Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* BILL MOYERS AND MATT TAIBBI: EVERYONE PAYS IF THE BANKSTERS DON’T GO TO JAIL
“The rule of law isn’t really the rule of law if it doesn’t apply equally to everybody,” Taibbi tells Moyers.
Source: Bill Moyers
Journalist Matt Taibbi assesses the Obama Administration’s approach to holding banks accountable for their behavior, and early indications are not promising. Taibbi tells Bill that fearing another economic calamity is no excuse for turning a blind eye to shockingly unethical decisions and management.
BILL MOYERS: I t’s time to talk with journalist Matt Taibbi. You’ve seen him on our broadcast before. A contributing editor at “Rolling Stone,” he’s been tracking the high crimes and misdemeanors of Wall Street and Washington for years.
You’re working on a story right now that’ll come out in a couple of weeks on the HSBC settlement. That’s the, tell me about that, why it interests you.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, the HSBC settlement was a really shocking kind of new low in the history of the too big to fail issue. HSBC was a serial offender on the money laundering score. They had been twice given formal cease and desist orders by the government. One dating back as far as 2003, another one in 2010 for inadequately policing the accounts in their system. They laundered over $800 million for cartels in Colombia.
BILL MOYERS: Drug cartels?
MATT TAIBBI: Drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. They laundered money for terrorist connected banks in the Middle East. Russian gangsters. Literally, you know, I talked to one prosecutor who’s, like, “They broke basically every law in the book and they did business with every kind of criminal you can possibly imagine. And they got a complete and total walk.” I mean, they had to pay a fine.
BILL MOYERS: $1.9 billion, a lot of money.
MATT TAIBBI: It’s a lot of money. But it’s five weeks of revenue for the bank, to put that in perspective. And no individual had to suffer any consequences at all. There were no criminal charges no individual fines, which was incredible. Incredible. […]
* THE TERRORISM OF ‘LAW AND ORDER’
By Eirene, A Place Called Space
Basic and fundamental human rights are being abused in Greece in the name of ‘law and order’. Adopting a policy of zero tolerance to anything it deems as ‘lawlessness’, the Greek government believes that a society that has been brutalised and beaten by the economic crisis will accept its policies of repression. The ideology of the Neo-Nazi party, that has seen such a spectacular rise since the last elections, is being put into practice by a coalition government that has no ideology of its own.
These policies of repression and terrorism are being implemented by the Minister of Law and Order, Nikos Dendias whose first ‘achievement’ was the introduction of the so-called ‘koukoulonomos’ in 2009, a law that decrees that anyone who wears a hoodie can be arrested. This was the beginning of a series of attacks on civil liberties. Under this law hundreds of people have been arrested and prosecuted because some police officer or other has attested that these people were wearing a ‘hoodie’ or something resembling a ‘hoodie’ during the time of their arrest.[…]
* AMBASSADOR LEONIDAS CHRYSANTHOPOULOS ON THE GREEK ECONOMIC CRISIS: COULD THIS TRAGEDY LEAD TO A CIVIL WAR?
By Barbara Van Haute
Editorial Note: Of all the nations experiencing traumatic economic difficulties during the course of the current Great Recession, Greece has suffered the most adverse consequences. The country’s five year economic problems have been longer and deeper than that of any developed country. In fact, Greece has gone through a catastrophic depression otherwise unknown in the West.
The standard of living has dropped drastically; unemployment has reached 26%; the debt to GDP ratio is over 180%; the country’s “fiscal cliff” is looming bankruptcy; social spending and the “safety net” have been eviscerated; while demonstrations and riots target both domestic debt reduction measures and the financial institutions of the European Union power brokers. In response, the European Union and the IMF have authorized a bail-out of 240 billion Euros, some debt relief, and longer repayment schedules in exchange for severe austerity legislation and economic restructuring.
As of last month, the European Union signed off on a further agreement, with mixed benefits and results, to address the crisis. As one analysis put it, “This deal provides little ‘free’ cash for the government to spend. The vast bulk of the package provides for further recapitalization of the banks, repayment of arrears and maturing debt, and a debt buyback from private holders. That leaves only a modest amount of discretionary fiscal spending for the next few months. As before, Greece will depend importantly on sales of government debt to Greek banks to finance itself, which in turn is made possible by liquidity from the ECB. That’s a new definition of recycling, whereby the monetary authority is the ultimate provider of financing to service official debts.” [Council on Foreign Relations website, Nov. 27, 2012: “Greece Gets Its Deal”] […]
* BLACKWATER: FIRST IRAQ, THEN AFGHANISTAN … NOW GREECE
By Mhairi McAlpine
Blackwater is notorious. A private mercenary army, it first came to public attention in 2003 two years after it was founded after the US government contracted it to provide military support for the war in Iraq. Innumerable scandals followed. And now the Greek Government has enlisted its services for domestic duties.
The first time Blackwater came to public attention was with the killing of four of its contractors in Fallujah. The outpouring of rage at the atrocities the company was wreaking on the town which led to the killing made it apparent that substantial elements of the Iraq War had been subcontracted to a private company. The contract that Blackwater held in Iraq was worth over $1bn, and the intervention became dogged by scandal with dozens of murders by Blackwater employees hushed up, including the murder of 17 civilians in Nisour Square in Bagdad. It later emerged that senior managers of the company authorised secret payments of about $1m into Iraq intending to bribe officials to allow Blackwater to remain in Iraq despite Baghdad’s position that the company would be banned and the killers prosecuted when those and other murders came to light.
When its contract for Iraq was not renewed in 2009, it moved to Afghanistan, on a contract worth $200 million, yet still the scandals continued. In May 2009, four drunken off-duty operatives killed a civilian when they opened fire on a car; and in January 2010, two operatives were arrested by the FBI on murder charges for a further two civilian deaths. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. […]
[…] Rumours that the Greek government had signed a contract with the notorious mercenary outfit first started circulating online in November. Several websites claimed that the Greek government had signed a contract with Blackwater (now renamed Academi“), to provide security services which would patrol urban areas with armoured vehicles and heavy weaponry, backed up with motorcycle support, commencing operations from early 2013. These rumours were based on a US investment report which encouraged people to buy shares in private military outfits suggesting that domestic governments would start engaging their services citing Greece as an example.
Three days ago, these rumours were confirmed by Leonidas Chysanthopoulis, a Greek career diplomat who has worked closely with the EU. Previously the Greek Ambassador to Armenia, Poland and Canada. until earlier this year he served as Secretary General of the Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Corporation Organization (BSEC). In an interview with a Canadian journalist he stated..
“The Greek government recently made an agreement with the successor company of Blackwater to hire mercenaries for the protection of Parliament.” […]
* IMF SPOKESMAN OFFICIALLY ADMITS WRONG CALCULATIONS ON GREECE’S PROGRAM
One after the other officials at International Monetary Fund admit that the strict austerity program imposed to Greece was based on wrong assumptions, calculations, estimations, forecasts, multipliers and predictions A ‘mistake’ that cost Greek households billions of euro. How many? Nobody dares to calculate or say exactly….
During the regular IMF press briefing on Thursday, Gerry Rice, External Relations Department of International Monetary Fund, made the following statement:
QUESTIONER: How are things going in Greece? What information do you have, if you could tell us?
MR. RICE: We just had the Board meeting two weeks ago, the approval of the next tranche of the loan to Greece, and the commitment by the Greek authorities and the partners to Greece, including the IMF, to move forward with that program. So that was just two weeks ago. I think we should give some time now for implementation to take place. Going back to what you asked earlier, the next mission will be assessing where we are. So I think at that time we’ll be able to go into a bit more detail with you.
QUESTIONER: I want to ask about this report by Mr. Blanchard on January 3rd, if you remember. According to many media around the world, what he wrote — and I quote — “it’s an amazing mea culpa.” The Washington Post even went further — and I quote again — The Washington Post said that, “the IMF’s top economist acknowledged that the Fund blew its forecast for Greece and other European economies because it did not fully understand how government austerity efforts would undermine economic growth.” I know that Mrs. Lagarde spoke about it. But, can you tell us what is the IMF position on this report? Because Mr. Blanchard is the leading economist in this building.
MR. RICE: Thank you for the question. And you’re right that both Olivier Blanchard and Christine Lagarde have talked about this issue at length. Let me set it in a bit of context for you: going way back to 2010, if we can cast our minds back, I think it’s fair to say everyone was a bit too optimistic on forecasting Greece’s recovery. Why? I think, as was explained — including in last week’s interviews — there were a number of reasons. These included, the depth and the protracted nature of the European crisis itself, and the political crisis in Greece, which severely affected economic confidence, and delayed the implementation of reforms. So that was very important context for the way that people were thinking about the Greek program back in 2010. And this was the context that was emerging.
When it became apparent that the underlying conditions were different to what had been assumed, we certainly moved as fast as we could to update our multiplier assumption. I think Olivier Blanchard has explained this far better than I just have. It’s all on the record.
But maybe just one other point: there’s been a lot of discussion of this fiscal multiplier, which is probably something very few people had heard of until some months ago. And that’s because the fiscal multiplier is only one dimension, one component of how a determination is made on a country’s fiscal policy stance. There are a lot of other factors that go into that. It’s not just some mathematical regression that then, in some mechanistic way, determines the fiscal adjustment that needs to be made in every country. And every country is very different.
So that’s the context. I think it’s a very healthy thing that the IMF and Olivier Blanchard have been completely transparent in how this was done, what the whole context was. I think that’s the basis we want to move forward on.
So the fiscal multiplier, of course, has been adjusted on an ongoing basis since 2010. That’s where we are. […]
* THE REAL INVASION OF AFRICA IS NOT NEWS
By John Pilger
A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.
The invasion has almost nothing to do with “Islamism”, and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. As in the cold war, a division of labour requires that western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a “menacing arc” of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus “red menace” of a worldwide communist conspiracy.
Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments. Last year, Africom staged Operation African Endeavor, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.
It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s black colonial elite whose “historic mission”, warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”. […]
* PUSSY RIOT’S NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA TRANSFERRED TO PRISON HOSPITAL
Tolokonnikova moved from remote penal colony where she is serving two-year sentence after experiencing severe headaches
By Howard Amos, The Guardian
The Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been transferred from the women’s penal colony where she is serving her two-year sentence to a nearby prison hospital after experiencing severe headaches.
Tolokonnikova, 22, was moved to the remote colony IK-14 in October following her conviction for inciting religious hatred during Pussy Riot’s performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in the capital’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
“The penal colony she is in is a hard one,” bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was freed on appeal after the trial, told the Guardian. “She works in two shifts … and has no time to relax.”
Tolokonnikova underwent a special medical investigation in December that concluded the reasons for her headaches, which she has complained of since her trial, could be “very serious”, her lawyer Irina Khrunova said in a statement.
She was moved to hospital on 24 January after an official appeal to the prison director.
Inmates in female prison colonies are required to do daily work, sleep in large barracks with up to 200 others and follow a strict routine beginning at 6am. […]