Mar 082014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart

Source: CADTM Europe

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The CADTM affirms its full and complete solidarity with the people of Cyprus and their organisations struggling against privatizations in the energy, telecoms, and shipping sectors – privatizations required by the Memorandum imposed by the Troika in March 2013. Cyprus is the fourth country to be placed under the budgetary supervision of the European Union, after Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

In the face of the demonstrations of 27 February (a 3-day renewable strike by Electricity Authority of Cyprus workers and a strike by longshoremen at the ports of Limassol and Larnaca), the Parliament was unable to reach a majority to adopt the initial bill (25 votes for, 25 against, 5 abstentions; a majority of 29 is required for adoption). The following day the government handed in its resignation. The media, in total complicity with the Troika, have observed total silence over this situation – an extraordinary one, to say the least.

Despite the refusal expressed by the population in the streets, the Cypriot legislators have just adopted (4 March), by a vote of 30 to 26, a bill that is only a slightly modified version of the one they had themselves rejected the preceding week and which would result in the privatisation of the major public services: EAC (electricity), CYTA (telecoms), and CPA (the port authority). This new version of the law claims to guarantee the jobs of the employees of these companies, but no one actually believes that.

Adoption of the law was a condition for the granting of a new 236-million € tranche of the 10-Bn € loan granted by the Troika in March 2013.

The causes of the crisis in Cyprus have been clearly identified: 

1) A hypertrophied banking system
 that was completely out of control. The banks, who have considerable liquid assets provided by the “financial markets,” have recklessly made risky investments.

In 2012, Cyprus’s banks speculated on the restructuring of the Greek debt – 40% of their external commitments, which cost them 4.5 Bn €, or the equivalent of a quarter of Cyprus’s GDP, and brought on the collapse of this overinflated sector (whose assets represent seven times the country’s GDP).

These private losses were then promptly transformed into public debt. These debts are totally illegitimate and must be abolished, along with those stemming from the assistance plan!

graph-3-ca531

In 2009 and 2010, Cyprus’s public debt was only 52.4% and 60.8% of GDP, whereas in the Euro zone as a whole it was 80% of GDP in 2010.

In Germany, the percentage was 74.5% in 2009 and 82.5% in 2010.

2) A tax situation that is highly advantageous for companies: Corporate tax, which until the Memorandum was at an official rate of 10%, has only been raised to 12.5% (not enough to resolve the budget deficit).

To obtain the 10-Bn € assistance plan from the Troika (9 Bn € from the ECB and 1 Bn € from the IMF), Cyprus’s government also agreed to the restructuring of its banking system, a 10% reduction in public expenditures, and the privatization of the island’s main public sectors.

The IMF, represented in Cyprus by a former executive of Lehman Brothers, itself recognizes the economic ineffectualness of such measures. The IMF’s goal is not to provide support for the population of Cyprus, but to protect and guarantee the interests of the creditors! That is why the agents of the IMF must be run out of Cyprus, along with the representatives of the European Commission and the ECB!

Aside from the obvious risk of growth in unemployment (forecast to reach 19.4% in 2014), Cypriots fear skyrocketing prices, with wages and pensions already reduced by 20% in one year. The people’s mobilisation, practically uninterrupted for months, goes well beyond the industry sectors that are directly concerned.

Rubbish bins brought by the population are piled up in front of bank branches. There are regular interruptions of electrical power and the people are besieging the Parliament and official buildings. All sectors, both private and public, are present around the Parliament, demonstrating their opposition to the Troika’s structural adjustment plan.

The CADTM considers:

  • that the entire debt of Cyprus to the Troika is illegitimate and odious, and must be abolished in its entirety;
  • that the austerity plan imposed by the Troika must be revoked.

The population does not want to pay for the speculators and the wealthiest 1%. International solidarity must organise as soon as possible in support of this exemplary struggle. The CADTM will do all it can.

Translation by Snake Arbusto

Photo : CC – Eu Council Eurozone
Discussion before the meeting begins : Christine LAGARDE, IMF ; Thomas WIESER, President of the EFC (Economic and Financial Committee) and Michael SARRIS, Finances Minister of Cyprus (on the right).

Dec 172012
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* AUSTERITY EXPLAINED: A POCKET GUIDE TO THE EU CRISIS

By Collettivo Prezzemolo, ROARmag

TNI-Pocket-Guide

By blaming the crisis on public spending, politicians’ and bankers’ only solution was to impose austerity. This has predictably worsened the debt crisis.

Excerpt via the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam.

“We are punishing the innocent through austerity, and we are rewarding the guilty because the banks are continuing to receive huge privileges and subsidies from our governments. That is why we must defeat this austerity treaty, and all the measures that come with it unless we want Europe to be retrograded to, shall we say, the 19th century.”

Susan George, President of the Board of the Transnational Institute, author of Whose Crisis, Whose Future?

Austerity measures have never worked, and have led growth to collapse across the EU. Greece witnessed its battered economy shrinking by 6.2% in the second quarter of 2012, and is forecast to enter its sixth straight year of recession in 2013. Austerity means less national income from taxation, reducing governments’ capacity to pay back spiraling debts, leading to even higher debts. […]

Download the full ‘EU Crisis Pocket Guide via the Transnational Institute.

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2012/12/transnational-institute-eu-crisis-pocket-guide/

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* THE INSUFFERABLE HUMAN DRAMA OF EVICTIONS IN SPAIN

By Jerome Roos, ROARmag

Juana-Madrid-04

With 500 families being evicted in Spain every day, foreclosures have become a source of great suffering. But luckily, there are still those who resist.

Throughout this crisis, there has always been a certain alienating quality to the pronouncements of European leaders and technocrats. Sometimes one is led to wonder if these people are actually talking about the same continent — or the same universe, for that matter. Just today, for instance, the European Central Bank announced that “the eurozone is starting to heal.” Indeed, the major weakness the central bankers could detect from the commanding heights of their glass-and-steel tower in downtown Frankfurt was “falling bank profits.”

But this morning, huddled together with activists and independent journalists in a small apartment in Madrid, the eurozone seemed to be far from healing. Together with Santiago Carrión from the Associated Whistleblowing Press, we were there because the Platform for those Affected by their Mortgage (PAH), which runs the Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) campaign, had called on the city’s indignados to protect Juana Madrid and her two daughters of 21 and 17, who were about to be evicted from their humble home in the poor neighborhood of Orcasur. The atmosphere, of course, was tense.

The living room was full of people, most of them photographers, while outside the first chants of activists could be heard as people prepared to physically block the entrance to the apartment. Nervously dragging on her cigarette, Juana’s baggy and dark-ringed eyes said it all: this was a woman on the verge of a breakdown. Her voice was calm and subdued, but her facial expression exuded despair. “We have nowhere to go,” Juana’s 21-year-old daughter Isa told us in the kitchen. “If they evict us today we will end up on the street tonight.”

Sadly, the story of Juana and her daughters is by no means an exception. Ever since the start of the crisis in late 2008, over 350.000 families have been evicted from their homes. According to government figures, Spain currently faces a staggering wave of 500 evictions per day — 150 of them in Madrid alone. The vast majority of these involve families whose main breadwinner lost his or her job in the recession and who have inadvertently fallen behind on their mortgage payments to the bank. At 25.02%, Spain’s unemployment rate is the highest in the developed world, higher even than in the U.S. at the peak of the Great Depression. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2012/12/spain-evictions-suicide-bankia-rajoy/

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* POVERTY AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION RISING IN GREECE

By Leonidas Oikonomakis, ROARmag

Greece-poverty

[…] In Greece, we know well who is paying for the crisis. A good question to ask would be: who gains? Apart from Greece’s private creditors, could it be the multinational corporations, which are now swooping in to benefit from the country’s dramatically reduced labor rights and privatization schemes? Again, I will give you an example that I recently read in the press. Kostis Hatzidakis, the Minister of Development, announced proudly that Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch multinational consumer goods company, will from now on produce 110 of its products that it used to produce abroad, in Greece. He also mentioned that this will boost employment and that his government wants to create a business-friendly environment in Greece in order to attract “investments” for “development”.

What Hatzidakis did not mention are the conditions under which the future employees of Unilever — and whatever other multinational decides to “invest” in Greece bringing its production facilities or, maybe, buying its state owned enterprises — will have to work. Let me present them to you: Unilever’s Greek employees will be paid slave salaries (586 euros is the minimum wage today, down from 751 euros before the crisis, while for young workers under the age of 25 it stands at 510 euros: below the poverty threshold!). They will only have minimum labor rights. They will have to work 6 and maybe 7 days a week. They will only have a minimum of 11 hours rest before getting back to work (from 13 that it was so far). And they will be extremely easy to fire without compensation — as the government effectively rid itself of pesky labor rights. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2012/12/poverty-and-social-exclusion-rising-in-greece/

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* SPECIAL REPORT: GREECE’S TRIANGLE OF POWER

By Stephen Grey and Dina Kyrakidou, Reuters

In late 2011 the Greek finance minister made an impassioned plea for help to rescue his country from financial ruin.

“We need a national collective effort: all of us have to carry the burden together,” announced Evangelos Venizelos, who has since become leader of the socialist party PASOK. “We need something that will be fair and socially acceptable.”

It was meant to be a call to arms; it ended up highlighting a key weakness in Greece‘s attempts to reform.

Venizelos’ idea was a new tax on property, levied via electricity bills to make it hard to dodge. The public were furious and the press echoed the outrage, labeling the tax ‘haratsi’ after a hated levy the Ottomans once imposed on Greeks. The name stuck and George Papandreou, then prime minister, felt compelled to plead with voters: “Let’s all lose something so that we don’t lose everything.”

But not everyone would lose under the tax. Two months ago an electricity industry insider revealed that some of the biggest businesses in the land, including media groups, were paying less than half the full rate, or not paying the tax at all. Nikos Fotopoulos, a union leader at power company PPC, claimed they had been given exemptions. […]

READ @ http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/17/us-greece-media-idUKBRE8BG0CF20121217

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* TAIBBI, SPITZER FUME OVER HSBC SETTLEMENT

Source: Eliot Spitzer’s Viewpoint

VIDEO @ http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/matt-taibbi-on-hsbc-settlement-i-think-even-people-on-wall-street-were-blown-away-by-the-result/

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* NOAM CHOMSKY: US INTELLECTUAL CLASS IS MORALLY DEGENERATE

By Noam Chomsky and Eric Baily, InformationClearingHouse

Eric Bailey: The last four years have seen significant changes in American federal policy in regards to human rights. One of the few examples of cooperation between the Democratic and Republican parties over the last four years has been the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. This bill has given the United States military the power to arrest American citizens, indefinitely, without charge, trial, or any other form of due process of law and the Obama administration has and continues to fight a legal battle in federal court to prevent that law from being declared unconstitutional. Obama authorized the assassination of three American citizens, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, admittedly all members of Al Qaeda — all without judicial review.

Additionally, the Guantanamo Bay prison remains open, the Patriot Act has been extended and the TSA has expanded at breakneck speeds. What is your take on America’s human rights record over the past four years and can you contrast Obama’s policies with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush?

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s policies have been approximately the same as Bush’s, though there have been some slight differences, but that’s not a great surprise. The Democrats supported Bush’s policies. There were some objections on mostly partisan grounds, but for the most part, they supported his policies and it’s not surprising that they have continued to do so. In some respects Obama has gone even beyond Bush. The NDAA, which you mentioned, was not initiated by Obama (when it passed Congress, he said he didn’t approve of it and wouldn’t implement it), but he nevertheless did sign it into law and did not veto it. It was pushed through by hawks, including Joe Lieberman and others.

In fact, there hasn’t been that much of a change. The worst part of the NDAA is that it codified — or put into law — what had already been a regular practice. The practices hadn’t been significantly different. The one part that received public attention is what you mentioned, the part that permits the indefinite detention of American citizens, but why permit the indefinite detention of anybody? It’s a gross violation of fundamental human rights and civil law, going all the way back to the Magna Carta in the 13th century, so it’s a very severe attack on elementary civil rights, both under Bush and under Obama. It’s bipartisan! […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33336.htm

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* ANOTHER GOLDMAN CREATURE GIVEN VITAL GOVERNMENT POST

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Big news yesterday in the United Kingdom, where the citizenry surveyed its domestic banking system and discovered that it couldn’t find a single person trustworthy enough to put in the top job at the Bank of England. So they went to Canada and stole that country’s central banker, Mark Carney, who just happens to be a former Goldman, Sachs executive – he was once Goldman’s managing director of investment banking.

Carney’s appointment may be seen as an admission that the British banking sector is now so tainted, only an outsider can be trusted to govern them. Almost all of the major English banks have been dinged by ugly scandals. The LIBOR mess, in which banks have been caught messing around with global interest rates for a variety of sordid reasons, has most infamously implicated Barclays, but the Royal Bank of Scotland is also a cooperator in those investigations.[…]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/another-goldman-creature-given-vital-government-post-20121206

Jun 302012
 

 

Source: youtube

The IMF-EU bailout deal for Greece is in fact an anti-constitutional agreement. The debt crisis in many countries of the eurozone ( Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc. ) is nothing more than illegitimate debt that benefits private world banks, financial creditors and European government officials. The provisions included in the loan contract and the bailout deal violate all principles of the Greek Constitution and European and International Law. The Greeks have every legal and moral right to defend their constitution against the policies which tend to eliminate the country’s very sovereignty.

The theory of the “odious debt” is not a general or newly-founded concept. It is based on the principles of international law (U.N. Charter) and can be legally used when the debt has been incurred, not in the interests of people, but against its interests and / or in the personal interest of the rulers or persons close to the regime. Institutions like the World Bank and the IMF must be checked for their policies towards lending money, advocating exhausting austerity mechanisms and, moreover, co-operation with corrupt and dictatorial regimes. The denial to pay off the debt would be a blow to this anti=social liberal madness and would send a strong message to international loan sharks.

Stand in solidarity with the people of Greece and relieve them from the unbearable weight of an illegitimate and “dirty” debt. SUPPORT GREEKS AGAINST THIS HOSTILE TAKE OVER.

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TdYphvlDk8&feature=related

Apr 232012
 

 

* EPIC FAIL – PART ONE 

Source: The Burning Platform

 “Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.” – Edmund Burke

No wonder one third of Americans are obese. The crap we are shoveling into our bodies is on par with the misinformation, propaganda and lies that are being programmed into our minds by government bureaucrats, corrupt politicians, corporate media gurus, and central banker puppets. Chief Clinton propaganda mouthpiece, James Carville, famously remarked during the 1992 presidential campaign that, “It’s the economy, stupid”. Clinton was able to successfully convince the American voters that George Bush’s handling of the economy caused the 1991 recession. In retrospect, it was revealed the economy had been recovering for months prior to the election. No one could ever accuse the American people of being perceptive, realistic or critical thinking when it comes to economics, math, history or distinguishing between truth or lies. Our government controlled public school system has successfully dumbed down the populace to a level where they enjoy their slavery and prefer conscious ignorance to critical thought.

The next six months leading up to the November elections will surely provide a shining example of the degraded society we’ve become. Both parties and their propaganda machines, SuperPacs, and corporate media sponsors will treat the igadget distracted masses to hundreds of hours of lies, spin, and vitriol, designed to divert the public from the fact that both parties act on behalf of the same masters and have no intention of changing course of the U.S. Titanic to avert the iceberg dead ahead. We will be treated to storylines about race, gun control, the war on women, energy independence, global warming, the war on terror, the imminent threat of Iran and North Korea, Obamacare, Romneycare, and of course the economy, stupid.

There are 240 million voting age Americans. About 130 million will likely vote in the 2012 election based upon recent voter participation results. This means that 110 million Americans don’t give a crap about who runs this country. […]

READ and CHARTS @ http://www.theburningplatform.com/

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* FACTS, 360 B.C. – A.D. 2012

By Rex W. Huppke, Chicago Tribune

A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world’s most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2 = 4; the sky is blue.

But for many, Facts’ most memorable moments came in simple day-to-day realities, from a child’s certainty of its mother’s love to the comforting knowledge that a favorite television show would start promptly at 8 p.m.

Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people’s lives that Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: “Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.” […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-talk-huppke-obit-facts-20120419,0,809470.story

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* BANKER LEFT SPEECHLESS BY IRISH JOURNALIST

Source: youtube

Irish journalist Vincent Browne confronts the ECB’s (European Central Bank) Klaus Masuch demanding to know where the money is going.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pCHu1kRT6hU#!

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* EU UNRAVELING – NOW IT’S HOLLAND’S TURN

Source: Staff Report, The Daily Bell

The Dutch government’s failure to reach an agreement in talks to achieve tough spending cuts could see ratings agencies cut the country’s prized AAA-rating and nervous investors push up the country’s borrowing costs, and it will also have wider implications for the euro zone as a whole, analysts said on Monday. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will meet the Dutch queen on Monday afternoon to tender the government’s resignation, Dutch broadcaster RTL reported. – CNBC

Dominant Social Theme: This is only to be expected. Wars are not won in a day, and neither will be the battle to save the EU.

Free-Market Analysis: Like some kind of rolling contagion, the insolvency affecting the Southern PIGS is spreading northward toward the supposedly solvent part of the EU.

Now it’s Holland’s turn. We learn that austerity hasn’t been a soft sell in Holland any more than it has been in Greece, Portugal, Spain or Italy. Or Ireland, for that matter.

Of course, we figure the elites orchestrated first the downfall of Europe, from what we can tell, and then the following austerity. But maybe it is not working out as planned.

True, there are elite apparatchiks running Italy and Greece now, but the public furor hasn’t died down and in the case of Greece and Spain seems to be growing stronger.

We figure this is partially because of what we call the Internet Reformation. The STATED plan (the Euro-crats have admitted as much) is that a Euro-crisis would eventually bring greater union to the unruly empire-in-progress.

The Eurozone is extremely important to the one-world government that is apparently being built brick-by-brick by the dynastic families of Europe and America. But the Internet itself has evidently and obviously exposed these plans. […]

READ @ http://www.thedailybell.com/3819/EU-Unraveling-Now-Its-Hollands-Turn

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* DRONE PROTESTERS PREEMPTIVELY ARRESTED BEFORE REACHING HANCOCK AIR FORCE BASE 

By Kevin Gosztola, FireDogLake

Twenty-eight protesters were preemptively arrested in DeWitt, New York as they tried to reach Hancock Air Force Base for a demonstration outside the gates against the use of drones. The protesters were charged with “failing to obtain a town permit,” according to the Post-Standard.

Concerned citizens from Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Binghamton, Syracuse, Rome and Albany had planned a “Peace Walk” to the base, where Reaper drones are present. They planned to protest “murderous use” of drones, which violates international law, just as they did last year. But the group reached an intersection near a commercial strip mall and about ten sheriff’s cars pulled out to block the road.

In the parking lot was a Greyhound bus for arrestees. The police began grabbing people and saying everyone was under arrest. Debra Sweet, director of the World Can’t Wait, reported the police in the town of DeWitt were issuing all sorts of orders. It was confusing. They were saying you could put down your signs and go back to where you came and avoid arrest. They also were saying anyone walking away would be charged with resisting arrest.

Sandy Kessler, who is from Rochester, said anyone walking on the road with a sign would be arrested.

I said, what if I put my sign back? He said no you will get arrested. I said why? He said there can be no individual protests, no group protests. You don’t have a permit. Well, nobody really ever gets a permit. Last year, with the big one where thirty-eight people got arrested, yes, we got a permit. But we just decided we really didn’t need a permit. This is America. […]

In the video above, the military police can be seen doing some kind of fascist goose step toward the protesters. They smack their wooden batons on their police shields as they advance with jackbooted bravado and close in on a small group of activists singing songs with Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly leading them. […]

28 military DRONE protesters arrested in DeWitt near Hancock Air Base. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/04/22/drone-protesters-preemptively-arrested-before-reaching-hancock-air-force-base/

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* HOMELAND SECURITY’S ‘PRE-CRIME’ SCREENING WILL NEVER WORK

Chances are, you’ll snag the wrong people, and when you do, how can you tell? How do you clear suspects of crimes that haven’t happened?

By Alexander Furnas, The Atlantic

[…] The U.S. Department of Homeland security is working on a project called FAST, the Future Attribute Screening Technology, which is some crazy straight-out-of-sci-fi pre-crime detection and prevention software which may  come to an airport security screening checkpoint near you someday soon. Yet again the threat of terrorism is being used to justify the introduction of super-creepy invasions of privacy, and lead us one step closer to a turn-key totalitarian state. This may sound alarmist, but in cases like this a little alarm is warranted. FAST will remotely monitor physiological and behavioral cues, like elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language, and analyze these cues algorithmically for statistical aberrance in an attempt to identify people with nefarious intentions. There are several major flaws with a program like this, any one of which should be enough to condemn attempts of this kind to the dustbin. Lets look at them in turn.

First, predictive software of this kind is undermined by a simple statistical problem known as the false-positive paradox. Any system designed to spot terrorists before they commit an act of terrorism is, necessarily, looking for a needle in a haystack. As the adage would suggest, it turns out that this is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Here is why: let’s assume for a moment that 1 in 1,000,000 people is a terrorist about to commit a crime. Terrorists are actually probably much much more rare, or we would have a whole lot more acts of terrorism, given the daily throughput of the global transportation system. Now lets imagine the FAST algorithm correctly classifies 99.99 percent of observations — an incredibly high rate of accuracy for any big data-based predictive model. Even with this unbelievable level of accuracy, the system would still falsely accuse 99 people of being terrorists for every one terrorist it finds. Given that none of these people would have actually committed a terrorist act yet distinguishing the innocent false positives from the guilty might be a non-trivial, and invasive task. […]

READ @ http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/homeland-securitys-pre-crime-screening-will-never-work/255971/

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* “THE WARRIOR CLASS”: THE BLACKWATER VIDEOS

By Harper’s Magazine

The April 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine includes “The Warrior Class,” a feature by Charles Glass on the rise of private-security contractors since 9/11. The conclusion to the piece describes a series of videos shown to Glass by a source who had worked for the private-security company Blackwater (now Academi, formerly also Xe Services) in Iraq. Clips and photos from the videos are shown below, introduced by Glass’s descriptions:

The first , identified as “Baghdad, Iraq, May–­September 2005,” showed Blackwater convoys racing through town. Suddenly, the door of a Blackwater SUV opened and a rifle fired at passing traffic. “They opened the door,” my companion said. “You should never break the seal.”

http://vimeo.com/39647440

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEOS @ http://harpers.org/archive/2012/04/hbc-90008515

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* US MILITARY OWNERSHIP OF GLOBAL WEATHER, CHEMTRAILS EXPLAINED BY THE MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOL OF LAW

Source: youtube

‘Geo-engineering’ is the ultimate in pursuit of high risk ‘techno-fixes’ to the world’s big ecological problems. Its proponents want to use technology to attempt to ‘re-engineer’ the environment, for example by fertilising the ocean to produce huge algal blooms that supposedly will absorb carbon dioxide, or by polluting the upper atmosphere with nanoparticles in an attempt to deflect UV radiation and stop global warming. 191 countries recently rejected geo-engineering as environmentally reckless. But this week an announcement for the Australian Government’s “Climate Ready Program” suggested that geo-engineering projects using genetic engineering or nanotechnology may be eligible for federal funding: http://nano.foe.org.au/node/254

The Air Force is on record as saying they want to control the weather by 2025. The Massachusetts School of Law’s Educational Forum presents part 2 of a Conference on Global Climate Change with Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, author, educator and environmental writer. For more information visit mslaw.edu.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hb6BpBm-F8Q

Mar 292012
 

 

* ¿QUE ES UNA #HELGA DEL 99%?

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yn4vwR6J7K0 

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* SPAIN’S GENERAL STRIKE IS ALSO A DAY OF ACTION FOR THE 99% 

Polls say only 30% of the employed will take part on Friday, but it will also be what the Occupy movement calls an ‘invisible’ strike

By Katharine Alinger, The Guardian

Spain is about to experience huge austerity cuts that may prove explosive. On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is set to announce what even he describes as a “very, very austere budget” to reduce the deficit. According to El País, the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland or Portugal: “There is no comparable adjustment in [our] economic history,” says the paper.

As a result of this and recent changes to labour laws, only four months after the new conservative government took power, Spain’s two largest unions have called for a general strike on the day before the budget announcement.

On top of €15bn cuts already announced in December, it is estimated Rajoy will cut about another €40bn. Many are expecting drastic cuts to health and education, not least the financial markets, who are waiting to see whether Rajoy will deliver what they require. This is on top of existing cuts to social spending, wage freezes for public employees, and privatisations, in a context where 40 home evictions a day are taking place across the country.

Response to this austerity has already been fierce. Hundreds of thousands protested across the country in February against labour law changes described by the unions as “the most regressive in the history of the [Spanish] democracy”. Thursday’s general strike will be much larger, seeing hundreds of planes grounded, public transport on a skeleton service, manufacturing at a virtual standstill, and even fresh bread from the bakeries in scant supply.

[…]

Many have been instrumental in continuing struggles around the Spanish state against what have already been drastic cuts. For instance, the “iaiaflautas” are retirees and grandparents who occupy bank lobbies against bailouts, buses against price hikes, and health departments against cutbacks. Their name is a play on the “perroflautas“, Spanish slang for crusty, to show how impossible it is to stereotype those taking part in protests as typical activists.

Meanwhile in Valencia, one of the worst-hit regions, students and schoolchildren took part in recent protests against government cuts that had left their schools without adequate heating, many sitting in blankets in classrooms during the cold. The protests were brutally repressed. The sight of schoolkids being arrested by police galvanised a whole wave of solidarity protests around the country from outraged citizens.

These are only the most visible actions. All over the country small groups of determined everyday acts of resistance are taking place, like the villages where people blockade the highway weekly because their emergency clinic is closing down.

[…]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/27/spain-general-strike-99-per-cent

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* GREEK GOVERNMENT ROBBED PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS TO COMPLETE BOND SWAP

VENIZELOS REGIME SECRETLY REMOVED 70% OF MAJOR HOSPITAL, UTILITY & UNIVERSITY BANK ACCOUNT FUNDS TO PAY BONDHOLDERS

Souce: The Slog

“But Lucas my dear, if you run out of poor people, you can always steal from the sick”

The illegally denied default of Greece entered a dramatic new phase this afternoon with the revelation by mainstream Greek public health website Health News that, shortly before midnight on March 8th – the eve of Greece’s psi completion on Friday March 9th – on average 70% of public utility funds in varous large, interest-bearing accounts at the Bank of Greece were raided. These included most of the State’s regional hospital budgets, various universities and (it is alleged) at least one utility company.

The shortfalls came to light late last week and this morning as various hospital purchasing cheques in particular began to bounce. The monies – estimated by one source to total some 1.4 billion euros – appear to have been used to pay off the tiny minority of private sovereign creditors who, under the original terms of their bond purchase, were entitled come what may to full payment of the bond’s yield entitlement.

Setting aside the amoral audacity of this act, it does yet again raise the issue of a Greece so utterly lacking in any real funds in the real world, that to pay off a minute proportion of the bondholders it had to resort to such a desperate measure. […]

READ @ http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/exclusive-greek-government-robbed-public-institutions-to-complete-bond-swap/

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* GERMANY CAUSED THE GREEK CRISIS – TO WIN BIG!

Source: Hellasfrappe

The German national channel “ARD” (“Allgemeine Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands”), recently revealed how, with close cooperation from a certain select Greeks, Germany committed massive fraud against a whole nation of people and was able to profit some 45 billion euros from the euro crisis, on the back of Greeks! ARD airs the confession of the German head of EFSF, Klaus Regling, in an interview with news magazine FOCUS on this very subject. According to the German head of the Fund, Germany, has not suffered at all from the current debt crisis and instead has recorded significant gains which he notes are expected to multiply over time. This, according to Regklingk, is because Germany is not directly lending Greece, but is rather gaining on the interest rates from the loans which are greater than those by which it borrows from.

[...]

“The rescue operations have not cost Germans. The image that funds (to Greece) flowed into a bottomless pit was wrong. There are no gifts and no permanent financial transfers. On the contrary, Germany has profited from the crisis, because a lot of capital flowed into the country (Germany).”

Germany has only given 15.2 billion euros (according to formal data from the German government), a sum that does not in any way compare with what it has benefited from in keeping Greece “under fire”. One economic analyst in the video also says that Germany’s profits were so great because it is able to lend money to other nations with similar debt problems because it is able to borrow at lesser interest rates. This difference allowed the German Republic to gain some 45 billion euros from the crisis, and it is expected that this sum will rise to 65 billion. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2012/03/germany-caused-greek-crisis-to-win-big.html#.T3M-_HJQ-EY.facebook

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* GREECE: THE PARADES OF ANGER

By Panagiotis Sotiris, CounterFIre

Independence Day (25 March) parades in Greece have been traditionally a day of celebration, not of protest. A national holiday to commemorate the beginning of the popular insurrection against Ottoman rule in 1821 that led to Greece’s independence, they are associated with watching the armed forces march along with school children, since in most cities we also have school parades. Moreover, for most people of the Left they always seemed like a remnant of an authoritarian past when these official displays of nationalism and militarism were part of the rituals of power.

However, in the past two years parades have become venues for protest against the policies of austerity and reduced sovereignty imposed by the EU-IMF-ECB Troika. The traditional presence of representatives of authority in such parades and celebrations, such as local members of parliament, government ministers or high ranking officials, and mayors made them an easy target for protest, especially in a period of intense and prolonged struggles. This has been particularly evident in provincial Greece, where members of parliament and aspiring local politicians have faced many forms of protest in the past years.

But the protests and demonstrations during parades are not simply opportunities to directly express anger and frustration against politicians. They are also a way to re-appropriate a collective memory of struggle and resistance. The 1821 Greek Revolution, itself with a strong popular – democratic element, is still being viewed as a successful example of victorious collective resistance against oppressors. The same goes for the 28 October parades, designed to commemorate Greece’s entering WWII that bring all the memories of the antifascist resistance during the German occupation. This was more than evident in Thessaloniki on 28 October 2011 when the military parade was interrupted by protesters, forcing the President of the Republic to leave the scene and the parade to be cancelled. Apart from the powerful image of protesters linking current struggles to a long memory of struggle, it is also important to note that it was exactly this cancelling of the military parade that was then seen as an example of the inability of the PASOK government to actually govern, thus making stronger the sense of the open political crisis. […]

READ @ http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/international/15659-greece-the-parades-of-anger

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* DYING FOR THE GLORY OF BANKSTERS!

Source: Max Keiser, RT

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=584L7TQgWOw

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* NATO STAFFERS TO CHECK OUT CHICAGO 

Hundreds to visit the city this week to figure out logistics of May summit

By Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of NATO staffers are visiting Chicago this week to scope out the city in advance of the May 20-21 meetings for the security alliance, according to the city’s host committee.

Word of the visit came as a Chicago delegation, including members of the host committee, returned from NATO headquarters in Brussels.

As many as 800 personnel from NATO and its 28 member countries will arrive in Chicago to become more familiar with the layout of the city and the McCormick Place convention center as they plan the logistics of the summit. Some were to arrive as early as Sunday, with others coming midweek, summit planners said. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-nato-summit-delegation-visit-0326-20120326,0,3446788.story

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* BOBBY RUSH GETS KICKED OFF THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR WEARING HOODIE FOR TRAYVON

Source: C-Span

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ougHdwR8PhI

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* OCCUPY SPRING

By Nick Pinto, Village Voice

Almost from the moment Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from their camp in Zuccotti Park last November, observers have speculated whether the movement was finished, or if it would somehow rebound in the spring.

Dedicated Occupy activists dismissed the possibility that the movement had already run its course and promised an “American Spring,” kicking off a new season of activism with May Day events coordinated across the country.

As it turns out, spring came early.

A March 17 rally downtown was originally conceived as a low-key way to mark the sixth anniversary of the movement, but as has happened so many times already in Occupy’s history, police overreaction transformed the event into something more than it would have been on its own.

The NYPD responded with a chilling and disproportionate show of force, once again evicting the protesters from the 24-hour park and arresting scores of them with a level of violence Occupy veterans said they hadn’t seen before.

Many of those who weren’t arrested marched north that night, inaugurating a new camp in Union Square. In response, police have taken to barricading and garrisoning that park at midnight, prompting a nightly standoff with protesters. […]

READ @ http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-03-28/news/occupy-spring-may-day/

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* OCCUPY GROUPS RE IMAGINE THE BANK

By Margot Adler, NPR

Groups within the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to overhaul the banking system and even dream of creating a new kind of bank.

Occupy isn’t in the headlines so much these days, but work continues behind the scenes. The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meets weekly in different places. Members are older than some might think — in their 30s, 40s and 50s — and many work or formerly worked in the financial industry.

“We have almost no consensus opinion, except that the system is not working,” says Cathy O’Neil, who often facilitates the group that is working on legislation and regulation to reform the financial system. “A lot of these people are from finance or have a background in law or SEC regulation. There’s lots of people from banks and hedge funds.” […]

READ and AUDIO @ http://www.npr.org/2012/03/27/149443425/alternative-banking-groups-aid-occupy-movement

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* WHY DO 5 BANKS HOLD 52% OF ALL BANKING ASSETS

Souce: Thom Hartmann

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QEUpjt02so&feature=player_embedded

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* FEEDING THE HOMELESS BANNED IN MAJOR CITIES ALL OVER AMERICA

Source: The Economic Collapse

What would you do if you came across someone on the street that had not had anything to eat for several days?  Would you give that person some food?  Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live.  Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America.  Other cities that have not banned it outright have put so many requirements on those that want to feed the homeless (acquiring expensive permits, taking food preparation courses, etc.) that feeding the homeless has become “out of reach” for most average people.  Some cities are doing these things because they are concerned about the “health risks” of the food being distributed by ordinary “do-gooders”.  Other cities are passing these laws because they do not want homeless people congregating in city centers where they know that they will be fed.  But at a time when poverty and government dependence are soaring to unprecedented levels, is it really a good idea to ban people from helping those that are hurting?

This is just another example that shows that our country is being taken over by control freaks.  There seems to be this idea out there that it is the job of the government to take care of everyone and that nobody else should even try.

But do we really want to have a nation where you have to get the permission of the government before you do good to your fellow man?

It isn’t as if the government has “rescued” these homeless people.  Homeless shelters all over the nation are turning people away each night because they have no more room.  There are many homeless people that are lucky just to make it through each night alive during the winter.

Sometimes a well-timed sandwich or a cup of warm soup can make a world of difference for a homeless person.  But many U.S. cities have decided that feeding the homeless is such a threat that they had better devote law enforcement resources to making sure that it doesn’t happen.

This is so twisted.  In America today, you need a “permit” to do almost anything.  We are supposed to be a land of liberty and freedom, but these days government bureaucrats have turned our rights into “privileges” that they can revoke at any time.

The following are some of the major U.S. cities that have attempted to ban feeding the homeless. […]

READ @ http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/feeding-the-homeless-banned-in-major-cities-all-over-america

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* THE JUSTICES TURN HOSTILE DURING THE SECOND DAY OF THE HEALTH CARE CASE

Source: The War Room, Current TV

http://current.com/shows/the-war-room/videos/the-justices-turn-hostile-during-the-second-day-of-the-health-care-case

The justices turn hostile in the health care case: “I wasn’t quite sure which constitution they were referring to in all of this, because it certainly wasn’t the U.S. constitution,” says Ian Millhiser, of the Center for American Progress, who was troubled by the Supreme Court’s questions to the Department of Justice. Millhiser’s argument is simple: Congress can regulate commerce, and the health care law regulates a sixth of the economy, so it’s commerce.

VIDEO @ http://current.com/shows/the-war-room/videos/the-justices-turn-hostile-during-the-second-day-of-the-health-care-case

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* JUSTICE SCALIA: LET THEM DIE

Source: The People’s View

Maybe you missed it, but Justice Scalia today said that letting the uninsured die is a better idea than making it an individual responsibility for those who can afford it to buy health insurance.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was explaining to Justice Scalia that the individual responsibility provision (aka “the mandate”) is justified given the fact that the uninsured can show up in emergency rooms and get care regardless of ability (or willingness) to pay, shifting the cost to other participants of the market in the form of higher insurance premiums. Scalia, undeterred, dropped the GOP baseline:

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. It’s because you’re going — in the health care market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why — you know?

GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I can’t imagine that that — that the Commerce Clause would –would forbid Congress from taking into account this deeply embedded social norm.

JUSTICE SCALIA: You — you could do it.

Don’t obligate yourself to that? [...]

READ @ http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2012/03/justice-scalia-let-them-die.html

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* SCALIA SAYS COURT CON’T BE BOTHERED TO READ OBAMACARE: ‘YOU REALLY WANT US TO GO THROUGH THESE 2700 PAGES?’

By Amanda Peterson Beadle

During the last day of Supreme Court hearings about the Affordable Care Act, the justices covered whether or not the entire law could stand if the individual mandate was struck down and the law’s expansion of Medicaid. But Justice Antonin Scalia seemed surprised that someone would have expected the justices to read the text of the health care reform law before the hearings:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.) And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one? […]

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/special/2012/03/28/454099/scalia-says-court-cant-be-bothered-to-read-obamacare-you-really-want-us-to-go-through-these-2700-pages/

Mar 232012
 

 

* OCCUPY CHICAGO READY FOR A SPRING OF DISCONTENT

By Mark Cassello, Leftist Indignation

[…] The Chicago Spring

Occupy the Midwest Regional Conference
The Chicago Spring began at the first ever Occupy the Midwest Regional Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This event ran from March 15-18, 2012 and brought together all of the occupations from throughout Midwest to share skills, network, and plan regional and national days of action. The conference commemorates the six-month anniversary of the Occupy Movement and began at 10:00 am on March 15, 2012 beneath the famed Gateway Arch. The organizers of the conference selected this site for its symbolic importance: the creation of the Gateway Arch displaced low-income residents after the city appropriated real estate for the project. Apart from meetings, a series of actions targeted Bank of America, Monsanto, and others during the conference.

Chicago Spring Kickoff
On Saturday, April 7, 2012 Occupy Chicago will host a series of events throughout the city with the support of various community and labor groups with which it is allied. In the morning, different occupations, unions, and community groups will hold actions in their neighborhoods or around their areas of interest. At 1:15 pm, the groups will converge at Jackson and LaSalle and then march to Grant Park where they will host a giant potluck dinner in the evening. This event will showcase the growing connections between Occupy Chicago and various other community and labor groups throughout the city; it is the debut of the post-winter alliances.

May Day, International Workers’ Day
On May 1, 2012, Occupy Chicago will join labor and immigrant rights groups for a massive action that they hope will reach or exceed the levels of participation witnessed in 2006. By all indications, May 2012 is ripe for large-scale civil unrest by labor and immigrant rights groups. Last year marked the largest assault on the rights of organized labor in the past thirty years. Republican governors such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Mitch Daniels in Indiana pushed through legislation that erodes workers’ rights to organize and to collectively bargain. The immigrant community was also under attack in 2011. States implemented harsh policies against undocumented individuals and made little effort to punish corporations who exploit these same individuals for profit. Controversial anti-immigration measures passed in Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. In addition, the Obama administration deported a record number of individuals while the remaining Republican presidential candidates’ stepped up inflammatory rhetoric against “illegal immigrants.” This antagonism unifies the Latino community and makes a backlash from the fastest growing segment of America’s population inevitable.

NATO / G8 Protests
Chicago will host the NATO summit on May 20-21. Occupy Chicago plans to elevate the struggles of its constituent communities to the national stage with help from its national and international supporters. On Saturday, May 19, 2012, Occupy Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) will host a day of actions. An opening rally is scheduled for noon at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.). Later, a large permitted march will make the 2.5-mile journey from Daley Plaza along State Street across to Michigan Avenue and then wind down to McCormick Place.

According to a statement on the CANG8 blog, the demonstrators will march in May during the NATO meeting to deliver an anti-war message: “Jobs, Housing, Healthcare, Education, Pensions, and the Environment: Not War!” Occupy Chicago anticipates that tens of thousands will be in the streets that day for a family friendly rally and march that CANG8 states will bring “cries so loud they will be heard in Camp David and across the globe.” These demonstrators claim they will “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.”

Occupy Chicago has roundly criticized the priorities of Mayor Emanuel who has dwelled on the largely symbolic importance of hosting the NATO event while ignoring the literal needs of the city: “He’s bringing this monstrosity to our city and none of us want the G8/NATO here. It’s going to hurt business, burden the already cash-strapped city, and disrupt the lives of everyday Chicagoans in a way that may keep them from earning their paycheck, getting transportation to their job, or picking their kids up from school.” […]

READ @ http://markcassello.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/chicagospring/

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* CHICAGO NATO PROTEST HIT WITH RED TAPE

Will Rahm Emanuel’s bureaucratic maneuvers shut down NATO protests?

By Natasha Lennard, Salon

When the White House announced that the G-8 this coming May would be moved out of Chicago to the president’s sequestered retreat at Camp David, protesters planning to hit the Windy City streets celebrated the move as a victory: It seemed the mere prospect of their presence, with numbers expected in the tens of thousands, had run the G-8 out of town.

Plus the NATO summit, planned for mid-May in Chicago, would still be occasion for massive protests in the city. But, adding to obstacles posed by a host of strict new rules for protests introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Occupy groups and allies planning mass anti-NATO street actions are running up against reams of red tape. While the city granted a parade permit for a group planning to march during the proposed G-8 summit, a request by the very same group to move the parade back one day to coincide instead with the NATO summit has been denied. According to the Chicago Tribune, city officials cited “a lack of police officers as well as other security and logistics complications” because of the first day of the NATO summit as the reason for the permit rejection. The presence of 5,000 NATO delegates will put the city on lockdown; a mass march that day, they suggest, would overwhelm security and transport resources. The original request for a permit the day before was approved, a Law Department spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times, because the G-8 is significantly smaller than NATO. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/03/20/chicago_nato_protests_hit_with_red_tape/singleton/

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* M22 NYPD TRIES TO INCITE RIOTS AT OWS UNION SQUARE

Source: youtube

TOP COMMENT: Just like when they keep screaming “stop resisting” while they pile on top of you with10 guys.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1kMs93nM_M&amp

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* REPORTER MATT TAIBBI SAYS FRAUD AND BAILOUTS ARE THE SECRETS TO BANK OF AMERICA’S SUCCESS

Source: Democracy Now!

In his new article, “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail,” Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi chronicles the remarkable history of the rise of Bank of America — an institution he says has defrauded “everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed.” Taibbi describes how the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly propped up the financial institution, which received a $45 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008. Bank of America has also received billions in what could be described as shadow bailouts. The bank now owns more than 12 percent of the nation’s bank deposits and 17 percent of all home mortgages.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKmz1vCuNQk

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* US TAXPAYERS COMMENCE BAILING OUT ECB WITH GREECE AS AIN INTERMEDIARY

The US Taxpayer is unknowingly funding  the bailout of more banks in Europe and Greece through the International Monetary Fund.

By Alexander Higgens

Over the past few month we have made it expressly clear that as part of its bailout of European banks, all Greek “bailout” funding in the form of super senior first lien debt funded by the Troika (since the Greek balance sheet now has 7 distinct debt classes), which counts the IMF among its backers, which in turn means you, US taxpayers, will go to European banks and most importantly, that most undercapitalized hedge fund of all, the ECB, LLC. Said funding has now officially commenced. There are those Greeks who may read the following headline from Reuters with delight “Greece receives first tranche of new bailout aid”, at least until they get to the following part: “Greece has received the first 7.5 billion euros of aid from its new EU/IMF bailout, with the bulk of the payment going to repay bonds held by the euro zone’s central banks, government officials said on Tuesday.” So while the Greek may particularly care that not only will they not see much if any of the actual bailout cash, and in fact will soon have to start using their gold to fill the capital shortfall as reported here, we are curious what the response will be from US taxpayers, who are on the hook for about 17% of IMF funding, as the money starts trickling in, however not for some old-fashioned concepts such as stimulating jobs, but simply to indirectly, with Greece as a conduit, bailout Europe’s insolvent central banks. […]

READ @ http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/21/taxpayers-commence-bailing-ecb-greece-intermediary-102071/

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* ARE THE EUROPEAN BANKS SAVING GREECE OR SAVING THEMSELVES?

By Kevin Featherstone, UK Guardian

Who is rescued by the bailouts of the European debt crisis? The question won’t go away. Last week, Greece was granted a second bailout in order to avoid a catastrophic disorderly default. Few observers believe it will be enough to avoid the need for a third bailout, at least in the medium term. This week, the story of the euro crisis has shifted to Portugal as expectations rise on the financial markets that she too will need a second bailout. It wasn’t supposed to be like this: Greece’s first bailout almost two years ago was to be a one-off; more recently, EU leaders have repeatedly insisted that there would be no repeat of its second package. Once again, they appear King Canute-like: whatever their claims, they cannot turn back the waves of scepticism from the markets.

The Greek banks – vital to the provision of new investment in an economy facing a sixth year of continuous recession – have certainly not been “rescued”. The haircuts on the Greek debt of 53%, imposed in the name of PSI (private sector involvement), have severely damaged them, but this is compounded by their losses of about a further 20% on the new bonds they were forced to accept. The banks now face large-scale nationalisation. So, a sector that has only in the last two decades been freed to operate as private institutions and has shown a vibrancy for growth and foreign takeovers unmatched in other parts of the Greek economy, is now to be returned to the hands of a political class lambasted for its lack of economic discipline. How this might be a stimulus to a more competitive economy is decidedly unclear.

[…]

The problem is in how Greece is being rescued. The bailouts have increasingly shifted to the imposition of severe cuts across the board. In the past two years, Greece has implemented a reduction of its budget deficit unprecedented not only in the EU, but in the entire OECD area. But the new terms insist on the sacking of 15,000 public servants each year for the next 10 years. The number has been arrived at purely from the budget constraint.

I know from my own involvement with Greek policymaking in the area of research policy that the bailout constraint is being imposed as a series of short-term fixes, eschewing efforts at long-term planning.

Crucially, there is no steer or stimulus here as to how the Greek system should be remodelled in order to shift to a better path of development. The obsession is with the budget balance, not with selectivity or design. The political effect at home is to create a simplistic divide between those for or against austerity, rather than leading a substantive debate on real structural reforms.

With such a charge, the EU and IMF representatives – composing the troika overseeing the Greek bailout – march into ministerial offices on a weekly basis to check that the targets are being met. These second- or third-level officials bask in their unprecedented authority. Stories abound of them walking into meetings with senior ministers, discarding the niceties of a polite greeting, and shouting straightaway, “So, what have you achieved, then?” Young bureaucrats from Brussels lead meetings with ministers ostentatiously giving scant attention to the oral reports offered to them, as they turn sideways and play with their BlackBerrys. In the name of “Europe”, a neocolonial arrogance underscores the fixation with the budget accounts. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/22/greece-european-banks-eurozone

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* GREEKS ADOPT ALTERNATIVE CURRENCIES AS ECONOMY IMPLODES

By Alex Newman, New American

[…] The TEM system works by allowing people in the community to set up an account on an online network, connecting them with others in the area with various needs and a wide array of services to offer. Users also receive a sort of booklet allowing them to essentially write “checks” to pay for goods and services.

A real market where people can meet to trade in TEMS is also a key component of the emerging network. And efforts are currently underway to establish a daily market in an unused building for locals to engage in commerce using their system.

Babysitters, farmers, teachers, electricians, barbers, bakers, computer technicians, opticians, veterinarians, and more are all represented. Most traders accept both euros and TEMs, or some combination of the two.

Member accounts start with zero TEMs, although users are allowed to borrow up to 300 units if they agree to repay it over a certain time period. And to prevent “hoarding,” the system’s managers explained, no user is allowed to have over 1,200 units of the currency.

“It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist Bernhardt Koppold, an active member of the Volos network, told the UK Guardian. “It’s also a way of showing practical solidarity — of building relationships.”

Dozens of other users expressed similar sentiments about their budding system. Co-founders of the TEMs network also explained that if the crisis were to spiral further into the realm of cataclysm, the alternative-currency system could help take up the slack — ensuring that a functioning economy would allow people to continue trading for survival. […]

READ @ http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-mainmenu-26/europe-mainmenu-35/11265-greeks-adopt-alternative-currencies-as-economy-implodes

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* GREECE ON THE BREADLINE: CASHLESS CURRENCY TAKES OFF

A determination to ‘move beyond anger to creativity’ is driving a strong barter economy in some places

By John Henley, UK Guardian

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy: beware), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work – repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light – for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people’s accounts.

“It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” said Bernhardt Koppold, a German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist in Volos who is an active member of the network. “It’s also a way of showing practical solidarity – of building relationships.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/16/greece-on-breadline-cashless-currency?newsfeed=true

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* GREECE ON THE BREADLINE: HOW LEFTOVERS BECAME A MEAL

Jon Henley visits Boroume which puts restaurants with unsold food at the end of each day in touch with soup kitchens 

By John Henley, UK Guardian

It used to annoy Xenia Papastavrou, the way Greek tavernas always give you loads of bread, way more bread than you can eat. She started taking it home, just to avoid the waste. Then one night last year a waiter suggested she might as well take all that day’s leftover bread away with her, and she had an idea.

“I thought, there must be lots of other restaurants in this situation, too,” Papastavrou said. “And I was sure none of them knew where they could usefully give it. And at the same time, I knew there were many, many welfare organisations in this crisis that were spending good money on buying fresh bread. It just needed someone to put the two together.”

Boroume – it means “we can” in Greek – was born last May in Papastavrou’s living room. “I went first to the two bakeries nearest my home, and they were only too delighted to help,” she said. “An average bakery could have as much as 30kg of unsold bread at the end of the day. I told a soup kitchen three minutes away, and they couldn’t believe their luck.”

A volunteer at Athens’ Food Bank, Papastavrou promptly put her masters degree on hold and enlisted the help of friends to build a web platform on which companies with any kind of fresh surplus food could offer it, and welfare groups that needed it could accept. She started talking about the idea on Facebook and Twitter, and one of Greece‘s biggest newspapers, Kathimerini, wrote about it.

In under a year, the organisation has grown fast. Venetis, the country’s largest chain of bakeries with more than 50 outlets, is one of 70 Boroume donors that now include the Athens Attica Hotel Association, fast-food chains, grocers and multinationals like IKEA. Private families around the country also donate, as do Greeks from the diaspora in Canada, Australia and the US.

A network of some 400 welfare organisations, from old people’s homes and orphanages to drop-in centres for the homeless and church, voluntary and municipal soup kitchens, takes up the donations. Astonishingly, one in 11 residents of greater Athens – some 400,000 people – now visits a soup kitchen daily.

The group’s Facebook page has 5,000 friends. A team of 15 volunteers man the website and phones, putting donors in touch with nearby recipients – to save time and resources, Boroume limits its role to that of intermediary. “We just put them in touch,” said Papastavrou. “After that, they can deal directly with each other.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2012/mar/14/greece-breadline-leftovers-dinner

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* BRADLEY MANNING HEARING DAY 2 

Source: youtube

It is day two of the latest Bradley Manning hearing at Fort Meade. The whole thing wrapped in about 25 minutes. However we did learn the fate of the motion filed by Coombs yesterday. The judge ruled against the defense’s motion to gain access to classification authorities. She said she’s quite happy with the way authorities have determined who the defense can and cannot use as a witness. She said the government did a bang up job during the Article 32 hearing back in December, and if they did their job then, then she just blindly trusts that they’ve done their job this time around too.

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXqnwNq-jX8&feature=uploademail

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* 2 U.S. JUDGES PLEAD GUILTY TO SELLING CHILDREN TO PRIVATE PRISONS

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Penn. Judges Plead Guilty To Taking Bribes For Placing Youths in Privately Owned Jails 1 of 2

An unprecedented case of judicial corruption is unfolding in Pennsylvania. Several hundred families have filed a class-action lawsuit against two former judges whove pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for placing youths in privately owned jails. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are said to have received $2.6 million for ensuring juvenile suspects were jailed in prisons operated by the companies PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. Some of the youths were jailed over the objections of their probation officers. An estimated 5,000 juveniles have been sentenced by Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2002. We speak to two youths sentenced by Ciavarella and to Bob Schwartz of the Juvenile Law Center.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4q7p3ME95E&feature=share

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* DON’T TALK TO POLICE

Source: youtube

A law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6wXkI4t7nuc