Cat Report from M15; Global Day of Action Against Austerity
At 4pm today OWSr’s met at Bryant park and had a “criminal” tour of midtown. Stopping by various locations of Corporate criminals and mic checking out the facts of that Corporation.
At 6pm Occupy gathered at Times Sq at the Red Bleachers, althought NYPD had the bleachers barricaded. A couple of hundred would show in total with the usual banners, signs & guitars, handing out fliers.
The festivities began with a very good guitar solo of The Cranberries, Zombie In Your Head, by “Lauren”. NYPD was well behaved. Not 1 arrest or altercation occurred.
At 7pm there was a countdown from 10 to 1 then everyone sat down and read together a short description of the kind of world they want to live in. Then a few stood and mic checked to the crowd their experiences with debt, taxes, senior citizens being evicted. One older man stood up for taxes, attributing taxes to his Social Security benefits.
Tourists and onlookers took pictures and video. OWS then began the march to Bryant Pk encouraging bystanders to “out of the shops, into the streets!”
Slogan: 1, We are the people 2, we are united 3, this occupation is not leaving!”
•Occupy INUNDATES Morgan Stanley Corp Meeting
•Are Minnesota Cops Drugging Occupy?
•AP: Photographer Acquitted in Occupy Arrest
Obama In The Nooze
LA Times: Analysis: Gay marriage decision not working in Obama’s favor so far
•NYT: Homeowners Screwed One More Time: Borrowers Of Fraudulent Loans Ripped Off Again
Hundreds of millions of dollars meant to provide a little relief to the nation’s struggling homeowners is being diverted to plug state budget gaps.
In a budget proposed this week, California joined more than a dozen states that want to help close gaping shortfalls using money paid by the nation’s biggest banks and earmarked for foreclosure prevention, investigations of financial fraud and blunting the ill effects of the housing crisis. California was awarded more than $400 million from the banks, and Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed using the bulk of that sum to pay the state’s debts.
The money was part of a national settlement valued at $25 billion and negotiated with five big banks over abuses in their mortgage and foreclosure processes.
The settlement, reached in February after a year of talks and intervention by the Obama administration, was the second-largest in history involving the states, trailing the tobacco industry settlement, and represented the first large-scale commitment by banks to provide direct aid to borrowers.
Greek Government Collapses, New Elections Coming
ATHENS — Greek political leaders said Tuesday that they had failed to find consensus to form a government, pushing the rudderless country to new elections amid political instability and volatility in financial markets that could push Greece to abandon the euro. Markets immediately dropped on the news, and the euro’s value declined.
President Karolos Papoulias was expected to make plans for a caretaker government on Wednesday that would lead to new elections in a month. He is being forced to act by the failure of a last-ditch attempt to form a unity government aimed at keeping Greece in the euro zone and forcing it to honor its commitments to the foreign lenders who are keeping the country afloat.
The debate in Europe About Europe
Guardian: Financial markets are hastily making preparations for a Greek exit from the euro after a day of political and economic turmoil ended with Europe’s policy elite admitting for the first time that it may prove impossible to keep the single currency intact.
Stefano Lepri – LLa Stampa, Italy: Greek crisis: The euro exit is a bluff
As speculation rages about a Greek exit from the eurozone, we must grasp that the country cannot survive without the single currency and that Europe cannot afford to let it leave. That’s why everyone should put their cards openly on the table.
The voters’ verdict is already in across several countries and regions: the cure based strictly on austerity within the eurozone has failed. What needs to be done now is to take that reality on board and to start negotiations that promise to be trying and that may lead to awkward compromises.
Greece, though, must be ready for anything. And it must distinguish between the reality and the threats and blackmail that are flying about at the moment.
Return of the drachma
Point one. Greece cannot survive on its own. Without the aid from Europe and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it will very soon run out of money to pay its civil servants’ salaries and to import what it needs for survival, starting with food and oil.
Point two. After the restructuring imposed on private creditors, almost half of Greece’s debt is today held by Europe and the International Monetary Fund. If Greece doesn’t pay, therefore, it will be mainly the taxpayers in the eurozone – i.e. all of us, at a thousand euros each, according to a rough estimate – who will be out of pocket.
Point three. The return to the drachma would be advantageous only in the imagination of poorly informed economists, mostly Americans. It now transpires that the George Papandreou government had commissioned a study that showed that even the two sectors that bring Greece its most significant revenues, tourism and shipping, would not be much better off with a devalued currency.
Point four. The real unknown is what collateral damage – apart from the failure to pay its debt – a possible bankruptcy of Greece would cause other countries in the eurozone. First of all, the spread with German treasury bonds could only go up. Certainly, the consequences would not have the same weight for everyone, falling harder on small countries, starting with Portugal, then Spain and Italy, and lighter on Germany.
JP Morgan Chase Conundrum
•** BBC: JPMorgan’s Dimon wins pay backing **
The head of JPMorgan Chase, the biggest US bank, is backed by shareholders days after it revealed a $2bn (£1.2bn) trading blunder.
•Daily Beast: Quit Now, Jamie Dimon!
J.P. Morgan board members backed CEO Jamie Dimon Tuesday even as the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the events that led to a $2 billion loss at the investment bank. The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky says Dimon has admitted his negligence, but he should quit now if he wants anyone to believe Wall Street has changed its ways.
*WP:Justice Deparment Opens Criminal Investigation
LBN: Warning Signs ignored
NY Times reported Risk managers and senior investment bankers reportedly expressed concern over the risky bets being made at JPMorgan Chase in the years leading up to the company’s $2 billion trading loss.
I ask the NY Times: So, WHY were these practices by this high profile bank NEVER COVERED over all those years?
Insiders say bosses, including CEO Jamie Dimon, were more concerned with gigantic losses coming from bad mortgages and new regulations threatening the profitability of traditional banking, and this led to a culture of weaker risk management. There was a lopsided situation, between really risky positions and relatively weaker risk managers, one former trader told The New York Times. Meanwhile, reports indicate that the bank may be reclaiming bonuses from employees involved in the snafu, including former chief investment officer Ina Drew, who resigned on Monday as a result of the loss.
Institute for Public Accuracy: Comments On The JP Morgan Debacle
•Stephany Griffith Jones is Financial Markets Program Director at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University. With José Antonio Ocampo, and Joseph E. Stiglitz she co-edited “Time for a Visible Hand: Lessons from the 2008 World Financial Crisis.” She says:
“Two billion dollar losses in JPMorgan give us further confirmation of the need to regulate the financial system much more, particularly increasing transparency of derivatives, forcing all derivatives on exchanges, and tightening the Volcker rule. Dilution of regulation by financial interests must be resisted strongly. More radical questions need to be asked: whether such complex financial activity, where risks are impossible to measure, and with no positive effect on the real economy, should be allowed at all?”
•William K Black is now an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and the author of “The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.”
His view on CNN: “Financial institutions such as JPMorgan love to buy derivatives because they are opaque, create fictional income that leads to real bonuses and when (not if) they suffer losses so large that they would cause the bank to fail, they will be bailed out. The Dodd-Frank Act’s Volcker Rule was designed to solve the problem.
“However, JPMorgan led the effort to gut the Volcker Rule and the provision that requires transparency. JPMorgan is the world’s largest proprietary purchaser of financial derivatives — precisely what the Volcker Rule sought to end. The bank claims that it does not engage in proprietary trading and that it purchases derivatives solely to hedge. That claim is an example of what Stephen Colbert meant when he invented the term: ‘truthiness.’
“A hedge is an investment that offsets losses in another investment. JPMorgan’s supposed hedges aren’t hedges under accounting rules because they haven’t been shown to perform as hedges. JPMorgan bought tens of billions of dollars of derivatives that increased its losses rather than reduced them. It calls these anti-hedges ‘hedges’ — in other words, it practiced ‘hedginess.’” http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/14/opinion/black-jpmorgan-banks/index.html?hpt=hp_c3
•Gerald Epstein, a founding co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
He just wrote the piece: “Standing Up to Jamie Dimon: Is it Safe?” which states: “How do we stand up to Jamie Dimon and the other tax payer subsidized bankers that use the privileged position of tax payer underwritten banks to engage in risky activity that harms the real economy and generates massive salaries and bonuses for the bankers (Ina Drew is reportedly in line to make $14 million this year).
“First, we must unmask the Republican and Democratic politicians that have actively served to eviscerate the Dodd-Frank rules on proprietary trading, derivatives and swaps regulations and other parts of the Dodd-Frank regulations, in the name of job creation and liquidity enhancement. The regulators at the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission and others must be badgered to write and enforce rules that implement strict enforcement of the Dodd-Frank rules against proprietary trading, controls over derivatives…
“But such provisions will not be enough because banks will eventually find ways around them and continue to act like the world is one big casino and ponzi palace. There is increasing recognition by economists and public officials that the too big to fail banks need to be cut down to size. Senator Sherrod Brown has introduced the SAFE banking act” http://triplecrisis.com/standing-up-to-jamie-dimon-is-it-safe
negotiations that promise to be trying and that may lead to awkward compromises.
•Congressional Candidate Norman Solonom Reminds US
“Both Republican and Democratic leaders are to blame. The head of JPMorgan Chase — whose pay package last year was $23 million — is Jamie Dimon, a Democrat with close ties to party leaders. He is a major foe of Wall Street reform.
In 1999, it was a Democratic White House working with a Republican Congress that pushed to end the successful Glass-Steagall Act, which for 65 years had set up a firewall separating commercial banks from speculative Wall Street investment banks. Heralded as a shining example of “bipartisanship” at the time, it facilitated mergers that created too-big-to-fail banking institutions and ultimately led to the 2008 crash, from which we are still trying to recover. Was that type of bipartisanship worth the layoffs, foreclosures and budget deficits now hobbling our economy? Of course not.
•Atlantic: When Powerful Women in Business Are Punished
New Storms In Washington Coming
•Here We Go Again: GOP Promises New Disruptive Guerilla War Style Debt Ceiling Battle
• Defense Sense: Options for National Defense Savings in Fiscal Year 2013
A team of defense analysts from the Project on Defense Alternatives and the Cato Institute have just posted a report that points the way to reducing the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense budget by $17 billion to $18 billion. The report’s 18 recommendations will likely figure in Congressional efforts to amend the National Defense Authorization Act, beginning this week.
• Fluent: ‘Senate renews Export-Import Bank’
•†he Hill: Sen. McCain huddles with Dems on campaign finance reform
Sen. John McCain is talking with Democrats about a joint effort to require outside groups that have spent millions of dollars on this year’s elections to disclose their donors.
McCain (R-Ariz.), once Congress’s leading champion of campaign finance reform, has kept a low profile on the issue in recent years.
•David Lindorff: White House & Dems Back Banks over Protests: Newly Discovered Homeland
Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Crackdown
A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of
filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly
evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt
and crush the Occupy Movement.
The new documents, which PCJF National Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
insists “are likely only a subset of responsive materials,” in the
possession of federal law enforcement agencies, only “scratch the surface of
a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with
‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal
officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement.”
Nonetheless, blacked-out and limited though they are, she says they offer
clues to the extent of the government’s concern about and focus on the wave
of occupations that spread across the country beginning with last
September’s Occupy Wall Street action in New York City.
The latest documents reveal “intense involvement” by the DHS’s so-called
National Operations Center (NOC). In its own literature, the DHS describes
the NOC as “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational
awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information
sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of
terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.”
The DHS says that the NOC is “the primary conduit for the White House
Situation Room” and that it also “facilitates information sharing and
operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal,
non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”
•BBC: ** Mladic to face genocide charges **
Bosnian Serb former General Ratko Mladic goes on trial in The Hague on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide.
ICH Global Views
Bill Quigley: Five Reasons Drone Assassinations Are Illegal
These killings would be criminal acts if they occurred inside the US. Does it make legal sense that these killings would be legal outside the US?
Peter Phillips, Desperate Times Demand Revolutionary Measures
Do we understand that habeas corpus is no longer a legal protection in the US or that the US president can torture and kill American citizens, let along anyone in the world?
CJR on Where The Money Goes: TV Scandal Is Part of The Money In Politics Scandal
“We’re sympathetic to the argument that part of the windfall that local TV outlets gather during the campaign season ought to be returned, to some degree, to the public in the form of stronger political reporting. But airtime is a limited commodity and ad purchases are unevenly distributed—or stopped on a dime. At the Swing States Project, Erika Fry explains just who will reap the vast harvest of political advertising dollars in 2012
Undernews: Link Between Charter Schools and ALEC
National Association of Charter School Authorizers Outed as ALEC Funder
NACSA is the most visible and well-heeled of the corporate charter front groups posing as a professional organization dedicated to quality and oversight of charter schools. What they were, and are, is the corporate cadillac of lobbying and pressure charter privateers laser-focused on removing any barrier at the national, state, or local level to expanding school privatization via charter school.
NACSA also gets millions from cash-starved states, who hand over part of their federal grant money to fund NACSA, where big chunks of the cash have been funneled to ALEC to buy legislation and access.
This is the perfect example of federal dollars going to states, where it is then handed over to ALEC to buy public officials so that ALEC’s patrons can lay waste to the public fund. Of course, we should add that the federal dollars at the front end of this chain are targeted by those same plutocratic patrons who are the back end of that same chain.
Great investigative work by a non-corporate media outlet, Republic Report, outed NACSA on Saturday. Yesterday, they announced their subscription to ALEC will expire next month
More Earths Needed, writes one reader
We Need More Earths
2.5 BILLION Chinese and Indians want to consume as much as just a few hundred million Westerners. Get your telescopes out and search the night time sky for 2 or 3 EXTRA Earths, I’ve been looking for them for over 20 yrs.now since Lester Brown said we’d need a few earths worth of resources to supply just the Chinese, as of now I haven’t seen any and I’m still on the look out.
Carlos Fuentes, Presente
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Author Carlos Fuentes, who played a dominant role in Latin America’s novel-writing boom by delving into the failed ideals of the Mexican revolution, died Tuesday in a Mexico City hospital. He was 83.
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Mexican media reported Fuentes died at the Angeles del Pedregal hospital, where he was being treated for heart problems. The loss was immediately mourned worldwide via Twitter and across Mexican airwaves.
A message on President Felipe Calderon’s Twitter account said “I deeply lament the death of our beloved and admired Carlos Fuentes, a universal Mexican writer.”
Fuentes himself tweeted only one day, March 19, 2011, his last saying: “There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it.”
•LA Times Shutting Down Its Magazine
Shelly Palmer: Cyber War Now Pervasive
“In the past year, one in seven large organisations detected hackers within their systems.” This is the highest level recorded, said the recently released PwC 2012 Information Security Breaches Survey. It was completed in conjunction with Infosecurity Europe and supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The survey goes on to say; “This year’s results show that security breaches remain at historically high levels, costing UK plc billions of pounds every year.”
The additional summary stats are compelling as well:
The average large organisation faces a significant outsider attack every week – small businesses one a month.
20% of organisations spend less than 1% of their IT budget on information security.
Customer impersonation up threefold since 2008 – financial services affected most
This survey is Euro-centric, but the stats are similar all over the free world. Between good old-fashioned hackers, Anonymous and other self-described “hacktivist” groups, the world is becoming a much more dangerous place.
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