Mike Whitney reports at Counterpunch about the havoc stock buybacks can wreak on our economy. When executives repurchase their own corporation's shares, that's that much less money they're spending on, you know, making stuff and hiring people who'll make (and buy!) the stuff. It gets worse: those executives sell bonds to raise the cash to buy back stock, meaning they buy back that stock on credit -- and the folks who buy the bonds will be left high and dry when the whole system comes down. And then President Clintonortrump will insist that we have to save the banksters first.
Bloomberg chronicles a relatively new phenomenon: WalMart stores coming into town, putting the last local groceries out of business, and then leaving. WalMart would like you to believe it's because of their decision to hike their minimum wages, even though WalMart executives have said WalMart employees too often don't make enough even to shop at WalMart. Anyway, we call that a hostage situation -- don't make me pay my employees more, or the lone grocery within 30 minutes of you gets it! (As we've noted before, Walmart execs could pay worker wage hikes by cutting back on the stock buybacks.) This development could help bring back smaller groceries more responsive to local needs, but it'll be hell in the meantime.
U.S. Supreme Court rules that a 2012 decision barring automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles must be applied retroactively. These folks must now be given at least a parole hearing so they can, in Justice Kennedy's words, "be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption." Justice Scalia, in his dissent, calls it "just a devious way of eliminating life without parole for juvenile offenders," which he says like it's a bad thing. A society that puts kids in jail for life is a sick, immoral, and decadent society, and should seek to reverse that sickness, immorality and decadence before it punishes more kids.
President Obama announces ban on solitary confinement for juveniles and for low-level offenders in federal prisons via executive order. The ban will directly affect few prisoners (as the federal system doesn't hold that many kids), but oftentimes when the feds start something like this, states follow. Eagerly awaiting the hordes of right-wingers who proclaim that ZOMG OBUMMER IZ TEH AMURIKAN CAESAR!!!!! OK, "eagerly awaiting" would be an overstatement.
Finally, Oakland city Council creates a nine-member Privacy Commission to monitor that city's proposed expansion of surveillance both within the city and at the port. Activists battled for over two years first to limit the expanded city-government spying to the port (which they succeeded in doing) and then to create a full-time Privacy Commission to, in one activist's words, "have the discussion about privacy at the beginning" of a project rather than after its implementation. And now comes the battle to preserve the victories they've won.