Saturday, December 31, 2011

Watch the Times Square ball Drop Live Online - Happy New Year

Watch the Times Square ball drop to bring in 2012 here. But before that watch live performances of top musical performers:

Watch live streaming video from 2012 at

Video: Occupy Charlotte Does not Condone Flag Burning

There are always a few bad apples. I would venture to say there are more Tea Partyers with disloyal views than the Occupy movement:

Citizens United loses in Montana, Supreme Court upholds state ban on corporate spending

A victory for democracy. Now for the U.S. Supreme Court:

 Citizens United loses in Montana, Supreme Court upholds state ban on corporate spending.

Video: Syrian man Records his Own Death

Basil Al-Sayid, a 24-year-old man in Syria, was shot to death while documenting violence committed by the government:

Obama and the Economy: Not as Bad, Not Good

The Obama administration argument is that the economy isn't collapsing like it was before they took office. That isn't good enough. This isn't change. It's not as bad. And after 4 years not as bad isn't good:

[...]the fact that people who've given up looking for work don't show up in the unemployment rate -- is not present in the EMPloyment rate: the share of the population working. That's fallen over the past couple of years and has been basically flat-lining for a year. It's probably the most pessimistic labor market indicator out there, and is a reliable sign that labor demand remains weak.

[...]The figure shows the year-over-year changes in the real weekly earnings of blue-collar, non-managerial workers (it's a good proxy for the median, or middle-class wage). It was already falling slightly in 2009 (Dec/Dec) but is falling faster now (down 1.5%, Nov10-Nov11).

[...]The other pothole indicator for the president is the increase in profit shares of GDP along with the decline in compensation shares. The figure shows these movements from 2009 compared to now, and while they don't look like big changes in the figure, they're actually quite significant-these variables usually move pretty glacially.

[...]Profits as a share of GDP are way up and compensation/GDP is way down. Now, it's not like high profits are a bad thing, and they often recover before wages. But their distribution is highly skewed, and they clearly signal the return of rising income inequality, a major concern for a lot of people today, myself included.

The decline in the compensation share is a symptom of the weak job market, high unemployment, and weak wage growth. It's why a lot of families still feel squeezed while flush corporations sit on trillions in cash.
Source: Jared Bernstein, HuffingtonPost

Credit card debt: Are consumers returning to bad habits?

Americans have no income to pay for things. So we charge. And the banks profit:

Americans are edging back toward their bad old pre-recession habits, when they charged whatever they wanted on their credit cards and didn’t worry about the build up of debt. After starting 2011 by paying down over $32 billion in credit card debt, consumers are on track to end the year with a $64 billion increase in their net credit card debt, according to Card Hub’s latest survey of credit card debt.

That’s a far bigger increase than in either 2009 or 2010. Unfortunately, the situation in 2012 will worsen before it improves. You can thank the busy holiday shopping season for that. It occurs during the year’s fourth quarter, which is largely why the fourth quarter sees debt build up faster than in the second and third quarters combined.
Full article 

Pittsburgh City Council Gives Itself a Pay Raise

Unless Pittsburgh's economy is booming a pay raise is outrageous. But they don't care. They'll still won't be held accountable come next election. Most incumbents get to keep their jobs no matter what. And we have no choices:

Pittsburgh City Council members gave themselves more taxpayer money to play with when they approved a 2012 operating budget, a decision that sends the wrong message in tight economic times.

Members say it's not their intention to play Santa, but each of the nine will get $94,000 for staff salaries next year, up from the current $88,000. Council will decide later on how to allocate the funds, by giving raises to some or all of their staffers or by increasing the hours of work available for part-timers.
Full article

Police: More cars set afire in LA, arson suspected

The Associated Press: Police: More cars set afire in LA, arson suspected

Several more cars burned in suspected arson attacks in the Los Angeles area early Saturday morning, and authorities investigated if they were connected to nearly two dozen deliberately set blazes a day earlier, police said.

Seven or eight cars burned Saturday in the North Hollywood area, said officer Robert Collier.

He said he didn't have further details of the blazes, but said arson is suspected and there could be a link to the earlier blazes.

Santorum defends his use of pork-barrel spending

The Dysfunction of America (1): The Rule of Greed

A Canadian perspective on greed in America:

The U.S. economy remains the most powerful, creative and dynamic in the world, but it faces major difficulties. No longer is it a true capitalist free-market system. It has become a gigantic welfare state whose prime beneficiaries are the rich and major corporations.

Think of the legions of millionaire lobbyists in Washington; the shuttle-bus-type ferrying of people back and forth between senior Washington positions and executive suites in the business world; the enormous subsidies paid to myriad industries, including agriculture; the complex loopholes that render the tax code incomprehensible to all but the beneficiaries; the deregulation of the financial system that led to the crisis of 2007 and 2008, followed by the trillion-dollar bailouts; and that’s to say nothing of the dramatically increasing inequality of income distribution.

Greed may be good, as Gordon Gekko famously declared in Wall Street, but it is good only for the rich.
Full article from MontrealGazette