* BANK OF AMERICA IS A RAGING HURRICANE OF THEFT AND FRAUD
By Matt Taibbi, OccupyWallStreet
There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America.
The first is that it’s corrupt. This bank has systematically defrauded almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of wiped-out retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake.
The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging. Bank of America is not just a private company that systematically steals from American citizens: it’s a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business. In fact, without the continued generosity of us taxpayers, and the extraordinary indulgence of our regulators and elected officials, this company long ago would have been swallowed up by scandal, mismanagement, prosecution and litigation, and gone out of business. It would have been liquidated and its component parts sold off, perhaps into a series of smaller regional businesses that would have more respect for the law, and be more responsive to their customers. […]
* RADIATION ‘FATALLY HIGH’ AT JAPAN REACTOR
Examination of containment chamber of tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant’s number 2 reactor reveals extensive damage.
[…] The data collected on Tuesday showed the damage from the disaster is so severe that the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant. The process is expected to last decades.
The other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse shape. The number 2 reactor is the only one officials have been able to closely examine so far.
‘Dangerously high’ radiation
Tuesday’s examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber. Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel had breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor. […]
* GULF FISHERIES IN DECLINE AFTER OIL DISASTER
Nearly two years after BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and scientists say things are getting worse
By Dahr Jamail, Aljazeera
[…] Poynot said that many people, even some of his employees, continue to be afraid to eat seafood from the Gulf, for fear of contamination by BP’s oil and dispersants.
“It’s hard to believe the impact of the spill,” Poynot added. “I have heard that some folks are still catching tar balls in their crab traps.”
Apparently, the fact that the State of Louisiana received $18m from BP for the Louisiana Seafood Safety Plan to test seafood, water and soil from across the coast is not helping to assuage fears.
Keith Ladner, a third-generation seafood processor in Bay St Louis, Mississippi, has it even worse.
“I’m worried about the entire seafood industry of the Gulf being on the way out,” Ladner told Al Jazeera in Biloxi, Mississippi. “We have taken constant hits like Katrina, the economy, and now BP. I’m now unsure how many of us will come back from this.”
Ladner reiterated what Al Jazeera has been hearing from fishermen, seafood processors and distributors all along the coast – that there has been a two-thirds drop in brown shrimp production, and white shrimp season was basically non-existent.
“The only brown and white shrimp we see now are from Texas or western Louisiana, where the oil didn’t impact directly,” he said. “And for oysters, Mississippi’s oyster reefs have been closed since the spill started. I have not purchased one single sack of oysters since the spill, and I won’t eat any from this area.” […]
* DOMINICAN JUDGE SENDS 4 SUSPECTED ANONYMOUS HACKERS TO JAIL FOR 3 MONTHS; NO CHARGES FILED
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — A judge in the Dominican Republic has ordered four suspected members of the loose-knit Anonymous hacker movement held in jail for three months during an investigation of their activities.
No charges have been filed, but the Dominican legal system allows for preventive detention. […]
* OBAMACARE’S SUPREME COURT DISASTER
By Adam Serwer, MotherJones
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. should be grateful to the Supreme Court for refusing to allow cameras in the courtroom, because his defense of Obamacare on Tuesday may go down as one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the court.
Stepping up to the podium, Verrilli stammered as he began his argument. He coughed, he cleared his throat, he took a drink of water. And that was before he even finished the first part of his argument. Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s—and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy. […]
* REPEAL THE “STAND YOUR GROUND” LAWS
By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post
[…] The Florida law took effect in 2005. Five years later, the Tampa Bay Times said that reports of justifiable homicide across the state had tripled. The newspaper found cases in which the protection of Stand Your Ground had been invoked by persons who felt — perhaps with good reason, perhaps not — that they faced imminent attack in their homes. Those incidents were at least in keeping with the intent of the legislation. But the paper also found the law being used to excuse violence committed during fights at house parties, disputes between neighbors and disagreements in public parks.
“Gangsters are using this law to have gunfights,” Tallahassee state’s attorney Willie Meggs told the Times.
Following Florida’s lead, about 20 states have enacted similar legislation. I doubt you will be surprised to hear that the National Rifle Association has lobbied hard to get these dangerous and unnecessary statutes approved.
These laws encourage hotheads to go into potential confrontations with loaded firearms. They give permission to shoot first and ask questions later. This may be good for gun manufacturers, funeral homes and the NRA, but it’s tragic for justice in America. […]
* THE MODERN DAY GILDED AGE – IN 2012 TOP ONE PERCENT CAPTURED OVER HALF OF ALL IN COME GAINS. FROM EARLY 2009 THE S&P 500 IS UP 109 PERCENT BUT HOME PRICES ARE AT NEW LOWS FALLING ALMOST 34 PERCENT
Most Americans derive their net worth from the equity built up in their homes. This has been the case for many decades. As the stock market races upwards to stratospheric highs it is hard for many average Americans to understand why it is that economically they are stuck in the same place. New tax data reveals that Americans are living in a modern day Gilded Age. The massive income inequality has only been exacerbated in the recent grand recession. Many Americans with a per capita annual wage of $25,000 have a hard time saving any sizeable amount of money once the cost of living is extracted from their income. This trend has only continued and IRS tax data reveals that the gap between middle class and wealthy is only getting bigger. This is why even in spite of a stunning stock market run, we have a record 46,000,000 Americans receiving food assistance and working class families are seeing very little growth in their real wages. […]
* GREECE’S FRINGE PARTIES SURGE AMID BAILOUT IRE
By Alkman Granitsas and Marcus Walker, The Wall Street Journal
ATHENS—Weeks after agreeing to an agonizing bailout deal with Europe, Greece is splintering politically ahead of national elections, raising the risk that it won’t be able to make the economic sacrifices still needed to keep it in the euro.
The election, not yet scheduled but expected in April or May, is shaping up as a public revolt against Greece’s political establishment, which has backed the austerity policies that are the price of financial life support from Europe and the International Monetary Fund. Mainstream politicians are increasingly painted as leading Greece into a debt trap, then impoverishing it in trying to escape.
As a result, Greece’s major parties, which have promised Europe they will enact yet another round of deep public-spending cuts by summer, are struggling for support.
Half the electorate plans to vote for radical opposition groups, ranging from Soviet-style Communists to anti-immigrant neo-Nazis, according to recent opinion polls. That could lead to growing political instability even if the established parties cling to power, undermining Greece’s ability to enact the drastic spending cuts and economic overhauls its creditors demanded. […]
* ROUGH JUSTICE: UK PROTESTER ALMOST KILLED BY COPS FACES JAIL
A British student who suffered a near-fatal blow to the head in police clashes during a student demo – is on trial himself for the violence. Alfie Meadows and 50 others ended up in hospital after the fighting during protests over tuition fees. He could be jailed for 5 years if convicted but, as Ivor Bennett explains, his supporters want to see the police face justice over brutality.