A collection of starlings is called a murmuration, watch how they fly in formation over the River Shannon in Ireland.

Murmuration on Vimeo on Vimeo

The impetus behind the Occupy Wall Street movement – a vague sense that the rich are getting ever richer while everyone else suffers – was confirmed by a recent report from the Social Security Administration showing that while total employment and average wages remained stagnant, the number of people earning $1 million or more grew by 18% from 2009 to 2010.  Those figures give real substance to the “We are the 99%” slogan, yet Republicans continue to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that if anything those “job creators” deserve an even greater share of our national income.  The Tea Party, meanwhile, has launched its own “53%” movement, inexplicably rallying the working class to the defense of the wealthy.  The one group rarely heard from in this rancorous debate is the 1%, whose incomes and taxes are its focus.  I am one of them, and here is my perspective, which may surprise you.

Read more of this article –>  Daily Kos: A Voice From the 1%.

The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward.

We are going to battle once again.

Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure. And we all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a truly progressive tax system. Progressives worry when the rich and privileged become powerful enough to undermine democracy.

Regressives take the opposite positions.

Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and the other tribunes of today’s Republican right aren’t really conservatives. Their goal isn’t to conserve what we have. It’s to take us backwards.

They’d like to return to the 1920s — before Social Security, unemployment insurance, labor laws, the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, worker safety laws, the Environmental Protection Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Act, and the Voting Rights Act.

In the 1920s Wall Street was unfettered, the rich grew far richer and everyone else went deep into debt, and the nation closed its doors to immigrants.

Rather than conserve the economy, these regressives want to resurrect the classical economics of the 1920s — the view that economic downturns are best addressed by doing nothing until the “rot” is purged out of the system (as Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, so decorously put it).

In truth, if they had their way we’d be back in the late nineteenth century — before the federal income tax, antitrust laws, the pure food and drug act, and the Federal Reserve. A time when robber barons — railroad, financial, and oil titans — ran the country. A time of wrenching squalor for the many and mind-numbing wealth for the few.

Listen carefully to today’s Republican right and you hear the same Social Darwinism Americans were fed more than a century ago to justify the brazen inequality of the Gilded Age:  Survival of the fittest. Don’t help the poor or unemployed or anyone who’s fallen on bad times, they say, because this only encourages laziness. America will be strong only if we reward the rich and punish the needy.

The regressive right has slowly consolidated power over the last three decades as income and wealth have concentrated at the top. In the late 1970s the richest 1 percent of Americans received 9 percent of total income and held 18 percent of the nation’s wealth; by 2007, they had more than 23 percent of total income and 35 percent of America’s wealth. CEOs of the 1970s were paid 40 times the average worker’s wage; now CEOs receive 300 times the typical workers’ wage.

This concentration of income and wealth has generated the political heft to deregulate Wall Street and halve top tax rates. It has bankrolled the so-called Tea Party movement, and captured the House of Representatives and many state governments. Through a sequence of presidential appointments it has also overtaken the Supreme Court.

Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts (and, all too often, Kennedy) claim they’re conservative jurists. But they’re judicial activists bent on overturning seventy-five years of jurisprudence by resurrecting states’ rights, treating the 2nd Amendment as if America still relied on  local militias, narrowing the Commerce Clause, and calling money speech and corporations people.

Yet the great arc of American history reveals an unmistakable pattern. Whenever privilege and power conspire to pull us backward, the nation eventually rallies and moves forward. Sometimes it takes an economic shock like the bursting of a giant speculative bubble; sometimes we just reach a tipping point where the frustrations of average Americans turn into action.

Look at the Progressive reforms between 1900 and 1916; the New Deal of the 1930s; the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s; the widening opportunities for women, minorities, people with disabilities, and gays; and the environmental reforms of the 1970s.

In each of these eras, regressive forces reignited the progressive ideals on which America is built. The result was fundamental reform.

Perhaps this is what’s beginning to happen again across America.

Read more from –> Robert Reich

This is a easy to understand and listen to introduction to the general ideas of creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Innovation – YouTube.

 

Now, more than ever before, the world needs creativity

Focus on creativity
By Eric Frank, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sri Lanka
When I was at school I spent much of my time in class totally immersed in drawing pictures in my books. No margin, introductory page or fly-leaf was spared and when it finally came down to confronting my exam results; I discovered that the time spent on llustrating my fantasies was directly related to my poor marks in subjects that actually didn’t interest me.During that time function and logic were the passwords to a successful future and the concept of creativity (the stuff behind my drawings) was considered part of the arts; the exclusive domain of painters, inventors, writers, and other weird people.

Sir Richard Branson ( pictured here as a schoolboy).

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would forever be repeating the same patterns – Edward de Bono
Fortunately things must change. With the world facing multiple crises, it is now imperative that leaders and business encourage creativity at every level. Because, creativity is the mother of innovation and both are critical to the future of our planet.

What defines creativity? Creativity is a mental and social process that is stimulated by insight-conscious and unconscious.

It powers ideas, concepts and associations. Innovation, in turn is the successful exploitation of new ideas – it’s the profitable outcome of the creative process involved in generating and supplying new products and services that are viable, desirable and necessary.

Creators and innovators may rarely have the same perspectives or attributes but more often than not they are equally motivated and committed to their goals. Their ability to excel in finding solutions to the challenges they face is what makes them such inspiring people.

The key question isn’t “what fosters creativity?” but it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But, why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anyone created anything – Abraham Maslow.

Who is Creative? If like many, you believe that only a select few are born creative, you’re wrong. The creative geniuses we look up to are just like you and I. Except when it comes to expressing our creativity we are paralysed by fear of failure and ridicule.

Perhaps we’ve been brainwashed by education or our upbringing has led us to believe that thinking differently is wrong. But, believe it or not, failure is essential to creativity. Without creative failure we wouldn’t have computers, light-bulbs, telephones or the humble post-it-note.

The three components of creativity.

1.Expertise is basically knowledge in all its facets.
2.Creative-thinking skills are determined by how imaginative and flexible you approach problems.
3. Motivation is your passion to solve problems in an innovative and refreshing manner.

Leveraging our creativity: Just like our creative heroes, we also have brains and lots of ideas spinning around in our heads. The only difference between us and them is that they act. They have the courage and self-belief to make their ideas happen.

Take Sir Richard Branson ( pictured here as a schoolboy). While suffering from dyslexia and delivering less than stellar academic performance, Branson discovered he had an ability to connect with people. Focusing upon what he was passionate about, he pursued his own creativity with no fear of failure and in a few short years changed the face of business world-wide.

After he failed to successfully grow and sell Christmas trees, Branson was barely 18 when he launched a magazine, “The Student”, from a crypt in a church near his home. Shortly after that he used it to market his own record company, Virgin Records. In no time both enterprises were thriving successes. Two years later, at the age of 20, he opened the first Virgin Music Store in Oxford Street.

In subsequent years he went on to reinvent the entire music industry and develop his Virgin empire into one of the world’s biggest and most valuable brands. “For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” – Sir Richard Branson

We need more Bransons’ and we need to encourage and inspire as many people as we can to step forward and apply their massive creative potential to discover alternative fuel sources, ways to combat climate change, disease and famine. We urgently need to do anything rather than nothing. The secret to the future is in our creative power.

via Now, more than ever before, the world needs creativity.

The repeal of provisions of the Glass–Seagall Act of 1933 by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act effectively removed the separation that previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks. Most economists believe this repeal directly contributed to the severity of the Financial crisis of 2007–2011 by allowing Wall Street investment banking firms to gamble with their depositors’ money that was held in commercial banks owned or created by the investment firms.

via Glass–Steagall Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Planet Earth Doesn’t Know How To Make It Any Clearer It Wants Everyone To Leave | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

June 1, 2011 | ISSUE 47•22

The Earth says events like this should have made it “pretty obvious” what it’s been driving at.

EARTH—According to a statement released to the press Tuesday, the planet Earth has “just about run out of ways” to let its roughly 6.9 billion human inhabitants know it wants them all to leave.

Following a recent series of disastrous floods along the Mississippi River and destructive tornadoes across much of the United States—as well as a year of even deadlier natural catastrophes all over the world—the Earth said its options for strongly implying that it no longer wants human beings living on it have basically been exhausted.

“At this point, I think I’ve stated my wishes quite loudly and clearly,” the Earth’s statement to all of humanity read in part. “I haven’t exactly been subtle about it, you realize. I have literally tried to drown you, crush you, starve you, dehydrate you, pump you full of diseases, and suck your homes and families into swirling vortices of death. Honestly, what more is it going to take for you people to get the message?”

“Do I have to spell it out for you?” the statement continued. “Get the fuck out of here. I want you to leave now.”

The Earth says all it can do at this point is keep manufacturing disasters and hope humanity finally “wises up.”

The statement went on to list thousands of incidents in 2011 alone that the Earth claimed were “solely and unmistakably” designed to inform the human race that it might be time to move on, including the devastating tsunami that caused thousands of deaths in Japan, an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed an estimated 181 people, and historic rainstorms in Colombia that destroyed entire communities with deadly landslides.

The planet Earth also singled out an ongoing drought in China that has left more than 2.3 million people with a shortage of fresh water as “a pretty big goddamned tip-off, wouldn’t you say?”

While the Earth had hoped the human race might finally “get the picture” following one of the harshest winter storm years in recorded history, it instead found that people simply went on with their lives, occasionally making reference to disaster victims in their thoughts and prayers but showing no intention whatsoever of preparing themselves for a long trip through the far reaches of space to find a new home.

“I know your species has developed the technology to leave me, I’ve seen you use it before, so I’m asking you now, please, just take the hint already,” read another excerpt from the Earth’s statement, which added that it would really be best for all concerned if humanity were to “trundle off to some other biosphere for a while.” “You can’t possibly be enjoying this, can you? Honestly, you would have to be completely deranged or masochistic to continue staying here.”

Immediately after delivering the statement, the Earth ignited a series of wildfires throughout the world’s arid regions.

Though some scientists have responded to Earth’s message with theories as to precisely what the planet might be trying to communicate, most firmly acknowledged that further study would be required before any definitive evidence could be gleaned from the “fascinating” statement.

“Certainly these utterances from the Earth are strongly worded, but at this point it is difficult to say whether they speak to a larger trend or are simply a bio-geological anomaly,” Dr. Roger Summons of MIT said. “While there seems to be an implication that the Earth wants us to go away and never come back, I, for one, can’t say conclusively from either a geochemical or a meteorological standpoint whether this is in fact the case.”

In a sharp rebuke to both the planet and the mainstream scientific community, Republican leaders in Congress responded this week with a scathing critique of what they deemed to be the Earth’s “pathetic and extremist viewpoints.”

“What we’re seeing here is the same old scientific mumbo jumbo and partisan rhetoric that the Earth has been spewing out for millennia,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said. “We’re not going to be bullied by a celestial body that has time and again failed to deliver on its promise to glorify and reward mankind with its bounty.”

Immediately following these statements from the human race, the Earth emitted a loud sigh, which shifted multiple tectonic plates and caused massive earthquakes on five continents.

Billionaire Warren Buffett Tells Congress To Raise Taxes On Wealthy – ABC News.

Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the country, wants to pay more taxes and thinks his super-rich friends should too.

Buffett, who is estimated to be worth more than $47 billion, called on Congress to commit to “shared sacrifice” and raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million. Buffett said the rich are “coddled” by Congress “as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.”

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks,” Buffett wrote in a Sunday New York Times Op-ed.

WASHINGTON, DC–Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that “our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over.”

 

President-elect Bush vows that “together, we can put the triumphs of the recent past behind us.”

“My fellow Americans,” Bush said, “at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us.”

Bush swore to do “everything in [his] power” to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

“You better believe we’re going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration,” said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?”

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

Wall Street responded strongly to the Bush speech, with the Dow Jones industrial fluctuating wildly before closing at an 18-month low. The NASDAQ composite index, rattled by a gloomy outlook for tech stocks in 2001, also fell sharply, losing 4.4 percent of its total value between 3 p.m. and the closing bell.

Asked for comment about the cooling technology sector, Bush said: “That’s hardly my area of expertise.”

Turning to the subject of the environment, Bush said he will do whatever it takes to undo the tremendous damage not done by the Clinton Administration to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He assured citizens that he will follow through on his campaign promise to open the 1.5 million acre refuge’s coastal plain to oil drilling. As a sign of his commitment to bringing about a change in the environment, he pointed to his choice of Gale Norton for Secretary of the Interior. Norton, Bush noted, has “extensive experience” fighting environmental causes, working as a lobbyist for lead-paint manufacturers and as an attorney for loggers and miners, in addition to suing the EPA to overturn clean-air standards.

Bush had equally high praise for Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft, whom he praised as “a tireless champion in the battle to protect a woman’s right to give birth.”

“Soon, with John Ashcroft’s help, we will move out of the Dark Ages and into a more enlightened time when a woman will be free to think long and hard before trying to fight her way past throngs of protesters blocking her entrance to an abortion clinic,” Bush said. “We as a nation can look forward to lots and lots of babies.”

Soldiers at Ft. Bragg march lockstep in preparation for America’s return to aggression.

Continued Bush: “John Ashcroft will be invaluable in healing the terrible wedge President Clinton drove between church and state.”

The speech was met with overwhelming approval from Republican leaders.

“Finally, the horrific misrule of the Democrats has been brought to a close,” House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters. “Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend. Mercifully, we can now say goodbye to the awful nightmare that was Clinton’s America.”

“For years, I tirelessly preached the message that Clinton must be stopped,” conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said. “And yet, in 1996, the American public failed to heed my urgent warnings, re-electing Clinton despite the fact that the nation was prosperous and at peace under his regime. But now, thank God, that’s all done with. Once again, we will enjoy mounting debt, jingoism, nuclear paranoia, mass deficit, and a massive military build-up.”

An overwhelming 49.9 percent of Americans responded enthusiastically to the Bush speech.

“After eight years of relatively sane fiscal policy under the Democrats, we have reached a point where, just a few weeks ago, President Clinton said that the national debt could be paid off by as early as 2012,” Rahway, NJ, machinist and father of three Bud Crandall said. “That’s not the kind of world I want my children to grow up in.”

“You have no idea what it’s like to be black and enfranchised,” said Marlon Hastings, one of thousands of Miami-Dade County residents whose votes were not counted in the 2000 presidential election. “George W. Bush understands the pain of enfranchisement, and ever since Election Day, he has fought tirelessly to make sure it never happens to my people again.”

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption.

“We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two,” Bush said. “Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there’s much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation’s hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it.”

“The insanity is over,” Bush said. “After a long, dark night of peace and stability, the sun is finally rising again over America. We look forward to a bright new dawn not seen since the glory days of my dad.”
Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’ | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source
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There is a lot of truth in comedy.

Roubini Warns of Global Recession Risk 8/11/2011 6:42:02 PM

Economist Nouriel Roubini says the risk of a global recession is greater than 50 percent, and the next two to three months will reveal the economy’s direction. In an interview with WSJ’s Simon Constable, Roubini also says he’s putting his money in cash. “This is not the time to be in risky assets,” he says.

via Video – Economist Nouriel Roubini Warns of Global Recession Risk Greater than 50 Percent – WSJ.com.

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