tagged w/ Banksters
Turning up the heat on Wall Street
Danny Lucia reports from New York City on the latest stage of the Occupy Wall Street movement after the mass arrest of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge.
October 3, 2011
Participants in the occupation of Wall Street march toward the Brooklyn Bridge (Doug Singsen | SW)Participants in the occupation of Wall Street march toward the Brooklyn Bridge (Doug Singsen | SW)
THE STAKES went up for the Occupy Wall Street protest movement this weekend after police escalated their repression with the arrest of over 700 peaceful protesters during a march across the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1.
But the arrests couldn't stop the growing enthusiasm for the movement. On the contrary, similar occupations continued to spread to other cities around the U.S., and the movement in New York City received more endorsements and pledges of support from labor and community organizations, ahead of a major union rally planned for this Wednesday.
Occupy Wall Street and its sister actions around the country have become lightning rods, drawing people fed up with every aspect of a world dominated by the greed and power of the "1 percent" on Wall Street and at the top of U.S. society.
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IN NEW York, Friday and Saturday saw the largest marches yet from the Occupy Wall Street encampment at the renamed Liberty Plaza nearby Wall Street. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people participated each day, first in a protest against police brutality at One Police Headquarters on Friday night, and then the march across the bridge on Saturday.
At the Saturday demonstration, marchers left the camp and took both the pedestrian and vehicle lanes when they got to the bridge, halting traffic. Police didn't block the takeover of the vehicle lanes. Instead, a handful of supervisors lined up before the throng of marchers announced over bullhorns, heard by only to a small number, that those blocking the roadway would be subject to arrest.
Then, as protester Etam Ben-Ami later told the New York Daily News, "it seemed as if they deliberately moved back to allow people onto the roadway." According to the New York Times, whose reporter Natasha Leonard was among those arrested, "There were no physical barriers...and at one point, the marchers began walking up the roadway with the police commanders in front of them--seeming, from a distance, as if they were leading the way."
Once protesters were about halfway across the bridge, police suddenly encircled the marchers in the car lanes, blocking both the Brooklyn and Manhattan sides of the bridge. More than 1,000 were trapped for hours in the pouring rain.
Hundred of marchers who hadn't been caught on the bridge by police gathered on the Manhattan side of the bridge. Some appealed to the cops with chants of "Join us, you're one of us"--but others angrily chanted, "Protect and serve? That's a lie!"
After their arrest, protesters were transported to different precincts in Brooklyn and Manhattan, often remaining in handcuffs for many hours before being transferred to jail cells. Many weren't released until well past midnight--despite the fact that most people were only charged with violations, the equivalent of a parking ticket and not even considered to be a criminal offense.
NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne asserted that the police only arrested those in the front of the march who had heard the warnings not to take the streets, a claim contradicted by numerous eyewitness accounts.
Of course, many New Yorkers had already stopped putting much stock in the words of Browne, who just days earlier had confidently defended the indefensible--the pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters during a march from the Occupy Wall Street site one week earlier.Turning up the heat on Wall Street
Danny Lucia reports from New York City on the... more
For Geeta Ramcharitar, the ordeal began with a past due balance of $4.70 owed to her condominium association in Melbourne’s Venetian Village — and ballooned from there.
The threatened end: foreclosure on her two-bedroom condo.
The 56-year-old grandmother got lucky. County Court Judge William McLuan tossed out the foreclosure case brought by her condo association, ordering each side to pay their own attorney’s fees.
But while Ramcharitar’s situation sounds extreme — a foreclosure case that began over what initially was such a paltry sum — she’s hardly alone.
Condominium associations, as well as homeowner’s associations, always have had the right to move for foreclosure for nonpayment of dues.
And with condo and homeowner’s associations under greater financial pressure because of the poor economy, many are moving more aggressively to recover money owed them, experts say, even as foreclosure remains a last resort.
“The old rules of engagements have changed,” said Donna Berger of Katzman, Garfinkel & Berger in Fort Lauderdale, who was not involved in Ramcharitar’s case.
“What I am saying is, associations should absolutely take advantage of some of the tools at their disposal. The goal is not to be punitive but they have to make an attempt to recoup their losses.”
Officials at the Venetian Village said they do work with delinquent homeowners to come up with payment plans and that efforts were made with Ramcharitar. They declined, however, to give the details of her case.
Marlene Kirtland, the attorney representing Becker & Poliakoff, the law firm representing the condo association, also declined to comment.
The exact origins of Ramcharitar’s dispute are unclear, but records show she owed a past due balance of $4.70 to the association in August 2009 and became subject to monthly late fees.
By November of that year, certified letters sent by Becker & Poliakoff said the association intended to foreclose for nonpayment of dues.
At the time, her total outstanding fees were $1,248.89. Of that total, $760 were for attorney fees. By the middle of 2010, the attorney fees for all the paperwork sent to her had ballooned to about $3,000.For Geeta Ramcharitar, the ordeal began with a past due balance of $4.70 owed to her... more
Matt Stoller: Happy Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy Day
Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:18 AM PDT
By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller. Cross posted from New Deal 2.0
Lehman’s bankruptcy happened three years ago today. It should be quite clear at this point that another Lehman is going to happen again. Policymakers didn’t deal with the crisis of 2008-2009; they turned it into a much longer crisis with far greater lasting damage.
There are two intertwined issues with any major financial panic. One issue is liquidity — can an asset be sold or traded without significant movement in the price? Can an institution exchange its assets for assets of similar value? In a bank run, the answer is no. People are too afraid to accept that their bank deposit is worth what is in the account because they don’t trust the bank that tells them what they have in the account. The second issue is solvency — is there enough value to pay off all creditor claims? Are assets greater than liabilities, even in a liquid market?
The basic point to understand about the financial crisis is that it isn’t in fact over. The liquidity crisis of 2008-2009 was temporarily abated, but the solvency problem hasn’t been dealt with. The global financial architecture is essentially dominated by too many obligations, a.k.a. debt, that cannot be paid. This can only be addressed by a mass writedown of debts. Usually creditors don’t like being told they can’t have the money they think they have and force is required. Debtor deals are often preceded by civil wars, world wars, or depressions. But not always — sometimes a debtor cartel can force writedowns. So that’s the solvency issue.
What does this have to do with Lehman Brothers? Well, Lehman’s bankruptcy was the moment when the financial system looked feeble and insolvent. If you did not have an FDIC insured account, you could not be sure that money would be there the next day. Essentially, Lehman’s bankruptcy was the moment that the global bank run for businesses and billionaires became real. Companies that needed to make payroll, insurance companies that needed to pay out claims, corporations that funded themselves in the commercial paper markets, nonprofits and cities using auction rate securities — basically anyone with any need for liquidity — could no longer do business. Investors piled into “safe assets,” a.k.a. Treasury bills, sending the yield “down to a few hundreds of a percent.”
In the repo market, which is where the shadow banking system got much of its funding, there were margin calls because previously somewhat safe assets like corporate bonds required larger haircuts. It was, again, a giant bank run. The Fed and Treasury eventually stopped the bank run, providing enough liquidity and fiscal help to restore temporary confidence to the banking system. But the solvency crisis wasn’t solved. It has been papered over, and remains with us today, ready to rear its ugly head at any moment (see the Eurozone).
A solvency crisis is often accompanied by a liquidity crisis, which is why the FDIC tries to shut down a bankrupt bank on a Friday and reopen it on Monday under new management. You don’t want a bank run when a bank goes under. You want depositors to be made whole and, ideally, to have so much confidence the system works that the real economy is entirely insulated from financial shocks. Unfortunately, the failure to address the solvency problem or put forward a framework that insures the banking system (using a scheme sketched out by Jane D’Arista in this prescient 1991 paper titled “No More Bank Bailouts”) means that users of the financial system are nervous.
Lehman Brothers itself was insolvent, but its problems were probably common among investment banks at the time. I don’t have anything to add on why that institution went under. For that, the Valukas report on the firm’s bankruptcy provides an excellent explanation. Basically, everyone in a position of power in and around the investment bank was corrupt. Lehman had fairly reasonable risk controls; management just ignored them. Senior Lehman officer Ian Lowitt noted this in the summer of 2007, after a decision to ignore risk limits. “In case we ever forget; this is why one has concentration limits and overall portfolio limits. Markets do seize up.”
Yes, they do.
The regulators knew. As Anton Valukas, the bankruptcy trustee said, “So the agencies were concerned. They gathered information. They monitored. But no agency regulated.”( more at figrd link/crossposted via Naked Capitalism w/permission) 9oh and nice to be here , today been really busy and will have more info soon take care current friends ;) -figgdimensionMatt Stoller: Happy Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy Day
Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:18 AM PDT... more
Now, every month, Goldilocks was receiving maybe 15 credit card offers a month. She was in denial at this point, just trying to drum up the payments on the cards she already had. She had accumulated about $15,000 in debt, and was faithfully listening to Dave Ramsey in the afternoons every chance she could, hoping that his wisdom would impart to her. She did pay off her smallest card, the one with a $500 limit. That felt great, and kept her in denial about her monthly routine for about another year. Then she heard Arianna Huffington suggest that we should all be boycotting the Big Banks, and we could do so by talking to the credit departments of our local banks. “That makes sense”, though Goldy. She composed a letter explaining the situation top to bottom, and handed it to Eva, a very helpful gal in the right department to turn around her life, she thought. Eva read the letter and replied: “Wow!” She went right to work, trying to secure a loan at about 12%, which sounded good to Goldy. But when Goldy went in the next day, it turned out that her earnings ratio was too low for the debt she’d incurred. Goldy went home sad, but not mad. She knew that Eva would have helped if she could have.
Another year went by, and offers were forthcoming. Godilocks gave it some thought, but every time she considered it, her stomach would tighten up, so she just kept paying the money, which also made her stomach tighten. It was hard to tell which source of the stomach-tightening was worse.
Finally, an offer came from Citi, and though she’d heard terrible foul things about the big corporation, she bit the bullet and read through the paperwork. 0% interest for over a year. That would save a bunch. $300 transfer fee. Well, that would be ok, she guessed. 24% interest if a payment is missed. She promised on her mother’s grave that she’d never in a million years ever miss another payment. She figured out that presently her interest payments were amounting to almost $250 a month, and decided that she would take a new direction in pro-activity, and make the call. Pretty soon. Well, actually, it needed to be thought about some more.
Then, the final finally arrived. It was in the form of an “All Things Considered” report on NPR. This was the trusted source that put Goldy over the top and got her to contact Citi. They were interviewing a girl who avoided all interest charges by signing for the 0% cards whenever she needed to. She’d pay the transfer fee, but at the end of the story they summed it up as if she hadn’t paid anything. In her head, Goldy’s addendum to the story was “Yeah, but there’s a fee, so don’t forget about it.”
She called a couple of days later. There were three cards to transfer. After the information was taken for the second card, the Citi associate tried to sell her a few other things; insurance and the like, but Goldy stalwartly replied “no” to all inquiries. They tried to send her the free trial periods, and she clearly reiterated, “no, please don’t send me anything that I have to cancel”. She tried to remind the associate that there was another card to transfer, but the associate had selling on her mind. She forgot entirely about the third card. She then tried to wrap up the conversation, and Goldy interjected, “What about my third card?” It was too late, the associate explained, blaming Goldy for withholding the information. “You’ll have to wait until you get your card, and then you can continue with the transferring. There was that knot again, but Goldy was too worn out to pursue an argument, and replied, “Thank you, I’ll do that.”
The day came when her card arrived. Goldilocks took a breath and tried to quell her disgust for partnering with one of the Big 3 corporations. “Maybe they’ve learned their lesson”, she thought. She had to admit that it made her feel relieved----empowered, even. She was down to two credit cards, one with 0% for a year, and the other one, the one that was only 19%, was cut more than half. The evil 29.99% cards were history! So, “Hurray!!” she uttered. “Maybe I’m out of the belly of the Beast”.
Two days later she got the bill for the remaining card from Chase, and on it, there was another $300 transfer fee.Now, every month, Goldilocks was receiving maybe 15 credit card offers a month. She... more
This is the story of Goldilocks and the three banks, whose names were Citi, Chase, and Of America. The bank named “Chase” had to change its name from “Washington Mutual”, or “WAMU”, about two years ago, due so some mismanagement issues.
Recently one evening, Goldilocks was sitting around half-listening to The Rachel Maddow Show, when she was reminded that none of these three specified banks had produced any corporate taxes this last year, and that they had all turned a mighty profit---one that was record-breakingly lucrative since the taxpayers throughout the land had given them enough of a little boost to keep them from failing entirely. She was trying not to feel victimized, but a nagging knot in her stomach kept reminding her of the spiraling monetary vortex into which she had descended.
Here is how it happened:
On 10/12/08, Goldilocks received a letter from Of America informing her that due to a late payment, her credit limit had been lowered from $7,000 to $3,500. This action lowered her credit score and put her debt to the bank over the new limit, causing more fees. She called the next day to explain the late payment to an Of America representative, who was very understanding, encouraging and helpful. Goldy explained that the bill got buried, was neglected for a month, and that a double payment was on the way. The representative researched it while Goldilocks was on hold. When she finally returned, she said that the actual reason (not stated in the letter) was that there was a problem with payments on a part of a HELOC (home equity line of credit) that Goldy and her husband had signed jointly, which had been taken out with Washington Mutual (aka Chase). She asked her to clear this up with WAMU, and that after that, they (WAMU) would get with the credit reporting companies to restore the rating. This is where it gets complicated, but the problem was caused by WAMU, as I will explain:
First, let me mention that the payments for the HELOC were taken out of a joint checking account from WAMU, though Goldy had a separate account from another local bank, and Hubby used the joint account. Hubby wasn’t the best at keeping track of his checking account balance, but he did receive a VA disability check every month for $2,700.00, and out of that, any monthly payments he was responsible for were automatically taken out before the 12th of each month. This was how they’d always set it up, and this included the house payment, the HELOC, and a truck payment. They did this so that no matter what, these payments would always be made.
On Mar. 19 of that year, he received a notice about a payment to WAMU that went into collections. This was without any prior warning from the Bank. It was for a total of about $600. Hubby was never able to explain what it was to Goldilocks’ satisfaction, but it was paid off. Goldy was angry because she thought it would affect her credit rating, and so she went to WAMU with him, where they closed their joint account and opened a new account just for him. At the same time they were informed that there was over $2000 available for a loan on the top of their HELOC. They were looking for funds to keep going on his project of building a shop, so he signed for that, and in their understanding, the payments were to be taken out of his new checking account.
Well, they weren’t . They were being drawn on from their closed account. When Goldy went to check on it, it was explained to her that the $2,000 loan was being treated like a revolving credit card, so the minimum that was due was the interest on it. So every once in a while, Hubby would get a notice that there was $40, $20, or $60 owing, and, because he was uncomfortable dealing with banks, Goldy would rush in and make the payment. She didn’t even know what she was paying for until she finally decided to get pro-active and get some counseling from a WAMU Associate, Misty. Misty looked over the letter from Of America, and since the letter indicated that the lowering of her credit rating was due to a late payment, Misty had a hard time understanding that really, it was due to the problem with the WAMU HELOC. At that time, they reset the automatic payment. Goldy then asked about Misty’s bank’s responsibility to restore her credit score. Misty wrote down some information and sent it to her supervisor; however, to Goldy’s perplexity, she didn’t sound too hopeful. She said she’d do what she could, and told Goldy to expect a letter from their credit department. About a week later, the letter arrived---a survey!! In the meantime, Goldy received a letter from Of America’s Customer Credit Department stating that, as she’d requested, they had reviewed their decision to reduce her credit line. Well, she had requested a review, but she was still in the process of hashing it out with WAMU, so it was too early to be considered at that point.
Finally, Goldilocks received a letter from WAMU dated 10-2, stating that after careful revue, her FICO score could not be restored. This was because the proportion of balances to credit limits was too high (partially due to the lowered limit). Also the time since her most recent account opening was too short, a number of accounts were in delinquency (which they were, since each affected the other). There was also another black mark based on the length of time revolving accounts had been established, which, since the loan was just established, would have only been a few days.
On 10/6, she received a phone call from Carrie at WAMU, asking her to bring in a voided check from her husband’s account so they could SET UP THE AUTOMATIC PAYMENT!!! “What???” thought Goldy. She garnered her civility and went in on 10/9, hoping that the third time was the charm.
From then on, her interest payments went up anywhere from 19% to 29%. At the same time, her own self-employment was dwindling, due, she surmised, to a failing economy.This is the story of Goldilocks and the three banks, whose names were Citi, Chase, and... more
Matt Scruby, WWH – Just in case you’re not feeling sufficiently insecure about your government, the lords of mammon wielding the keys, or any of that these days, consider this, which came as an unwelcome confirmation of facts to me:Matt Scruby, WWH – Just in case you’re not feeling sufficiently insecure... more
Mortgage industry employees are still signing documents they haven’t read and using fake signatures more than eight months after big banks and mortgage companies promised to stop the illegal practices that led to a nationwide halt of home foreclosures.Mortgage industry employees are still signing documents they haven’t read and... more
Extreme Political Agenda, Not Jobs, Behind Budget Cuts Across Country
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Andy Richards on our Field Communications staff highlights the anti-jobs agenda of Republican state and national lawmakers.
Earlier this year, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels sat down with NPR. During the interview, he was asked whether he thought pushing a partisan political agenda that includes deep budget cuts were worth it even if it cost a lot of jobs. He empathetically answered, “Yes.” This zeal for moving extreme partisan policies at all costs has taken hold across the country with anti-working family governors and their political allies. These lawmakers ran on promises of creating jobs but instead are leaving behind massive job loss after passing ideologically-driven budgets with cuts to education, health care and other vital services that hurt working families and local communities.
Take for example Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. Reports show that the punishing budget cuts and partisan agenda of Govs. Scott Walker, John Kasich, Rick Scott and Rick Snyder could cost more than 100,000 jobs. Here are the numbers, state-by-state:
More than 21,000 jobs are likely to be lost because of Gov. Walker’s budget, according to a UW-Madison economist study.
Innovation Ohio estimates Gov. Kasich’s budget will cause the loss of more than 51,000 jobs.
Gov. Scott’s budget would cost well over 14,000 jobs, according to estimates from the St. Peterburg Times.
A report released in Michigan last week shows that nearly 15,000 education jobs because of Gov. Snyder’s budget cuts.
Add the 28,000 jobs lost from the refusal of Walker, Kasich and Scott to build high-speed rail in their states to that total and you are well above 100,000.
But these four states are not the only ones facing expected job loss from painful political choices from of extreme legislators. These numbers only confirm a broader trend happening across the country and in Washington, D.C. Rather than looking at ways to invest in good jobs to revitalize our economy, extreme legislators are continuing to push ideological policies that actually cause job loss and further hurt working families.
Bloomberg News reported this week that a recent study shows that nationally
state government employment is down to early 1999 levels…the lowest since 1976. In May, the state and local government workforce dropped by 30,000, with 17,500 lost jobs coming from the education sector, the report said.” And the worst is yet to come, according to CNN Money, which referenced another study showing that “state and local governments are forecast to shed up to 110,000 jobs in the third quarter…the first time above 100,000 job cuts in just one quarter.
A new report from the Center for American Progress shows that this fanaticism with pushing a partisan agenda to cut vital services is “erroneous.” As Adam Hersh, an economist at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said:
Now these Republicans want the American public to drink a giant glass of their Cut-Grow Kool-Aid. But the data actually show the opposite of their claims to be true: Steep spending cuts are hampering economic recovery in some states, while other states that resisted cuts or increased spending are now seeing declining unemployment rates, faster private-sector job creation, and stronger economic growth.
Federal lawmakers have drunk the Kool-Aid, too. The destructive agenda of out-of-touch lawmakers like Republican Reps. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Eric Cantor (Va.), would cost between 1.7 million and 2.2 million jobs in the first two years if their budget plan took effect, according to reports earlier this year from Moody Analytics and the Economic Policy Institute.
But then, they don’t seem to really care. Here’s House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio):
Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.
http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/07/07/extreme-political-agenda-not-jobs-behind-budget-cuts-across-country/ AFL/CIO BlogExtreme Political Agenda, Not Jobs, Behind Budget Cuts Across Country
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Every night — sometimes late into the night — worried men and women are talking about how to handle their debts. Those people would be your Congressmen.Every night — sometimes late into the night — worried men and women are... more
(this is good news for the people facing foreclosure & those falsely closed upon in foreclosure's by big banks and Mers and could have far reaching implications )
Yves Smith-US Bank Halts Evictions in Oregon After Judge Reverses Foreclosure
Oregon judges have delivered a series of setbacks to servicers and securitization trusts. A recent decision, Hooker v. Northwest Trustee Services, ruled that assignments of the beneficial interest (as in, transfers of the note) needed to be recorded. That makes any foreclosure in the name of the mortgage registry MERS a non-starter, since MERS was never and could never be the holder of the beneficial interest. This will have little impact going forward, since MERS has instructed servicers to stop foreclosing in its name, but there are plenty of foreclosures in the pipeline that were initiated in the name of MERS.
The latest move is that Judge Grand reversed a foreclosure sale due to the failure of the parties representing the lender to satisfy the requirements of Oregon’s recording statute. To put it mildly, foreclosure actions are seldom reversed. The decision is terse but it has wideranging ramifications. The Oregonian provided a good write-up of the case. Key extracts:
A Columbia County judge has blocked U.S. Bank from evicting a Vernonia woman whose home it purchased in foreclosure, concluding in a case with far-reaching implications that her lenders had not properly recorded mortgage documents.
Last week’s action appears to be the first in which an Oregon judge has halted an eviction and declared a foreclosure sale void after the fact. The ruling, if it stands, raises questions about the validity of other recent foreclosures in the state and could create serious problems for lenders and title companies, as well as for buyers of such properties…
A U.S. Bank spokeswoman said the bank would cease further eviction action and assess its “appropriate next steps.”
Nearly all foreclosures in the state occur without a judge’s involvement under so-called nonjudicial proceedings. But this ruling, legal observers say, could potentially divert more foreclosure actions into courtrooms, a more time-consuming and costly proposition that could exacerbate the state’s housing slump.
“This will certainly be problematic for lenders,” said David Ambrose, a Portland real-estate attorney.
It also casts doubt on the validity of already completed foreclosure sales in which lenders resold mortgages without recording the sales in county recorder offices. Many of those questionable transactions, including Flynn’s, involve the Mortgage Electronic Recording System….
The path will remain muddled for the mortgage industry until a definitive case reaches the Oregon Supreme Court or lenders decide to take a different strategy and negotiate settlements with distressed homeowners, real estate attorneys say.
The article has the background of the case and makes clear that this is a qualified win for the borrower, since it is unclear who has title to her condo. She bought it 20 years ago (and therefore has equity in the property) but fell behind on payments after she quit her job and her new business proceeds plus other sources of income weren’t enough for her to stay current.Foreclosure-gate -
(this is good news for the people facing foreclosure & those... more
I'm guessing it won't stream current but you can visit this Greek site and watch the live streaming video now.and here's a companion story on commondreams.com
"It’s All Greek to Them": Populist Backlash Ruptures IMF Status Quo~
by Michelle Chen
They can't avoid political catastrophe, but at least their timing is impeccable. The Hellenic landscape provides a stunning backdrop for the 48-hour general strike, against which the lumpen proletariat, restive revolutionaries, anxious politicians, riot police, even a pro-Palestinian flotilla... all converge in a perfect storm of global and domestic disaster.
Police arrest demonstrators in Athens on Tuesday, June 28, as they protest Greece's new austerity measures. (Milos Bikanski/Getty Images) This is the final push against another round of IMF-imposed aid-for-austerity. The proposed bailout measures, now headed for a parliamentary vote, would push the country toward more agonizing unemployment and social service cuts, on top of the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost last year. Greek workers must also brace for a slew of new taxes, all in the name of averting a bankruptcy that could derail the entire European Union.
While economists debate the academic merits of austerity, the sight of enraged protesters awash in tear gas has come to symbolize populist backlash in an age of austerity. But as Al Jazeera reports, corporate media portrayals have consistently projected an image of lazy workers and savage rabble-rousers. At the same time, reporters continue to regurgitate the International Monetary Fund's official prescription, despite that institution's record of mishandling, if not directly causing, the Eurozone's malaise.
A dispatch from the Nation's Maria Margaronis suggests something different is playing out on the ground:
On the street in front of Parliament, protesters are banging drums, chanting and waving, singing. The crowd is huge, politically diverse and overwhelmingly peaceful. There are people here from all walks of Greek society; at times the rhetoric is that of a national resistance. A neat elderly couple on their first demonstration push through the crush because their pensions have been slashed, prices are rising and they just can’t make ends meet.
Vassilis Papadopoulos, a 50-year-old unemployed truck driver living on loans from his mother, has come all the way from Corinth wrapped in a giant Greek flag, with a look of despair in his eyes and saucepans to bang together. This is a movement, he says, against the political system:
“They’ve all cheated us. They destroyed the banks, our pension funds. They invested our social security money in bonds for their own benefit.”
Farther down, in the square itself, something entirely new seems to be taking shape. A tent village has sprung up, a liberated zone in which an open conversation has been going on for weeks. University professors, passers-by, unemployed laborers, all get their three minutes with the microphone. There’s a medical tent, a “time bank,” a “team to promote calm.”
When riot police cleared the square with clubs on the night of June 15, these protesters didn’t fight. They simply walked right back, picked up the rubbish and repaired their neighborhood.
Though the economy was largely paralyzed, in a sense, everyone kept working as they channeled a kinetic collective energy, reports Al Jazeera:
Apart from the metro, no public transport was operating in Athens and the streets were relatively empty. But in an 11th-hour U-turn, metro drivers joined other employees on the subway system who decided not to strike "so as to allow Athenians to join the planned protests in the capital".
Protesters have been joined by doctors, ambulance drivers, journalists and even actors at a state-funded theatre.
But although the aesthetics of militant communists marching alongside potbellied unionists evoke a refreshingly old-school atmosphere, ominous clouds are gathering over Athens. Already entangled with the Euro and shackled to the roiling global markets, Greece's poor and working-class are bound to lose no matter how Parliament votes. The government is in shambles and neither international institutions nor local leaders seem to offer the credibility, ingenuity or political will to push for comprehensive reshaping of the financial framework.
Protesters aren't just incensed by a ruling elite that tightens its belt around the necks of the poor. When the government's economic rescue plan involves literally “selling itself off to the highest bidder”—attempting to shed debt by privatizing public assets—citizens realize that it's not just their pensions, but their national identity and democracy itself, that are at stake.
A fiery middle-aged surgeon-turned-activist, Dimitris Antoniou, explained his legal challenge to the Greek government in May:
Antoniou says that the terms of the loan agreement with the troika of the EU, IMF, and the ECB, are illegal. He says the three must be consulted in any changes to the Greek legislature - in order to get its emergency bailout loan, the government had to agree to change the country's labor laws and pension system - which should be the job of the Greek parliament. ...
He compares the loan agreement to the occupation of Greece by Germany during the Second World War. "Nothing has changed, only the weapons. This time the weapons are the terms of the loan agreement."
The reading of the law may be up for debate, but it starkly reveals the depth of Greece's sense of humiliation and disenfranchisement. At the same time, Margaronis observes that such bitterness can explode into xenophobia and senseless violence. Greek society, which is struggling through an immigration crisis as well as economic woes, is at the brink of unraveling or rebirth.
The media imagery of the Greek protests contrasts ironically with that of the sister uprisings in the Arab world. While the Greek protests have been presented as self-interested backlash by beneficiaries of the “bloated” welfare state, the Arab Spring rallies projected Westernized and well-educated youth seeking democracy and freedom. Though all these snapshots capture at least some of the zeitgeist, the true picture of these movements embody both class and political revolt. Labor has helped fuel grassroots mobilization across Egypt, while Greeks demand an accountable leadership, not just economic relief.
On either side of the Mediterranean is a shared frustration that the powers that be are playing on fear of “chaos” to co-opt and gut civil society. On the political and economic fronts, people are tired of being asked to trade their dignity for survival.I'm guessing it won't stream current but you can visit this Greek site and... more
– On Saturday, June 25, 2011, US Uncut NYC brought their pillows, sleeping bags, and pjs to Bank of America at 90-53 Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens.– On Saturday, June 25, 2011, US Uncut NYC brought their pillows, sleeping bags,... more
The epic battle between the sheeple mass media conglomerate & Real News ...In the red corner we have in black and red trunks its news soundbites of infotainment , and in the blue corner in white trunks its the real news that is important and we need to know. The news that is not seen or reported at all..Now Lets get ready tooooo....RUMBLE!. this is frickin where its at and funny too..sheeple news coming to you!The epic battle between the sheeple mass media conglomerate & Real News ...In the... more
Information leaked from government hacked websites reveal that the US domestic spy program has infiltrated every facet of our society both online and offline. The information revealed in the data leaks reveal that companies that we use on a daily basis and have come to rely on in our modern society, companies that we would never suspect, are in spying on us for the FBI. In fact a wide range of companies have been revealed to be spying on us from our healthcare providers, medical insurance companies and hardware stores to companies that provide payroll services, accounting services, financial services, credit card companies, banks, data centers, human resource companies and web hosting companies and every kind of company in between.
In fact the FBI has domestic spies in 350 Fortune 500 companies and even operates in real estate companies, job search websites, employment staffing services, public schools and colleges, music sharing websites and even sites that report on the location of underground parties and raves.
Less shocking is that the Spy Program has been designed in a way to allow the Feds operate outside the laws of the US Constitution, entirely side stepping the 4th amendment which protects individuals against illegal search and seizure by requiring the government to obtain a warrant.
(http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/06/24/latest-hacker-release-reveals-feds-domestic-spy-program-grown-wildest-nightmares-30221/lots more at link and source material)Information leaked from government hacked websites reveal that the US domestic spy... more
Posted by Sell on News in Australian Economy on Jun 26th, 2011 | 39 comments
The climate change proponents are clear on the matter. We need a “price” on carbon so the market can set about fixing the problem. Great. More derivatives. Exactly what we don’t need and yet another excuse to avoid the difficult job of governing. Consider what happened when there was a “price” on risk, perfected in the 1970s by Fischer Black and Myron Scholes.
Did this lead to the reduction of risk?
Hardly, it led to the opposite. Myron Scholes was a principal of Long Term Capital Management, which nearly destroyed the global financial system in 1998. No lessons were learned and we eventually ended up with the GFC, which is still not over.
The analogy between the pricing of risk and the pricing of carbon is not a tight one. The pricing of risk cannot remove risk, it can only shift it to another place. Theoretically, carbon emissions could be greatly removed, or at least reduced, by making them expensive enough. But there is a critical similarity, which leads me to my pessimism. Both are working from within the system to change how the system behaves. They are endogenous not exogenous, as it were. Which is why they will not work. Because what is needed is governance, something outside the system acting on it to make it change in the right way.
It is such government that is so hopelessly lacking, both in the financial sphere and the climate debate. In the wake of the GFC all the government-driven solutions have been attempts to fix things from within. That is why the stock of derivatives remains twice the capital stock of the world, and why a second crisis is inevitable at some point.
The same is looking likely with the climate change problem. Rather than concentrating on what matters — the collective intent required to change our industrial systems so that they do not pollute, which will require new technologies and new systems — we have degenerated into arguments about models. How accurate are the scientists’ models? How accurate are the economists’ models? The problem is pushed from being a human problem, from how new choices can be made, to being considered a technical problem. Something that can only be fixed by those who understand the technicalities of markets and climate systems.
Leaving aside the obvious fact that no-one understands either adequately — how can scientists, in all seriousness, claim to predict, using their linear computer models, something as non-linear and complex as the climate; it is surely an enormous exercise in collective hubris — it is not a technical problem. It is a matter of collective will. And government in the West have given up on trying to influence that, for about half a century. This is brilliantly documented by Adam Curtis in his superb series “The Power of Nightmares” and “Pandora’s Box”.
Politicians, having failed to inspire with vision, now win elections using fear. They have given up governing and instead concentrate on market research into people’s fear. What better example of the grubby results than the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia? As Malcolm Fraser pointed out last night, the grubby political race to beat up on refugees treats most of us voters with contempt. And that contempt is now the order of the day from governments. The human element — matters like responsibility, will, collective morality — are pushed to the side in favour of technocracy.
It need not be this way. In the 1990s the councillors of the city of Woking decided to go against the tide and do some governing. Using 1990s technology, the city decoupled from the grid and reduced emissions by more than 70 per cent and reduced power costs by changing the systems and using tri-generation (capturing emissions and re-using them for heating and cooling). It is not being applied in London and Sydney and could be applied in any urban environment.
The crucial element is not the technology or the price or the tax arrangements or the trading mechanics. It is government and leadership. A willingness to insist that the current system is too polluting and to change the system. People may argue about the climate change forecasts but they do not argue about pollution. Virtually everyone agrees that current industrial systems are unsustainable and pollution must be progressively removed.
The technologies are available, for example BlueGen, but government has to lead. Instead governments are passing it off to “the market” and “regulators”, thus avoiding responsibility. There will be no “picking winners” either, because “why would government ever be able to do anything right?”
It will not work. The operators of the centralised power grids have an enormous vested interest in keeping things as they are and will go to great lengths to stop innovation. Disappointingly, China is building cities that are on the twentieth century, centralised, model of power generation rather than a twenty first, distributive, structure.
How is it likely to end? Probably some series of natural disasters that eventually force us to change our systems. At least in the meantime investment bankers can make lots of money out of carbon trading.
http://figrd.blogspot.comPosted by Sell on News in Australian Economy on Jun 26th, 2011 | 39 comments
Much ink has been spilled about the increase of wealth at the top. This graphic comes from the Guardian (hat tip Merrill K, click to enlarge):
From the related article:
In the world of the well-heeled, the rich are referred to as “high net worth individuals” (HNWIs) and defined as people who have more than $1m (£620,000) of free cash.
According to the annual world wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, the wealth of HNWIs around the world reached $42.7tn (£26.5tn) in 2010, rising nearly 10% in a year and surpassing the peak of $40.7tn reached in 2007, even as austerity budgets were implemented by many governments in the developed world.
The report also measures a category of “ultra-high net worth individuals” – those with at least $30m rattling around, looking for a home. The number of individuals in this super-rich bracket climbed 10% to a total of 103,000, and the total value of their investments jumped by 11.5% to $15tn, demonstrating that even among the rich, the richest get richer quicker. Altogether they represent less than 1% of the world’s HNWIs – but they speak for 36% of HNWI’s total wealth.Yves Smith-
Much ink has been spilled about the increase of wealth at the top. This... more
By Ian Millhiser on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:40 am
In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) — the lead sponsor of a bill which would strip Supreme Court justices of their immunity from a code of ethical conduct that applies to other federal judges — suggests that an investigation may be necessary to determine whether Justice Clarence Thomas’ many ethics scandals rise to the level where Thomas is no longer fit to serve on the nation’s highest Court:
QUESTION: Do you think what Thomas has done is as serious as what forced [disgraced former Supreme Court Justice Abe] Fortas off the bench?
MURPHY: I think our problem is we don’t know the full extent of Justice Thomas’ connections to [leading GOP donor] Harlan Crow, or, frankly, to a further network of right-wing funders. What he’s done is incredibly serious. I think, at the very least, his actions should disqualify him from sitting on any cases in which Crow-affiliated organizations are parties to or have attempted to influence [the Court]. But this is starting to rise to the level where there should start to be some real investigations as to whether Clarence Thomas can continue to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court. (original article link below )
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m5qO_twuygBy Ian Millhiser on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:40 am
In an exclusive interview with... more
Florida continues to show a rather disconcerting willingness to throw its citizens’ rights under the bus to help the banks. The state created special foreclosure courts to clear up a substantial backlog, which might not have been such a bad idea if they had been properly implemented. However, they were staffed with retired judges, many of whom seemed to put speed over due process. There have been numerous reports of judges refusing to hear motions or evidence presented by borrowers, to the point where the ACLU contested the procedures used as violations of due process.
To some degree, this has become moot since these kangaroo courts are expected to be shuttered (they required an extension of funding to continue). Moreover, new foreclosure filings have slowed in Florida as a result of the robo-signing scandal. The revelation of widespread abuses by banks has led some judges to dismiss cases with dubious documentation; judges are also complaining that banks are seldom coming to hearings on foreclosure cases.
Never fear, with government bought and paid for in America, someone was certain to try a fix. The Florida governor has, in effect, suggested that if banks can’t meet the existing requirements for foreclosure, then the solution obviously is to lower them. From a Daily Business Review article on a speech Florida governor Rick Scott made to the state bar association (hat tip Lisa Epstein):
The governor called on judges and lawyers to look for ways to cut court costs, improve efficiency and clear up the foreclosure backlog “as quickly as possible.” The clogging of the courts by foreclosure cases is discouraging businesses interested in moving to Florida, Scott’s main priority, he said.
“It scares people … and is clearly having an impact on the economy,” he said. “I’m looking for The Bar to come forward with suggestions on how to clear this up. Maybe we should consider nonjudicial foreclosures.”
Scott encouraged judges to carefully review verdicts to look for “meritless” cases.
“If we have a huge verdict that seems ridiculous, that adversely impacts companies who want to come to this state,” he said.
The connection between a foreclosure overhang and companies’ willingness to move to Florida seems pretty strained (and who are these business champing to relocate to Florida, anyhow? The idea that this is a meaningful number of entities in a weak economy sounds like wishful thinking). Scott presumably subscribes to the widely-discredited Mellonite logic that foreclosing rather than trying to do deep principal mods for borrowers that have viable incomes and flooding the market with foreclosure sales would somehow be an economic plus.
And look how he would like to square the circle: by turning Florida from a judicial foreclosure state (where the foreclosure has to be approved by the courts) to a non-judicial foreclosure stat (where the lender merely has to advertise the pending foreclosure and can then foreclose if the owner does not go to court to oppose the action). The good news is I am pretty sure this is easier said than done (lawyers please pipe up).more at link and sourcesFlorida continues to show a rather disconcerting willingness to throw its... more
(Anyone else reminded of the Legion of Doom?)figg
By Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
While Herman Van Rompuy, the EU president, has described his "Europa building" as a "jewel box", David Cameron has been less enthusiastic dubbing it a "gilded cage".
But perhaps even more unfortunate is the moniker the edifice, which will house Mr Van Rompuy's presidential office and be home to future Brussels summits from 2014, has earned from EU officials.
Built as a state of the art glass and wood wing to an existing Art Deco building, the complex will be focused around a womblike central structure providing a home for summits and meetings of Brussels officials or diplomats.
And it this organic looking "urn" shape has already been nicknamed the "E-Uterus" by Council of the EU officials who will be working in the new building.
"It looks like a womb and, I am sure, many grand visions of Europe will be birthed from there," quipped one official.
The building was unveiled to EU leaders by Mr Van Rompuy in a 14-page slick colour prospectus, produced at a cost of £100,000, when they sat down to a Brussels summit dinner on Thursday night formally dedicated to imposing a savage austerity programme on Greece.
Before discussing the Greek debt crisis that has threatened the existence of the euro, Mr Van Rompuy surprised EU leaders, who were tucking into a starter of scallops with artichoke vinaigrette, by trumpeting the venue, due to open in 2014, which will come complete with a "colourful woven carpet" to represent "European diversity".
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, expressed his anger at the promotion of a grandiose Brussels project at a moment when EU leaders were supposed to be taking tough decisions that would lead to painful austerity measures imposed on millions of people.
"When you see a document being circulated, a great glossy brochure about some great new building for the European Council to sit in, it is immensely frustrating. You do wonder if these institutions get what every country, what every member of the public, is having to go through as we cut budgets and try make our finances add up," he said.
"I do think it's important as we do that that the politicians aren't sitting in some gilded cage asking everyone else to take responsibility."
Bill Cash, chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee said: "We need an investigation into the extravagance and the cost of this Aladdin's palace. It is a cross between the bonfire of the vanities and Kafka's Castle."
Over the last 14 years, EU leaders, ministers and diplomats have been meeting in a building called the Justus Lipsius which is regarded as too cramped and drab to represent a body that has grown from 15 member states to 27.
The complex of buildings will also house the offices of Mr Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, a job created by the Lisbon Treaty.
Mr Cameron, who had dined the night before with other leaders on black cod with onion ragout washed down with a 2009 Sancerre wine, said that he regretted that the decision, taken seven years ago, to build a new EU venue could not be reversed.
"I've only been to this building seven times in the last year but it seems to me to be to do a perfectly good job. The microphones work, there is plenty of room and the food isn't bad either," he said.
With almost 27,000 sq metres of floor space, the new edifice is the latest development in a burgeoning post-Lisbon Treaty euro quarter in Brussels.
It will be a new environmentally friendly addition to the existing Residence Palace, built in the 1920s to houses luxury apartments for officials, commercial offices, a private theatre, swimming pool and restaurants.
The palace was requisitioned in 1940 as the headquarters of the German army during the Nazi occupation of Belgium during the Second World War.
Emma Boon of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "We're cutting back at home and we can't afford more ludicrous spending by Eurocrats. This is yet more evidence that we shouldn't hand any more money to Europe, they're already wasting the millions we give them each day." (more pics at site of the E-Uterus)LOL :/ sorta(Anyone else reminded of the Legion of Doom?)figg
By Bruno Waterfield, Brussels... more
by Tom Mellen
Greek power company chiefs told citizens to prepare for longer power cuts today as employees maintained an open-ended anti-austerity strike for the fifth consecutive day.
Public Power Corporation (DEH) bosses warned that the blackouts "will be of longer duration" because the action by organised employees has now forced about 4,770 megawatts of capacity offline - around 4 per cent of the company's capacity.
Power blackouts are now being implemented between 11am and 4pm in mainland Greece, between 8.30pm and 10.30pm on Crete and between 7.30pm and 10.30pm on Rhodes.
The Genop-DEH union kicked off the open-ended action on Monday in a bid to prevent the unpopular government going ahead with plans to sell its controlling stake in the utility.
The sell-off is part of a €50 billion (£44bn) privatisation drive that the Papandreou administration's European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors have foisted on the country.
DEH bosses have filed a legal request for the strike to be declared illegal which, if approved, would force staff to return to work.
MPs are scheduled to vote on the DEH sell-off as well as a related €28bn (£25bn) "mid-term programme" by Thursday.
Members of Greece's two major umbrella unions, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Confederation (ADEDY), will ramp up pressure on MPs by joining their GENOP-DEH allies on the picket lines on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The GSEE said in a statement that it "rejects the Mid-Term programme" and expects ministers to "implement and respect collective labour agreements and halt the sell-off of public utilities and other state-owned assets."
In a separate announcement ADEDY accused the government and the EU, IMF and European Central Bank of "following a destructive path for workers and society" and called on civil servants to participate in the strike mobilisation.
The action will hit all government agencies, including public transport and domestic and international flights.
http://figrd.blogspot.comby Tom Mellen
Greek power company chiefs told citizens to prepare for longer... more