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

Mar 212012
 

* WAR ZONE IN CANADA – POLICE SHOOTING EXPLOSIVES AT STUDENTS’ HEADS

In a scene resembling a war zone, Montreal police fire explosives, tear gas canisters and other weapons directly at the heads of student protestors.

By Alexander Higgins

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEOS @ http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/16/war-zone-canada-police-shooting-explosives-students-heads-97821/

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* POLICE BRUTALITY – ZUCCOTTI PARK MARCH 17 #OWS

Source: youtube

NYC, March 17: the NYPD violently cleared Zuccotti Park, ending celebrations of Occupy’s six month anniversary.

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiDP0-E7Vtc&feature=share

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* AFGHAN MASSACRE: REPORTS IN U.S. AND OVERSEAS MEDIA VASTLY DIFFERENT

By Gregory Patin, Examiner

In the early morning hours of March 11 in the volatile Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, 16 Afghan civilians, 9 of them children, were shot or stabbed to death by at least one American soldier. Some of the bodies were burned. While both U.S. media and overseas media reports agree on that, the reports vary widely concerning information beyond those basic facts.

U.S. Media Reports

Every major U.S. network, cable and print media outlet report that the killings were done by a single U.S. soldier who left a small combat outpost and walked into two nearby villages. After a six-day blackout of public information about the shooter, he was identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales of the 3rd Stryker Brigade based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. A surveillance video was produced that shows Bales surrendering to guards at the base in Afghanistan. No need to quote sources or post links – all of the above is common knowledge to anyone following the story in the U.S. The reports echo President Obama’s statement on March 12: “It appeared you had a lone gunman who acted on his own.”

[…]

The Pajhwok Afghan News reported on March 15 that:

A parliamentary probe team…spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders, survivors and collecting evidences (sic) at the site in Panjwai district. [Lawmaker] Hamizai Lali told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings. “We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” he said.

He added the attack lasted one hour involving two groups of American soldiers in the middle of the night on Sunday. “The villages are one and a half kilometre from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups.”

The parliamentary probe report was picked up by many foreign media outlets, including IRIB in Iran, Russia Today, DeMorgen.be in Belgium, Mondoweiss in Israel and Reuters UK edition. DeMorgen.be quoted Karzai saying “According to our people, the act is not performed by a single man and it was a conscious and deliberate act.”

Tabish Qayyum, an editor for a Pakistani publication called The Fortress, writes on the PakNationalists blog:

According to live accounts and eyewitnesses, multiple weapon sounds were heard, including pistols and machine gun bursts simultaneously. The houses attacked are at least two miles apart. It is not possible for a single gunman to kill and burn people in one house and then run several kilometers to do the same thing again without being resisted and overpowered. […]

READ @ http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-madison/afghan-massacre-reports-u-s-and-foreign-media-vastly-different

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* ANOTHER ONE PERCENT – DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE JOINED ALEC

Source: DownWithTyranny

There probably isn’t a more serious institutional threat to democracy in America than the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

It’s basically a right-wing Republican organization working diligently to take away the rights of ordinary working people to implement the one-percent agenda. But there are a few reactionary Democrats who have been involved as well– maybe 1%. The only congressional Democrats with ALEC ties I could find are Joe Manchin (WV), Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Ed Perlmutter (CO), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), and Kurt Shrader (Blue Dog-OR). And there are no Democratic governors toiling along with Jan Brewer (AZ), Terry Branstad (IA), John Kasich (OH), Bob McDonnell (VA) and Scott Walker (WI) to implement the ALEC agenda. The only Democrats on the ALEC board of directors are state Senator Steve Faris (AR) and ex-Rep. Dolores Mertz (IA).

Most states don’t have any Democrats from their state legislatures in ALEC. Basically they’re Republican political clubs. Many states will have one or two Democrats in a toiletful of Republicans. Like Wyoming, for example. There are 24 state reps and 11 senators who are ALEC members. Only one, state Sen. John Hastert, is a Democrat. And then there are a few states– Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas– with a half dozen or more Democrats have joined up. Interestingly, one Kentucky state Rep. Robert Damron, was a member and then quit last year saying he no longer attends ALEC meetings because ALEC has “become, in the last few years, so partisan… The last meeting I went to, they spent all their time bashing Democrats. I don’t particularly care for an organization that’s so partisan.” On the other hand, Gov. Rick Perry (who’s gotten between two and three million dollars from ALEC) was a member back when he was a Democratic state rep. And there’s extreme right former state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who the DCCC has been trying to elect to Congress, who was not just a member of ALEC– the only one in the West Virginia legislature– but also West Virginia’s state chairman! […]

READ @ http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2012/03/another-one-percent-democratic.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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* PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET INCLUDES $3 TRILLION GIVEAWAY TO CORPORATIONS, THE RICH

By Travis Waldron, Think Progress

The budget unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) this morning includes substantial changes to the American tax code, both for corporations and individuals. Ryan’s tax plan shrinks the number of income tax brackets from six to two, with marginal tax rates set at 10 percent and 25 percent. He repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), slices the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and repeals all of the health care taxes contained in the Affordable Care Act. It also repeals the repatriation tax on profits corporations earn overseas then bring back to the United States.

In all, those tax breaks amount to a $3 trillion giveaway to the richest Americans and corporations, according to the Tax Policy Center. Repealing the repatriation tax would add roughly $130 billion to that.

This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Ryan insisted that the plan would generate the same amount of revenue as the government currently receives. In true Ryan form, though, he wouldn’t say how: […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/20/448057/paul-ryan-claims-to-maintain-revenue-in-budget-that-gives-away-3-trillion-to-corporations-and-the-wealthy/

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* UNAFFORDABLE CO-PAYS AND DEDUCTIBLES, DEATH BY A MILLION CUTS FOR INSURED AMERICANS

By nyceve, Daily Kos

If we had  a functioning healthcare system, sick people would be able to access care and healthy people would not fear the financial consequences of illness.

We’re told by politicians from both political parties that we Americans need to take personal responsibility and buy private, for-profit health insurance. We need to buy this junk insurance when we’re healthy and pray we never need to use it.

Pray indeed.A cancer diagnosis even for someone with insurance, is a battle for your life, and a battle to avoid bankruptcy.  Because skyrocketing copays and deductibles put so much of the financial burden on the shoulders of patients, sick people are having to decide treatment plans based on cost, not what may be most medically efficacious.

We live in a country where healthcare is a privilege of the affluent, and for those who still have  employer provided coverage. But employer coverage, long the backbone of the U.S. healthcare system, is unraveling at a frightening pace.

Paul Krugman has a link this morning to an explosive report on the declining number of Americans with employer health coverage. […]

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/18/1075489/-Unaffordable-co-pays-and-deductibles-death-by-a-million-cuts-for-insured-Americans

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* DARRELL ISSA HOLDS ANOTHER ALL-MALE PANEL IN BROOKLYN, THIS TIME ON FORECLOSURES’ GETS MIC-CHECKED

By Sarah Jaffe, Alterned

Immediately after the gavel, activists mic-checked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) at a Congressional hearing in Brooklyn, one of the communities hardest hit by housing crisis. Mimi Pierre-Johnson from New York Communities for Change speaks here.

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/864639/darrell_issa_holds_another_all-male_panel_in_brooklyn%2C_this_time_on_foreclosures%3B_gets_mic-checked/

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* BRINGING JUSTICE TO FELON BANKERS, IN SEVEN EASY STEPS

New evidence points to illegal behavior. Prosecution is the only way to keep that behavior from continuing.

By Bruce Judson, National Memo

It’s now a near certainty that Wall Street executives committed felonies.

The recently released audits of robo-mortgage activities by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) details shocking behavior at the five banks constituting the Federal Housing Administration’s largest mortgage servicers. At Wells Fargo, management quashed a midlevel manager’s study of the foreclosure process as negative results began to emerge, and it gave an individual whose last job had been in a pizza restaurant the title of “vice-president of loan documentation” to facilitate robo-mortgage signing. Bank of America evaluated employees on the volume of foreclosure affidavits produced. JP Morgan Chase gave individuals titles such as “vice-president of Chase Home” where “the titles were given by Chase for the sole purpose of allowing individuals to sign documents and came with no other duties or authority.” Citigroup and Ally similarly engaged in seemingly illegal practices.

Under federal law, the knowing filing of a false affidavit with the court is a felony offense of perjury, punishable by a prison term of up to five years. An individual violates laws against perjury whether he or she personally appears in court and swears to a false statement or provides the court with a false affidavit. Individual states have their own perjury laws, which were undoubtedly violated as well. The HUD report also suggests that individual banks may be guilty of obstruction of justice and the criminal violation of the False Claims Act for filing insurance claims without following HUD requirements.

Since the start of the financial crisis, federal and state officials have been struggling to change Wall Street behavior. To date, every effort has failed miserably, and the weak enforcement provisions of the robo-mortgage settlement are unlikely to meaningfully change this dynamic. Government officials have also relied, with a very few exceptions, entirely on civil enforcement when criminal laws appear to have been egregiously violated. […]

READ @ http://www.nationalmemo.com/article/seven-day-plan-finally-hold-wall-street-accountable

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* HOW GOLDMAN SACHS HELPED MASK GREECE’S DEBT

Source: youtube

VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07-hA9DW-Po

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* EXECUTIVES FROM CHEVRON, TRANSOCEAN HELD IN BRAZIL 

By Common Dreams Staff

Brazil has barred 17 executives from Chevron and Transocean from leaving the country while an investigation over charges for an oil spill is underway.

A Brazilian federal judge has required the executives to submit their passports to police within 24 hours.

Chevron is facing a lawsuit over an oil spill in November off Brazil’s Atlantic coast. And yesterday Brazil said it spotted oil near same offshore field. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/03/18-1

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* MICHAEL BLOOMBERG STRIKE AGAIN: NEW YORK CITY BANS FOOD DONATIONS TO THE HOMELESS

Source: CBS News

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s food police have struck again!

Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Glenn Richter arrived at a West Side synagogue on Monday to collect surplus bagels — fresh nutritious bagels — to donate to the poor. However, under a new edict from Bloomberg’s food police he can no longer donate the food to city homeless shelters.

It’s the “no bagels for you” edict. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/03/19/bloomberg-strikes-again-nyc-bans-food-donations-to-the-homeless/