* LOSING STRENGTH? AN ALTERNATIVE VISION OF SPAIN’S INDIGNADOS
A silent revolution emerges from the underground. Far from losing strength, decentralization has allowed 15-M to become ever more dynamic.
By Marta Sanchez, RoarMag
Is the 15-M movement going invisible? Or is it rather gaining strength in the ‘underground’? The mainstream media keep claiming that the indignados have lost support since last year, that its only success is its ability to bring people together on special dates. Spanish newspaper El País concluded in May 2012 that, one year after the birth of the movement, popular support and sympathy for the indignados had decreased around 13% among the Spanish population, despite the massive mobilizations that took place from the 12th until the 15th of May, commemorating the anniversary of the movement. ABC opened its edition of May 15 stating that “the indignados movement shows less strength on their anniversary.” But the media misses the point. In reality, rather than losing strength, the movement has become stronger, more organized, better coordinated, and supported by the commitment of hundreds of people.
The decentralization of the movement
When May 2011 came to an end, the recently born 15-M movement had to find out how to survive beyond the camp at Puerta del Sol (acampadasol). Thus arose the idea of decentralizing the movement towards the neighborhoods: the ‘toma los barrios‘, or take the neighborhoods, initiative supported and encouraged the creation of assemblies in every neighborhood of Madrid. In this way, the movement went local: since the creation of the neighborhood assemblies on May 28, 2011, around 120 assemblies have been set up, and they coordinate through the Asamblea Popular de Madrid, the popular assembly of Madrid, also known as Asamblea Interbarrios (the inter-neighborhood assembly). As there were many thematic working groups in the original Sol camp, working groups with similar interests were created in most of the neighborhood assemblies, which since then collaborate and coordinate with the general groups from acampadasol.
The objectives of such decentralization aimed, in the first place, to promote direct and participatory democracy in the local sphere, based on an understanding of politics as the art of collectively creating an alternative pattern of social relations, thereby bringing people out of isolation and into a community. A second objective aimed to retake the public sphere, as defined by Habermas, as a place in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk, the space in which citizens deliberate about their common affairs, hence, an arena of discursive interaction. This interaction is structured through assemblies, which constitute the greatest expression of horizontal organization and democracy from below. The combination of both objectives shows the movement’s efforts in fighting for a ‘real democracy now’ (Democracia Real Ya), which goes in the direction of Daniel Barber’s concept of ‘strong democracy‘, a “normative alternative where citizens are engaged at the local and national levels in a variety of political activities and regard discourse, debate and deliberation as essential conditions for reaching common ground.” […]
* HONG KONG: 400,000 PROTEST INCREASING CHINESE INFLUENCE
An estimated 400,000 people took to the streets of Hong Kong yesterday (July 1) for the annual demonstration to mark the British handing of control of the city to China 15 years ago.
The mass protest came as Chinese President Hu Jintao swore in Leung Chun-ying as the city’s new top official, a man who many believe is unsuitable for the job.
Protesters held placards, and chanted that Leung should step down, as they demonstrated against what they believe to be the increasing influence of China in Hong Kong. […]
* A HUGE BREAK IN THE LIBOR BANKING INVESTIGATION
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
This is a huge story:
On Wednesday, Barclays won the race to reach a deal with U.S. and British regulators, beating UBS, which was reportedly the first bank to begin cooperating with international antitrust authorities. Barclays agreed to pay at least $450 million to resolve government investigations of manipulation of Libor and the Euro interbank offered rate (or Euribor): $200 million to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $160 million tothe criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice and $92.8 million to Britain’s Financial Services Authority.
I wrote about the Libor investigation in the current issue of Rolling Stone, in “The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia,” about muni bond bid-rigging. Throughout this spring, while the Carollo bid-rigging case played out in a Manhattan courtroom, negotiations between banks and regulators were going on in this far larger cartel-corruption case. It’s been clear for some time now that a number of players had begun cooperating, and the only question was which bank was going to settle first. […]
[…] This is unbelievable, shocking stuff. A sizable chunk of the world’s adjustable-rate investment vehicles are pegged to Libor, and here we have evidence that banks were tweaking the rate downward to massage their own derivatives positions. The consequences for this boggle the mind. For instance, almost every city and town in America has investment holdings tied to Libor. If banks were artificially lowering the rates to beef up their trading profiles, that means communities all over the world were cheated out of ungodly amounts of money. […]
* ANOTHER DOMINO FALLS IN THE LIBOR BANKING SCAM: ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
[…] The news that RBS is involved comes with a perverse twist. This is from the Times UK:
The bank, which is 82 per cent owned by the taxpayer, is preparing for a political firestorm over the affair because it believes that it has no power to claw back bonuses from the traders responsible. Instead, the expected fines would be borne by the shareholders — largely the Government.
Libor manipulation is a crime that already robs the public to create bonuses for bankers. By artificially lowering interest rates, the banks caused cities, towns, countries, and other public entities to receive smaller returns on their variable-rate investment holdings. If it turns out that taxpayers end up paying the fine for RBS’s crime of robbing taxpayers, how perfect would that be? […]
* GOVERNMENT BY THE BANKS, FOR THE BANKS: THE ESM COUP D’ETAT IN EUROPE
By Ellen Brown, OpEdNews
On Friday, June 29th, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acquiesced to changes to a permanent Eurozone bailout fund–“before the ink was dry,” as critics complained. Besides easing the conditions under which bailouts would be given, the concessions included an agreement that funds intended for indebted governments could be funneled directly to stressed banks .
According to Gavin Hewitt , Europe editor for BBC News, the concessions mean that:
[T]he eurozone’s bailout fund (backed by taxpayers’ money) will be taking a stake in failed banks.
Risk has been increased. German taxpayers have increased their liabilities. In future a bank crash will no longer fall on the shoulders of national treasuries but on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a fund to which Germany contributes the most.
In the short term, these measures will ease pressure in the markets. However there is currently only 500bn euros assigned to the ESM. That may get swallowed up quickly and the markets may demand more. It is still unclear just how deep the holes in the eurozone’s banks are.
The ESM is now a permanent bailout fund for private banks, a sort of permanent “welfare for the rich.” There is no ceiling set on the obligations to be underwritten by the taxpayers, no room to negotiate, and no recourse in court. Its daunting provisions were summarized in a December 2011 youtube video originally posted in German, titled “The shocking truth of the pending EU collapse!“: […]
* CONGRESS’S BIG GIFT TO MONSANTO
By Tom Philpott, Mother Jones
If you want your crops to bear fruit, you have to feed the soil. Few industries understand that old farming truism better than ag-biotech—the few companies that dominate the market for genetically modified seeds and other novel farming technologies. And they realize that the same wisdom applies to getting what you want in Washington, DC.
According to this 2010 analysis from Food & Water Watch, the ag-biotech industry spent $547.5 million between 1999 and 2009. It employed more than 100 lobbying firms in 2010 alone, FWW reports, in addition to their own in-house lobbying teams.
The gusher continues. The most famous ag-biotech firm of all, Monsanto, spent $1.4 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2012, after shelling out $6.3 million total last year, “more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria,” reports the money-in-politics tracker OpenSecrets.org. Industry trade groups like the Biotechnology Industry Organization and Croplife America have weighed in with $1.8 million and $524,000, respectively. […]