Strangling the New Working Class in Its Crib

College Dropouts are Drowning in Debt

By Suzy Khimm
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2012 — As the nation amasses more than $1 trillion in student loans, education experts say a vexing new problem has emerged: A growing number of young people have a mountain of debt but no degree to show for it.

Nearly 30 percent of college students who took out loans dropped out of school, up from less than a quarter of students a decade ago, according to an analysis of government data earlier this year by think tank Education Sector. College dropouts are also among the most likely to default on their loans, falling behind at a rate four times that of graduates.

That is raising new questions about the wisdom of decades of public policy that focused on increasing access to higher learning but paid less attention to what happens once students arrive on campus. And some education experts have begun to argue that starting college — and going into debt to pay for it — without a clear plan for a diploma is a recipe for disaster.

"They have the economic burden of the debt but they do not get the benefit of higher income and higher levels of employment that one gets with a college degree," said Jack Remondi, chief operating officer at Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest private student lender.

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Students Suggest Quebec Government Negotiate Tuition Increase, Fight New Repressive Law

by Randy Shannon

The growing mass movement of students in Quebec against high tuition increases has become a threat to Government control of austerity in Canada. The Government is attempting to break the student resistance to austerity with an unusually harsh law against public gatherings, rallies and marches. This anti-free speech law was a signal to the Provincial Police, who used brutal violence against peaceful marchers, using clubs to bloody and break the bones of tuition hike opponents.

The public response last week could result in a quick retreat by the ruling conservatives in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of parents of students and workers marched with the students in open defiance of the new law. Amnesty International condemned the new law against free speech.

See the Guardian article below.

Quebec student protesters split over tuition fee compromise

Disagreements come as Amnesty declares controversial Bill 78 to be in breach of Canada’s international obligations

Adam Gabbatt, Saturday 26 May 2012 17.16 EDT

Quebec student leaders Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (l), Leo Bureau-Blouin(c) and Martine Desjardins(r) are seeking to block Bill 78. Photograph: Olivier Jean/Reuters

One of the student leaders in Quebec’s tuition fee row has suggested students are “ready for compromise” with the government over increases in university education.

Leo Bureau-Blouin, president of Quebec’s college student federation, made the comments in an interview with Canada‘s national public broadcaster on Saturday.

But in an interview with the Guardian, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesman of Classe, one of the other two student groups involved in the debate, said it was “not true” that students would begin to compromise before an offer had been made by the government.

The disagreement reflects some of the intricate politics involved in the tuition fee debate in Quebec, with the government negotiating with three different student organisations, including Bureau-Blouin’s official student organisation FECQ and Nadeau-Dubois’s larger Classe.

Bureau-Blouin, whose term as president of FECQ ends on 1 June, made his comments in an interview with CBC radio’s ‘This House’ programme, which aired on Saturday.

“We are ready for a compromise — and if the Quebec government is ready for it too, I think we can come to something,” he said.

“If the Quebec government agreed to move on the amount of the tuition fee hike, I think it would be a great step in the right direction.”

The FECQ, which represents 80,000 people enrolled in CEGEP, or Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel, is one of three organisations involved in negotiations. Its counterpart, Quebec’s university student federation, represents some 125,000 students, with Classe, which has the long term aim of free university education in Quebec, having a further 100,000.

Continue reading Students Suggest Quebec Government Negotiate Tuition Increase, Fight New Repressive Law

House Votes for Military Detention of US Civilians

Bill To End Indefinite Detention Fails In House

Posted: 05/18/2012 10:03 am Updated: 05/18/2012 11:35 am



WASHINGTON — A judge may have found unconstitutional the law that allows people to be held indefinitely without trial by the military, but the House of Representatives voted Friday to keep it anyway.

On Wednesday, Federal Judge Katherine Forrest found that the law violates rights to free speech and due process. But House members defended it, ultimately voting 238 to 182 against an amendment to guarantee civilian trials for any terrorism suspect arrested in the United States.

The measure, sponsored by Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), had been backed by a mix of conservatives, moderates and liberals who argued that letting the president decide to detain anyone — including Americans — deemed to be a terrorist was granting the executive too much power. And they argued that with more than 400 terrorists having been tried and convicted in civilian courts while dozens of plots were prevented, the law was unnecessary.

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Military Detention Law Blocked by New York Judge

Military Detention Law Blocked by New York Judge

By Bob Van Voris and Patricia Hurtado – May 17, 2012 12:01 AM ET
Judge Katherine Forrest

Opponents of a U.S. law they claim may subject them to indefinite military detention for activities including news reporting and political activism persuaded a federal judge to temporarily block the measure.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan yesterday ruled in favor of a group of writers and activists who sued President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Defense Department, claiming a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Dec. 31, puts them in fear that they could be arrested and held by U.S. armed forces.

The complaint was filed Jan. 13 by a group including former New York Times reporter Christopher Hedges. The plaintiffs contend a section of the law allows for detention of citizens and permanent residents taken into custody in the U.S. on “suspicion of providing substantial support” to people engaged in hostilities against the U.S., such as al-Qaeda.

“The statute at issue places the public at undue risk of having their speech chilled for the purported protection from al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ‘associated forces’ – i.e., ‘foreign terrorist organizations,’” Forrest said in an opinion yesterday. “The vagueness of Section 1021 does not allow the average citizen, or even the government itself, to understand with the type of definiteness to which our citizens are entitled, or what conduct comes within its scope.”

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Tell Congress to Pass the SAFE Banking Act

Tell Congress: End Too-Big-To-Fail. Make Banking SAFE

US Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio

By Isaiah J. Poole

May 16, 2012 – 3:05pm ET

JPMorgan Chase’s $2 billion bad bet has made it crystal clear: The Wall Street banksters are still recklessly gambling with government-guaranteed money. And the too-big-to-fail banks are still too big.

It is time for Congress to act. Tell Congress to break up the big banks by passing Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Keith Ellison’s SAFE Banking Act. That legislation is the one tool on the table that will cut too-big-to-fail banks down to size.

When President Obama signed Wall Street reform into law two years ago, one crucial piece was missing: a cap on how big banks can get. The bank lobby defeated all efforts to include a limit on their size.

Now the six largest banks – led by JPMorgan Chase – are collectively bigger and more concentrated than they were before they blew up the economy, with the assets they control growing from $6.1 trillion before the collapse to more than $8.5 trillion today, according to Federal Reserve data.

Continue reading Tell Congress to Pass the SAFE Banking Act

Oust JP Morgan Oligarch from New York Federal Reserve

Elizabeth Warren Is Right: Jamie Dimon Needs To Resign From NY Fed

Business Editor, The Huffington Post

Democrat Candidate for US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren

Not for the first time, Elizabeth Warren has spoken a simple truth, one that ought to be heeded: Jamie Dimon must surrender his seat on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The seat in question is part of a body that has god-like influence over the most crucial questions governing high finance. Like, for example, whether colossal institutions such as Dimon’s ought to be spared from collapse by taxpayer largess when bad things happen. And as Dimon’s bank has just helpfully reminded us, courtesy of its $2 billion-plus in losses on a bum trade, bad things happen all the time, especially when the financial lobby manages to keep fighting off any semblance of sensible regulation.

Yes, you heard right: The chief executive of JP Morgan Chase — the largest bank in the land, and the exemplar of a ‘too big to fail’ institution — is allowed to sit at the table with the people tasked with deciding when and how much of other people’s money gets earmarked for his rescue. This is not the fox guarding the hen house; this is the fox guarding the hen house while selling synthetic derivatives whose value increases with every hen he gobbles up, and who burns down the hen house so he can collect on his fire insurance policy, and then gets the government to build him a new hen house at taxpayer expense. And then, after that, he still gets to guard the new hen house.

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Gas Drillers Send Republican Jim Christiana to Attack Concerned Citizens

Gas well fire in Avella. Thanks to Republican law cancelling local zoning, this is coming to your neighborhood

By Randy Shannon

South Heights Borough Council President Bob Schmetzer will represent concerned citizens before a panel of drillers and their paid Republican Party legislators at Beaver Lakes Country Club at 1:00pm on Tuesday May 15th.

Schmetzer chaired an April 21st public meeting  in Ambridge where scientific experts presented evidence of the dangers to the Ambridge Reservoir of hydraulic fracturing of shale.

Schmetzer has also alerted local communities to the risks to the Creswell Water Authority aquifer that will be caused by drilling. Site clearing around the aquifer is now underway.

The Brockway, PA Municipal Authority recently experienced loss of its Well No. 5 when the aquifer was pierced by a gas well. Water flow was halted for 29 hours and subsequent turbidity increased 500%.  Well casing requirements in PA are below standard quality that would avoid such leakages. This substandard practice saves money for the drillers, who pass it on to Republican politicians who control the DEP.

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Smash the Banker Oligarchy

Oligarchs Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan and Lloyd Blanfein, Goldman Sachs

JP Morgan Debacle Reveals Fatal Flaw In Federal Reserve Thinking

MIT professor; Co-author, ’13 Bankers’ and ‘White House Burning’; Columnist on fiscal affairs

Experienced Wall Street executives and traders concede, in private, that Bank of America is not well run and that Citigroup has long been a recipe for disaster. But they always insist that attempts to re-regulate Wall Street are misguided because risk-management has become more sophisticated — everyone, in this view, has become more like Jamie Dimon, head of JP Morgan Chase, with his legendary attention to detail and concern about quantifying the downside.

In the light of JP Morgan’s stunning losses on derivatives, announced yesterday but with the full scope of total potential losses still not yet clear (and not yet determined), Jamie Dimon and his company do not look like any kind of appealing role model. But the real losers in this turn of events are the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the New York Fed, whose approach to bank capital is now demonstrated to be deeply flawed.

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Update on Challenging Voter ID

Yet Another Reason to Defeat All GOP Candidates—If You Needed One


Viviette Applewhite is 93-year-old and has voted in nearly every election for the last 60 years. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Georgia. She has tried for years to obtain photo ID to no avail. Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, Ms. Applewhite’s vote will not be counted. She is a plaintiff in our lawsuit to stop voter ID.

Learn more about ACLU-PA’s challenge to Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional voter ID law at:

Progressive Democrat for Congress – Norman Solomon

Progressive Election Strategy and the Norman Solomon Campaign

We can’t devise a successful electoral strategy for “The Left”—meaning the forces of peace, social/economic justice and sustainability—unless we face a simple fact: We’re getting our asses kicked.

For three decades, our country’s politics have moved steadily rightward and become more corporate-dominated. With few exceptions (gay rights, for example), the right wing has been winning on almost every issue. That’s why we have record levels of war-spending, with near record levels of poverty and wealth disparities. Labor is weakened and under attack, while corporate power over government and both major parties keeps increasing. Our earth faces environmental disasters while the mindless “Drill, Baby, Drill” slogan gains popularity. Issues we thought we’d won decades ago—like reproductive rights and separation of church and state—are under constant threat.

There’s an essential reason for this sad state of affairs: Rightwing activists have seized one of the two major parties, the GOP, and used that party to amass power and dominate the terms of debate on most issues since Reagan was elected in 1981.

Continue reading Progressive Democrat for Congress – Norman Solomon