Monday, October 31, 2011

Judges Are for Sale -- and Special Interests Are Buying

By ADAM COHEN | – 15 hrs ago
The Occupy Wall Street movement is shining a spotlight on how much influence big-money interests have with the White House and Congress. But people are not talking about how big money is also increasingly getting its way with the courts, which is too bad. It's a scandal that needs more attention. A blistering new report details how big business and corporate lobbyists are pouring money into state judicial elections across the country and packing the courts with judges who put special interests ahead of the public interest.

A case in point: West Virginia. In 2007, the West Virginia Supreme Court, on a 3-2 vote, threw out a $50 million damage award against the owner of a coal company. Funny thing: the man who would have had to pay the $50 million had spent $3 million to help elect the justice who cast the deciding vote. The West Virginia ruling was so outrageous that in 2009 the United States Supreme Court overturned it. But that was unusual. In most cases, judges are free to decide cases involving individuals and groups that have paid big money to get them elected. (MORE: Justice on Display: Should Judges Deliberate in Public?)
Student Loans: The Debt You Carry for Life

Wednesday, 10/26/2011 - 12:48 pm by Mike Konczal

Garnishing Social Security to pay off student debt ensures that the economic crisis will haunt today’s graduates well into their retirement.
Put on your monocle and top hat and pretend you are part of the 1% for a minute. Your first task is to write a set of legal codes about the collection of debt in this country, specifically student debt. And you want to be kind of a jerk about it. What’s the one thing you could do for student debt that you don’t do for any other type of debt, one that would radically shift the relationship between student loan creditors and debtors both practically and symbolically?
The mayor's millionaire club

Who has access to Rahm Emanuel’s inner sanctum

By Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke
The third week of July was a busy time for Mayor Rahm Emanuel—he was working with police brass to reassign cops, announcing a competition between city workers and private firms to provide recycling pickup, and, of course, battling teachers over implementing a longer school day

But he still found an hour to slip away for breakfast at the exclusive Chicago Club with a couple of millionaire bankers—Bill Downe, the CEO of the Bank of Montreal, and Mark Furlong, the CEO of Harris Bank.

That might not seem like much time. But it amounted to one of the longest meetings of the week in the dusk-to-dawn schedule of the mayor who can't sit still.
Why now?

ASK THIS | October 25, 2011

Glenn Greenwald writes that protests are sweeping America because it has become obvious that the wealth of the top 1% is the byproduct not of risk-taking entrepreneurship, but of corrupted control of our legal and political systems.

By Glenn Greenwald

As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow, it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all, severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States. In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is part of the design of the American founding -- indeed, an integral part of it.

Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression. This is not, however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates for three decades.

Dorian Warren: Politics to Blame for Income Inequality

Friday, 10/28/2011 - 1:10 pm by Bryce Covert
In case Occupy Wall Street hasn’t focused you on income inequality, a new report from the CBO documented just how bad things have gotten. Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren joined Lawrence O’Donnell on The Last Word to discuss how this could happen. “Most explanations of this are that it’s the economy, it’s the labor market, but in fact this is due to politics and policy,” he says.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

America's Tilt to the Top: The Deepest Stats Yet

How the Bitter Elitists at Fox News Keep Trying -- And Failing -- to Dampen Support for Occupy Wall Street

Another day, another Fox News attempt to smear the Occupy Wall Street movement. This time they've resurrected their favorite bogeyman, ACORN.

October 27, 2011  |   Fox News has been feverishly trying to dampen the viral growth of OWS ever since the movement sprouted in a park in Lower Manhattan about a month ago. Fox's overt hostility is in sharp contrast to the love affair they had with the Tea Party. Now Fox is slandering decent and passionate protesters as communists, whining about class war, comparing them to hippies, accusing them of violence, and associating them with Nazis. All of these attacks have collapsed from the weight of their own dishonesty, and support continues to grow for the movement. But does that stop Fox News?
Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation With Iran: Why?

by Mark Weisbrot

The Obama administration announced two weeks ago that a bumbling Iranian-American used car salesman had conspired with a U.S. government agent posing as a representative of Mexican drug cartels, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. This brought highly skeptical reactionsfrom experts here across the political spectrum.

But even if some of this tale turns out to be true, the handling of such accusations is inherently political. For example, the U.S. government’s 9/11 commission investigated the links between the attackers and the Saudi ruling family, but refused to make public the results of that investigation. The reason is obvious: there is dirt there and Washington doesn’t want to create friction with a key ally. And keep in mind that this is about complicity with an attack on American soil that killed 3000 people.
The E-Mails The Feds Say Show Texas Lawmakers Trying To Limit Voting Power Of Hispanics

The Great Depression Right Outside Our Doors

By Bill Boyarsky

While Occupy Wall Street and similar movements around the country take aim at financial institutions and their political cronies for taking the country into recession, let’s not forget those at the very bottom who were victims of economic depression long before the current collapse.

Connie Rice, a Los Angeles civil rights attorney, writes about their plight in a powerful new book, “Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman’s Quest for Social Justice in America, From the Courtroom to the Kill Zones.” She tells the story of how she and her colleagues have worked to free poor neighborhoods of the evils of gang killings, police brutality, poorly run schools and bad health. They are doing it in a civil rights organization with a hands-on approach called the Advancement Project.
Republicans Cry Uncle On Spending … When Cuts Hit Home

Friday, October 28, 2011

Alternative energy; 9,000 pigs plus a high-tech waste digester equals methane
YADKINVILLE, N.C. — The old saw about using every part of a pig but the squeal now includes its droppings, which are producing electricity on a Yadkin County farm.

Duke University is a partner with Duke Energy and Google in testing a system that captures methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from manure. The gas fuels a small power plant that makes enough energy to run the waste-processing system and part of the farm itself.
The Military Spending Fairy

by Dean Baker
Faced with the prospect of cuts to the Defense Department's budget, the defense industry is pushing the story of the military spending fairy on members of Congress. They are telling them that these cuts will lead to the loss of more than 1 million jobs over the next decade.

Believers in the military spending fairy say things like "the government can't create jobs," but also think that military spending creates jobs. Under the military spending fairy story, if the government spends $1 billion dollars paying people to do research or to build items related to the civilian economy it is just a drag on the private economy; however if the same spending goes to military related purposes, then it creates jobs.
Paul Krugman: The Path Not Taken


Financial markets are cheering the deal that emerged from Brussels early Thursday morning. Indeed, relative to what could have happened — an acrimonious failure to agree on anything — the fact that European leaders agreed on something, however vague the details and however inadequate it may prove, is a positive development.

But it’s worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine — a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.

The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.
Childhood poverty leaves its mark on adult genetics

16:30 26 October 2011 by Andy Coghlan

Genes can be reset during early life in profoundly different ways depending on whether children grow up in privileged or deprived households, a landmark study has shown.

 Although children in rich and poor households have very similar sets of genes, the scale of adversity at home dictates which combinations of those genes are switched on or silenced through a process called epigenesis – presumably to maximise the chance of survival.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why the SEC Won’t Hunt Big Dogs

by Jesse Eisinger
ProPublica, Oct. 26, 2011, 12:56 p.m.

Back when the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was doing its work, I would check in periodically with someone who worked there to find out how it was going.

"Good news!" my source would joke. "We got the guy who caused it."
Thirty Years of Unleashed Greed

By Robert Scheer

It is class warfare. But it was begun not by the tear-gassed, rain-soaked protesters asserting their constitutionally guaranteed right of peaceful assembly but rather the financial overlords who control all of the major levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is they who subverted the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders in control of their economic and political destiny.

Between 1979 and 2007, as the Congressional Budget Office reported this week, the average real income of the top 1 percent grew by an astounding 275 percent. And that is after payment of the taxes that the superrich and their Republican apologists find so onerous.
Running Low on Scare Tactics, Fox News Tries to Tie Occupy Movement to ACORN

About a year ago, there was an unintentionally amusing survey from Public Policy Polling that found 23% of Republicans nationwide feared ACORN may help Democrats steal the election.

ACORN, of course, permanently closed its doors in March 2010, six months before the poll was taken. Groups can’t steal elections if they don’t exist.

Here we are now, more than a year and a half later, and ACORN is but a memory. But Fox News would have its audience believe the non-existent group is still up to no good. Today’s Fox News headline reads: “EXCLUSIVE: ACORN Playing Behind Scenes Role in ‘Occupy’ Movement.”
Why Conservatives Need to Stop Whining About Robert Bork

By Scott Lemieux, AlterNet
Posted on October 25, 2011, Printed on October 27, 2011

One of the great triumphs of Republican propaganda has been to turn the word “Bork” into a verb. The defeat of Robert H. Bork’s Supreme Court nomination in 1987 has come to stand for unfair attacks and political obstructionism. Joe Nocera’s recent New York Times column is the latest example of Bork being turned into a martyr who explains and perhaps justifies many dysfunctional aspects of American politics. The failure of the Bork nomination, Nocera asserts, was “obstructionist, mean-spirited and unfair.“ This Republican rhetorical triumph is particularly impressive because the claims about Bork are utter nonsense. The defeat of Bork was based on legitimate reasons, was not unprecedented, and was done the right way.

Senate obstructionism is a legitimate problem – the fact that it is difficult to get not only federal judges confirmed is a real problem for American government. But the claim that the defeat of Bork was “obstructionist” is transparently wrong. The Democratic majority scheduled Bork’s confirmation hearings in a timely manner and allowed an up-or-down vote. Bork was not (unlike LBJ’s Supreme Court nominee Abe Fortas) filibustered or left in limbo -- he was defeated fair and square by a bipartisan 58-42 vote in the Senate after getting only 5 out of 16 votes from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The charge of obstructionism also implies that the Democrats were unwilling to confirm anyone, but the more moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy was subsequently confirmed by the Senate by the razor-thin margin of 97-0.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wall Street Isn't Winning – It's Cheating

I was at an event on the Upper East Side last Friday night when I got to talking with a salesman in the media business. The subject turned to Zucotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, and he was chuckling about something he'd heard on the news.

"I hear [Occupy Wall Street] has a CFO," he said. "I think that's funny."

"Okay, I'll bite," I said. "Why is that funny?"
Nightmare scenario: U.S. deflation risks rising

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Risks are rising that a moribund job market and potentially steep drop in inflation could push the United States into a downward spiral of falling wages and prices.

That nightmare scenario of deflation might seem remote considering a recent rebound in growth, and the Federal Reserve would almost certainly try to head it off, probably well before prices started to fall.

But some investors and economists say the risk is real.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Paul Krugman: China's Policies Do Matter

I thought I should offer a brief note about one of the arguments people make against the government’s focusing on Chinese currency manipulation — namely, the claim that China doesn’t really compete head to head with American manufacturing, so that a rise in the renminbi wouldn’t help.

I’d argue that this is wrong on three levels.
Immunity and Impunity in Elite America: How the Legal System Was Deep-Sixed and Occupy Wall Street Swept the Land

by Glenn Greenwald

As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow, it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all, severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States. In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is part of the design of the American founding -- indeed, an integral part of it.

Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression.  This is not, however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates for three decades.  As journalist Tim Noah described the process:
“During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth -- the ‘seven fat years’ and the ‘long boom.’ Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80% of total increase in Americans' income went to the top 1%. Economic growth was more sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20%. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads.”
The 2008 financial crisis exacerbated the trend, but not radically: the top 1% of earners in America have been feeding ever more greedily at the trough for decades.
Surprise on Refi Revamp: Key Regulator Agrees to Major Program Reforms

Last month, we noted that the Obama administration's push to allow more underwater homeowners to refinance faced a major barrier: the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Federal Housing Finance Agency chief Edward DeMarco had blocked earlier efforts to help underwater homeowners.

But this morning, the administration announced major changes to its refinancing program -- changes beyond what analysts were expecting.
What Would Keynes Do? More Stimulus, More Monetary Policy

Monday, 10/24/2011 - 11:29 am by Mike Konczal

Keynes’s advice to FDR still holds overwhelmingly true for combatting our own crisis.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt President Library and Museum has put scans up of several important documents that highlight FDR’s transition from trying to balancing the budget in the Great Depression to, after the crash of 1937, his ability to see that Keynesian deficit spending could help the recovery. The page that has the resources, plus a history, is located here: FDR: From Budget Balancer to Keynesian.

It includes several campaign speeches by Roosevelt as they evolved over the 1930s, and it also includes John Maynard Keynes’s 1938 private letter to President Roosevelt. The Keynes letter is great. He is a model of clarity, wit, and seriousness with a towering intellect on all matters economi
Secretive Religious Right Group's Electoral Plans for 2012

Frederick Clarkson
Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 12:10:15 AM EST

It may turn out that a non-profit agency funded by conservative Christian Silicon Valley money men called United in Purpose may be the most important Religious Right entity in the 2012 election cycle.  
Here is a primer on what we've learned so far.

First there was Rick Perry's giant prayer rally, The Response, organized by Texas operatives who are leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation. (An international network of dominionist evangelicals.)  This Christians Only event drew some 20,000 people -- unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics.

Then The Los Angeles Times reported that Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Foundation sent an email to people who had registered to attend The Response, promoting a project of United in Purpose.
Kansas Missing Key Files in Abortion Case

—By Kate Sheppard | Tue Oct. 25, 2011 4:00 AM PDT

Earlier this month, a disciplinary board in Kansas voted to suspend former Attorney General Phill Kline's license to practice law in the state indefinitely after he repeatedly violated the rules of conduct in his investigations of abortion providers. Despite that, Planned Parenthood of Kansas  and Mid-Missouri is still stuck in court fighting criminal allegations that Kline raised against the clinic back in 2007.

The case before the judge accuses doctors at Comprehensive Health, the Planned Parenthood office in Overland Park, of not properly determining the gestational age of fetuses before performing an abortion, and therefore carrying out illegal late-term abortions. The prosecution has accused Planned Parenthood of not keeping proper records, and of covering that up by creating fake records.
It Wasn’t Always This Way: America’s 99 Percent Used To Have A Much Greater Share Of The Nation’s Riches

The 99 Percent Movement was born out of the fact that the country has grown incredibly unequal and millions of Americans are struggling to get by. The richest 1 percent of the country now owns more than 40 percent of the wealth and takes home nearly a quarter of national income.

The common retort to this by the defenders of the economic status quo is that these disparities are a natural result of capitalism, and that those who complain about them are fundamentally against markets. Indeed, when the protests on Wall Street began, much of the media instantly referred to demonstrators as “anti-capitalist.”
CHART OF THE DAY: Repealing ObamaCare Would Be Disastrous For The Budget

The Government Accountability Office has updated its fiscal outlook for the U.S. government and come to some familiar conclusions. The country has a long term imbalance that will have to be addressed, but not until today’s economic woes have passed. If Congress simply does nothing — and allows the Bush tax cuts, and other temporary laws to expire — the country’s fiscal health will improve significantly over the long term.

But the report implies something that’s been lost in the recent partisan debate over the country’s future: repealing ObamaCare would consign us to swift, ugly fiscal and health care crises.

Frank Rich: The Class War Has Begun

And the very classlessness of our society makes the conflict more volatile, not less.

During the death throes of Herbert Hoover’s presidency in June 1932, desperate bands of men traveled to Washington and set up camp within view of the Capitol. The first contingent journeyed all the way from Portland, Oregon, but others soon converged from all over—alone, in groups, with families—until their main Hooverville on the Anacostia River’s fetid mudflats swelled to a population as high as 20,000. The men, World War I veterans who could not find jobs, became known as the Bonus Army—for the modest government bonus they were owed for their service. Under a law passed in 1924, they had been awarded roughly $1,000 each, to be collected in 1945 or at death, whichever came first. But they didn’t want to wait any longer for their pre–New Deal entitlement—especially given that Congress had bailed out big business with the creation of a Reconstruction Finance Corporation earlier in its session. Father Charles Coughlin, the populist “Radio Priest” who became a phenomenon for railing against “greedy bankers and financiers,” framed Washington’s double standard this way: “If the government can pay $2 billion to the bankers and the railroads, why cannot it pay the $2 billion to the soldiers?”
Marshall Auerback and Rob Parenteau: The Myth of Greek Profligacy & the Faith Based Economics of the ‘Troika’

By Marshall Auerback, a portfolio strategist and hedge fund manager, and Rob Parenteau, CFA, sole proprietor of MacroStrategy Edge and a research associate of The Levy Economics Institute

Historically, Greeks have been very good at constructing myths. The rest of the world? Not so great, if the current burst of commentary on the country is anything to go by. Reading the press, one gets the impression of a bunch of lazy Mediterranean scroungers, enjoying one of the highest standards of living in Europe while making the frugal Germans pick up the tab. This is a nonsensical propaganda. As if Greece is the only country ever to cook its books in the European Union! Rather, the heart of the problem is in the antiquated revenue system that supports that state, which results in a budget shortfall consistently about 10% of GDP. The top 20% of the income distribution in Greece pay virtually no taxes at all, the product of a corrupt bargain reached during the days of the junta between the military and Greece’s wealthiest plutocrats. No wonder there is a fiscal crisis!

So it’s not a problem of Greek profligates, or an overly generous welfare state, both of which suggest that the standard IMF style remedies being proposed here are bound to fail, as they are doing right now. In fact, given the non-stop austerity being imposed on Athens (which simply has the effect of deflating the economy further and thereby reducing the ability of the Greeks to hit the fiscal targets imposed on them), the Greeks really are getting close to the point where they may well default and shift the problem back to those imposing the austerity. This surely can’t be much worse than the slow execution they are facing today.
Jean-Claude Trichet's dire tenure at the ECB

The retiring head of the European Central Bank presided over disaster: fixated on 2% inflation, he missed the housing bubble

Dean Baker, Monday 24 October 2011 10.30 EDT

Jean-Claude Trichet will be retiring as head of the European Central Bank at the end of October. He will step into retirement having wreaked the sort of destruction on the European economy that hostile powers could only dream about. Tens of millions of people across the eurozone countries are unemployed or underemployed because of his mismanagement of Europe's economy.

Meanwhile, the world teeters on the brink of another financial crisis because of the failure of the ECB, along with the IMF, to effectively address the sovereign debt crisis. Most incredible of all, Trichet probably thinks he has done a good job.
Platinum Citizenship

Posted: 10/17/11 11:39 AM ET

About a decade ago, I read an article in The Onion, "U.S. Offers PlatinumPlus Preferred Citizenship". Apparently, Tim Geithner did too, because from 2007-2011, this is the policy framework that he designed and executed, first as President of the New York Federal Reserve, and then as Treasury Secretary. Now, unequal democracy is not a new story, in many ways it's systemic and goes back hundreds of years. But what we're going to see in part this week is how Geithner deserves special recognition as sort of this decade's champion of making this system more explicit and entrenched.

What we're going to see this week, when the Government Accountability Office releases a more detailed version of an audit of the Federal Reserve's actions during that period, is more details on how this system worked. So let me give you some context on what the Fed bailouts meant, the details to match the persuasive message of the protesters in Zuccotti Park and around the world.
Wealthy corporations with a trillion dollars stashed offshore lobby for a 'holiday' from U.S. taxes

Rich corporations with money offshore want a tax holiday; Sen. Carl Levin says, 'I want them to pay their taxes like the rest of us'

By John Aloysius Farrell and Aaron Mehta
6:00 am, October 24, 2011, Updated: 6:24 am, October 24, 2011

Goaded by battalions of corporate lobbyists, members of Congress are working to give a select group of U.S. multinational firms like Apple, Oracle and Pfizer a lavish tax break on a trillion dollars stashed offshore.

The avowed goal is to generate jobs and investment, but the offshore tax holiday was tried before, in 2004, and the lion’s share of the benefits went not to unemployed workers and their families, but to corporate shareholders and executives.
Paul Krugman: The Hole in Europe's Bucket

If it weren’t so tragic, the current European crisis would be funny, in a gallows-humor sort of way. For as one rescue plan after another falls flat, Europe’s Very Serious People — who are, if such a thing is possible, even more pompous and self-regarding than their American counterparts — just keep looking more and more ridiculous.

I’ll get to the tragedy in a minute. First, let’s talk about the pratfalls, which have lately had me humming the old children’s song “There’s a Hole in My Bucket.”

For those not familiar with the song, it concerns a lazy farmer who complains about said hole and is told by his wife to fix it. Each action she suggests, however, turns out to require a prior action, and, eventually, she tells him to draw some water from the well. “But there’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.”

What does this have to do with Europe? Well, at this point, Greece, where the crisis began, is no more than a grim sideshow. The clear and present danger comes instead from a sort of bank run on Italy, the euro area’s third-largest economy. Investors, fearing a possible default, are demanding high interest rates on Italian debt. And these high interest rates, by raising the burden of debt service, make default more likely.
CHART: How Income Inequality Skyrocketed And The 1 Percent Profited From The Decline Of Unions

By Zaid Jilani on Oct 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

This evening, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will give a speech at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business about how to address income inequality, likely trying to capitalize on the 99 Percent Movement he once derided as unruly “mobs.” Although exactly what policies Cantor will suggest to deal with this social problem are unknown, it’s unlikely that he will touch on one of the chief drivers of American income inequality: the decline of unions. (UPDATE: Cantor canceled his speech after learning it would be open to the public.)
The 1%'s Own Terror Gives the Game Away

I had a weird revelation the other day:  the ultimate success or failure of the Occupy Wall Street Movement will not be determined by the protesters themselves, but by the 1% and all of their political and media enablers.

But believe it or not, the 1% do feel . . . well, probably not guilt . . . but at least a vague and deeply disturbing apprehension that they may have to pay for what they’ve done in their sociopathy.  And it is this that will help ensure the Occupy Movement’s continuing success.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recovery before Reform

by: Robert Skidelsky, Project Syndicate | Op-Ed 
The financial crisis that started in 2007 shrunk the world economy by 6% in two years, doubling unemployment. Its proximate cause was predatory bank lending, so people are naturally angry and want heads and bonuses to roll – a sentiment captured by the current worldwide protests against “Wall Street.”

The banks, however, are not just part of the problem, but an essential part of the solution. The same institutions that caused the crisis must help to solve it, by starting to lend again. With global demand flagging, the priority has to be recovery, without abandoning the goal of reform – a difficult line to tread politically.
Wall Street Firms Spy on Protesters In Tax-Funded Center

by: Pam Martens, CounterPunch | Report 
Wall Street’s audacity to corrupt knows no bounds and the cooptation of government by the 1 per cent knows no limits. How else to explain $150 million of taxpayer money going to equip a government facility in lower Manhattan where Wall Street firms, serially charged with corruption, get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law abiding citizens.

According to newly unearthed documents, the planning for this high tech facility on lower Broadway dates back six years. In correspondence from   2005 that rests quietly in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s archives, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised Edward Forst, a  Goldman Sachs’ Executive Vice President at the time, that the NYPD “is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan for Lower Manhattan . . . One component of the plan will be a centralized coordination center that will provide space for full-time, on site representation from Goldman Sachs and other stakeholders.”
Occupy: protesters in their own words

London became part of the global Occupy movement when protesters set up camp at St Paul's. From Frankfurt to Madrid, Wall Street to Athens, people are taking to the streets to rage against greed and inequality. Who are the demonstrators and what do they hope to achieve?
  • The Observer,
Throw Them Out With the Trash: Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue

by Barbara Ehrenreich

As anyone knows who has ever had to set up a military encampment or build a village from the ground up, occupations pose staggering logistical problems. Large numbers of people must be fed and kept reasonably warm and dry. Trash has to be removed; medical care and rudimentary security provided -- to which ends a dozen or more committees may toil night and day. But for the individual occupier, one problem often overshadows everything else, including job loss, the destruction of the middle class, and the reign of the 1%. And that is the single question: Where am I going to pee?

Some of the Occupy Wall Street encampments now spreading across the U.S. have access to Port-o-Potties (Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.) or, better yet, restrooms with sinks and running water (Fort Wayne, Indiana). Others require their residents to forage on their own. At Zuccotti Park, just blocks from Wall Street, this means long waits for the restroom at a nearby Burger King or somewhat shorter ones at a Starbucks a block away. At McPherson Square in D.C., a twenty-something occupier showed me the pizza parlor where she can cop a pee during the hours it’s open, as well as the alley where she crouches late at night. Anyone with restroom-related issues -- arising from age, pregnancy, prostate problems, or irritable bowel syndrome -- should prepare to join the revolution in diapers.
New Paper Examines Argentina’s Economic Success

“Argentina has had the fastest growth in the Western Hemisphere over the past nine years, and among the highest growth rates in world.”

WASHINGTON - October 21 - As Argentines prepare to go to the polls this weekend in new presidential elections, a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds that the Argentine economy and social indicators have done remarkably well since the country defaulted on its debt almost nine years ago. The paper notes that Argentina’s dramatic recovery from its severe 1998-2002 recession has significant policy implications for other countries, most notably Greece and some of the other weaker eurozone economies burdened by unsustainable debt.

“Since its recovery began, shortly after its debt default in 2002, Argentina has had the fastest growth in the Western Hemisphere over the past nine years, and among the highest real growth rates in the world,” CEPR Co-Director, and lead author of the paper, Mark Weisbrot noted. For the years 2002-2011, including the IMF projections for the end of this year, Argentina’s real GDP has grown by 94 percent.
Global economic fate hinges on European finance talks
WASHINGTON — The fate of the global economy, European unity — and the 401(k) savings of ordinary Americans — all hang in the balance as Europe's leaders meet over the weekend to try to resolve a burgeoning debt crisis that threatens to spread globally.

The leaders are expected to decide at their European Union summit by next Wednesday whether and how to expand the controversial bailout fund they created earlier this year. They also must decide how to add extra cash to their faltering banks — in need of somewhere between $100 billion and $300 billion — in order to prevent collapses or runs by nervous depositors.
Falling for New Neocon Propaganda

October 22, 2011
Exclusive: One not-so-funny fact about Washington is that nearly all the news media stars who fell for neoconservative falsehoods about Iraq are still around to fall for new ones on Iran, even some like Richard Cohen who briefly regretted his earlier gullibility, notes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Paul R. Pillar, my former colleague in the CIA’s analytical division, has raised a warning flag, cautioning that the same imaginative neocon composers who came up with the various refrains on why we needed to attack Iraq are now providing similar background music for a strike on Iran.

He is right. And as one of my Russian professors used to say, “This is nothing to laugh!”

Pillar’s piece – dissecting an op-ed by the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen about the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington – first appeared on The National Interest Web site. On Oct. 21, it was posted at under the title “Sloppy Iran Think by WPost’s Cohen.”
Meet the CEO Behind the Attack on “Privileged” Public Employees

By Ruth Conniff, October 18, 2011

"Government workers are the new privileged class," James E. MacDougald, the founder of Free Enterprise Nation, told the Washington Post recently.

MacDougald, the Post explains, is a retired CEO who now heads Free Enterprise Nation, which the paper describes as a "research and activist group" which he founded "to call attention to the financial burden posed by government workers."

Actually, Free Enterprise Nation, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is an "activist" group in the same sense that the Washington office of Dick Armey's FreedomWorks runs "activist" campaigns.
Occupy Wall Street: Washington Still Doesn't Get It


I'll have more coming out about this in a few days, but there have been two disgusting developments in the realm of plutocratic intervention on behalf of Wall Street that everyone protesting should take note of.

The fact that both of the following things took place in the middle of the full fever of OWS, when everyone is supposedly trying to placate anti-banker sentiment and Obama and the DCCC are supposedly pledging support of the protesters, shows how completely bankrupt this system is and how necessary street-level protests have become.
Four Things Occupy Wall Street Should Know About the Federal Reserve
By Jake Blumgart, AlterNet
Posted on October 20, 2011, Printed on October 23, 2011

The Federal Reserve is ripe for critique. In fact, the Federal Reserve is a system in desperate need of reform. Occupy Wall Street seems perfectly positioned to apply the pressure needed to mend this hugely important, but little understood institution. Unfortunately, the movement is home to a more reactionary strain of monetary policy analysis too.

In Philadelphia, the first edition of the Occupy Philadelphia Inquirer had “End The Fed, End The Wars” displayed prominently on its front page (“Forget Wall St. as a whole...End the Fed....End the economic slavery”). Several similarly exasperating videos posted to the Facebook page were met with approving comments, while the Occupy Philly website was briefly dominated by a Federal Reserve-bashing activist.

Many people involved with Occupy Wall Street and its spin-offs would denounce such posturing, and rightly so. This variety of fed-bashing is espoused by Ron Paul, a Republican candidate for president who wants to “Abolish the Welfare State,” repeal Roe v. Wade, scrap the EPA, and end most forms of taxation. Most importantly, eliminating the Federal Reserve, adopting the gold standard and having a tight monetary policy are directly opposed to the occupiers’ key goals: reducing unemployment, easing debt and stemming the foreclosure flood.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wages versus Assets

by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

The latest "bipartisan" cockamamie scheme to re-inflate the housing market now apparently involves giving immigration visas to foreigners who buy houses valued at $500,000 a year. There is so much wrong with this idea that it's hard to know where to start: the threat of absentee landlords, the booting out of people faced with foreclosure, the lack of concomitant work visas to accompany the immigration visas, etc. Joan McCarter at DailyKos has a good rundown.

There can be little question at this point that American public policy is dedicated almost entirely to benefiting wealthy people and corporate "people" over regular Americans. But examples like this one show that it's not just corruption: there's a strong bipartisan ideological component that is driving this insanity as well that is based on very flawed economic assumptions.
The Iraq War Ain’t Over, No Matter What Obama Says

By Spencer Ackerman  |  October 21, 2011  |   2:05 pm

President Obama announced on Friday that all 41,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq will return home by December 31. “That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end,” he said. Don’t believe him.

Now: it’s a big deal that all U.S. troops are coming home. For much of the year, the military, fearful of Iranian influence, has sought a residual presence in Iraq of several thousand troops. But arduous negotiations with the Iraqi government about keeping a residual force stalled over the Iraqis’ reluctance to provide them with legal immunity.

But the fact is America’s military efforts in Iraq aren’t coming to an end. They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas.
Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

19 October 2011 by Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie

AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
Why Obama Needs to Take Immediate Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Jared Bernstein
October 21, 2011 | 12:00 am

When historians look back at this benighted moment in time, they may find themselves puzzled by how we refused to take the necessary steps to improve our economic situation. Depending on what happens in coming months, they may find that the best solutions—aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus here in the United States, bank recapitalization and debt restructuring in the EU—were left on the table, while millions unnecessarily suffered.

A footnote in that history may be the decision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not to do more to help the housing market recover. Faced with a flailing market and an alarming amount of underwater mortgages, Fannie and Freddie have nonetheless refrained from implementing bold plans to help out homeowners, citing their fiduciary duty to taxpayers as the reason. But by encouraging more refinancing and principal reductions of the mortgages these institutions either hold directly or insure, our government-sponsored housing giants could simultaneously improve both housing security and the overall economy.
Herman Cain's Go-To Historian on the Muslim World: Destroy Islam
 Now that Herman Cain is officially a front-runner for the Republican nomination, the vetting process has picked up in a hurry. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf stumbled upon a treasure trove of syndicated columns the Atlanta businessman wrote between 2006 and 2009, which doesn't do much to shatter the perception of Cain as a loose cannon (he refers to Iraq war opponents as "Hezbocrats" and calls them "the enemy").

But I was drawn to a different piece: A 2006 column from Cain on Islam that copiously cites the work of Ohio televangelist Rod Parsley—the same pastor whose Islamophobic writings and sermons would later force Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to reject his endorsement. Parsley, as MoJo's David Corn first reported in 2008, argued that American Christians have an obligation to destroy Islam.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paul Krugman: Party of Pollution
Last month President Obama finally unveiled a serious economic stimulus plan — far short of what I’d like to see, but a step in the right direction. Republicans, predictably, have blocked it. But the new plan, combined with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, seems to have shifted the national conversation. We are, suddenly, focused on what we should have been talking about all along: jobs.

So what is the G.O.P. jobs plan? The answer, in large part, is to allow more pollution. So what you need to know is that weakening environmental regulations would do little to create jobs and would make us both poorer and sicker. 
How the Austerity Class Rules Washington

In September the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a bipartisan deficit-hawk group based at the New America Foundation, held a high-profile symposium urging the Congressional “supercommittee” to “go big” and approve a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan over the next decade, which is well beyond its $1.2 trillion mandate. The hearing began with an alarming video of top policy-makers describing the national debt as “the most serious threat that this country has ever had” (Alan Simpson) and “a threat to the whole idea of self-government” (Mitch Daniels). If the debt continues to rise, predicted former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, there would be “strikes, riots, who knows what?” A looming fiscal crisis was portrayed as being just around the corner.
Four Iron-Clad Demands for Occupy Wall Street: Michael Kinsley

By Michael Kinsley | Oct 20, 2011 7:00 PM ET

So I sat down to write up some demands for Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Washington and the related groups that have sprung up to terrify the political and financial establishments.

Not everyone thinks demands are a good idea. Could this disparate collection of malcontents actually agree on a platform? Would the attempt destroy the almost magical unity the protesters have achieved? Might a list of demands -- or, as they were called in the 1960s, “nonnegotiable demands” -- turn out to be embarrassingly anti-capitalist, offering grist to the Glenn Becks of this world and turning off many potential recruits? Or might it be the opposite: so banal and unambitious that the most devoted followers lose interest?
Paul Krugman: More People Who Can’t Handle The Truth

If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll know that whenever I present data — and I do present a lot of data — right-wingers will complain of “cherry-picking”. They never have a clear example of how I should do things differently — or if they do, it’s always obviously wrong. But what they really mean is that they won’t accept data that doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

This stuff is a minor version of what goes on, on a far bigger and more important scale, with regard to climate change.
Why a Mortgage Cramdown Bill Is Still the Best Bet to Save the Economy

Corporate Front Group ALEC Pushing For Repeal Of Paid Sick Day Laws Nationwide

By Zaid Jilani on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Recently, a string of cities and states have passed new ordinances that would require paid sick days for employees at certain employers. Just last week, Philadelphia’s city council passed a second version of a paid sick leave bill after the mayor vetoed the earlier one. Earlier this year, Seattle approved paid sick days legislation, while Connecticut became the first state with a state-wide requirement.

Now, the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has published an expose of how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a corporate front group that farms out legislation to almost a third of state legislators nationwide — is drafting legislation on behalf of its wealthy conglomerate funders to repeal these ordinances.
But What Should the Fed Actually Do?

What kind of monetary policy should the Fed follow? Scott Sumner has long argued that the Fed should set a target for nominal GDP—that is, GDP before corrections for inflation—and follow it come hell or high water. This has recently gotten some high-profile endorsements, including one recently from a Goldman Sachs team. And Paul Krugman recently gave the NGDP forces a boost on his blog: 
And one thing the market monetarists may have been right about is the usefulness of focusing on nominal GDP. As far as I can see, the underlying economics is about expected inflation; but stating the goal in terms of nominal GDP may nonetheless be a good idea, largely as a selling point, since it (a) is easier to make the case that we’ve fallen far below where we should be and (b) doesn’t sound so scary and anti-social.
One More SEC/Citigroup Sweetheart Deal - Five Reasons to Be Outraged

by: Richard (RJ) Eskow, Campaign for America's Future | News Analysis 
The President says he understands the frustration behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. That's nice. But the anger will keep growing as long as the government keeps handing out free passes instead of perp walks to bankers at serial corporate criminals like Citigroup.

The Administration is finally talking the talk, but without criminal investigations it's not walking the walk. It's still not too late. While the SEC's latest deal should outrage you, the Administration can makes things right with two decisive actions.
Senators Have a Choice: Create Jobs Or Shield Wealthy From Tiny Tax Increase
It’s probably safe to assume the latest jobs bill will die in the Senate, today or tomorrow, following the latest in a never-ending series of Republican filibusters. But it’s worth clarifying the nature of the choice facing lawmakers.

On the table is a plan that would save or create hundreds of thousands of jobs through state aid, boosting teachers, police officers, and firefighters. It would be paid for, not through the kind of deficit financing Republicans pushed in the Bush era, but with a 0.5% surtax on millionaires and billionaires.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Global Warming Study Finds No Grounds for Climate Sceptics' Concerns

Independent investigation of the key issues sceptics claim can skew global warming figures reports that they have no real effect

by Ian Sample

Climate sceptics' criticisms of the evidence for global warming make no difference to the emerging picture of a warming world, according to the most comprehensive, independent review of historical temperature records to date.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, investigated several key issues that sceptics claim can skew global warming figures and found they had no meaningful effect on world temperature trends.
The boom was the illusion

Robert Skidelsky
Published 13 October 2011

The world economy is on the edge of a precipice. The best we can hope for now is a managed retreat from the wilder shores of globalisation. The alternative is the collapse of the euro, protectionism – and even war. 

Since its collapse in the autumn of 2008, the world economy has gone through three phases: a year or more of rapid decline; a bounce back in 2009-2010, which nevertheless did not amount to a full recovery; and a second, though so far much shallower, downturn this year.

The resulting damage over the past four years has been huge. The world economy contracted by 6 per cent between 2007 and 2009, and recovered 4 per cent. It is 10 per cent poorer than it would have been, had growth continued at the rate of 2007, and the pain is not yet over. Today, we are in the first stages of a second banking crisis. It may already be too late to avoid a "double dip", but it may still be possible to avoid a triple dip. For this we need a robust intellectual analysis of what is required to ensure durable recovery, and the collective political will to implement it.

Backdrop to the crisis

Economics is in a mess. With the shattering of the dominant Chicago School paradigm, whose rational expectations hypothesis ruled out, by assumption, the kind of collapse we have just experienced, two old masters, Friedrich von Hayek and John Maynard Keynes, have risen from the dead to renew the battles of the 1930s, equipped this time with explanations for what has gone wrong. We can label these "money glut" and "saving glut".
'Retirement Heist' compiles evidence of plundered pensions

By Steve Weinberg, Special for USA TODAY

Sometimes the real crime consists of activities considered "legal," despite the damage they cause. That adage has never been more apt than when applied to the termination of pension funds by U.S. employers large, midsize and small. Over and over, loyal, deserving employees with modest incomes have watched their planned retirement savings disappear because of corporate managers and pension industry consultants.

Journalist Ellen Schultz has been writing about such shameful behavior for a long time, mostly in The Wall Street Journal. Now she has pulled together the copious, irrefutable evidence between the covers of a book. It is shocking, and demoralizing. But will members of Congress and federal agency regulators stop what Schultz calls "retirement heists"? Probably not, unless voters make it clear the incumbents will lose their jobs unless something changes. Unfortunately, voters are rarely if ever that organized, no matter how much they have been cheated by corporate chieftains.

Democrats and the Death of Keynesian Economics

by: Michael Corcoran, Truthout | News Analysis 
Obama's dead-on-arrival jobs bill, which followed trillions in spending cuts that were made during the debt ceiling controversy, remind us that politicians have stopped seriously trying to save the economy through job creation and government spending. The protests on Wall Street show that the public recognizes that change will only come when the people take matters into their own hands.

It is quite remarkable, given the nature of the recent debate over economic policy in Washington, that a Wikipedia article exists today called, "2008-2009 Keynesian resurgence." Today, both political parties have had an obsession with "austerity measures" for at least last year or so - which includes putting Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block. Barack Obama's weak job bill, which was dead on arrival, only further demonstrates how twisted priorities are in Washington. So, it is actually hard to believe that, in the aftermath of the near-collapse of the economy in 2008, Maynard Keynes, who advocated government intervention in the economy to increase demand during downturns, was making a comeback.
Cantor's income disparity speech: 'How we make sure the people at the top stay there'

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor backed off from his "mob" characterization of Occupy Wall Street last week, some might have thought that this savvy politician was catching a clue about the national zeitgeist.

Well, maybe, kinda, sorta.
Kleptocracy and the One-Party System

By Ed Harrison, Credit Writedowns
Posted on October 19, 2011, Printed on October 20, 2011

As a writer, Matt Taibbi is a lot more vitriolic than I am. He curses, makes some pretty over-the-top personal attacks, and divines a policymaker’s intent where I don’t think he can. But, this goes mostly to style.  Substantively speaking, he has a lot to say and we should take notice.

I wanted to highlight a piece he wrote yesterday called Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue. The crux of his argument is this: The partisan rhetoric is on full display in the dust-up over the unlimited liabilities coming from Fannie and Freddie thrust upon taxpayers on Christmas Eve. This rhetoric is not just beside the point, it is specifically designed to obscure the point, namely that both Democrats and Republicans, private industry and the government are culpable in the shambles our economic system has become.
BofA Said to Split Regulators Over Moving Merrill Derivatives to Bank Unit

Bank of America Corp. (BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disagree over the transfers, which are being requested by counterparties, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting, said the people. The bank doesn’t believe regulatory approval is needed, said people with knowledge of its position.
We Are Not Your Human Resources

by David Michael Green

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about Occupy Wall Street.  She said to me “This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life”.  I told her I feel exactly the same way.

The only difference is that she’s in her early twenties, and I’m in my early fifties.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Democracy Versus Bankers at the Fed

Dean Baker
Posted: 10/17/11 03:30 PM ET

The Federal Reserve Board has provided the basis for thousands of conspiracy theories in its near-100-year existence. These conspiracies have some basis in reality as can be seen by the Fed's recent moves on monetary policy. In the last two meetings of the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed's key decision-making body, the members appointed through the political process unanimously supported stronger measures to spur growth and create jobs. By contrast, three of the five voting members appointed by the banking industry opposed further action.

This extraordinary split has not received the attention it deserves. It suggests that the financial industry is using its power at the Fed to try to block the course preferred by the appointees of democratically elected officials of both parties.


Millionaires and Corporations Are Using Tax Breaks to Help Sway Public Opinion

Rightwing thinktanks profess a love of freedom, but their refusal to reveal who funds them is deeply undemocratic

by George Monbiot

Since the late 19th century, the very rich have been paying people to demand less government. The work of Herbert Spencer, for example, was sponsored by Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller and Thomas Edison. Spencer believed that society changed according to evolutionary laws. Humans were evolving towards perfection, but this process was inhibited by interference from the state. By protecting people from the consequences of their own actions (or their own bad luck), it stopped the winnowing process that would otherwise result in the survival of the fittest.

Social security, publicly funded education, compulsory vaccination, laws enforcing safety at work all interrupted social evolution. But a self-regulated free market would swiftly ensure that those who were best adapted would survive and triumph. It's not hard to see why the millionaires loved him. They saw themselves as winners of the evolutionary race, taking their rightful place at the pinnacle of the social order. Any attempt to limit their freedoms would prevent society from achieving perfection.
Simplify Banks and Bank Regulation

Robert Kuttner

In January 2010, after Scott Brown's upset victory in the special Massachusetts Senate election, a panicky President Obama managed to sound like a populist for a couple of days. He called for a tax on banking profits and drafted Paul Volcker to appear at a quickie press conference so that the administration could call for something dubbed "The Volcker Rule." 

Report Faults Wall Street for High Energy Prices


A new report by Better Markets, a nonprofit group advocating constraints on speculative trading, blames Wall Street for inflating prices at the gas pump and the grocery store.

The study centered on commodity index funds, investments tied to the value of oil, wheat and other commodity futures contracts. The funds, according to the Better Markets review of more than 25 years in data, have historically caused an uptick in futures market prices as they periodically exit expiring contracts and roll into a new batch of deals.
US Hawks Behind Iraq War Rally for Strikes Against Iran

by Jim Lobe 
WASHINGTON - Key neo-conservatives and other right-wing hawks who championed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq are calling for military strikes against Iran in retaliation for its purported murder-for-hire plot against the Saudi ambassador here.

Leading the charge is the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the ideological successor to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which played a critical role in mobilizing support for "regime change" in Iraq in the late 1990s and subsequently spearheaded the public campaign to invade the country after the 9/11 attacks. The group sent reporters appeals by two of its leaders for military action on its letterhead Monday.
Digby: The Backlash to Occupy Wall Street Is Going to Be Powerful-And Polarizing

I'm feeling like a Cassandra again, just as I did in 2008 when Obamamania was at its height and everyone was insisting that politics had been transformed for all time. I'm sure I'll be just as unpopular now as I was then, but here goes:

While I love Matt Taibbi and I think this piece is right on in many ways, I hope that people involved in Occupy Wall Street don't start to bullshit themselves into believing that there is not going to be a reaction to all this and that the reaction is likely to be powerful --- and polarizing. The people in power know very well how to push the buttons that need pushing.
The Greeks Are Being Unfairly Maligned by Global Financiers: The Truth Is Very Different

Beyond the anti-Greek media campaign lies the story of a weary people caught between a corrupt political system and rapacious financiers. Sound familiar?

October 17, 2011  |  Yiannis manages a small inn in Crete. The 50-year-old from Heraklion with salt-and-pepper hair and a hefty moustache has a son just graduating from college.

“We tell the young people to leave,” he says quietly. “There’s nothing for them here.” Protests and strikes are sweeping the nation, but Yiannis doesn’t like talking about the economy. I sense a feeling of pride holding him back. But he does offer this insight: “We know that it is the ordinary people, not the rich and the powerful, who pay for this.”
Perry Officials Censored Climate Change Report

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality doesn't want you to know that climate change is causing sea level rise in Galveston Bay.

Wed Oct. 12, 2011 9:30 AM PDT

Rick Perry takes Texas pride in being a climate change denier—and his administration acts accordingly.
Top environmental officials under Perry have gutted a recent report on sea level rise in Galveston Bay, removing all mentions of climate change. For the past decade, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is run by Perry political appointees, including famed global warming denier Bryan Shaw, has contracted with the Houston Advanced Research Center to produce regular reports on the state of the Bay. But when HARC submitted its most recent State of the Bay publication to the commission earlier this year, officials decided they couldn't accept a report that said climate change is caused by human activity and is causing the sea level to rise. Top officials at the commission proceeded to edit the paper to censor its references to human-induced climate change or future projections on how much the bay will rise.
Argentina Suffering From Default: Not on This Planet
Monday, 17 October 2011 15:41

NPR's Planet Money made its entry in the Stake Your Claim game show with a segment on Friday that claimed that Argentina is suffering horribly as a result of its decision to default at the end of 2001. It turns out that Argentina has actually been doing quite well since its 2001 default as the most recent data from the IMF show.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Movement Too Big to Fail

by: Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Op-Ed 
There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of “liberal” groups and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics and mocked those who called for profound structural reform.