* CAPITALISM’S GREAT HEIST
Elites say inequality encourages the rich to invest and the creative to invent. This works out well for 1% dogs
By Gerald Friedman, Salon
Editor’s Note: When harmful beliefs plague a population, you can bet that the 1% is benefiting. This article is the first in a new AlterNet series, “Capitalism Unmasked,” edited by Lynn Parramore and produced in partnership with author Douglas Smith and Econ4 to expose the myths and lies of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future.
Summer 2009. Unemployment is soaring. Across America, millions of terrified people are facing foreclosure and getting kicked to the curb. Meanwhile in sunny California, the hotel-heiress Paris Hilton is investing $350,000 of her $100 million fortune in a two-story house for her dogs. A Pepto Bismol-colored replica of Paris’ own Beverly Hills home, the backyard doghouse provides her precious pooches with two floors of luxury living, complete with abundant closet space and central air.
By the standards of America’s rich these days, Paris’ dogs are roughing it. In a 2006 article, Vanity Fair’s Nina Munk described the luxe residences of America’s new financial elite. Compared with the 2,405 square feet of the average new American home, the abodes of Greenwich Connecticut hedge-fund managers clock in at 15,000 square feet, about the size of a typical industrial warehouse. Many come with pool houses of over 3,000 square feet.
Steven Cohen of SAC Capital is a typical product of the New Gilded Age. He paid $14.8 million for his Greenwich home, which he stuffed with a personal art collection that boasts Van Gogh’s Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat (priced at $100 million); Gauguin’s Bathers ($50 million); a Jackson Pollock drip painting (also $50 million); and Andy Warhol’s Superman ($75 million). Not satisfied, Cohen spent millions renovating and expanding, adding a massage room, exercise and media rooms, a full-size indoor basketball court, an enclosed swimming pool, a hairdressing salon, and a 6,734-square-foot ice-skating rink. The rink, of course, needs a Zamboni ice-resurfacer which Cohen houses in a 720-square-foot shingle cottage. Munk quotes a visitor to the estate who assured her, “You’d be happy to live in the Zamboni house.” […]
* LIE-MORE AS A BUSINESS MODEL
By Simon Johnson, TheBaselineScenario
On Monday, Bob Diamond – the CEO of Barclays, one of the largest banks in the world – was supposedly the indispensable man, with his supporters claiming he was the only person who could see that global megabank through a growing scandal. On Tuesday morning Mr. Diamond resigned and the stock market barely blinked – in fact, Barclays’ stock was up 0.3 percent. As Charles de Gaulle supposedly remarked, “the cemeteries are full of indispensable men.”
Mr. Diamond’s fall was spectacular and complete. It was also entirely appropriate.
Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets – a financial reform advocacy group – summarized the situation nicely in an interview with the BBC World Service on Tuesday. The controversy that brought down Mr. Diamond had to do with deliberate and now acknowledged deception by Barclays’ staff with regard to the data they reported for Libor – the London Interbank Offered Rate (with the abbreviation pronounced Lie-Bore). Mr. Kelleher was blunt: the issue in question is “Lie More” not Libor. (See also this post on his blog, making the point that this impacts credit transactions with a face value of at least $800 trillion.) […]
* SPAIN UNVEILS MASSIVE CUTS AMID PROTESTS
PM Mariano Rajoy says nation’s future at stake as he announces $79bn in tax hikes and spending cuts needed for bailout
Spain has announced a $79.85bn austerity package that includes tax hikes and spending cuts a day after it won approval from its euro partners for a huge bailout of the country’s stricken banks.
Prime minister Mariano Rajoy told parliament on Wednesday the country’s future was at stake as Spain grapples with recession, a bloated deficit and investor wariness of its sovereign debt.
He said the nearly $80bn in savings will be achieved through 2015 by a hike in sales taxes and a series of spending cuts through 2015. […]
* SPANISH MINER’S MESSAGE FROM THE FLAMING BARRICADES
A spanish miner’s message from the flaming barricades of Pola de Lena in Asturias, Spain.
Approximate translation in english:
“What I’m saying is that the wages of the ministers in the government, that bunch of thieves, should be reduced by 64%. In this way there would be money for the health care system, for education, for transportation, for miners and for many more things. Those sons of bitches are increasing their wages and have a full stomach while other people are starving. Workers should go out and occupy the streets and send these bastards to the cemetery”.
* SWAT RAID ON ORGANIZERS OF OCCUPY SEATTLE & E4E
Kasama received this shortly after the police ended their ransacking of the Seattle apartment. We will cover events and statements as they emerge.
Early morning, July 10, SWAT police forced their way into the Seattle apartment of organizers from the Occupy movement. The sleeping residents scrambled to put on clothes as they were confronted with automatic weapons.
The neighbor Natalio Perez heard the attack from downstairs: “Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment. The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart.”
After the raid, the residents pored over the papers handed them by a detective. One explained: “This warrant says that they were specifically looking for ‘anarchist materials’ — which lays out the political police state nature of this right there. In addition they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.
When the police finally left, they did not arrest anyone. […]
* FARMERS FILE SUIT AGAINST MONSANTO
By Burl Hall, OpEdNews
The following is a press release from MOFGA, the Maine Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. MOFGA is an organization that advocates for organic growers in the state of Maine. The organization holds several events to help educate the public regarding organic and sustainable food production. For example, in September, the organization sponsors the Common Ground Fair on the campus of Unity College in Unity Maine that often draws 60,000 people. This fair holds various workshops, while also allowing people to become more educated regarding local and organic foods. MOFGA also certifies and sells seeds which helps to reduce a gardner’s or a farmer’s fear of receiving seeds that are contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds.
WASHINGTON, D.C. –July 5, 2012 — Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief today with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court’s decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed.
The plaintiffs brought the pre-emptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 in the Southern District of New York and specifically seek to defend themselves from nearly two dozen of Monsanto’s most aggressively asserted patents on GMO seed. They were forced to act pre-emptively to protect themselves from Monsanto’s abusive lawsuits, fearing that if GMO seed contaminates their property despite their efforts to prevent such contamination, Monsanto will sue them for patent infringement .
“It’s time to end Monsanto’s scorched earth legal campaign of threats and intimidation against America’s farmers. Family farmers should be protected by the courts against the unwanted genetic contamination of their crops,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! , a grassroots community of more than 300,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food and agriculture, that is co-plaintiff in the suit. […]
* SEIZURE-RESPONSE AT THE OFFICES OF AKTOR, BEATINGS FOR THREE PEOPLE
On the initiative of the Coordinating Anoichtou Thessaloniki against gold and participation / support Antiauthoritarian Movement of Thessaloniki held today, Wednesday, July 11, from 10 in the morning, two-hour occupation of the offices of the company Aktor (1 Hapsa Street, Thessaloniki, 5th floor) interest Bobola and holder of 5% of the share capital of Greek Gold SA – over 95% owned by Eldorado Gold Corp.
The intervention took place in response to recent events of the beating of 3 people M.Panagias Halkidiki reacting to the destructive mining activities in the region, group of employees from the company’s Greek Gold.
Here is the statement:
The bullies of the multinational Mafia strikes again
The mercenaries of bullies (Bobola interests and El Donado Gold) «Golden Greek” Saturday (30.06.12) again showed their true face, when 50 mercenaries were beaten in the middle of the village of Mary M. three residents (especially the two victims were women) and propilakisan others. The Eldorado Gold aftoprovalletai worldwide as the company with the lowest cost gold production and thus with the highest environmental and social costs.
Victims of bullies are fighters and fighters who are actively involved in protests against mines in reaction to the destruction of the site and their home to lower their lives and the future of their children.
It all started after the announcement and publication of the provisional order E.D.308/2012 the second part of the CTE Friday (06.29.12) to temporarily suspend logging activities in the slag. The company knows that playing the game and move the pieces, she decided to launch rumors of mass layoffs, which of course is the only responsible reaction to the mines.
Furthermore, blogs reflecting the interests of the company published an article in which he clearly urged workers of the company to take action (as they did on March 20, 2012 at Slag, when 500 workers attacked 30 people in Halkidiki, resisting the damaging plans). On Saturday (06.30.12), the pieces of the company was treated once with agrianthropismo that characterizes the company to which they belong (and of course the police role in the viewer when it comes to safeguarding the citizens as opposed to immediate and active presence when it comes to defending the interests of multinationals and local bosses).
At around 2.30 pm and after generous doses of alcohol about 50 “employees”, came onto the streets of oryomenoi M.Panagias and began to destroy everything and apokathilonoun was associated with resistance to the investment plan of Greek Gold (posters, banners, black flags at the entrance of the village etc.). The climax of the action were the beatings of three fighters, beatings were accompanied by threats to employees that if the wages threatened them, intending to burn the village itself, beginning from the houses of the reactants … […]
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* HALYVOURIGIA STEELWORKS IN ASPROPYRGOS TO CLOSE
Source: Athens News
The owners of the Hellenic Halyvourgia steelworks, where workers have been on strike since October, have said they will shut down the plant, the Capital.gr website has reported.
The closure of the plant, located in Aspropyrgos in western Attica, will not affect the company’s second foundry, located in Volos in Thessaly. […]
[…] The strike started in 2011 as a protest against management attempts to impose a 40 percent wage cut. Before the strike, 380 workers were employed at the plant. They were told by management that if they did not accept the pay cut, 180 jobs would go. […]
* Xenophobic Violence in Greece