has recently forewarned the prospect of an increasingly unequal future, the authors of The Spirit Level have already demonstrated that the most prosperous, happy and healthy nations all distribute their wealth in a more egalitarian fashion.