Apr 162012
 

 

* IN BARCELONA, AUSTERITY WITH AN IRON FIST

By Peter Gelderloos, Truthout

Criminalizing public meetings, expanding police powers and weaponry, and applying anti-terrorist measures to street protests: it sounds like Spain in the Franco years, but all of these measures have been proposed in Spain in just the last couple of weeks. Far from being a throwback to the years of dictatorship, these repressive developments go hand in hand with the current economic crisis. Considering the connection between the 15M plaza occupation movement and the subsequent Occupy movement that spread to several countries around the globe, between the March 29th general strike in Spain and the upcoming May 1st general strike called in the United States, between the brutal austerity measures implemented already a year or two ago by the government in Madrid and the increasing signs of shakiness from more stable EU countries such as France, Spain is, if anything, ahead of the curve. […]

[…] In the aftermath of the strike, Catalunya’s notorious interior minister, Felip Puig, reacted with indignation and promised harsh new security measures. But honestly, what do ruling politicians and their banker friends expect? That they can take away people’s health care, homes and livelihood while they live it up in exclusive neighborhoods, vote themselves pay raises, drive around in luxury cars, and go to private clinics and private schools? That there aren’t any consequences for slashing retirement and unemployment benefits with the excuse that there isn’t enough money to go around because they’ve spent it all on bailouts? Do they honestly expect that people are going to be shocked by the smashing of banks when those same banks have kicked them out of their houses or swallowed up the money that used to go to health care and unemployment?

The new security measures and police powers the Catalan government in particular is granting itself are not a reaction to the rebelliousness of the March 29th general strike, Puig’s hypocritical handwringing notwithstanding. In the early months of the crisis, before any popular outburst could provide the excuse, it had already become clear that one of the only growth sectors for employment in the foreseeable future would be police and private security. Puig made it clear where his priorities lay from the moment he stepped into office in December 2010: among his first acts were removing the article in the police protocol that prohibited torture and removing the cameras from Catalan police stations – cameras that had proven their usefulness in the previous administration by catching frequent beatings and acts of torture carried out by police. It was Puig who presided over the brutalizing of thousands of peaceful protesters involved in the occupation of Plaça Catalunya last May. Also under his tenure, private security in the metro and elsewhere have been given police powers. Violence and repression has always been this politician’s preferred response to popular discontentment. […]

[…] And of course, Interior is pushing for harsher sentences for a variety of crimes. While Puig graciously admits that, “vandalism is not the same as terrorism,” he nonetheless proposes making the sentencing the same and allowing two years of pretrial imprisonment for public-disorder-related accusations, effectively giving the police the power to pass prison sentences of up to two years without trial. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8516-in-barcelona-austerity-with-an-iron-fist

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* GOVERNMENT EXPLAINED

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D_v5qyvLh68

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* EXPOSING ALEC: HOW CONSERVATIVE-BACKED STATE LAWS ARE ALL CONNECTED

A shadowy organization uses corporate contributions to sell prepackaged conservative bills — such as Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute — to legislatures across the country. 

By Nancy Scola, The Atlantic

[…] Having the bills all in one place painted a certain picture. “If it’s voter ID, it’s ALEC,” observed Doug Clopp, deputy director of programs at Common Cause. “If it’s anti-immigration bills written hand-in-glove with private prison corporations, it’s ALEC. If it’s working with the N.R.A. on ‘Shoot to Kill’ laws, it’s ALEC. When you start peeling back state efforts to opt out of the regional greenhouse gas initiative, it’s ALEC.” Adopted first in the states, by the time these laws bubble up to the national level, they’re the conventional wisdom on policy. […]

[…] ColorofChange.org came up with a strategy. It would start by meeting face-to-face with corporations to explain to them why their participation in ALEC was troublesome. Some companies made the case, said Robinson, that they were simply dedicated to making sure all viewpoints were represented in public debates. “There’s no two sides to black people voting,” Robinson said he and his organizers countered. But always present was the cudgel: the tremendous public attention that ColorofChange.org could bring to bear with a few clicks. The group claims a membership of some 900,000 people. […]

READ @ http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/exposing-alec-how-conservative-backed-state-laws-are-all-connected/255869/?google_editors_picks=true

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* CHICAGO: #SaveOurClinics OCCUPIES MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC SLATED FOR CLOSURE

Source: OccupyWallStreetJournal

[…] Mental Health Clinic Facing Closure Occupied by Patients and Advocates
Mental Health Movement barricaded inside Woodlawn Clinic until Rahm Emanuel backs off clinic closures

Dozens of people who use Chicago’s mental health clinics along with other advocates have barricaded themselves into the Woodlawn Clinic at 6337 S. Woodlawn, one of 6 clinics facing closure. They intend to remain there until Mayor Emanuel agrees to keep all of Chicago’s public clinics open, fully funded and fully staffed.

Two of the clinics slated for closure – the Northwest Clinic in Logan Square and the Northtown Clinic in Rogers Park – shut their doors last Friday. Four others (Woodlawn, Auburn/Gresham, Back of the Yards and Beverly/Morgan Park) are scheduled to close April 30th. The Mental Health Movement, which put out a report and a video undermining the Chicago Department of Public Health’s claim that all patients will continue to receive care, has been calling for hearings on the clinic closures since October. Despite repeated promises and a resolution calling for hearings, the Emanuel Administration has prevented any hearings from taking place in order to avoid public scrutiny of the plan, which has come under fire even from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“We have tried everything we could to be heard. We visited Mayor Emanuel when he was a candidate. We delivered him over 4,000 letters. We have talked to almost all 50 Alderman. We have held press conferences, rallies and even sat-in for 10 hours on the 5th floor of City Hall. We are the ones who know the disaster these clinic closures will mean for our communities and our city but Mayor Emanuel been unwilling to listen to us, so we are taking drastic measures to avoid a tragedy and defend our human rights,” says N’Dana Carter, who goes to one of the city clinics and is a spokesperson for the Mental Health Movement. […]

READ @ http://www.occupywallst.org/article/chicago-saveourclinics-occupies-mental-health-clin/

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* SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE: $570 BILLION CHEAPER

By TruthDig 

[…] Gerald Friedman at Dollars & Sense:

The Expanded & Improved Medicare for all act” (HR 676) would establish a single authority responsible for paying for health care for all Americans. Providing universal coverage with a “single-payer” system would change many aspects of American health care. While it would raise some costs by providing access to care for those currently uninsured or under-insured, it would save much larger sums by eliminating insurance middlemen and radically simplifying payment to doctors and hospitals. While providing superior health care, a single-payer system would save as much as $570 billion now wasted on administrative overhead and monopoly profits. A single-payer system would also make health-care financing dramatically more progressive by replacing fixed, income-invariant health-care expenditures with progressive taxes. This series of charts and graphs shows why we need a single-payer system and how it could be funded. […]

CHARTS @ http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2012/0312friedman.pdf

READ @ http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/single-payer_healthcare_570_billion_cheaper_20120414/

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* FDA PROTECTS DRUG COMPANIES AGAIN?

Source: The Daily Bell

Prescribing labels for Merck & Co’s drugs for baldness and enlarged prostate will add reports of sexual side effects that continued after use of the medicines was stopped, U.S. health regulators said. Labels will be revised for Proscar, which treats symptoms of enlarged prostate, and hair-loss treatment Propecia, the Food and Drug Administration said. The active ingredient in both drugs is finasteride. The Propecia label will now include notification of problems with libido, ejaculation and orgasms that continued after use of the drug was ended. Proscar’s label will include notification of decreased libido. – Reuters […]

[…] Here’s what Mike Adams, the “health ranger,” had to say about the FDA’s announcement regarding Merck:

Hey, men! Looking for a way to ruin your sex life and become infertile? Try Propecia or Proscar, two drugs from the vaccine giant Merck, whose top vaccine scientist Dr. Maurice Hilleman already admitted that Merck’s vaccines contained “stealth viruses” that cause cancer.

Now, the FDA is finally – after years of delays and denials – calling for new warnings on the labels of male baldness drugs made by Merck. According to the FDA, Propecia and Proscar are now linked to:

• Ejaculation disorders (oops!)
• Libido disorders (not tonight, honey)
• Orgasm disorders (still nothing?)
• Erectile dysfunction (life is hard, but you’re not)
• Male infertility (you’re firing blanks, dude…)

And the best part about these male baldness drugs? These effects continue even after you stop using the drugs! … So let’s see: A guy starts to go bald and thinks his male virility is slowly slipping away, but at least he can still get erections without pills, he thinks to himself. So he reaches for Propecia or Proscar to solve his male baldness problem. But a month later, he might have another tuft of hair on his head, but his manhood has gone soft. And five months down the road, he’s got so much hair that “chicks are digging me!” but in bed he’s softer than a baseball bat made of Jell-O. […]

READ @ http://www.thedailybell.com/3797/FDA-Protects-Drug-Companies-Again

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* GULF OIL SPILL KILLED LIFE DEEP BENEATH SEA LEVEL

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico damaged life nearly a mile below sea level, and a new report says it may only be the beginning of a severely damaged ecosystem

By Jason Koebler, US News Weekly

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have had a greater impact on the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems than previously thought, including damage to life nearly a mile beneath the gulf’s surface, according to a report released Monday.

Researchers say that coral reef seven miles southwest of the spill and nearly a mile beneath water level showed extensive damage about eight months after the spill. Many researchers believed the spill’s ecological damage would be mainly limited to the surface and shallow water, because oil usually floats on the water’s surface. […]

READ @ http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/26/report-gulf-oil-spill-killed-life-deep-beneath-sea-level

Mar 132012
 

 

* THE NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Source: www.THE-99-DECLARATION. ORG

Continental Congress 2.0

“What We Have in Common Is Revulsion at How Money Has Perverted 21st-Century American Democracy”

PHILADELPHIA, PA–(Marketwire – Mar 7, 2012) – Inspired by the words and actions of Occupiers across America, the 99% Declaration Working Group (“99D”) today announced further details about a spring election on the Internet and a summer convention in Philadelphia.

“This convention is an exercise of our Constitutional right to peaceably assembly and put all politicians on notice that the people they are supposed to represent do not approve of their self-serving behavior. We demand that they cut through the petty partisan politics and redress the American people’s real concerns or they will face the consequences at the ballot box in 2012 and 2014,” proclaimed Mauren Mower, who has been involved in preliminary planning for the confab and is one of the hundreds of candidates vying to be elected to go to Philadelphia the week of July 4th and draft a petition for redress of grievances.

“Our goals are no different from the Founders who met in Philadelphia for this purpose,” observed Karlie Cole, another 99D organizer. “Only our demographics are different. Last time around the drafters were all white, male, landholders or professionals. Our meeting might better be called ‘Continental Congress 2.0.’ Delegates to this convention include women and men. Black, white, and every hue in between. Jews & gentiles, true believers & infidels. What we have in common is revulsion at how money has perverted 21st-Century American democracy,” said Ms. Cole. Unified under the banner of the 99% Declaration Working Group, a group of non-partisan activists were galvanized by last Fall’s wave of Occupations, from Manhattan to Berkeley and from the Dakotas to Texas. As the winter months crept in, all around the nation, from Wall Street to Washington state the question echoed: What Next?

“We’d proven our mettle. But defying ‘The Man’ and taking over public spaces — while inspirational — is hardly a method for reforming and governing a continental nation,” said David Itkin, yet another organizer. “How can you count upward-wiggling fingers in Sheboygan when you’re sitting in Waukesha?” Itkin’s comment highlights the differences in style and philosophy that have caused groups like Occupy Wall Street to disavow the 99D. An ethic of leaderless, consensus-oriented decision-making animates many long-term Occupiers. They distrust representative democracy and fear “co-option” by a system they feel has utterly abandoned them. At an Occupy encampment, whether in Pennsylvania, New York, California or Texas, consensus is usually established when everyone attending a daily General Assembly points their digits upwards and flexes them. Without 100% agreement, discussion continues (or not) and no final action is approved or taken.

The non-partisan 99D convention, during the week of the Fourth of July, will follow a different model. Delegates will be elected by secure Internet balloting during the first week in June. Then, the elected delegates will consider a list of more than a score of draft grievances — compiled in Liberty Park during the first heady days of Occupy Wall Street and subsequently tweaked by dozens of like-minded activists from every corner of the blogosphere. Moreover, the declared delegate candidates have already begun to collaborate on the Internet so that they will be ready to ratify a final petition in Philadelphia after three days of debate, discussion and amendment.

“After that,” said 99D co-founder Michael Pollok, “We’ll serve it on all three branches of the federal government and request that all candidates running for office in November 2012 take a public pledge to redress the grievances listed in the ratified petition. If the ratified petition doesn’t lead to timely reform, the delegates will pursue our lawful remedies through the ballot box, the legal system and elsewhere. We’re in this for the long haul. Thanks to Occupy, Americans have become more aware. It’s not a question of whether the people will restore democracy and expel the oligarchic corporatists. It is only a question of when. This petition of, by, and for the people is a powerful step towards a second non-violent American revolution.”

For more information about the 99% Declaration, to register to vote or run for delegate, and to read the current set of draft grievances, go to www.the99declaration.org

Contact Information:

READ @ http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/continental-congress-20-1629368.htm

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* GREECE IS NOW ON ITS WAY TO A REAL DISASTER

Source: The Automatic Earth

[…] In central Athens, a stunning 29.6% of the businesses ceased operations, up from 24.4% in August; in Piraeus 27.3%, a 10-point jump since March. The whole Attica region lost 25.6% of its businesses. “This worsening of the survival index in the commercial sector … shows that resistance is waning,” said Vasilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce. And fourth quarter GDP was revised down to -7.5% on an annual basis. The Greek economy has shrunk about 20% since 2008.

Unemployment is veering toward disaster: 21% in December, announced Thursday, was horrid enough. But youth unemployment rose to a shocking 51.1%, double the rate before the crisis. A record 1,033,507 people were unemployed, up 41% over prior year. Only 3,899,319 people had jobs—a mere 36.1% of a total population of 10.8 million!

No economy can service a gargantuan mountain of debt when only 36.1% of its people contribute (by comparison, the US employment population ratio is 58.6%, down from 64.7% in 2000). Hence, another bout of red ink. The “cash deficit” at the end of 2011 hit €24.9 billion, 11.5% of GDP, far above the general budget deficit. Government-owned enterprises, such as the public healthcare sector, couldn’t pay their bills. Total owed their suppliers: €5.73 billion.

Yet, forcing down the deficit is one of the many conditions that the bailout Troika of EU, ECB, and IMF have imposed on Greece. And: “If the Greek people or the Greek political elite do not apply all of these conditions, they exclude themselves from the Eurozone,” said Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Luc Frieden. All of these conditions. Then he added the crucial words: “The impact on other countries now will be less important than a year ago.” […]

READ @ http://theautomaticearth.org/Finance/greece-is-now-on-its-way-to-a-real-disaster.html

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* SPAIN: THOUSANDS IN THE STREETS AGAINST LABOR REFORMS

Source:  Eagainst

Massive protests against government’s plan for labour reform took place this Sunday in 60 Spanish cities. These are the first mobilizations after the announcement of  a general strike on Μarch 29  against the policies of the conservative ruling Popular Party under Mariano Rachoi.

The measures include reduction of the redundancy pay to 33 days of work per year (from 45 today), reduction in wage raises, as well as plans for industrial reforms and cuts in spending of 8.9 billion, and a freeze on the public sector wages bill. Three-quarters of Spaniards do not believe that this reform will contribute to job creation, according to a recent poll.

The reform “hurts people, encourages redundancies and benefits the employers. We dismiss the entire government ” said Irene Chimeneth a 29 y.o worker in health care employment with only a three-month contract. “The reforms did not benefit the unemployed”, said also Jose Javier Rodriguez, civil servant, 53. “It is absurd to think that it would reduce unemployment by making it easier to people to become redundant,” he added. Antonio Martinez, also, one of the protesters in Madrid, a retired professor, said that neoliberalism leads to destruction. He was holding a banner with the slogan “Do not let our grandchildren become slaves.” (Source) […]

READ and VIDEOS @ http://eagainst.com/articles/spain-thousands-in-the-streets-against-labor-reforms/

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* JUDGE RULES WISCONSIN’S VOTER ID LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL

By Patrick Marley, Journal Sentinel

A Dane County judge struck down the state’s new voter ID law on Monday – the second judge in a week to block the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls.

“A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people,” Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote. “It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution. This is precisely what 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 does with its photo ID mandates.”

Niess’ eight-page ruling goes further than the one issued by another judge last week because it permanently invalidates the law for violating the state constitution. Tuesday’s order by Dane County Judge David Flanagan halted the law for the April 3 presidential primary and local elections, but not beyond that. […]

READ @ http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/ruling-expected-monday-in-second-voter-id-case-c44hifo-142307425.html

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* GO TO TRIAL: CRASH THE SYSTEM

By Michelle Alexander, NYTimes

[…] “The truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used,” said Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the libertarian Cato Institute. In other words: the system is rigged.

In the race to incarcerate, politicians champion stiff sentences for nearly all crimes, including harsh mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws; the result is a dramatic power shift, from judges to prosecutors.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that threatening someone with life imprisonment for a minor crime in an effort to induce him to forfeit a jury trial did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to trial. Thirteen years later, in Harmelin v. Michigan, the court ruled that life imprisonment for a first-time drug offense did not violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

No wonder, then, that most people waive their rights. Take the case of Erma Faye Stewart, a single African-American mother of two who was arrested at age 30 in a drug sweep in Hearne, Tex., in 2000. In jail, with no one to care for her two young children, she began to panic. Though she maintained her innocence, her court-appointed lawyer told her to plead guilty, since the prosecutor offered probation. Ms. Stewart spent a month in jail, and then relented to a plea. She was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Then her real punishment began: upon her release, Ms. Stewart was saddled with a felony record; she was destitute, barred from food stamps and evicted from public housing. Once they were homeless, Ms. Stewart’s children were taken away and placed in foster care. In the end, she lost everything even though she took the deal.  […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/opinion/sunday/go-to-trial-crash-the-justice-system.html?_r=1

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* FINANCIAL REGULATIONS GUTTED IN NEW BILL

By Kathleen Pender, SFGate

It’s hard to believe that Democrats, who brought you the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are solidly backing a bill that would weaken or obliterate many regulations designed to safeguard investors.

The bill, HR3606, sailed through the House Thursday with 222 Republicans and 168 Democrats voting for it. Only 23 members, all Democrats, voted against it. President Obama has endorsed the bill. The Senate is fast-tracking its own version, which could come to the floor Monday night.

Under the guise of creating jobs, the House bill would make it easier for companies to raise money from the public without fulfilling some – or in certain cases virtually all – of the obligations designed to protect investors in public companies. However, there is no requirement or guarantee that companies would use any of the money to hire a single person. […]

READ @ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/10/BUPU1NIGVF.DTL

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* THE HIDDEN COST OF WAR: U.S. MILITARY SPENDS $20 BILLION A YEAR ON AIR CONDITIONING IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

By Energy Interns, Climate Progress

Today, NPR just filed a stunner of a story: Air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan costs $20.2 billion annually, when factoring in the manpower and logistics to deliver fuel.

That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” [retired Brigadier General Steven] Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.” […]

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/06/27/255014/the-hidden-cost-of-war-u-s-military-spends-20-billion-a-year-on-air-conditioning-in-iraq-and-afghanistan/

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* THE BANALITY OF GOODISM

Jeff Sparrow on Aimé Césaire, the war in Afghanistan and the legacy of humanitarian imperialism

By Jeff Sparrow, Overland

In 1955, Aimé Césaire, the great anti-colonial poet and agitator, published his classic Discours sur le colonialisme.

‘Colonisation,’ Césaire argued, ‘dehumanises even the most civilised man; … colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it; … the coloniser, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal.’

The C-word sounds crass in the context of Western involvement in Afghanistan: this is, we’re told, a temporary deployment, nothing more. Colonialism implies rapine and despoliation, whereas our intervention in Afghanistan was framed, right from the start, by ostentatious declarations of high-mindedness.

Nonetheless, with the occupation now lasting twice as long as the Great War, it seems well past time to investigate the domestic consequences of what’s becoming a decidedly neocolonial conflict: to ask, like Césaire, not only what we have done to Afghanistan but what Afghanistan has done to us. […]

READ @ http://overland.org.au/previous-issues/feature-jeff-sparrow/

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* TO MY UNBORN CHILD

Source: Sleepless in Gaza

To my unborn children,

I know you probably won’t be there to read this. Maybe I would be dead before you see the light. Or rather, witness how very inhumane and so unjust this world has become. I’ll just write anyway, maybe at least your elder brother or sister witnesses all that and read this.

Ever since I came to Gaza, I’ve been dreaming of a better life. Peaceful and quiet. No explosions or blood. No injuries or martyrs. Nothing but a regular peaceful life each and every one of us would wish for.

In Gaza, everything is different. In Gaza, Israeli F16s substitute birds. In Gaza, we sleep on the continuous buzzing coming from the ever-existent drones. We wake up to find that there’s no electricity. In Gaza, explosions are the sunshine and the smell of ash is the scent of the city.

Electricity barely comes in Gaza, where it’s very dangerous to live in. Every moment you live is considered a new life because it’s very dangerous and Israelis bring their toys over to Gaza and play with us the hard way.

My beloved unborn children, being a Gazan means that you’re strong willed, courageous, and like no other. As you grow up, you’ll learn all about the different kinds of weapons and arms both allowed and internationally forbidden. What’s different in Gaza is that Israel doesn’t distinguish its targets. Meaning, they kill anything that moves with a smile. Frankly, they would kill us more than once if possible.

Growing up in Gaza isn’t easy. Growing up in Gaza is a challenge. A quest. And the reward is a strong courageous personality. So brave to the point that you’d stand in front of a tank with a bare chest and a rock. Daring it to move forward yelling ‘over my dead body’. More like mashed if you want to know.

Another thing you’ll gain as a Gazan is that you’ll be able to distinguish the sounds of whatever that kills. Be a M-16, AK-47, .50 Cal, Shells from the Israeli warships in the sea, warplanes in the sky, tank shells, and the list goes on forever. Living in Gaza is a challenge of patience. Only the strong and the brave can survive. By survive, I mean living yet another day of struggle and a million hardships a day.

Last but not least, don’t leave Palestine. It’s where you belong. It’s where everything counts and where whatever little will make a huge change. Don’t leave Palestine because it’s my motherland. Your motherland. Don’t leave Palestine because at the end of the day, it’s all you’ve got left. Don’t leave Palestine even if you’ll be living on olive oil and thyme all your life.

PS: tell your mother that I love her so much. Kiss her cheeks and forehead for me.

With all my love,
Papa.

READ @ http://www.sigaza.com/?p=833

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* NATO GAME OVER 2012

Source: youtube

Clip of the NATO Game Over campaign 2012.

READ more and REGISTER @ www.warstartshere.eu

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cndYV4fLL98&feature=share

Mar 062012
 

 

* STATEMENT BY THE W.H. PRESS SECRETARY ON THE G-8 AND NATO SUMMITS

Source: The White House

In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO Summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues. The President will then welcome NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20-21, which will be the premier opportunity this year for the President to continue his efforts to strengthen NATO in order to ensure that the Atlantic Alliance remains the most successful  alliance in history, while charting the way forward in Afghanistan.

TRANSLATION BY JERRY BOYLE:

For those who don’t speak bullshit, here’s a translation to plain English: “We thought this would be a good launch for the campaign, showcasing President 1%’s status as a world leader, but Occupy Chicago changed that, so now it’s a damage control operation.”

Occupiers: Do not underestimate how much they fear you.

… MORE (h/t Rob Poe):

OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE CANG8 ORGANIZING COMMITTEE:

G8 Moving to Camp David

Protestors claim victory, to continue plans to march on May 19th

Today, the White House announced that the G8 summit, scheduled for Chicago on May 19-20, will be moved to Camp David, although the NATO summit will still take place in Chicago May 20-21.

The Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) and Occupy Chicago issue the following statement:

The G8 moving to Camp David represents a major victory for the people of Chicago. The leaders of the 1% are moving because of the overwhelming resistance to the NATO/G8 war and poverty agenda in Chicago. Our city is filled with tens of thousands of people who are struggling to keep their heads above water, fighting against the effects of the economic crisis caused by the leaders who would have been gathering here. The communities of Chicago are fighting to save their schools, keep healthcare available, and to defend their jobs from cutbacks that are a hallmark of the governments of the G8.

The city has carried out a campaign to intimidate and vilify protesters, claiming that protests lead to violence. In fact, the main source of violence in the world today is the wars being waged by NATO and the US. “We will march on May 19th to deliver our message: Jobs, Housing, Healthcare, Education, Our Pensions, the Environment: Not War! We and tens of thousands will be in the streets that day for a family friendly rally and march, with cries so loud they will be heard in Camp David and across the globe. We will be in the streets that day to fight for our future, and speak out against the wars and their cutbacks are designed to benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99% of the world.”

READ @ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/05/statement-press-secretary-g-8-and-nato-summits

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* MATT TAIBBI’S TEACH-IN AT BRYANT PARK, NYC

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17g9v0lPxgs

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* TRIAL OF ICELAND EX-PM HAARDE OVER 2008 CRISIS BEGINS

Source: BBC

The trial of former Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde, on charges of negligence over the 2008 financial crisis, has begun in Reykjavik.

Mr Haarde is thought to be the first world leader to face criminal charges over the crisis.

He rejects the charges as “political persecution” and has said he will be vindicated during the trial.

The country’s three main banks collapsed during economic turmoil and the failure of Icesave hit thousands. […]

READ @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17254544

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* GREECE SPECIAL REPORT 

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwY89ZuQWdc&feature=player_embedded

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* LAWMAKERS SECRETLY WORK ON BIPARTISAN DEFICIT GRAND BARGAIN

By Eric Wasson, The Hill

A small, bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the House and Senate are secretly drafting deficit grand bargain legislation that cuts entitlements and raises new revenue.

Sources said that the task of actually writing the bills is well underway, but core participants in the regular meetings do not yet know when the bills can be unveiled.

The core House group of roughly 10 negotiators is derived from a larger Gang of 100 lawmakers led by Reps. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Health Shuler (D-N.C.), who urged the debt supercommittee to strike a grand bargain last year.

That larger group includes GOP centrists like Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who has said Republicans should abandon their no-new-tax-revenue pledge, as well as Tea Party-backed members like Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

The key test in the coming months will be to see whether the core group can get buy-in from many of the 100 members who vaguely support “going big” on the deficit once real cuts and tax increases are identified.

The talks are so sensitive that some members involved do not yet want to be identified. […]

READ @ http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-moneay/budget/213971-house-senate-lawmakers-secretly-work-on-bipartisan-deficit-deal

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* MURDER IS LEGAL, SAYS ERIC HOLDER

By David Swanson, War Is A Crime

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday explained why it’s legal to murder people — not to execute prisoners convicted of capital crimes, not to shoot someone in self-defense, not to fight on a battlefield in a war that is somehow legalized, but to target and kill an individual sitting on his sofa, with no charges, no arrest, no trial, no approval from a court, no approval from a legislature, no approval from we the people, and in fact no sharing of information with any institutions that are not the president.  Holder’s speech approached his topic in a round about manner:

“Since this country’s earliest days, the American people have risen to this challenge – and all that it demands.  But, as we have seen – and as President John F. Kennedy may have described best – ‘In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.’”

Holder quotes that and then immediately rejects it, claiming that our generation too should act as if it is in such a moment, even if it isn’t, a moment that Holder’s position suggests may last forever:

“Half a century has passed since those words were spoken, but our nation today confronts grave national security threats that demand our constant attention and steadfast commitment.  It is clear that, once again, we have reached an ‘hour of danger.’

“We are a nation at war.  And, in this war, we face a nimble and determined enemy that cannot be underestimated.” […]

READ @ http://warisacrime.org/content/murder-legal-says-eric-holder

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* THE SAD TRUTH TO WHY MOST PEOPLE MAY NOT WAKE UP!

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElrXrE8AmIc&feature=share

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* BEE EXPOSURE TO TREATED SEED SUST DURING PLANTING CONFIRMED

Source: Occupy Monsanto

Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2012

study by researchers at the University of Padova in Italy and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology has confirmed the findings of previous research showing that honey bees are exposed to toxic neonicotinoid insecticides during spring seed planting. Neonicotinoids are known to be highly toxic to honey bees and, yet, are used on millions of acres through North America every year. These findings lend even greater urgency to the need to take these chemicals off the market and ensure the continued survival of honey bees and the essential pollination services that they provide for our food system.

Neonicotinoids, including clothianidinimidacloprid, and thiamethoxam, are most commonly applied by coating crop seeds with the chemical. When these treated seeds are planted, the chemical becomes part of the plants vascular system and stays in the plant for the duration of its lifetime, expressing itself in the pollen. Previously, it had been thought that bees were only exposed to these chemicals through pollen and water droplets from treated plants, which would occur later in the season once the plants had grown and bloomed. However, the Italian study shows that bees are actually exposed to high levels of clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam during the spring corn planting season. This occurs because, when the seeds are planted using a mechanical seeder, small amounts of the chemical coating can be scraped off of the seeds and expelled through the planter’s exhaust as dust. Bees that are near the area or are flying through then come into direct physical contact with the chemical dust.

The findings of the Italian Research team, led by Professor Andrea Tapparo, confirm that high amounts of neonicotinoids are present in the exhaust of corn seed planters and that bees are exposed to these potentially lethal concentrations of the chemical simply by flying through the area during planting. In analyzing bees that were induced to fly through planter exhaust in a field that was being planted, the team found that there were high concentrations of clothianidin and thiamethoxam in and on the bees themselves. These concentrations were “significantly higher” than known lethal doses of the chemicals for honeybees, according to the researchers. The study included analyses of several different kinds of seed coatings as well as seed planting machines, but the team found that no modifications to seeds or planters resulted in any significant decrease in the emission of chemical dust or the contamination levels of the bees themselves. In conclusion, the authors note that,

This emission source of particles with acute toxic effects on bees (and on other insects too) is of concern for both apiculture and crop productions based on bee pollination. But it is also a widespread ecological problem that, in view of the worldwide increase in corn production partly promoted by government subsidies to renewable energy sources, and the consequent predictable exacerbation of the problem, should require a deeper analysis of the related agricultural policies.” […]

READ @ http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/01/bee-exposure-to-treated-seed-dust-during-planting-confirmed/

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* SPILL FROM HELL: DILUTED BITUMEN

Poisoned air. Sunken gunk. A clean-up nightmare. What we’re learning from the oil sands ‘DilBit’ dump into the Kalamazoo River

By Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee

On a July morning in 2010 in rural Michigan, a 30-inch pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners burst and disgorged an estimated 843,000 gallons of thick crude into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. This was no ordinary crude — it was the first ever major spill into water of diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands.

The cleanup challenges and health impacts around Kalamazoo were unlike anything the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ever dealt with, and raise serious questions about the preparedness in British Columbia to respond to such a disaster on the B.C. coast — or the Vancouver harbour.

Each year, increasing numbers of tankers filled with diluted bitumen leave Vancouver loaded from the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline from northern Alberta to a terminus in Burnaby.

Tankers exiting Vancouver harbor must transit through the shallow Second Narrows channel during “high slack water” — a short tidal window of about 20 minutes that provides loaded tankers with less than two metres of under-keel clearance. […]

READ @ http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/03/05/Diluted-Bitumen/

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* BIOMETRICS, TURNING A ‘CITIZEN’ INTO A ‘SUBJECT’: USHA RAMANATHAN

Source: Newsclick

In the wake of controversies concerning the NATGRID and UID project involving collection of biometric data of the Indian population, noted law researcher Usha Ramanathan speaks to Newsclick about the politics behind this move.

Part 1:

Part 2;

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UWUHkHLiSio

Feb 172012
 

 

* YO NO PAGO! REPORT FROM BARCELONA BY MIKIFUS

Source: Take The Square

I’m going to make a report, explaining my personal view of some of the last protests in Spain, wich I think could be really interesting in many other places.

This is the situation:

In Spain, public transport is being affected by the austerity and the companies decided to lower the salaries, fire the employees and increase the price of the service. There was no needing of anything of this, they’re just taking profit.

Also, the public transport increases every year the price, it’s normal because salaries also increase.
This year the salaries are freezed because of the crisis (only some governors increased theirs…), so the price of the transport shouldn’t increase.

Well, they did it, 12% of increasing. So fucking nice, privatization of healthcare, families on the streets, closing of public schools… Everybody is having fun.

This is the reaction:

Most of people does nothing, you know.

Well, public transport it’s not a basic need, so it’s nothing to care so much, there are worse things out there. But the ideas on how to solve it are really interesting: an increase of price has become an opportunity to use the services for free!

Based on the greek movement, we are starting one with the same name: “I don’t pay”, in spanish: “Yo no pago”. Of course Occupy/15m gives support and the movement medias are being used to collaborate.

This movement started with a massive jumping inside the metro (underground,subway I never know how to call it in english), it was a success and yesterday the did it again.

Yesterday in Madrid the metro station was sorrounded by a lot of police and 5 persons were arrested, the protesters made also an improvised demonstration.

In Barcelona was so nice, nobody did nothing to stop it, the doors were open and blocked for hours and workers or police didn’t care. Everybody could enter for free and some random people also joined the demonstration inside the midtown big station.

You’ll find photos and videos here: https://twitter.com/#!/search/yonopago

These ones are great: http://yfrog.com/h65vvbrj
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PltYATuelmg

And today I was surprised when reading about a new parallel movement: “Yo no paro”, in english: “I don’t stop”, literal translation makes it not understandable, I would call it “I won’t stop them”. This is a calling made by the public transport workers from Madrid, they said that they’re not going to ask the people for the tickets nor stop them when jumping the doors in solidarity with the “yo no pago”.

READ and VIDEO @ http://takethesquare.net/2012/02/02/yo-no-pago-report-from-barcelona-by-mikifus/

PHOTOS @ http://yfrog.com/h65vvbrj

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* ALTER(NATIVE) TV

Source: When the Crisis hit the Fan

Alter TV's offices (Photo: Kostas Kallergis)

[…] This is the story of Alter TV, one of the 6 private free-to-air channels in Greece.

The station is in a state that we call is “epischesi ergasias” (επίσχεση εργασίας), a phenomenon of the Greek job market I presume. So what is it? It’s something like a strike. When an employee owes several salaries to his employees, they have the right to proceed to an “epischesi ergasias”, which means that they still go to work, but are refusing to work because of the employer’s arrears. The difference with the strike is that they are not losing their wages while practicing it. They go to thei posts to show their readiness to work (though refusing to produce) and, in some cases, to protect the company’s personal (movable) property in case of bankruptcy. But let’s take the story from the beginning.

According to its employees, Alter TV got into financial trouble last year but managed to re-emerge as the second (and at times first) most popular news channel (based on the main news bulletins’ ratings). The channel is mainly owned by three men, the father and son Kouris and Kostas Giannikos who was also responsible for the day-to-day running of the place (the Kouris family had 51% of the shares, Giannikos had 25% and the rest was free floating on the market). In the past years he went on a borrowing spree, getting loans in the name of the Alter TV and then using them to create a network of sister companies which were totally depended  on Alter. A music company, Legend, which produced music CDs that were advertised solely on Alter. Modern Times was a publishing house whose books were also heavily advertised by Alter. At a time when publishing houses could not afford to advertise books on TV, Modern Times could advertise any piece of junk they wanted on prime time and see them easily in the Top-10 list. The employees of the channel were employed not only to produce the channel’s programs but a series of tv ad clips which were done for the sister companies at a dirt cheap cost. The station also sold great parts of its advertising time slots in advance without securing a constant cash flow. As a result, when the Greek financial crisis became a fact in this country the station went into trouble. The employers started owing a month’s salary at the beginning and were paying their employees at an increasingly unpredicted way. A salary after 1,5 month, another one after 2 and so on.

Right now the owners owe between 8 and 12 salaries to their employees who have been in a state of “epischesi ergasias” for more than 2 months. Kostas Giannikos left the company and focused on his other companies which also ran into financial troubles. The employees at his financial newspaper “Investor’s World” are also in a state of “epischesi ergasias” now. Alter TV’s new Board of Directors has told the employees that there is a possible investor who is willing to take over the channel but they can’t mention his name. According to their plan, out of 650 employees about one third (286 employees) will have to be laid off. They’ll get 70% of what is owed to them and will receive their compensations after 12-24 months. The ones who’ll stay will get 60% of what is owed to them, they’ll have to work for free for the coming months until the company officially enters the protection of Article 99 (Bankruptcy Law which protects about-to-bankrupt companies from creditors). Oh yes, there will also be a renegotiation (sic) of their salaries with 10%-30% cut according to their previous salaries.

The employees did not accept this proposal and are waiting for another solution. In the meantime they have been using the station’s frequency to broadcast messages against the owners, the Kouris family.

As they told us, it was their reply to a cheap and dirty propaganda war launched by the Kouris family against its own employees. This can best be depicted by a front page of Avriani newspaper (owned by the Kouris family) which, at an attempt to blame and shame the employees, gathered all salary expenses in the past two years, including the salaries of celebrity tv presenters, changed the amount to drachmas and published this: […]

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEO @ http://whenthecrisishitthefan.com/2012/02/16/alternative-tv/

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* GREECE IS OUT OF TIME, AGAIN

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

There is definitely something odd happening in Europe. I can’t quite put my finger on it, so I thought I would list out my musings on the topic and see what I can come up with.

Firstly, overnight there was talk that the ECB appears to have entered into a bond swap deal with Greece:

The national central banks in the euro zone are set to exchange their holdings of Greek bonds into new bonds in the run up to a private sector debt deal to avoid taking any forced losses, euro zone sources said on Thursday.

The euro zone is putting the finishing touches to a second bailout deal for Greece for finance ministers’ approval on Monday, paving the way for a debt swap with its private creditors needed to avoid a ruinous default in March.

The deal, which aims to halve in nominal terms what Greece owes to investors, slashing its debts by 100 billion euros, is set to include a legal requirement for bondholders to accept losses. This would have put the ECB in a tricky position, leaving it open to claims it was financing governments. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/02/greece-is-out-of-time-again.html

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* BANKERS OCCUPIED EUROPE AND AMERICA

By Stephen Lendman

[…] Attorney Dimitri Lascaris has family in Greece. His sister’s letter explained harm times there, saying:

In fall 2009, their family income declined. Their carpentry business only works sporadically. Customers with outstanding balances can’t pay. They prioritize other obligations like food, rent, mortgages, water, electricity and health insurance, etc.

“Slowly, cash has become more and more scarce for our customers, and therefore for us.”

In 2012, empty stores with rent signs are everywhere. Businesses still operating feature sales with 50 – 70% discounts. Once crowded markets became “deserted urban centers.”

“Suicides, drug abuse, prostitution, and crime have infiltrated village life….Other friends of ours have died of heart attacks, stressed to the limit by debt, or worse, the loss of their cars, homes,” and livelihoods.

Businesses have to beg customers to pay something, anything “because food or heat in the dead of winter has become an issue for us….We are all now at the mercy of anyone with money at hand to help our family survive, let alone aspire to a better life.”

The same scenario threatens Europe, especially in troubled Eurozone countries and Latvia where wages were slashed 30% and people haven’t enough to live on.

The more pounds of flesh extracted, the less able economies can grow. Greeks must either leave or rebel. The alternative’s letting politicians and bankers bleed them dry. There’s no in between, and what’s happening there’s heading for Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and eventually all Europe, Britain, and America. […]

READ @ http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/

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* AUSTERITY IN GREECE: THE ‘SHOCK THERAPY’ KILLING THE PATIENT

By Common Dreams Staff

As Greek officials continue negotiations with their creditors over further austerity measures demanded to receive a bailout package, years of harsh cuts have been steadily unraveling Greek society with soaring unemployment, increasing homelessness and financial insecurity.

France 24 reports that the middle class is disappearing with people living “on the brink”:

Jobless rates in Greece are soaring, with nearly 21 percent of the total active population, and roughly 50 percent of those under 25 years-old, unemployed. Maria (not her real name), in her thirties, has a good job in the Greek labour ministry. She thinks the real unemployment figures are considerably higher than the official numbers cited by authorities. “Many people are not registered as job seekers,” she said. “Often they’re hopeless; they think that declaring themselves as unemployed won’t help them get anywhere.” [...]

‘People living on the brink’

“With my situation here five years ago, I would have considered buying an apartment,” Maria explained. “Today, it’s impossible. We don’t even plan on having children now, because it would be too hard to raise them in proper conditions.” In less than a year, her salary was cut by more than 18 percent. “And I was hired after the biggest salary cuts for civil servants [imposed after the first austerity plan in May 2010].” [...]

The lowering of the minimum monthly salary for those under 25 years of age from 586 to 360 euros has certainly not helped young Greeks trying to make ends meet. “On 586 euros a month, you may be able to live with a roommate and have enough to eat every day in Athens,” Maria said. “But you can’t pay for transportation, telephone or internet bills. Everyone seems to think it’s only about numbers and figures, but 11 million Greeks are affected. The middle class is disappearing; there is no working class, only people living on the brink.” […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/16-2

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* THE FARCE-HOLE GETS DEEPER: OBAMA’S “ROBO-SETTLEMENT FOR VOTES” COST TO TAXPAYERS: $40 BILLION

By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge

Plunging deeper into the farce-hole, the FT reports tonight that Obama’s foreclosure settlement with the banks over their improper seizure of tax-paying US citizens’ homes will in fact be subsidized by those very same US taxpayers. It is a hidden clause (that has not been made public yet) that allows the banks to count future loan modifications under the $30bn (taxpayer funded) HAMP initiative towards their $35bn agreement to restructure obligations under the new settlement. As the FT goes on to note, BofA will be able to use future mods made under HAMP towards the $7.6bn in borrower assistance it is committed to provide – which means, in a (as TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky describes) ‘scandalous’ turn of events the bank will receive payments for averting a borrower default and be reimbursed by the taxpayer for the principal write-down. We have much stronger words for how we are feeling about this but Barofsky sums it up calmly “It turns the notion that this is about justice and accountability on its head”. Are the Big Five banks truly beyond the law?

FT: US Taxpayers to subsidize $40bn housing settlement

>US taxpayers are expected to subsidize the $40bn settlement owed by five leading banks over allegations that they systematically abused borrowers in pursuit of improper home seizures, the Financial Times has learnt.

[…]

As if the banks have not been spoon-fed enough over the past three years? We look forward to the mutually assured destruction spin (what would happen if they had to ‘spend’ that money themselves?) that will be propagandized should this be questioned openly and perhaps a glance at the level of bank reserves sitting on the Fed balance sheet might bring the citizenry off the couch, away from American Idol, and at minimum write a sternly worded text message to their closest BFF on Facebook.

Just to be clear: the guilty party in a fraud against taxpayers has their ‘punishment’ paid for by the innocent taxpayer who had the crime committed against them? ok, thank you.

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/housing-settlement-be-taxpayer-funded-confirming-big-five-banks-are-beyond-law

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* CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU LAUNCHES “MAKE LIFE EASEIR FOR LOBBYISTS” TOOL

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

I’m pretty gobsmacked by the link (hat tip reader Scott S) to a webpage at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which says it is written by Richard Cordray: “We want to make it easier for you to submit comments on streamlining regulations.”

There is more than a little bit of NewSpeak in this idea. “Streamlining regulations” is generally right wing code for “eliminating/relaxing regulations.” Admittedly, Elizabeth Warren during her brief time as de facto head of the nascent CFPB, proposed and launched a project to simplify mortgage disclosure forms to combine two required forms into one and make them easier to understand. Banks, needless to say, opposed the idea.

Warren has long believed that improved disclosure for retail products was a win-win for consumers and financial services firms. I saw her speak in March 2010 and she mentioned how a standard credit card agreement in 1980 fit on one piece of paper. Today, with all the various riders, they come in at 30 pages. While greater clarity is obviously beneficial to the borrower, it also saves the banks’ costs. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/02/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-launches-make-life-easier-for-lobbyists-tool.html

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* U.S. TO CUT FUNDS FOR WATER TESTING AT BEACHES

The EPA plans to cut $10 million in grants it gives annually. Water quality advocates worry that swimmers and surfers will be at even greater risk of illness.

By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times

Health testing at beaches in California and across the nation is at risk of being cut under a plan to eliminate federal funds for monitoring whether the water is too contaminated to swim in.

Citing the “difficult financial climate,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in its budget request this week that it would do away with $10 million in grants it gives each year to state and local agencies in coastal and Great Lakes states to test for tainted water.

“While beach monitoring continues to be important to protect human health and especially sensitive individuals,” the EPA said in an emailed statement, “states and local governments now have the technical expertise and procedures to continue beach monitoring without federal support.”

But state and local officials have struggled to pay for health testing along California’s busy coastline in recent years, and water quality advocates worry that swimmers and surfers will be at even greater risk of getting sick if the federal funds evaporate.

The proposed cuts come as the agency is drafting new nationwide beach water quality standards, which have been panned by environmental groups as being even weaker than the 1986 rules they replace. […]

READ @ http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0216-beach-testing-20120216,0,7019192.story

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* FACE MASKS, SNIPERS AND AERIAL SURVEILLANCE: CHICAGO’S NEWEST ANTI-PROTEST MEASURES REVEALED

By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout

[…] As part of the expanded powers given to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the May summits, the city has authority to accept contracts for goods or services without approval of the City Council or the expected competitive bidding process. The face shields and aerial surveillance technology are the first use of this allowance.

Chicago police officers, and any law enforcement the city chooses to deputize under the measures put in place for NATO/G8, will be equipped with 3,000 new face shields that “will fit easily over gas masks,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

[…]

Chicagoist also reported that Chicago will get the latest in aerial surveillance equipment, according to the press release from a company called Vislink:

The airborne units will transmit to four strategically located ground-based receiver sites providing city-wide coverage and the ability to simultaneously receive real-time images from two aircraft for viewing at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) operations center. An additional three receive systems will be installed in the city’s mobile command vehicles to facilitate field operations. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/face-masks-snipers-and-aerial-surveillance-chicago-newest-anti-protest-measures-revealed/1329343318

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* INSTEAD OF BEING DISGUSTED BY POVERTY, WE ARE DISGUSTED BY POOR PEOPLE THEMSELVES

Empathy has crashed. No more cruel to be kind. We must simply be cruel.

By Suzanne Moore, Guardian UK

She is there whenever I go the shops. Every time I think she can’t get any more skeletal, she manages it. Wild eyes staring in different directions, she must have been pretty once. I try not to look, for she is often aggressive. Sometimes, though, she is in my face and asking me to go into the shop, from which she has been banned, to buy her something. A scratchcard. She feels lucky. “Maybe some food?” I suggest pointlessly, but food is not what she craves. Food is not crack. Or luck. She has already lost every lottery going.

An addict is the author of their own misfortune. Her poverty is self-inflicted. All these hopeless people: where do they all come from? It is, of course, possible never to really see them, as their distress is so distressing. Who needs it? Poverty, we are often told, is not “actual”, because people have TVs. This gradual erosion of empathy is the triumph of an economic climate in which everyone, addicted or not, is personally responsible for their own lack of achievement. Poor people are not simply people like us, but with less money: they are an entirely different species. Their poverty is a personal failing. They have let themselves go. This now applies not just to individuals but to entire countries. Look at the Greeks! What were they thinking with their pensions and minimum wage? That they were like us? Out of the flames, they are now told to rise, phoenix–like, by a rich political elite. Perhaps they can grow money on trees?

Meanwhile, in the US, as this week’s shocking Panorama showed, people are living in tents or underground in drains. These ugly people, with ulcers, hernias and bad teeth, are the flipside of the American dream. Trees twist through abandoned civic buildings and factories, while the Republican candidates, an ID parade of Grecian 2000 suspects, bang on about tax cuts for the 1% who own a fifth of America’s wealth. To see the Grapes of Wrath recast among post-apocalyptic cityscapes is scary. Huge cognitive dissonance is required to cheerlead for the rich while 47 million citizens live in conditions close to those in the developing world. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/16/suzanne-moore-disgusted-by-poor

AUDIO: America’s Poor @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00nm3fm/Assignment_Americas_Poor/

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* 5 LESSONS FROM THE RISE OF THE BRICs

By Derek Thonpson and Max Fisher, The Atlantic

In 2001, Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs asset management, famously predicted the four fastest-growing emerging markets for the decade. We know that foursome by the acronym BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. That the economic world remembers his prediction owes as much to the handiness of the acronym as it does to the accuracy of his forecast. China, India, and Brazil are among the most dynamic and exciting emerging powers in the world. Indeed, to call them “emerging” feels like a slight. India is the world’s largest county, China the world’s largest manufacturer, and Brazil the Western Hemisphere’s most vibrant expanding consumer economy. (Russia, the runt of the group, is beset by awful demographics and a weak private sector outside of its natural resources.)

As investors and economic analysts cast about for the next batch of high-growth markets, let’s pause to recall the lessons from the BRICs: (1) Work on the middle-income transition plan; (2) Trade, trade, trade; (3) state capitalism can work; (4) corruption kills; (5) strong civil society matters. […]

READ @ http://www.theatlantic.com/international/print/2012/02/5-lessons-from-the-rise-of-the-brics/253045/