Friday, October 25, 2013

Today's Links

1--Number of U.S. Mortgages Going Unpaid = 4,594,000 , DS News

Of the more than 3 million delinquent loans, LPS says 1,331,000 have missed at least three payments but haven’t started the foreclosure process.

Another 1,328,000 mortgages are currently winding their way through foreclosure pipelines, according to LPS’ data. That total puts the nation’s pre-sale foreclosure inventory at 2.63 percent in September, down 1.29 percent from the month prior and down 32.18 percent from last year.
All-in-all, there are 4,594,000 mortgages going unpaid in the United States.

2---Earnings Growth to Ramp Up? Call Me a Skeptic, Testosterone Pit

3---Half of nation's foreclosed homes still occupied, CNN Money

Foreclosure sounds like the end of the line, but actual eviction can take months or years -- even after the bank has repossessed a home.
RealtyTrac estimates that 47% of the nation's foreclosed homes are currently occupied. The percentage actually tops 60% in some hot housing markets, like Miami and Los Angeles...

And banks may be in no rush to kick people out. They will take their time in markets with a lot of homes for sale and depressed prices. Plus, letting homeowners stick around can help protect homes from abuse.

4---Deaths of almost 600 pets tied to jerky treats , salon

5---Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Fell to 10-Month Low in October, Bloomberg

6--Export Slowdown Threatens World Economy, Bloomberg

A report yesterday highlighted the issue: The Hague-based CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis estimated global trade volume fell 0.8 percent in August, eroding a 1.8 percent jump of the previous month. It was the weakest performance since a 1.1 percent decline in February and left the three-month average lagging its historical pace.

Data from individual countries reflects the gloom. The U.S. trade gap was little changed in August at $38.8 billion as exports fell 0.1 percent and imports barely budged. Chinese exports unexpectedly fell in September and shipments from Taiwan and South Korea also declined. Even with the yen falling this year, the volume of Japanese exports fell last month.

The outlook may only be slightly better next year. The World Trade Organization last month cut its forecasts for trade growth in 2013 and 2014 to 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent respectively, both below the 20-year average of 5.4 percent. The International Monetary Fund reflected such projections two weeks ago when it cut its own forecasts for worldwide economic growth to 2.9 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year. ...

A declining dollar may also antagonize trade partners, rekindling the so-called currency wars of recent years and posing another threat to the world economy, said Neil Mellor, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in London. The dollar has declined 5 percent on a trade-weighted basis since mid-July.

7---Fuk-‘hush’-ima: Japan’s new state secrets law gags whistleblowers, raises press freedom fears, RT

Many issues of national importance to Japan, probably including the state of the Fukushima power plant, may be designated state secrets under a new draft law. Once signed, it could see whistleblowers jailed for up to 10 years.

Japan has relatively lenient penalties for exposing state secrets compared to many other nations, but that may change with the introduction of the new law. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has agreed on draft legislation on the issue on Friday and expects the parliament to vote on it during the current session, which ends on December 6.

With a comfortable majority in both chambers, the ruling coalition bloc would see no problems overcoming the opposition. Critics say the new law would give the executive too much power to conceal information from the public and compromise the freedom of the press.....

Basically, this bill raises the possibility that the kind of information about which the public should be informed is kept secret eternally," Tadaaki Muto, a lawyer and member of a task force on the bill at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, told Reuters.
"Under the bill, the administrative branch can set the range of information that is kept secret at its own discretion." ...

It seems very clear that the law would have a chilling effect on journalism in Japan," said Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University. ...

Japanese law has no clear definition of what kind of new gathering could be deemed ‘grossly inappropriate’. The bill introduces a jail sentence of up to five years for non-officials, including media professionals, using such methods to obtain information. ....
Despite criticisms, the Japanese cabinet insists that the law be adopted promptly.

8---NSA Chief: Reporters Must Be Stopped, antiwar
           Accuses Media of Creating 'Dramatic, Convenient Lie'

NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander gave a long interview today with the Pentagon’s “Armed With Science” blog, calling on the world to find some way to stop international media outlets from reporting about his agency’s surveillance programs based on leaked documents.

“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that,” Alexander insisted, saying that the ability of media outlets to report on the NSA “just doesn’t make sense” to him.

9---Wealth and poverty in America, wsws

In reality, it is the rich that society cannot afford. Society cannot afford their voracious appetites and the appalling and irrational squandering of resources to satisfy their insatiable greed. The working class cannot afford to have all its rights and interests subordinated to their ever-greater accumulation of personal wealth.

Five years after the financial crash of 2008, in the midst of growing poverty and social misery, the US ruling class is amassing unparalleled levels of wealth.
The top ten highest-paid CEOs in the United States each received over $100 million last year, according to a survey released Tuesday by GMI Ratings. Two chief executives alone took in over $1 billion apiece, and the combined pay of the top ten was $4.7 billion—in one year...

The CEO pay report followed the release last month of the Forbes 400 list, which showed that the combined wealth of the 400 richest people in the US increased by 17 percent over last year’s figure, rising from $1.7 trillion to over $2 trillion. The wealth of these 400 individuals is more than twice the amount necessary to cover the federal budget deficit, which is being used as the pretext for slashing food stamps, education, housing assistance and retirement and health care programs.

Side by side with the obscene self-enrichment of the financial aristocracy, poverty continues to swell. A study released earlier this month by the Southern Education Foundation found that nearly half of all public school children in the United States were in poverty in the school year that ended in 2011. Of the world’s 45 wealthiest countries, the United States has the second-highest level of child poverty, exceeded only by Romania.

A report that came out yesterday, based on figures provided by the US Department of Education, found that over 1.1 million children enrolled in public schools were homeless at some point in 2011-2012, up 10 percent from 2010-2011 and 72 percent higher than before the onset of the economic crisis. Even these figures underestimate the actual number of school children without a home.

By every measure—household income, poverty, unemployment—the conditions of life for a large majority of the population have suffered a historic decline, the impact of which will be felt for decades. Older workers are finding it impossible to retire, with pensions and health care under attack. The future held out for youth is one of permanent economic dislocation, poverty, indebtedness and unemployment.
Far from being chastened by disaster it has unleashed and the monstrous growth of poverty and inequality, the US ruling class is intensifying its plunder of society and its war against the working class ...

Two points must be made about the claims that “there is no money” to meet basic social needs. First is their obvious absurdity amidst the accumulation of personal wealth on a scale never before seen in human history. The lie that there are no resources is not rendered more believable by being endlessly repeated.
Second, in implicitly acknowledging that the preservation of capitalism requires that the broad mass of the population give up everything that has been gained in the past, the representatives of the ruling class render a devastating judgment on their own economic system. The relentless drive to slash workers’ wages, benefits, social services and public infrastructure constitutes a de facto admission that capitalism is a failed system that has long outlived any historical justification.

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