* PROTESTING NATO: WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE SECRET SERVICE AND H.R. 346
By Gabe Rottman, Washington Legislative Office
The forthcoming summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, set for May 20 and 21 in Chicago, could be the first public test of H.R. 347, the recently passed law that expanded the ability of the Secret Service to suppress protests in or around certain restricted zones near individuals under its protection. We’ve written about H.R. 347 here and here.
NATO summits are interesting affairs. Unlike the periodic meetings of member nations, the summits are more stately and elaborate events, meant to introduce major policy changes or new members to the strategic alliance (among other things). This means lots of Very Important Persons, and lots of Very Controversial Issues. Both of these things mean lots of expected First Amendment activity.
As far as H.R. 347 goes, the NATO summit has been declared a “National Special Security Event” by the Department of Homeland Security. This puts the Secret Service in charge of the overall security plan. My understanding is that the FBI chips in with counterterrorism and counterintelligence assistance, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (another DHS agency) is in charge of emergency preparation. It also means massive security preparations and infrastructure—and lots of opportunities for the suppression of lawful protest. […]
* SHHH U.S. AGREES TO BAHRAIN ARMS DEAL
While in Washington to attend his son’s college graduation, the Bahraini crown prince also met with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other high ranking Senators. And he left, with an arms deal.
The sale has been in the news for a long time but it isn’t exactly great timing, considering it was just a few weeks ago the President gave a speech at the Holocaust Museum decrying Syria’s crackdown. Scott Horton, Contributing Editor on legal and national security matters for Harper’s Magazine is on to hash out the details.
* AS OBAMA OKs WEAPONS TO BAHRAIN, NEUROSURGEON TORTURED BY REGIME FACES TRIAL FOR TREATING PROTESTERS
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Human rights organizations are criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to resume military sales to Bahrain despite the ruling monarchy’s ongoing repression of pro-democracy protests. The State Department has said it will allow a multi-million-dollar weapons shipment to the Bahraini government, citing “national security interests.” The announcement came just days after the Bahraini government vowed “tougher action” in its crackdown on protesters. We’re joined by Dr. Nabeel Hameed, who is one of Bahrain’s only neurosurgeons and among dozens of Bahraini physicians and nurses who have been arrested and tried for treating anti-government protesters. After a three-month prison stint that he says included abuse and torture, Dr. Hameed is expected to be tried by a Bahraini court soon after he returns home. “There is this silence, this deafening silence, from the world governments [about Bahrain],” he says. “There is a situation which is really getting worse and worse. And if you don’t really stop it here, it may get really, really bad in the future. … You don’t have to wait until the violence propagates out of control.” [includes rush transcript]
* HOUSE PANEL PROPOSED ADDING $847 MILLION FOR WEAPONS
By Roxana Tiron and Tony Cappacio, Bloomberg
The House panel that controls military expenditures proposed a net increase of $874 million for weapons over the Pentagon’s budget plans for the year starting Oct. 1. The largest amounts that the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee added in producing a $102.4 billion procurement request were $562.4 million to buy 11 additional Boeing Co. F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets and $447 million to buy seven more Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130J transport planes, according to the defense panel’s report obtained today… The panel recommended adding $848.9 million for Israel’s missile defense, including $680 million for the Iron Dome system and $111.4 million for a system called David’s Sling. […]
* UN EURODIPUTADO EXPLOTA Y DICE LA VERDAD
* GREECE SETS DATE FOR CRISIS ELECTION
Greek elections will be held on June 17, the Athens News Agency said on Wednesday, adding that a senior judge had been tasked with heading a caretaker government to organise the ballot.
Council of State president Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the head of Greece’s top administrative court, will be named as caretaker prime minister, the semi-state ANA said on Wednesday.
Political leaders agreed on the appointment with President Carolos Papoulias after an inconclusive general election on May 6 which delivered a strong anti-austerity message and raised fears of a Greek eurozone exit.
After a third day of failed talks with political leaders on Tuesday, a spokesman for President Karolos Papoulias said the process of seeking a compromise had been declared a failure and a new vote would be held. […]
* THE CONQUEST OF POVERTY
By G.G. McGeer
Webmaster’s note: While Canadian politician and author, Gerald McGeer, was primarily concerned with the conquest of poverty in his own nation, the Great Depression Canada was experiencing was, of course, the same one being experienced in the United States and around the world during the 1930s. The solutions he proposed, in the form of monetary reform, would be equally applicable in the United States as in Canada and all other nations — and our need for such a solution is much greater (albeit, undoubtedly much more problematical to attain), today than ever before. McGeer was a great admirer of American president Abraham Lincoln, whose economic and monetary ideas form the core of his own proposals. It was McGeer who initially made “Lincoln’s Monetary Policy” widely known, at least in Canada, and may have been the first author to fully articulate it in its presently famous form. “Lincoln’s Monetary Policy” is enumerated in Chapter V. of The Conquest of Poverty. […]
No sound government in this age of intellectual and technological efficiency with power to mint at the prevailing price of silver, legal tender dollars costing less than 20 cents apiece, is justified in borrowing credit dollars from a private monopoly at interest. Surely, no one can justify as sound the practice of governmental borrowing at interest of credit from a private monopoly when the government has the power to set up a national banking system through which can be issued paper currency and bank credit more valuable as purchasing power medium of exchange than that which is issued by private bankers.
The perfection of the technique of substituting credit for money has emancipated mankind from any but an artificial shortage of consumers’ buying power. […]
* PETER PETERSON SPENT NEARLY HALF A BILLION IN WASHINGTON TARGETING SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE
By Paul Blumenthal, HuffPo
Peter Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire who has been calling for cuts to Social Security and other government programs for years, is hosting a “fiscal summit” Tuesday that brings together Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former President Bill Clinton, Rep. Paul Ryan, House Speaker John Boehner, Tom Brokaw and Politico’s John Harris, among a host of other elites who will gather at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.
The bipartisan luminaries will be carrying on a discussion to a large extent framed by Peterson, who has spent lavishly to shape a national conversation focusing on the deficit rather than on jobs and economic growth.
That amount of influence — building the very foundation on which political discussion rests — doesn’t come cheap. And Peterson hasn’t skimped.
According to a review of tax documents from 2007 through 2011, Peterson has personally contributed at least $458 million to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and government spending as in a state of crisis, in desperate need of dramatic cuts. Peterson’s millions have done next to nothing to change public opinion: In survey after survey, Americans reject the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare. A recent national tour organized by AmericaSpeaks and largely funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation was met by audiences who rebuffed his proposals. […]
* TWO BILLION DOLLAR TIP OF THE BANKING ICEBERG
Source: The Real News
Gerald Epstein: J.P. Morgan debacle shows systemic risk unchanged; breaking up big banks, reform Fed and public banking urgently required
* THE MAGIC OF PRIVATE EQUITY IN 8 EASY STEPS
How exactly did Mitt Romney Get So Obscenely Rich? Robert Reich explains The Magic of Private Equity in 8 Easy Steps.
* CAPITAL CITY
Three years after the biggest bailout in US history, Wall Street lobbyists don’t just have influence in Washington. They own it lock, stock, and barrel
By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
THIS STORY IS NOT ABOUT THE origins of 2008’s financial meltdown. You’ve probably read more than enough of those already. To make a long story short, it was a perfect storm. Reckless lending enabled a historic housing bubble; an overseas savings glut and an unprecedented Fed policy of easy money enabled skyrocketing debt; excessive leverage made the global banking system so fragile that it couldn’t withstand a tremor, let alone the Big One; the financial system squirreled away trainloads of risk via byzantine credit derivatives and other devices; and banks grew so towering and so interconnected that they became too big to be allowed to fail. With all that in place, it took only a small nudge to bring the entire house of cards crashing to the ground.
But that’s a story about finance and economics. This is a story about politics. It’s about how Congress and the president and the Federal Reserve were persuaded to let all this happen in the first place. In other words, it’s about the finance lobby—the people who, as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) put it last April, even after nearly destroying the world are “still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”
But it’s also about something even bigger. It’s about the way that lobby—with the eager support of a resurgent conservative movement and a handful of powerful backers—was able to fundamentally change the way we think about the world. Call it a virus. Call it a meme. Call it the power of a big idea. Whatever you call it, for three decades they had us convinced that the success of the financial sector should be measured not by how well it provides financial services to actual consumers and corporations, but by how effectively financial firms make money for themselves. It sounds crazy when you put it that way, but stripped to its bones, that’s what they pulled off. […]
* ACCIDENTALLY RELEASED – AND INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING – DOCUMENTS SHOW HOW GOLDMAN ET AL ENGAGED IN ‘NAKED SHORT SELLING’
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes God smiles on us. Last week, he smiled on investigative reporters everywhere, when the lawyers for Goldman, Sachs slipped on one whopper of a legal banana peel, inadvertently delivering some of the bank’s darker secrets into the hands of the public.
The lawyers for Goldman and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have been involved in a legal battle for some time – primarily with the retail giant Overstock.com, but also with Rolling Stone, the Economist, Bloomberg, and the New York Times. The banks have been fighting us to keep sealed certain documents that surfaced in the discovery process of an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Overstock against the banks.
Last week, in response to an Overstock.com motion to unseal certain documents, the banks’ lawyers, apparently accidentally, filed an unredacted version of Overstock’s motion as an exhibit in their declaration of opposition to that motion. In doing so, they inadvertently entered into the public record a sort of greatest-hits selection of the very material they’ve been fighting for years to keep sealed. […]
* COMPETING CURRENCY BEING ACCEPTED ACROSS MID-MICHIGAN
New types of money are popping up across Mid-Michigan and supporters say, it’s not counterfeit, but rather a competing currency.