Daily Archives: June 4, 2012

Zimmerman Lawyer Admits Zimmerman Misled Court At Bail Hearing, Blames Trayvon Martin Supporters

Hmm…where have I read and heard this playbook before?  Oh, Limbaugh, Fox News, et al, always blame the victim or supporters depending on what side they are on.

Think Progress

Last week, the judge presiding over George Zimmerman’s trial for the alleged murder of Trayvon Martin revoked Zimmerman’s bond because he  failed to disclose $200,000  donated to him through a website. Earlier today, his legal team released a statement  claiming that Zimmerman should be allowed to post a new bond because “in all other regards, Mr. Zimmerman has been forthright and cooperative.” The statement also suggests that part of the blame for Zimmerman’s misstatements rests on the many activists who worked to ensure that Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence would be evaluated by a court of law:

The audio recordings of Mr. Zimmerman’s phone conversations while in jail make it clear that Mr. Zimmerman knew a significant sum had been raised by his original fundraising website. We feel the failure to disclose these funds was caused by fear, mistrust, and confusion. The gravity of this mistake has been distinctly illustrated, and Mr. Zimmerman understands that this mistake has undermined his credibility, which he will have to work to repair.

At the point of the bond hearing, Mr. Zimmerman had been driven from his home and neighborhood, could not go to work, his wife could not go back to a finish her nursing degree, his mother and father had been driven from their home, and he had been thrust into the national spotlight as a racist murderer by factions acting with their own agendas. None of those allegations have been supported by the discovery released to date, yet the hatred continues.

Zimmerman was originally released on a $150,000 bond. It’s not clear yet whether the judge will allow him to pay a higher bond in the wake of his misstatements to the court.

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Paul Krugman Appears On ‘Newsnight,’ Battles British Conservatives On U.K. Austerity Policies (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

For most Americans, a trip to London means drinking a few pints and maybe taking a picture of one of those guards with the hats. For Paul Krugman, it means critiquing the entire direction of Britain’s economic policy.

Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and left-leaning New York Times columnist, appeared on the BBC program “Newsnight” this Wednesday, jousting with two British deficit hawks over the U.K.’s austerity agenda.

The Brits — venture capitalist Jon Moulton and Conservative Member of Parliament Andrea Leadsom — argued that the British government has to reduce spending if the country is to dig itself out of the economic slump it’s been in. Krugman countered that such a strategy could cause Britain’s economy to implode — since, he said, the public and private sectors need to circulate money to each other in order for anyone to prosper.Krugman Newsnight

“We are not a household. We are an economy,” said Krugman. “Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.”

As Krugman pointed out during the “Newsnight” segment, and later in a NYTcolumn, the austerity question is one that extends beyond Great Britain. Eurozone countries are in the midst of their own austerity struggle right now, one whose effects have been felt most strongly in Greece, where government spending cuts have resulted in riots and strikes and boosted the political fortunes of the far-left, anti-austerity Syriza party.

And in the United States, economists and politicians are engaged in an ongoing debate over the best way to jump-start the lagging economy — and here, too, Krugman hasrepeatedly counseled against the kind of major government spending cuts that conservative policymakers have championed.

Krugman’s argument is that such cuts would cause a major contraction in the American economy, a point that even Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, appeared to echo in an interview with Time a few days ago.

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Monday Blog Roundup – 6-4-2012

The Week In 100 Seconds

60 Years And Counting

What’s Wrong with Obama?

News Roundup from June 3, 2012

Super PAC donations dominated by men

McDonnell’s accidental candor credits Obama

Obama win could cost Romney $5M in personal taxes

Democratic faithful see waning support for Obama

President Obama raising money in NYC with Bill Clinton 

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Keynes was right; On, Wisconsin

 

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Ten Reasons to Avoid Doing Business With Amazon.com

I’m re-posting this article for TFC readers not as a suggestion to stop using Amazon, but more on the basis of “information we all should know about Amazon dot com”.

Everyone should make their own decision on this matter.

The Nation

Even with Borders gone and independent booksellers struggling to get by, the war for the future of publishing rages on. As Steve Wasserman explains in “The Amazon Effect,” which appears in this week’s special issue of The Nation, booksellers and publishers have shifted toward digital books, and Amazon.com, which sells more electronic Kindle books than physical hardcovers, is well positioned to overpower its rivals. But what’s at stake in the battle over e-commerce and why should you avoid doing business with Amazon.com?

1.  Amazon Dodges Taxes and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Doesn’t Contribute to Local Economies Through Charity

Last year, the Greenlining Institute reported that Amazon’s tax rate was among the lowest, at just 3.5 percent, of all companies included in the study. Yet despite the massive savings Amazon enjoys from exploiting tax loopholes, the company contributessurprisingly little to charities around its Seattle-area headquarters.

2.  Amazon’s Business Model Is Monopolistic

Amazon is the world’s largest bookseller, offering more than 2 million titles. In an effort to lower prices, the company has demanded additional discounts from distributors—which, as Colin Robinson points out, is illegal under anti-trust law that prevents companies from selling a product at different prices to different customers. The company has been accused of having a “monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.”

3.  Amazon Contributes to the Demise of Small, Independent Businesses

Amazon offers bestsellers at a loss in order to attract customers, a practice that has upended traditional publishing in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be this way, as Germany’s bookselling model illustrates.

4.  Amazon Collects Your Information

Amazon.com states that it is “not in the business of selling” customers’ private information—e.g., what you buy, what you review, how you browse—to other companies, but last year Amazon.com was embroiled in a class-action lawsuit (Del Vecchio et al. v. Amazon.com) for allegedly bypassing customers’ privacy settings. Others have raised concerns about Kindle Fire’s web browser, fearing it would allow the company “to track customer behavior all over the Web, gathering data and marketing intelligence as it goes,” according to the New York Times.

5.  Amazon Removed WikiLeaks from its Cloud Server

Under political pressure, Amazon removed WikiLeaks from its cloud server in 2010, prompting this question from Keir Thomas of PC World: “In an idyllic future where we make heavy use of the cloud, what happens if a cloud service provider removes content it deems inappropriate, or just doesn’t like?”

6.  Amazon Was a Long-time Member of ALEC

Amazon was late to pull out of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative, pro-business nonprofit that recently came under fire for helping spread voter-identification and “Stand Your Ground” laws. Amazon, which has fought state-level taxation, focused on tax laws in ALEC.

7.  Amazon Fights Unionization

When the Communications Workers of America launched a campaign to unionize Amazon’s customer-service representatives, the company argued that “unions actively foster distrust toward supervisors” and “create an uncooperative attitude among associates by leading them to think they are ‘untouchable’ with a union,” according to theNew York Times. To make matters worse, many Amazon employees are temporary workers who do not receive basic benefits like healthcare, and for whom forming a union is “virtually impossible.”

8.  Amazon Abuses Its Workers

Working conditions at Amazon.com warehouses can be brutal. Last fall, the Morning Callreported that employees were being “pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain” in warehouses where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees, causing workers to feel light-headed and pass out.

9.  Amazon Has Turned Searching Into Another Way To Collect Users’ Information

Amazon has made searching easier and more efficient, providing free information about books and, in some cases, permitting readers to “look inside” them. However, as Anthony Grafton explains in “Search Gets Lost,” the company has gradually cut back on its search capabilities, instead inviting the customer to provide information of every sort for Amazon to digest and profit from.

10.  Amazon Is Just Too Big

In 2011, Amazon’s $48 billion in revenue exceeded that of all six major publishing conglomerates combined. It now resembles an “online Walmart” rather than a bookseller, writes Steve Wasserman, and has begun to colonize movie, baby product and shoe retailer websites, as well as the high-end fashion industry. For more on Amazon’s outsized power, be sure to read all of the articles in this week’s special issue on the retail giant.

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Krugman: GOP’s Economy Strategy Is ‘Gigantic Con Game’

I’ve got a sort of geeky crush on Paul Krugman, mainly because he interprets our economic situation from a slightly left perspective and his presentation is actually comprehensible.

The New York Times

So the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama  hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed.

For some reason, however, neither the press nor Mr. Obama’s political team has done a very good job of exposing the con.

What do I mean by saying that this is already a Republican economy? Look first at total government spending — federal, state and local. Adjusted for population growth and inflation, such spending has recently been falling at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War.

How is that possible?  Isn’t Mr. Obama a big spender? Actually, no; there was a brief burst of spending in late 2009 and early 2010 as the stimulus kicked in, but that boost is long behind us. Since then it has been all downhill. Cash-strapped state and local governments have laid off teachers, firefighters and police officers; meanwhile, unemployment benefits have been trailing off even though unemployment remains extremely high.

Over all, the picture for America in 2012 bears a stunning resemblance to the great mistake of 1937, when F.D.R. prematurely slashed spending, sending the U.S. economy — which had actually been recovering fairly fast until that point — into the second leg of the Great Depression. In F.D.R.’s case, however, this was an unforced error, since he had a solidly Democratic Congress. In President Obama’s case, much though not all of the responsibility for the policy wrong turn lies with a completely obstructionist Republican majority in the House.

That same obstructionist House majority effectively blackmailed the president into continuing all the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, so that federal taxes as a share of G.D.P.  are near historic lows — much lower, in particular, than at any point during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

As I said, for all practical purposes this is already a Republican economy.

Continue reading here…

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