Category Archives: Academia

Headlines of the day II: EconoGrecoSinoFuku


Radiation leaks hit a new deadly high at Fukushima, with the latest site outside the building housing stricken Reactor Four hot enough to kill after a 20-minute exposure.

Lots to cover, so straight ahead we roll. . .

We open with a statement of the obvious via Al Jazeera America:

World Bank president: Universal health coverage key for economic growth

Jim Yong Kim calls open-access health care ‘one of the best things’ to spur immediate, long-term economic growth

From the Japan Times, pressing hard for another one of those accords decried by Pope Francis:

TPP crunchtime talks may find deal elusive

As the proposed deadline for sealing a deal by year’s end looms, ministers from 12 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks are tasked with making tough political decisions as they meet in Singapore from Saturday, with hard negotiations on outstanding issues lying ahead.

The four-day meeting is expected to be the last opportunity for Japan, the United States and 10 other countries bordering the Pacific Ocean to try to realize the ambitious economic initiative — encompassing roughly one-third of all world trade — on schedule.

Techdirt notes an anomaly:

European Commission Desperately Tries To Justify Inclusion Of Corporate Sovereignty In TAFTA/TTIP; Fails Dismally

from the is-that-really-the-best-you’ve-got? dept

And from the Economic Times, a done deal:

WTO reaches its first ever trade deal at Bali meeting

The World Trade Organization reached its first ever trade reform deal on Saturday to the roar of approval from nearly 160 ministers who had gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali to decide on the make-or-break agreement that could add $1 trillion to the global economy.

The approval came after Cuba dropped a last-gasp threat to veto the package of measures.

On to the U.S., and widely hailed numbers from the Los Angeles Times:

Economy adds 203,000 jobs in November; unemployment rate drops to 7%

The U.S. economy added a surprisingly strong 203,000 net new jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 7%, the lowest level in five years, the Labor Department said Friday.

The November figure, which beat analyst expectations of about 180,000 new jobs, along with slight revisions to the previous two months’ figures mean the economy has added an average of 204,000 jobs over the past four months.

CNBC catches one skeleton in the numeric closet:

Yes, more jobs, but wage growth holds up recovery

The job market may be gradually improving, but the gains aren’t showing up in worker’s paychecks.

And the resulting belt-tightening continues to weigh on an economy heavily dependent on consumer spending.

From The Guardian, the looters prepare:

State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax

  • State Policy Network co-ordinating plans across 34 US states
  • Strategy to ‘release residents from government dependency’
  • Revelations come amid growing scrutiny of tax-exempt charities

The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as “free-market thinktanks”, includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

China Daily USA covers a rising demographic [and see the Chart of the day]:

Asian Americans’ buying power is still on the rise

Asian American households outspend median US households by an average of 19 percent, and earn 28 percent more on average than the US median income, according to a consumer report released by Nielsen this week. As early adopters of new technologies, they also lead in high-speed Internet access, mobile connectivity, use of social media and in the number of internet pages viewed each month.

From Al Jazeera America, business as usual along the political divide:

Democrats press to extend emergency unemployment program

Congressional Republicans have indicated that they are willing to let the benefits expire on Dec. 28, which would immediately cut off aid to 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans, according to the White House.

And from The Hill, what happened to that guy preaching about growing inequality in the U.S.?:

White House: Obama won’t insist on jobless aid in budget deal

The White House will not insist that an emerging budget deal include an extension of the unemployment benefits program set to expire at the end of the year, press secretary Jay Carney said on Friday.

Carney said that it would be “terrible to tell more than a million families across the country just a few days after Christmas that they’re out of benefits,” but that the White House was agnostic on how the extension happened.

But by all means, pay the folks in the military/industrial complex. From Bloomberg:

U.S. Bomber Planes at $81 Billion Seen 47% More Than Plan

The U.S. Air Force’s new long-range bomber may cost as much as $81 billion for the 100 planes planned, 47 percent more than the $55 billion sticker price the service has listed.

The Air Force based its estimate of $550 million per plane on the value of the dollar in 2010, and it represents only the production costs for an aircraft that won’t be deployed for at least 10 years. Including research and development, the bomber would cost as much as $810 million apiece in this year’s dollars, according to calculations by three defense analysts.

From Reuters, cui bono?:

Special Report: How Fed policy enriches private equity, if not workers

The Fed’s “real intention was capital investment would be stimulated, jobs would be created, incomes of the 99 percent would rise,” says Martin Fridson, a high-yield expert and chief executive of FridsonVision LLC, a financial research firm in New York. But, he adds, it’s “not clear how effective that has really been. It’s certainly clear that those who are wealthy enough to own a substantial amount of assets have been made even wealthier by the Fed policy.”

Across the Atlantic with New Europe and debt collectors unleashed:

Council agrees on cross-border recovery of debts

The European Commission welcomed the agreement by the EU Justice Ministers to adopt the proposal to help businesses and individuals on the cross-border recovery of debts.

On 6 December, the Commission said that the proposal on the cross-border recovery of debts will give creditors more certainty about recovering their debt, thereby increasing confidence in trading within the EU’s single market. The proposal is part of the Commission’s “justice for growth” agenda, which seeks to harness the potential of the EU’s common area of justice for trade and growth.

Britain next, with bad news for the working class from The Independent:

Britain’s poor ‘will die before they retire’ if pension reforms aren’t matched by health improvements

Stark disparity in healthy life expectancy ‘must be tackled’ for pension age  to be raised fairly

Thousands of Britain’s poorest people “will be dead before they can retire” if sweeping pension reforms are not matched by urgent action on health inequalities between rich and poor, experts have said.

Plans to raise the basic state pension age to 70 for people currently in their twenties were laid out in the George Osborne’s Autumn Statement this week. But with male life expectancy at birth as low as 66 in some of the most deprived parts of the country, public health experts have warned that a “one size fits all” pension age risks condemning many to a life without retirement.

From the London Telegraph, a bubblin’ away:

House prices across the UK are rising at nearly ten times average earnings

Halifax reveals house price inflation running at 7.7pc as low interest rates and Government schemes trigger a £37-a-day jump over past year

Ireland next, with a warning from the Independent.ie:

Central Bank warns of recovery challenges despite positive developments

THE pace and effectiveness of dealing with the bad loans in the banks could hit domestic demand and stymie the ability of the economy to recover, the Central Bank has warned.

And it said the level of distress among small and medium borrowers is “particularly acute” endangering not only the profitability of the banking sector but has far reaching consequences for the viability of the businesses and jobs they generate.

On to Holland with grim news from DutchNews.nl:

Half of the unemployed over-55s don’t find another job

Many of the over-55s who lose their jobs are still without paid work once their unemployment benefits dry up, according to research by the state job centre organisation UWV.

The UWV looked at how many people had managed to find a job after the jobless benefits – which run for a maximum three years – had stopped, the Volkskrant said.

Almost 75% of the total jobless pool had found new employment, but youngsters are far more likely to succeed than older workers, the research showed.

Germany next, with the usual from Independent.ie:

Bundesbank raises growth outlook for Germany

GERMANY’S Bundesbank has hiked its growth projections for the country for this year and next year, highlighting the diverging fortunes of the Eurozone’s economies.

The bank said it expects the Eurozone’s biggest economy to grow 0.5pc this year and 1.7pc next year compared with June-forecasts of 0.3 pc and 1.5pc  respectively.

France next, and a confused picture from ANSAmed:

Unemployment booms in France but 1 in 3 works off the books

10.5% jobless, highest rate in 15 years

The latest data released by statistics’ institute Insee showed unemployment registered a slight increase in the third quarter of this year to 10.5% – the highest level in 15 years though below record rates registered in 1994 and 1997 (10.8%). A first, positive sign was also recorded as far as youth unemployment is concerned as it remained stable at 24.5% in the same period. But the survey also found that illegal work has boomed from 13% to 33% in five years.

On to Spain, with banking news from El País:

Broader powers for central bank in the works

Draft law hikes fines against bankers who break the rules

In an effort to prevent another national financial catastrophe, the government is to pass legislation giving the Bank of Spain and the National Securities Commission (CNMV) broader powers to prevent bank failures and fight illegal market speculation, sources said Thursday.

A denial from EUobserver:

Merkel denies pressuring Spain on bailout

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has “no memory” of allegedly pressuring Spain on taking a bailout in 2011, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday (6 December).

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero last week published a book called “The Dilemma” about his last years in office, recalling how Merkel, as well as the heads of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approached him during 2010-2011 to ask his country to take a bailout.

And from TheLocal.es, failed hopes:

Bankruptcy epidemic slays Spain’s businesses

Washing machines, fish fingers and football teams: not even household names are safe from a Spanish bankruptcy epidemic ravaging big and small businesses alike.

The number of companies filing for bankruptcy in Spain rose from 1,147 in 2007, the year before Spain’s real estate bubble disastrously burst, to nearly 6,200 in 2009, according to the National Statistics Institute.

It topped 9,000 in 2012 and “I think that in 2013 we are going to get close to 10,000,” said Carlos Sancho, a lawyer and expert in financial management at IESE Business School.

New Europe takes us to Portugal and a protest:

Portugese teachers protest

Hundreds of teachers protested outside Portugal’s parliament building on Thursday against a new controversial exam for teachers imposed by the Portuguese government.

The protestors, all dressed in black, called for Education Minister Nuno Crato to step down while holding banners that read “You’ve failed.”

Italy next, and an exodus from TheLocal.it:

Over 100,000 people fled Italy in 2012

106,000 people left Italy in 2012 in search of work elsewhere, according to the latest figures from the Censis Institute.

In a report on Friday, Censis said the number of people leaving had jumped 115 percent since 2002, when 50,000 left the country.

ANSAmed covers another dressing down:

EC berates Italy on debt again after Letta clash

Rehn’s office says supplementary budget adjustment needed

The office of European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Thursday that Italy must do more to reduce its massive public debt, returning to an issue that has caused considerable tension between the European Commission and Rome in recent weeks.

TheLocal.it covers putt-putts:

Italians reduce scooter rides in bid to save cash

Italy’s economic crisis has cut the spending power of 69 percent of households and forced a growing number of young people to leave the country, a study by the Censis institute released on Friday found.

“Around 69 percent of families indicated a reduction or aggravation of their spending power,” said the report, which surveyed 1,200 families across Italy.

The study said 53 percent of respondents said they had reduced car or scooter travel to save on fuel, 68 percent had cut down on cinema and entertainment and 45 percent now spend less on restaurants.

While ANSAmed has more grim numbers:

One in 4 Italian households ‘struggling to pay bills’

Country ‘profoundly weakened’ by economic crisis

The study said “much of the country” was in a situation of “fragility”, with economic uncertainty causing “worry and unease” in many families, as Italy struggles to emerge from its longest recession in over two decades. It added that falling consumer spending was a symptom of a country that was “under stress”, “lost” and “profoundly weakened” by the economic crisis that started five years ago.

After the jump, Greek meltdown intensifies, Ukrainian conflict, an Indian WTO win, more Chinese neoliberal moves, Japanese Reaganomics, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: EconoAusterioFukulala


A great deal happening, so straight to it.

We begin with a peculiarly belated recognition from The Hill:

Obama: ‘Profoundly unequal’ economy a ‘fundamental threat’

President Obama on Wednesday declared that addressing income inequality would be the focus of “all” of the White House’s efforts “for the rest of my presidency.”

In a sweeping address that touched on raising the minimum wage, investing in infrastructure and ending tax breaks for the wealthy, Obama warned that the American economy has become “profoundly unequal,” declaring economic mobility the “challenge of our time.”

From the New York Times, more inequality on the way:

Pension Ruling in Detroit Echoes West to California

A judge’s decision in Michigan is resonating all the way to California.

The ruling by Judge Steven W. Rhodes, who is presiding in Detroit’s bankruptcy case, that public pensions are not protected from cuts could alter the course of bankrupt cities like Stockton and San Bernardino, Calif., that had been operating under the assumption that pensions were untouchable.

From Mother Jones, a good idea:

Elizabeth Warren: Big Banks Should Reveal Their Donations to Influential Think Tanks

On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on the biggest US banks to disclose their donations to think tanks, which influence laws that affect them.

Under current law, banks and other corporations are not required to publicly report their contributions to think tanks. That means that lawmakers who use think tank data and analysis to shape laws and regulations designed to police banks do not know how much bank money influences that research.

From Salon, confirmation:

GOP debunked on food stamps: Everything they say about SNAP is wrong

Forget the nonsense about them breeding dependency. Food stamps increase self-sufficiency, research shows

From CNN, a well-connected not-so-newcomer:

Obama’s uncle wins immigration battle, gets OK to stay in U.S.

Onyango Okech Obama – an uncle of President Barack Obama who has been in the United States illegally for decades – has gotten a federal court’s OK to stay in his adopted country, according to an attorney representing the uncle.

Federal immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro in Massachusetts agreed without argument Tuesday to allow the uncle, who has been living and working in U.S. for 50 years, to stay and obtain a green card, said attorney Margaret Wong.

The Guardian covers Kochs:

ALEC calls for penalties on ‘freerider’ homeowners in assault on clean energy

  • Documents reveal conservative group’s anti-green agenda
  • Strategy to charge people who install their own solar panels
  • Environmentalists accuse Alec of protecting utility firms’ profits

From International Business Times, ars gratia, and all that:

Detroit Institute Of Arts Vows To Prevent City From Auctioning Its Collection To Pay Creditors

Declared eligible for the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy Tuesday, Detroit has found itself in the spotlight of the art world with onlookers concerned that a portion of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ precious collection may be headed to the auction block to satisfy creditors of the financially distressed city.

From Reuters, more belated action to come:

Exclusive: U.S. plans new bank fraud cases in early 2014 – attorney general

The U.S. Justice Department plans to bring civil mortgage fraud cases against several financial institutions early in 2014, using as a template the case that ended last month in JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (JPM.N) $13 billion settlement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Holder would not say which companies or how many could face lawsuits but said the Justice Department was in contact with them and it was hard to say whether the talks would lead to settlements.

Bloomberg Businessweek covers another side of the banking world:

A Third of Bank Tellers Rely on Government Assistance, Study Says

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley calculate that almost a third of all bank tellers receive some form of government assistance, according to the Washington Post. That includes $534 million for health insurance through Medicaid and coverage for low-income children, $250 million in tax credits for low and moderate earners, and more than $100 million in food stamps. They qualify for government aid because, on average, the country’s half a million tellers earn about $25,790 a year, or $12.40 an hour (if they work a 40-hour work week), according to the most recent government data. That’s less than similar administrative jobs, and tellers are also more likely to be part-time employees.

From Reuters, just doin’ business:

Wal-Mart pays lawyer fees for dozens of executives in bribery probe

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is paying for lawyers to represent more than 30 of its executives involved in a foreign corruption investigation, according to people familiar with the matter, an unusually high number that shows the depth of the federal probe.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Wal-Mart paid bribes in Mexico to obtain permits to open new stores there, and whether executives covered up an internal inquiry into the payments. The department is also looking into possible misconduct by the world’s largest retailer in Brazil, China and India.

From My Budget 360, reality:

Top 10 percent of US households control nearly 75 percent of all wealth – Average Americans pretend to be temporarily embarrassed millionaires by going further into debt.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore with upbeat numerals:

US trade gap shrinks to US$40.6b in October

The US trade deficit narrowed to $40.6 billion in October on a strong rise in exports, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.

And from the Los Angeles Times, where you can “drive right up and put a great big hot dog in your face”:

First Wienerschnitzel, symbol of L.A. car culture, now a landmark

North of the border with the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Bank of Canada frets over low inflation, cites retail competition

Disinflation has become the Bank of Canada’s new worry as the central bank again left its key rate unchanged at 1 per cent.

The bank pointed to a persistent and unexpected drop in inflation caused by excess supply in the economy and heightened competition in the retail sector, where an influx of new U.S. chains is shaking up the industry.

CBC News drops a media ax:

Sun Media announces 200 layoffs

‘Cost containment’ continues at parent company Quebecor Media

And National Post has the latest Toronto mayoral folly:

Rob Ford may have offered $5,000 and car for ‘crack video’: new police documents

One of the men suspected of peddling the “crack video” of Mr. Ford said he also had pictures of the mayor “doing the hezza,” usually used as a slang term for heroin;

The New York Times covers Banksters Behaving Badly:

E.U. Imposes $2.3 Billion in Fines Over Rate-Rigging Scandal

Joining a chorus of regulators worldwide, the European Union fined a group of global financial institutions — including for the first time two American banks — a combined 1.7 billion euros to settle charges they colluded to fix benchmark interest rates.

The widely anticipated settlement, worth about $2.3 billion and announced by European Union antitrust officials on Wednesday, is the largest combined penalty ever levied by European competition authorities and marks the culmination of an investigation that dates back more than two years.

From New Europe, feeble numbers:

In the EU28 GDP increased by 0.2 per cent

Second estimate in Eurozone’s GDP

Eurozone’s GDP only grew by 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the second, recording a 0.4 per cent fall compared with the same quarter in 2012.

From Salon, a neoliberal desideratum nears completion:

Austerity is Americanizing European labor markets

Workers throughout Europe are losing their rights as their nations race to reduce the costs of labor

On to Britain with an ultimatum from the London Telegraph:

Goldman Sachs would ‘drastically’ cut its London office if the UK quits the EU

The Independent covers a national shame:

Food poverty in UK has reached level of ‘public health emergency’, warn experts

Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.

And the BBC News covers another austerian move:

Autumn Statement: Plan to raise state pension age sooner

The date when people must be 68 to draw a state pension – formerly scheduled for 2046 – will be brought forward to the mid-2030s, Chancellor George Osborne will announce later.

Plans to be announced in Mr Osborne’s Autumn Statement mean the age could rise again to 69 by the late 2040s.

On to Sweden with TheLocal.se:

Sweden’s health system ‘worst in the Nordics’

Long queues to see a doctor and get treatment in Sweden have dragged the country far down a European ranking of healthcare providers, with Sweden now the worst among its Nordic neighbours despite efforts to cut waiting times.

TheLocal.se again, with another gain for the far right:

Sweden Democrats gain most in key voter survey

Sweden’s two largest political parties suffered drops in voter support, the country’s most-watched opinion poll revealed on Wednesday, while the far-fight Sweden Democrats solidified their position as Sweden’s third-largest party.

TheLocal.no covers another sign of dark feelings rising:

Foreign criminals who return face two years’ jail

Norway is set next week to vote in a ten-fold increase in the penalty for deported foreign criminals who illegally return to the country, VG newspaper has reported.

According to the proposal the penalty for breaking an expulsion order is to be increased from 35 days in prison to a maximum of two years.

On to Germany, and a Banksters Behaving Badly headline from Spiegel:

Rate Scandal: Deutsche Bank’s First Big Fine Won’t Be Its Last

Subprime mortgages, currency tricks, interest rate fixing: Wherever supervisory authorities have probed crooked deals of the past, Deutsche Bank comes up. Now Germany’s biggest bank has had to pay its first big fine. It won’t be the last.

Al Jazeera America covers terror from a quarter with deep roots:

Neo-Nazis may have been behind hundreds of unsolved German murders

Police launch review into killings first linked to immigrant groups, now thought to have involved the far right

And EUobserver has yet another instance of anti-Roma sentiments stirred up by demagogues:

German conservatives stir up ‘welfare tourism’ row

Several German conservatives are following the footsteps of their British colleagues, stoking fears about “welfare tourism” by Romanian and Bulgarians.

From Spiegel, the Americanization of German politics:

The Deal Makers: Coalition Deal Shows Rising Clout of Lobbyists

As the dust settled in Berlin, one group came out of last week’s coalition deal an unequivocal winner: Germany’s lobbyists. When it comes to shaping policy, corporate interests are wielding ever more influence on national politics.

On to France and a frayed icon from Spiegel:

Disneyland Paris: Europe’s Magic Kingdom Loses Its Magic

Disneyland Paris is currently besieged by unflattering headlines and faltering finances. Now an attempted suicide by a park employee is drawing attention to its labor practices. French unions are furious and an outspoken Belgian visitor is campaigning for big changes.

TheLocal.ch notes Swiss spending:

Swiss ready to spend more this Christmas

Swiss consumers retain a cautious outlook for the economy but are ready to spend a little more this Christmas than in the previous year, according to the 2013 Christmas retail survey by accounting and consulting company Deloitte.

The survey shows that Swiss households are budgeting an average of 807 francs (€656 or $893) for this yuletide season, up three percent from a year ago.

On to Spain, and a mob scene outside of Valencia via the London Telegraph:

IKEA gets 20,000 applications for just 400 jobs amid Spanish unemployment crisis

IKEA store’s computer servers crash after it gets 20,000 online applications for 400 jobs in just three days

TheLocal.es offers a dire assessment from a major player:

‘Spain won’t recover from crisis until 2033′

It will take Spain two decades, or until 2033, to see pre-crisis unemployment and growth levels, consultants PWC argue in a new report.

While Spain’s gross domestic product will grow 42 percent by 2033, or higher than the 26 percent of Germany and France’s 33 percent, the country won’t see pre-crisis growth levels until 2033, the PWC report argues.

A contrary view from BBC News:

Spain’s economic outlook improving, says Moody’s ratings agency

Ratings agency Moody’s has raised its outlook for Spain’s economy from “negative” to “stable”.

Moody’s said there had been a real improvement in the economy and government finances.

El País covers a neoliberal dream legally stricken:

Court rules one-year trial work contract without compensation illegal

Judgment applied to case of a laborer who was dismissed eight days before the 12-month period ended

thinkSPAIN conveys a reprimand:

Spain’s 600,000-euro fines for unauthorised demonstrations ‘problematic’, and austerity ‘a threat to human rights’, says European Commissioner

COUNCIL of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks says Spain’s controversial Public Safety Law is ‘highly problematic’ and that if it ‘goes any further’, he will ‘take it up with authorities’ in the country.

From El País, secession alliance:

Catalan pro-sovereignty parties seek deal for united ballot front

ERC will consider joint candidacy for EU parliamentary elections if independence vote goes ahead

The Portugal News covers the sale of a cherished piece of the commons:

Maximum price for CTT post office privatisation

The price of shares in the privatisation of CTT, the Portuguese postal service operator, has been set at €5.52, according to a statement from the CMVM stock market regulator.

With the first day of trading in the shares due on Thursday, the price turns out to be at the very top end of the price range set for the shares available to the public, which the government had said would be in the range of €4.10 and €5.52 earlier in November.

Italy next, and Bunga Bunga resurgence from New Europe:

Berlusconi considering running as a Bulgarian MEP

The former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is considering running in Bulgaria for the 2014 European elections.

According to the Italian media, Berlusconi is thinking to run as a candidate for the European Parliament by taking advantage of the EU law, which allows every EU citizen to run in any EU country in the European elections. The controversial Italian politician, who is banned from holding public office in Italy is also considering running in Hungary or Estonia.

Europe Online has another Bunga Bunga tale:

Berlusconi’s poodle a hit with Russia’s Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin is smitten with Silvio Berlusconi’s adopted white poodle, pictures published Wednesday show.

Putin paid Berlusconi a two-and-a-half-hour visit on November 26, a day before the Italian conservative leader and former prime minister was expelled from parliament due to a tax fraud conviction.

EUbusiness covers intolerance rising:

Italy minister hit by racist slurs warns over populism

Italy’s first black minister Cecile Kyenge, who has been deluged with racist slurs since her appointment in April, urged Europe’s leaders on Wednesday not to spread populism or use it to win votes.

“There has a been a rise in episodes of racism in many countries, probably linked to the economic crisis but also to a lack of knowledge about what European values really stand for,” Kyenge said at a press conference.

After the jump, the Greek meltdown continues, India fights for food, Chinese neoliberalism deepens, Japanese uncertainty vexes, the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!, and more. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Econo/Greco/Fukumania


The great neoliberal revolution continues, with ruthless privatizations and looting the order of the day.

We start in the U.S. with Al Jazeera America:

Homeless in Detroit allege they are being driven out of downtown

Some homeless make accusations that police pick them up and drive them out of town, away from new development

From the New York Times, another blow to the poor:

Lack of Doctors May Worsen as Millions Join Medicaid Rolls

In California, with the nation’s largest Medicaid population, many doctors say they are already overwhelmed and unable to take on more low-income patients. Dr. Hector Flores, a primary care doctor in East Los Angeles whose practice has 26,000 patients, more than a third of whom are on Medicaid, said he could accommodate an additional 1,000 Medicaid patients at most.

“There could easily be 10,000 patients looking for us and we’re just not going to be able to serve them,” said Dr. Flores, who is also chairman of the family medicine department at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles.

From USA TODAY, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, suing JPMorgan for damages in bad mortgage securities, wants to see Uncle Sam’s hole card:

JPMorgan foe seeks Justice’s unfiled complaint

Legal fight focuses on court complaint federal prosecutors prepared before finalizing a record $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan.

JPMorgan Chase is being pressed to disclose a secret legal document that could provide new details of how the nation’s largest bank handled and sold billions of dollars in now-toxic mortgage securities.

. . .in other words, they want to see the stick the administration used to sell the settlement, including all potential criminal charges. That’s a document every America deserves a chance to peruse.

From CNBC, unsunny disposition:

US recession is nigh…and the Fed can’t stop it: SocGen’s Edwards

The United States might be posting some promising growth data amid government shutdowns and debt ceiling debates, but Albert Edwards, Societe Generale’s uber-bearish strategist, has predicted a recession is coming for the world’s biggest economy.

From the World Socialist Web Site, a compromising position in the sell-off of the commons:

Detroit union joins legal action to force sell-off of DIA art

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has joined a legal action to demand that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr sell the cultural treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to pay off the city’s creditors.

AFSCME Council 25 filed the motion jointly with several bond insurance companies and banks, including Financial Guarantee Insurance Company, Syncora Capital Assurance, Ambac Assurance, Hypothekenbank Frankfurt AG, and Wilmington Trust Company.

Boing Boing offers a Fordian allusion:

Florida sheriff arrests mayor on drug charges: “This isn’t Toronto”

Barry Layne Moore, erstwhile mayor of Hampton, Florida, has been arrested for possessing and selling Oxycodone.

Off to Europe, starting with financial news from EUbusiness:

European banks face EUR 280 bn capital shortfall: PwC

European banks will require 280 billion euros ($380 billion) of extra capital in 2014 to meet reforms aimed at avoiding a repeat of the global financial crisis, according to a report published Thursday.

The report by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers said that banks would be forced to turn to the market to raise 180 billion euros of the required capital, as other methods of securing the funds — including the sale of assets — would fall short of closing the gap.

From Reuters, more Eurobankster anxiety:

Euro zone loans contraction increases pressure on ECB

A contraction in loans to households and companies in the euro zone quickened in October, piling pressure on the European Central Bank to do more to buoy the euro zone’s weak recovery.

The ECB cut its main refinancing rate earlier this month to 0.25 percent, but the euro zone central bank’s record low interest rates are not feeding through evenly to the real economy in all corners of the currency bloc.

Still more from the London Telegraph:

Eurozone M3 money plunge flashes deflation alert for 2014

Eurozone in danger of Japanese-style deflation, crippling Club Med nations, as money supply drops to record low levels, ECB monetary data shows

Europe Online covers a contrary trend:

Eurozone economic confidence rises to more than two-year high

The economic mood in the eurozone brightened in November with a key sentiment survey released Thursday rising to its highest level in more than two years.

Economic sentiment in the 17-member currency bloc rose for the eighth-consecutive month to 98.5 from 97.7 in October, the European Commission’s closely watched Economic Sentiment Indicator showed.

More euroanxiety from EUbusiness:

Ukraine under pressure at EU-Russia tug-of-war summit

Ukraine was pressed to choose sides Thursday as an EU summit designed to draw six ex-Soviet states into the Western fold opened Thursday amid a tough East-West tussle over influence.

Diplomats told AFP that pre-summit talks in the frosty Lithuanian capital between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and EU leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso — respectively presidents of the EU Council and European Commission — had not produced significant results.

And from ANA-MPA, concerns over European scapegoats:

EU Roma Summit on April 4, local agency official says

An EU Roma Summit will take place on April 4, 2014, the president of the National Centre for Social Solidarity (NCSS) Panagiota Iakovidou told ANA-MPA on Thursday.

Referring to the situation in Greece, she said that the Roma belong to the most vulnerable groups of the population and should be supported.

Britain’s Channel 4 News takes us to the U.K. and a look at the hysteria surrounding the Roma:

Roma in the UK

Program note:

Former home secretary, David Blunkett, has added to concerns over Roma in the UK by warning that some cities could face “race riots”.

From The Independent, another British anxiety:

Homebuilders under pressure after Bank of England announces plans to cool down house market

The Bank of England’s stunning move to clamp down on rising house prices sent shockwaves through the City’s listed housebuilders today, wiping more than one billion pounds off the sector as panicking investors dumped the shares.

British finance ministry and BOE jointly launched the FLS scheme to provide up to 80 billion pounds (130 billion U.S. dollars) to banks and building societies to help increase lending to home-buyers and businesses in a bid to stimulate economic growth.

The Guardian covers still another anxiety:

Norfolk police warn of alarming clown epidemic

Public told not to approach anyone wearing ‘Halloween-type’ clown masks after spate of reports of terrifying sightings

While the Economic Times notices a shift:

China overtakes India in UK migration figures

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) here today showed that 40,000 people came to Britain last year from China, compared to 37,000 from India – which had previously ranked No 1 for three consecutive years since 2009.

From Business Insider, Bloviatin’ Boris Johnson does it again:

Mayor Of London Says Economic Inequality Can Be Good, And Some People Are Just Too Dumb To Succeed

Iceland next, and a familiar pattern — massive layoffs at a public broadcaster, done in the name of austerity. From the Reykjavík Grapevine:

Four Hundred Strong Protest Layoffs At RÚV

Over four hundred people showed up at noon today in protest of the 39 immediate layoffs of lower- and middle-tier RÚV staff members. Protesters chanted “Our RÚV, Let’s Save RÚV,” surrounding the building with locked hands, symbolically forming a shield wall around it.

“We were outraged by the layoffs and decided to do something,” said Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir, who organised the event with Arngunnur Árnadóttir. “We felt we had a personal stake in the affair as RÚV belongs to everyone, and it has reliably provided excellent in-depth journalism as well as upheld important cultural values.”

Holland next, and medical malpractice from DutchNews.nl:

Doctors, hospitals don’t warn patients their treatment may cost money

Doctors and hospitals do not warn patients they may have to pay for part of their treatment at some hospitals because they have a budget health insurance policy, according to RTL news.

Nor do doctors check if treatment at the hospital they send patients to is covered by the patient’s health insurance. This could leave patients facing bills of thousands of euros, the broadcaster said.

France next, first with a rollback from TheLocal.fr:

French CEO gives up €21m pension amid fury

The CEO of French car giant PSA Peugeot Citroen announced he was giving up his €21 million pension plan, just hours after news of the eye-watering golden parachute had caused uproar among unions on Wednesday. The French president said it was a “wise” decision.

Xinhua covers ongoing failure:

Hollande says curbing job claims to take “necessary time”

Struggling to reverse rampant unemployment rate by year-end, French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said bringing down job claims will take the “necessary time.”

More from RFI:

Hollande hints at failure to hit unemployment goal by year end

French president François Hollande hinted on Thursday that he would fail to achieve his goal of reversing the rise in French unemployment by the end of the year, a target he has frequently touted as a key priority.

From BBC News, blue mood on the Seine:

France ‘more pessimistic’ on economy as confidence dips

France is “more pessimistic” about the state of its economy than fellow eurozone countries, a European Commission survey has found.

French consumer confidence declined sharply in November, reflecting “worsening expectations about the future general economic situation, unemployment expectations and savings over the next 12 months”, it said.

FRANCE 24 covers resurrection dreams:

Ex-president Sarkozy ‘could launch comeback in 2014′

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy could take advantage of next year’s local and European elections to launch a comeback, a former government minister and close aide told the popular Europe 1 radio station Thursday.

Germany next with Deutsche Welle and a marriage of convenience:

Economists criticize tame coalition deal

Two months after the elections, the Christian Democrats, its sister party and the Social Democrats have reached a coalition agreement. The minimum wage was one of the most discussed issues during the coalition talks.

Bloomberg entertains notions of tapering:

German Inflation Gauge Rises After CPI Data; Spanish Notes Fall

Germany’s inflation expectations rose from an 18-month low as a report showed consumer prices increased more in November than economists forecast, damping the case for further European Central Bank stimulus.

From Deutsche Welle, maintaining:

German jobs market treads water, unemployment edging up in November

Unemployment in Germany rose slightly in November but stays below the symbolic 3-million mark. The Labor Agency says job creation is in line with economic growth and will accelerate on bigger expansion due next year.

Deutsche Welle covers historic resolution in Baden-Württemberg:

German state signs historic treaty with Sinti and Roma

They are Germans and have been living in Germany for centuries. But Sinti and Roma have been persecuted since the Nazi era and are still discriminated against. A new treaty aims to strengthen the minorities’ rights.

On to Spain and a declaration from TheLocal.es:

Spain declares two-year recession officially over

Spain said on Thursday it has technically escaped a two-year recession by posting feeble growth in the third quarter, but with an unemployment rate still towering at 26 percent.

ANSAmed notes numbers rising:

Spanish exports hit record 34% of GDP

  • Highest in Europe after Germany
  • Spanish exports of goods and services will total EUR 350 billion at the end of the year.

Across the peninsula with the Portugal News:

Tax workers strike on last days of fiscal pardon

The Portuguese tax workers’ union (STI) has called a strike for 19,20 and 23 December, dates that coincide with the end of a government tax pardon for individuals and companies with overdue taxes.

The government approved the pardon on 3 October for tax payers who owe money to the tax office or social security which should have been paid up until 31 August, exempting them from paying any interest and administrative costs and charging lower fines if they resolve the situation.

And on to Italy with the latest in Bunga Bunga from euronews:

Berlusconi ready to bounce back after political expulsion

The Italian Senate may have killed Silvio Berlusconi’s political career by expelling him on Wednesday, but the political animal is very much alive, and retains a nasty bite.

The disgraced former prime minister promises this is not the end, and he remains at liberty to lead an opposition movement. He has promised revenge by the ballot box for what he calls a “coup”.

More from Bloomberg Businessweek:

Even Political Expulsion Can’t Take Berlusconi out of Politics

In spite of his political setback, most polls put his Forza Italia party and its likely allies ahead of Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s center-left coalition, with over 30 percent of the vote. And while he will not be able to stand for election or take public office, there’s nothing stopping him from leading his party from the outside.

After the jump, Grecocrisis, Latin American conflict, Southeast Asian crisis, Chinese policy, Japanese economic woes, and the latest edition of Fukushuimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day I: Econo/Greco/Fukufails


We were editing this selection yesterday when the power went out, so we’ll offer it belatedly, because there’s so much of critical import — especially in the case of Greece [after the jump] along with the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypdr Now!

From the Los Angeles Times, an aciton close to home:

UC labor walkout affects medical centers, dining operations

Thousands of tutors, service workers and patient care employees stage a one-day job action as tense negotiations continue over a new contract.

Salon covers a Big Box threat:

Wal-Mart labor group promises 1,500 Black Friday protests next week

Amid scrutiny of Wal-Mart taking up employee-to-employee charity, strike wave continues against retail giant

From USA TODAY, rich getting richer:

Dow closes above 16,000 for the first time

In one of the most dramatic signs yet of the bull market’s strength, on Thursday the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 16,000 for the first time in the much-watched average’s 117-year history.

The Daily Dot offers relief:

TPP unlikely to be ‘fast tracked’ through Congress this year

A top House Democrat has announced that it was unlikely that Congress would take up a bill this year that would speed up the TPP process and make it more likely that all of its controversial elements would pass.

From The Guardian, numbers games?:

Officials to investigate claims Census Bureau manipulated jobs figures

New York Post alleges census employee Julius Buckmon was caught faking results to make unemployment rate appear lower

USA TODAY covers a relief of sorts:

Jobless claims fall more than expected

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits slipped 21,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, in a sign the labor market continues to improve as businesses see little need to cut jobs.

From Bloomberg Businessweek, Schadenfreude time:

Survey: The Job Market Gets Worse for MBAs

Future business leaders of America, brace yourselves. Some 43 percent of employers plan to cut the number of MBAs hired, according to Michigan State University’s new survey of 6,500 employers, a drop that will cause expected employment of MBAs to plummet nearly 25 percent from last year. Demand is down across almost all economic sectors, the report says, with financial services and government reporting the steepest drop.

From Reuters, something inevitable:

After gains, Vice Fund seeks ‘Budweiser of marijuana’

Gerry Sullivan has an eye out for the sins of tomorrow, but he’s no puritan.

Since taking the helm of USA Mutuals’ iconoclastic Vice Fund in 2011, Sullivan has scored big gains spotting trends in tobacco, guns, alcoholic beverages and gambling. Now he’s seeing new ways to make money on human transgression.

But cautions abound, even in the Centennial State, where voters opted to legalize the weed. From Westword:

Multiple marijuana businesses being raided by DEA, IRS, Denver cops

Westword has learned that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is conducting raids at this writing at multiple marijuana businesses in the Denver area.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver has issued a statement confirming the ongoing operation, which is being conducted by the DEA in collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service and the Denver Police Department. Our sources tell us it’s likely to continue throughout the day and involves a notable number of targets.

From Calbuzz, capitalizing on what they battled:

Big Ag’s Secretive $50-Million Obamacare Contract

Western Growers Association, one of California’s most powerful conservative business forces, is profiting handsomely from Obamacare — despite its fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Calbuzz has learned that a $50-million contract to oversee implementation of health insurance for small businesses in California was awarded to a private company wholly owned by the heavyweight ag group. The contract was granted by Covered California, the organization set up to manage Obamacare in the state.

From Bloomberg Businessweek, life, and less of it, in neoloberal America:

The U.S. Lags in Life Expectancy Gains

Life expectancy in the U.S. has been growing more slowly than in other developed countries and is now more than a year below the developed-country average, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

CNBC covers a multi-trillion-dollar disaster-in-the-making:

Crisis in America: a crumbling infrastructure

Announced during his State of the Union speech in February, Obama’s Fix-It-First program calls for $40 billion in spending on a backlog of urgent repairs and upgrades. That would follow $31 billion that went into infrastructure as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But those sums are dwarfed by the $3.6 trillion in investment the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says is needed by 2020.

And once in a while we run a headline, well, just because — as in this gem from CBC News:

Moose-eating shark rescued in Newfoundland harbour

Greenland shark either bit off more that it could chew or was just enjoying a big meal

To Reuters for a global picture:

U.S. factories rebound, but Europe, China falter

U.S. factory output rebounded this month but hiring remained sluggish, while business activity across the euro zone and at China’s manufacturers slowed, surveys showed on Thursday. The data underscored the fragile nature of the global recovery and the difficulties still facing the world’s biggest economies.

More global consequences from MercoPress:

US ‘budget-debt ceiling’ political clashes threaten slower world growth, warns OECD

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, cut its forecast for global economic growth through next year and warned that fiscal and monetary policy decisions looming in the U.S. could derail the recovery. OECD said world economic output would expand 2.7% this year and 3.6% in 2014, down from May’s forecast of 3.1% and 4%.

From Europe Online , cozying up:

China-EU summit to focus on investment, strategic ties

Leaders of China and the European Union gathered in Beijing on Thursday for an annual leaders’ summit that was expected to focus on a bilateral investment deal and long-term strategic cooperation.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso led the two sides for the talks, which EU officials said would cover trade and investment, market access, and “the need to secure green growth.”

A European alert from the London Telegraph:

Eurozone slows as ‘sick man’ France hits recovery

Disappointing eurozone PMI survey signals slowing growth for second month in November with activity in France shrinking and the bloc’s service sector weakening

Another from The Guardian:

Medicalisation of misery to blame for soaring use of antidepressants, say GPs

Doctors across Europe warn limited time and resources leads many to prescribe pills for less-urgent cases of depression

To Old Blighty, and another alert, this one from The Independent:

‘Disaster’ as UK house-building rate falls away

Less than half the amount of new houses needed to meet demand were built in the last year

The number of affordable houses and flats built in England fell sharply last year, highlighting the pressures facing first-time homebuyers, Government figures released today have disclosed.

Germany next, with a long-belated acceptance from BBC News:

Angela Merkel clears way for national minimum wage

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has signalled the likely introduction of a national minimum wage in Germany.

Mrs Merkel, speaking at a meeting of business leaders, said that it was clear that the opposition SPD “would not conclude coalition negotiations without a legal minimum wage”.

German anxieties growing, via Spiegel:

Near Zero: ECB Interest Rate Cuts Hit Savings Hard

As the European Central Bank pushes interest rates to a new low, Germans are growing increasingly concerned about their savings. The money in their accounts is losing value and life insurance policies are yielding lower returns. Investors and central bankers feel trapped.

From TheLocal.de, more good news for Germany:

Tax coffers swell again on shopping and jobs

A booming job market and an increase in consumer spending saw Germany’s tax receipts grow again in October, putting €39 billion into government coffers.

TheLocal.de, with another ranking:

Germany tops world ‘soft power’ rankings

Germany has been ranked the world’s leading “soft power” edging Britain and the USA off top spot for its cultural and sporting prowess, economic might and diplomacy

TheLocal.fr takes us to France and a violent end:

French farmers told to end protest after death

A protest by French farmers unions provoked the ire of the government on Thursday after a motorist was killed and six others injured in two separate accidents at road blocks on the outsirts of Paris on Thursday morning. The blocks were lifted at around midday.

Holland next, with an unanticipated uptick from DutchNews.nl:

Jobless total falls unexpectedly

The official Dutch unemployment figure fell unexpectedly by 11,000 in October, the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday.

At the same time, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits (ww) rose by 8,000 to 408,000, the CBS said.

To Spain next, with calls for action via thinkSPAIN:

Countrywide demonstrations against austerity this weekend

NUMEROUS protest marches have been planned across Spain this weekend, particularly in its major cities, over funding cuts and austerity measures.

TheLocal.es with a hopeful declaration:

Spanish PM calls time on austerity policies

The Spanish government will ease its austerity reforms over the coming two years as the economy appears to be emerging from recession, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Thursday.

thinkSPAIN covers draconian measures:

Judges call 600,000-euro fines for ‘personalised’ protests or photographing police ‘repressive’ and ‘autocratic’

NEW legislation attempting to limit public demonstrations and imposing fines ranging from 30,000 to 600,000 euros for ‘insulting a police officer’ or ‘protesting in public without authorities’ consent’ has been slammed by judges, pressure groups and even the police themselves.

El País on taxing travails:

Cemex probe creates storm at Tax Agency

The management of the Spanish Tax Agency last week fired a tax inspector working in its large contributors department on the spot after she rejected an appeal lodged by Mexican cement manufacturing giant Cemex’s Spanish subsidiary against a multi-million- euro fine for unpaid taxes.

EUbusiness casts doubt:

Moody’s says no ‘clean bill of health’ for Spain banks

International credit rating agency Moody’s warned Thursday that Spain’s banks still face significant challenges despite nearly completing a 41-billion-euro ($55 billion) eurozone-financed bailout.

And El País cites another neoliberal move:

Government is aiming to cut personal income tax, says Rajoy

PM rules out more major fiscal adjustments

To Lison and report card time from the Portugal News:

Troika returns on 4 December for 10th bailout review

The team of international officials overseeing Portugal’s euro-zone bailout are to return to Lisbon on 4 December to start the 10th regular review of its progress in implementing the agreement, the government announced.

ANSAmed offers qualified endorsement:

EU praises Portugal’s anti-crisis plan, but risks remain

From Bloomberg, a complication:

EU Says Portugal Court Rulings May Complicate Return to Market

The European Commission said new rulings by Portugal’s Constitutional Court blocking government measures may make it tougher for the country to regain full access to the bond market.

“Risks from further negative rulings by the Constitutional Court cannot be discarded and could make the government’s plans to fully access the debt market from mid-2014 on significantly more challenging,” the Brussels-based commission said today in a report on the eighth and ninth reviews of the aid program for Portugal.

And from the Portugal News, austerian reality:

Child benefits keep falling

The Portuguese family association confederation said it could not understand a 60,000 family reduction in the numbers receiving family subsidies in October, saying policy should aim at stimulating the birth rate.

The Portugal News again, this time with an action:

More Lisbon metro strikes Thursday as union contests budget

Lisbon Metro workers are staging another partial strike to protest against pay cuts and other measures contained in the right-of-centre’s government’s state budget for 2014 and labour reform legislation.

Italy next, with more selling of the commons via TheLocal.it:

Italy will sell stakes in eight firms including Eni

Italy will sell stakes in eight companies including energy giant Eni in a “first packet of privatisations”, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Thursday, in a drive to reduce debt

And from RT, Bunga Bunga gotcha:

‘Bunga Bunga’ director: Court details Berlusconi’s ‘underage sex’ case

A court in Milan said that former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi had sexual relations with underage dancer Ruby “in exchange for considerable sums of money and other items.” The court released a document explaining the 7-year sentence handed down in June.

More from TheLocal.it:

Berlusconi ‘paid off witnesses’ in sex trial

Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, found guilty in June of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, falsified evidence and corrupted dozens of witnesses in a bid to escape jail, a court report said on Thursday

After the jump, the Greek crisis deepens, Ukrainian rejection, Venezuelan power shift, Indian woes, Chinese neoliberalization, Japanese economic notes, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now! . . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: EconoEnviroFuku-woes


Lots of ground to cover, plus the first day [or is it] of removing that deadly spent radioactive fuel from Fukushima, so let’s get straight to it.

From the Washington Post, the beneficiaries of crisis in stark relief:

How to get rich in the new Washington

Over the past decade, big spending on government contracts and lobbying has created a wave of well-heeled insiders and transformed Washington.

A second Washington Post headline raises a concern we share:

150 years after the Gettysburg Address, is government by the people in trouble?

From Reuters, about time someone said it:

Icahn warns stock market could face ‘big drop’

Activist investor Carl Icahn on Monday said there was a chance the stock market could suffer a big decline, saying valuations are rich and earnings at many companies are fueled more by low borrowing costs than management’s efforts to boost results.

Reuters again, noting a chord struck:

Dow, S&P pull back from records after Icahn’s caution

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended lower on Monday while the Dow failed to close above its milestone level of 16,000 as stocks sold off late in the session following Carl Icahn’s cautious comments on the equities market.

The Economic Times reported on the market before Icahn dropped his bomb:

Dow, S&P 500 at new highs: China reform plans buoy stocks

Benchmark US stock indices rose to record highs on Monday, buoyed by the prospect of continued Federal Reserve stimulus, while the dollar slipped and global equity markets climbed, driven by economic reform plans in China.

From the Washington Post, loathsome vs. despicable:

Sheldon Adelson, top 2012 donor and casino magnate, readies to fight Internet gambling

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose record-breaking campaign spending in 2012 made him an icon of the new super-donor era, is leveraging that newfound status in an escalating feud with industry rivals over the future of gambling.

From the Globe and Mail, yet more business as usual:

Federal judge orders MF Global to pay $1-billion to customers

A federal judge in New York has ordered MF Global Inc to return more than $1-billion to harmed customers and pay an additional $100-million penalty as part of a civil settlement with U.S. derivatives regulators.

CNBC notes a harsh reality:

America’s cities on the edge

Federal funding cutbacks, combined with the economic damage from the Great Recession, continue to challenge Main Street. Eight cities have filed for bankruptcy since 2010, including Detroit; Scranton, Pa.; and Stockton, Calif. That’s not surprising, considering that all but four of the 384 local economies tracked by Moody’s Analytics’ Business Cycle Index had fallen into recession by 2009. Of those, 255 moved into recovery in 2010.

From the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg drops the ax:

Bloomberg’s News Division to Lay Off About 50 People

Bloomberg LP’s news division will lay off about 50 people or about 2% of its newsroom, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, the latest financial news and data provider to make job reductions.

And from AlterNet, the rich call on the the poor to feed to poorer:

Wal-Mart Asks Workers To Donate Food To Its Needy Employees

Wal-Mart logic: instead of paying workers a living wage, we can encourage low-wage workers to donate to less well-off workers.

Off to Canada with the National Post as the Toronto City Council strips the mayor of his last vestiges of power:

‘You just attacked Kuwait!’ Wounded Rob Ford declares war as council strips him of key powers

Council erupted in chaos Monday as the mayor charged the public gallery, bowling over councillor Pam McConnell. He later plugged his new TV show

Next, a global story from Mother Jones:

Natural Disasters Cost $3.8 Trillion Since 1980, World Bank Says

Using data from Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance (insurance for insurers) agency, World Bank analysts found that 74 percent of that cost arose from weather-related disasters like hurricanes and droughts.

Now to Europe, first with EUobserver:

Eurozone trade surplus doubles, boosts crisis countries

The prospects of the eurozone’s nascent economic recovery were boosted on Monday (18 November) after figures revealed that the bloc’s trade surplus in 2013 was on course to double 2012.

But Reuters casts a skeptical eye:

Euro zone rebound weaker than hoped: ECB’s Nowotny

The economic situation in the euro zone has started to improve but is still weaker than the European Central Bank had hoped, ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said on Monday.

While France tries to fight intolerance by banning some of its targets, the folks California used to call braceros. From EurActiv:

French EU minister seeks solutions to fight social dumping

In an interview with EurActiv.fr, the French Minister in charge of European affairs, Thierry Repentin, expressed his worries of a surge by far-right in next year’s EU elections. He calls for better regulation of posted workers and a general minimum wage across the EU.

As social tensions mount in France, especially in Brittany where farmers and food sector workers have protested against government taxes for weeks, Repentin expressed serious concern about “posted workers”, who often pay fewer social contributions and taxes than local employees.

The London Telegraph notes German bankster umbrage:

Bundesbank says Italian and Spanish banks still hooked on home state debt

There is still an acute credit crunch for small business in Italy and Spain. The banks are hunkering down and living off their coupons from the state, even as the rest of the economy screams for credit. Their appetite for sovereign debt – boosted first by the ECB’s €1 trillion long-term loans (LTRO), then by Mario Draghi’s debt backstop (OMT) — is touted as a sign of recovery, but it is equally a sign of deformed EU policy.

And EUobserver covers doublespeak and pussy-footing:

Trade deal ‘won’t loosen standards,’ EU and US officials ay

The latest round of talks on an EU-US trade deal concluded on Friday (15 November) with negotiators playing down suggestions that an accord would undercut a raft of rules on consumer protection and environmental standards.

Despite fresh revelations about the extent of phone-hacking and surveillance by the US National Security Agency, data protection was not on the agenda of the second round of talks, which was delayed by the US government “shutdown” in October.

And EurActiv discovers hypocrisy as usual:

Member states backtrack on corporate reporting pledge

A pledge made by heads of state and government this summer to beef up corporate social responsibility reporting for European companies is set to be ditched because too few member states are prepared to support it, EurActiv has learned.

From Reuters, a darn good idea:

Swiss outrage over executive pay sparks a movement in Europe

Here’s an idea for how to end corporate greed and reverse the trend of growing income inequality worldwide: impose a new rule that would limit the pay of top executives to just 12 times that of the lowest-paid employees at the same firm. In other words, prevent CEOs from earning more in one month than the lowliest shop-floor worker earns in a year.

And EUbusiness covers another, more disturbing movement:

Six European far-right groups join forces: Austrian party

Six European far-right parties are joining forces ahead of EU-wide elections in May, in a bid to contain Brussels and take back national powers, Austria’s Freedom Party (FPOe) announced Monday.

Representatives of France’s Front National (FN), Italy’s Lega Nord, the Sweden Democrats, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and the Slovak National Party met Friday in Vienna to discuss an alliance that will put Europe “back on the right track,” FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache told reporters.

On to Old Blighty, heftily boosted by the London Telegraph:

UK growing at fastest rate in developed world, says OECD

The UK economy grew faster than any of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) 34 nations in the third quarter, think tank says

Bloomberg Pursuits Magazine covers on of the reasons for all that “prosperity”:

London Lures Billionaires as Mansions Seen as Safe Haven

Since 2009, more super-prime properties have traded hands in London than in any other city, including Hong Kong, New York and Singapore; last year, the city accounted for about a third of the approximately 300 super-prime sales globally, according to research from Savills.

While a headline in the Washington Post hints at a dark side:

Why the rise of the ultra-rich in London is bad for the rest of Britain

The prosperity of London has diverged drastically from that of the rest of Britain in the last decade, in ways that contain economic lessons for the rest of the world.

From The Independent, notable posterior osculation:

Boris Johnson says super-rich are ‘put-upon minority’ like homeless people and Irish travellers

Mayor says wealthiest should get automatic knighthoods and “our humble thanks”, in comments deemed “deeply offensive” by London Assembly’s Labour group

Off to Norway, with a nasty little twist form TheLocal.no:

Norway gov mulls Arctic prisons for foreigners

Norway’s new right-wing government is considering sending foreign criminals to abandoned military camps in Norway’s Arctic north to free up prison space for Norwegian inmates.

And another nasty little Norwegian twist, also from TheLocal.no:

Graves in Norway bagged for late payment

A company contracted to run a cemetery in Norway has started putting black plastic bags over gravestones, along with late-payment notices to warn relatives that the grave will shortly be removed.

Germany next, and a pending job action from TheLocal.de:

Union plans Christmas Amazon strikes

Germany’s service-sector union Verdi has confirmed it will hold strike action against online retail giant Amazon over the busy Christmas holiday period, according to reports on Sunday.

France next, with a somber judgment from Deutsche Welle:

Downgraded France has ‘bundle of problems’

France’s economy is in a bad state. Analysts are saying the eurozone nation’s industry, labor market and social system are all chronically ill. The question is is which remedies the country’s citizens will tolerate.

And on to Spain, first with a mixed blessing by way of EUbusiness:

EU welcomes Spanish bank reform, warns on deficit

The European Union on Monday welcomed efforts by Spain to repair its banking sector but warned that the country risked missing its public deficit-cutting targets. Spain is poised in January to exit a programme to shore up its banks’ balance sheets, swamped in bad loans since a property bubble imploded in 2008.

El País cites an exclusion:

ECB won’t include public debt in bank asset quality review

Supervisor still to decide on treatment of these holdings in stress tests

And TheLocal.es cites a troublesome trend:

Spanish bank bad loans surge to record high

Bad loans at Spanish banks struck a new record high in September, official data showed Monday, despite the near completion of a €41 billion eurozone-financed bailout of the battered financial sector

From El País, gone but not forgotten:

UN demands more support from Spain for Franco victims

Committee on Enforced Disappearances approved report by visiting panel urging government to help relatives locate the dead

From thinkSPAIN, another job action — or not:

Ambulance strike partially cancelled

A WEEK-LONG ambulance strike planned throughout the north-eastern region of Catalunya has been partly called off after an initial agreement was reached between workers and their employers.

Thumbs down on secession via El País:

Catalan Socialists close ranks against nationalists’ sovereignty plan

Party’s council votes overwhelmingly to oppose plan to ask Congress to approve holding of status referendum

And from El País again, divisions hit the ruling Popular Party:

Rajoy’s PP suffers painful splits just as the economy perks up

Many party chiefs are asking for more leadership as corruption scandals continue to mount

Off to Italy with a sharp poke at the Baron of Bunga Bunga from Corriere della Sera:

Heart of Darkness-style Power without Heirs

No place for critical thinking in Colonel Kurtz’s camp. Only devotion, obedience and gratitude permitted

Silvio Berlusconi is not Kurtz. Yet. But his inability to manage succession has become disquieting. One by one his political heirs have been disappointed and dismissed as soon as they showed any hint of independence

After the jump, the Greek meltdown accelerates, a Latin American radical prepares for office, China continues its rush to Reaganomics, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!, and more. . . Continue reading

Michael Hudson on debt and the lies we’re told


Michael Hudson, who teaches Modern Monetary Theory [MMT] at the University of Missouri–Kansas City,  offers a brilliant tour through the history of debt and the peculiar distortions and omissions that characterize its portrayal in traditional academics:

The sad reality is that we have been sold a bill of goods designed to keep the many enslaved to debt for the profit of the few.

Hudson is lucid, incisive, and clear, and his message offers us a way out of a morass that is at one toxic and notional.

H/T to Moussequetaire!

Headlines of the day II: Econo/Greco/Sino/Ecolalia


Patterns emerge the looting of the commons rebranded as asuterity continues unchecked, and the momentary stability hailed by the financial press begins to look precarious, while nations rush to embrace policies designed to enrich the few while driving the rest to the bottom.

And yes, it really is that simple, with the bludgeon of debt used as the enforcer.

We begin with the last hint that the Obama administration is set to make a deal once unimaginable to Democrats and, as Eisenhower once noted, too all but a few Texas oil men. From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Social Security benefits may be on table in budget talks

With congressional budget negotiations moving behind closed doors, one item apparently on the table is changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for seniors, veterans and other recipients of government benefits.

From the Los Angeles Times, more tarnish for the Golden State’s luster:

California’s unemployment benefits fund is mired in debt

The fund owes nearly $10 billion to the federal government — so much, the problem won’t fix itself even if disbursements fall to pre-recession levels, the Employment Development Department says.

From The Contributor, Tea Party toll charges:

Gov Perry Refused Medicaid, Now TX Cities Feel the Squeeze

According to a new study, medical expenses hit Texas cities disproportionately hard. If Governor Perry had not refused Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, millions in taxpayer money would have been saved. Millions that could be better spent on jobs or infrastructure projects.

From Bloomberg, damned if you do, damned if you don’t:

Obamacare Deductibles 26% Higher Make Cheap Rates a Risk

Americans seeking cheap insurance on the Obamacare health exchanges may be in for sticker shock if they get sick next year, as consumers trade lower premiums for out-of-pocket costs that can top $6,000 a person.

And a question answered from CNBC:

Who’s smiling through Obamacare blunder? Insurers, of course.

Believe it or not, the “fumble” of the new health-care law has winners—and they’re all publicly traded health-care companies.

Meanwhile BBC News plays ketchup when job axes fall:

Heinz says three North American plants to close

Food maker Heinz has announced the closure of two plants in the United States and one in Canada. The firm says 1,350 jobs will be lost, which adds to the 600 job cuts announced in August.

And another job ax falls, via the Associated Press:

Merck to cease production at Puerto Rico plant

Merck will cease active ingredient production at one of its plants in Puerto Rico in a blow to a city once considered a pharmaceutical hub. The company said Friday that production in Barceloneta will end by late 2014 as part of a global restructuring.

FromThe Contributor, an upbeat story for a change:

Auto Workers Negotiate with VW, Southern GOPers Fear the End of Cheap Labor

Volkswagen says the outcome of negotiations with the Chattanooga, Tennessee, United Auto Workers union will have no bearing on whether or not they will build a new SUV in the United States. Southern politicians are in a tizzy, though, calling any negotiations at all the beginning of the end of cheap labor in the South.

Here in California, another labor action has been announced, reports the Oakland Tribune:

UC graduate students, service workers plan to strike

The University of California service workers union and graduate student union are calling for a system-wide one-day strike on Wednesday.

From The Independent, 21st Century salt mines:

Writing is on the wall for the new slaves: Contributors who work for free for website magazines

Welcome to the post-recession world, where social discourse is subordinated absolutely to advertising and paid work is replaced with “experience”. This is the business model that was pioneered by the Huffington Post and described by Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times as “a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates”.

And a parallel tale from Quartz:

Twenty-somethings have incredibly unrealistic expectations for retirement

High youth unemployment, the proliferation of unpaid internships and soaring costs of higher education make it hard for young people to save for retirement, even if they want to. And as fiscal shortfalls and longer lifespans push countries to cut state benefits for retirees, younger generations won’t be able to rely as much on governments to support them as their parents did.

And what about the banksters, you may ask? Well, via Just An Earth-Bound Misfit, I, here’s a delightful CNBC video about what happened after one notorious outfit went to Twitter in hopes of puffery and received something quite different in return.

From ThePuppetsCan HearYou:

#AskJPM tweets performed by voice of American Greed & @PuppetsOH

Program notes:

Someone at JP Morgan said, “Let’s ask the American public what they’d like to say to one of our top bankers on Twitter.” Turns out that wasn’t such a great idea. The tweets generated from #AskJPM range from funny to down-right nasty. So someone at CNBC said, “Let’s have award-winning actor, Stacy Keach…the voice from American Greed read them verbatim.” Almost a brilliant idea. Then they had the good sense to add me… the blue puppet. And BOOM now it’s brilliant.

Tweet @PuppetsOH
Like us: www.facebook.com/ThePuppetsCanHearYou

From the San Francisco Chronicle, another war on drugs, Berkeley style:

Berkeley’s next smoking ban may hit home

Berkeley, where residents take pride in exercising their personal freedoms and resisting government intrusion, is the site these days of a much different kind of movement – one to ban cigarette smoking from single-family homes.

For our last domestic item, we turn to Gawker:

Rich Man Buys House Next to Ex-Wife, Erects Giant Middle Finger Outside

A Michigan man has reportedly gone to Internet-ready lengths in order to troll his ex-wife with a daily reminder of his feelings towards her.

Next, to Canada and an inflating bubble with CBC News:

Average house price in Canada rises 8% to $391,820

CREA says number of homes sold also increased

From CBC News again, vanishing choices:

Retirement not by choice for 41% of Canadians, survey says

Although most affluent Canadians approaching retirement believe they will get to pick the day they step away from their careers, in reality 41 per cent of retirees report they didn’t leave their jobs by choice, according to a new report from Royal Bank.

Off to Europe, first with the London Telegraph:

Eurozone inflation at four year low, data confirm

Talk of deflation continues, despite European Central Bank rate cut last week

From EUobserver, doubts raised:

Eurozone economy still in troubled waters

The eurozone economy grew by a meagre 0.1 percent in the last three months, showing that optimism about recovery from the crisis may be premature, according to data from the bloc’s statistical office Eurostat published on Thursday.

Troubled? Maybe more than that, if one considers this from the World Economic Forum via the London Telegraph:

Youth unemployment could tear Europe apart, warns WEF

Crime rates will soar, economies will stagnate and Europe’s social fabric will deteriorate if policymakers do not act to address youth unemployment, World Economic Forum report warns

But Spiegel sees through rose-colored specs:

Euro Crisis Reprieve: End to Bailout Programs Signals Recovery

Some four years after the euro crisis began, Ireland and Spain are set to graduate from their bailout programs, with Dublin planning to begin financing itself again early next year. It’s a positive sign, but economists warn against premature optimism.

Reuters covers a backstop:

EU ministers agree euro zone bailout fund can be used as ultimate backstop for banks

European Union finance ministers agreed on Friday that, as a last resort, the euro zone ESM bailout fund will be able to buy stakes in banks that need rescuing if neither investors nor the government are able to provide funds.

More from New Europe:

Barnier warns all member-states will now have to make compromises

ECOFIN: ESM can be used as backstop for failing banks

And the eruobanksters both give and take. Via Reuters:

Banks to repay 3.6 billion euros of crisis loans: ECB

Banks will next week return 3.59 billion euros ($4.8 billion) of crisis loans early to the European Central Bank, the ECB said on Friday, a lower than expected total as a recent rate cut makes it more attractive to hold on to the funds for now.

The ECB cut its main refinancing rate to a record low of 0.25 percent, automatically reducing the interest rate banks have to pay on the three-year loans.

From BBC News, a dressing down:

EU warns Spain and Italy over their budget plans

It also said French and Dutch plans only just passed muster.

More, including a telling detail, from the London Telegraph:

EU uses new budget powers to demand more austerity in Italy and Spain

Spain and Italy have been warned that their budgets for 2014 are in breach of European Union rules as Brussels uses new powers to force governments to revise spending plans before national parliaments vote on them.

France was also cautioned that plans for painful economic reforms represent only “limited progress” as the European Commission exercised new eurozone powers in a historic shift of sovereignty away from elected governments.

And Deutsche Welle covers a failure to launch:

EU still wrangling over banking union

Ireland is about to leave Europe’s bailout program – that’s the good news from the latest meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. The bad news: No progress was made on a banking union.

From the Corporate Europe Observatory [CEO], round and round they go:

Mythbusting: the Commission and the revolving door

CEO responds to the Commission’s positive picture of its handling of revolving doors cases and conflicts of interest. Can the Commission afford to be quite so complacent?

Here’s a graphic depiction of CEO’s take on the reality, more evidence for which may be found at their Revolving Door Watch:

BLOG eurocrats

And if you need something more to ponder, there’s this from EUobserver:

Gazprom warns EU of winter ‘catastrophe’

Gazprom has warned that Ukraine might not have enough gas to feed EU transit customers in the coming winter.

Britain next, with The Independent covering democracy in peril:

Apathy? Alienation? How ‘disengaged’ four in ten voters reject ALL parties

Young adults are even more “disengaged”  from the party system, with 46 per cent of under-30s saying “none of the above” when presented with a list of the parties. Although the polling does not mean people are apathetic about politics,  the anti-sleaze watchdog which commissioned it believes the findings pose worrying questions about the future of democracy in Britain.

Sky News brings us the fatuous endorsing the cynical:

Simon Cowell Slammed Over ‘Get Lucky’ Remark

The Education Secretary blasts the X Factor boss for joking that children do not need to work hard, they should just get “lucky”.

From The Independent, austerian accounting:

Nearly a million under-25s still unemployed despite growth

Young people in Britain are experiencing a “jobless recovery” as unemployment among them rises while older people find work, according to a study published today.

And those slightly more fortunate from the London Telegraph:

White-collar workers to become ‘new poor’ as computers take over

Employees such as legal clerks and local government administrators will see their wages collapse as new technology makes their skills less valuable, just like manual workers have, Alan Milburn says

Ireland have officially bailed out of the bailout regime, but there’s a catch. From the Irish Times:

Ireland faces two annual post-bailout inspections

Coalition pledges to press on with reform agenda

Germany next, with anxiety from Deutsche Welle:

German DAX heavyweights increasingly worried about strong euro

More than half of all firms listed in Germany’s blue-chip DAX 30 index have reported shrinking third-quarter turnover and many also declining operating profits. A study says the current strength of the euro is to blame.

From DutchNews.nl, a Hans Brinker on thin ice:

Brussels accepts Dutch 2014 budget despite lack of margin for error

The European Commission has accepted the Dutch government’s spending plans for 2014 even though there is no margin for error in cutting the budget deficit to 3%.

DutchNews.nl again, cultivating interest:

Two in three large councils back organised marijuana cultivation

In total, 26 of the Netherlands’ 38 largest local authority areas support some form of government legalised or organised marijuana production, Nos television says.

Spain next, with a new austerian mandate from El País:

Brussels asks Spain for more fiscal adjustment to meet deficit obligations

Commission believes additional measures worth €35bn will be required over next three years

The Brussels announcement dims Thursday’s announcement, reported by thinkSPAIN:

Spain’s bank bail-out and supervision to end in January, says Eurogroup

SPAIN’S banks will come out of their ‘bail-out period’ in January without the need for any further European Union funding.

Consider another report from Friday’s El País:

Bank of Spain may revise incompatibility criteria

Decision follows row over nomination of former central bank director general to a private financial sector institution

And then there’s this, also from El País:

Outstanding Spanish public debt hits new record high in September

Obligations were equivalent to 93.4 percent of GDP, just under government target for full year

Italy next, with BBC News covering an anti-austerian outburst:

Italy: protesting students clash with police in Bologna and Rome

Thousands of students protesting against government austerity measures clashed with police in cities throughout Italy on Friday. In Bologna and Rome they marched in the streets of the city centre holding banners. Refering to their uncertain future, they chanted: “you’ll pay for it, for job insecurity, for misery and grief.”

Corriere della Sera covers the latest lament of Silvio, Baron of Bunga Bunga:

Berlusconi and the Tribulations of the PDL

“If I had my passport, I’d be off to Antigua”. Former PM forced to mediate with rivals at lunches, dinners and all-nighters]

And Italy delivers its own warning, via EUbusiness:

EU spurs eurosceptics with debt warning: Italy PM

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta accused Brussels of playing into the hands of eurosceptics on Friday in a sharp rebuke to a European Commission warning on Italy’s high debt levels.

Greek meltdown, Venezuelan action, Indian woes, Chinese neoliberalism running rampant, Japanese economic woes, more environmental alarms, and the latest Fukushimapocalypse Now! after the jump. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Econo/Fuku/Ecotastrophe


Much happening, and a very long post today, including some ominous environmental developments after the jump.

The Greek meltdown continues, and the Troika is out for blood, while Japan’s economy stalls and the government creates the framework for a national security state — and both China and Japan are creating parallels to the institutions of the world’s reigning national security state, the U.S.A, including their own spankin’ new national security councils.

We’re playing with the relatively limited typographical options, hence the change. [We're not quite happy with either of the two options. . .]

We begin at home with a four-alarm alert from Business Insider:

Moody’s Cuts Ratings For Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Credit

Moody’s has downgraded the credit ratings for notes issued by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and BNY Mellon, citing updated views of government support and issues within the banks themselves.

From Common Dreams and U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan, a breath of fresh air:

Federal Judge Slams DoJ for Not Prosecuting Wall Street Execs

The “’too big to jail excuse’ is mindboggling in what it says about the department’s disregard of fundamental legal principles,” said Rakoff

From MarketWatch, a chuckle:

J.P. Morgan tweet idea gone horribly wrong: #AskJPM

J.P. Morgan Chase as set to host a Twitter conversation on career advice with Jimmy Lee, a vice chairman and one of Wall Street’s top deal makers. But it cancelled the session after a massive backlash: The hashtag #ASKJPM that was supposed to field questions solicited hundreds of snarky comments from every corner of the globe.

From USA TODAY, an unbalancing act:

U.S. trade deficit widens 8% in September

The U.S. trade deficit widened in September as imports increased to the highest level in 10 months while exports slipped.

Sky News notes a pronouncement:

Fed Nominee Says Economy Still Needs Support

In Senate confirmation hearings, Janet Yellen alludes to agreement with the Federal Reserve’s bond buying and low interest rates.

From the Christian Science Monitor, yet another good argument for single-payer:

Businesses cut full-time workers to meet Obamacare mandate, study says

A study of small businesses found that many are cutting full-time workers or worker hours to comply with Obamacare. Franchises are making the biggest cuts.

Form the Oakland Tribune, dashing hopes:

Gov. Brown to UC: Don’t count on state for another budget increase

Gov. Jerry Brown handed the University of California and its new president, Janet Napolitano, what he called “a reality sandwich” on Thursday, saying it’s unlikely state politicians will give the system the extra funding it wants for next year.

From Salon, Christian compassion. Or not:

Arizona prison horror: “Critically ill” inmates told to “pray” for healing

“To say that I’m terrified would be an understatement. But I simply do not know what to do,” one inmate writes

Techdirt raises faint [feint?] hopes:

Congress May Not Be So Eager To Simply Hand Over Its Own Authority To The Obama Administration To Approve TPP

from the a-good-sign dept

From the Washington Post, an ax falls:

Lockheed Martin to cut 4,000 jobs

Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin announced Thursday that it would eliminate 4,000 jobs and close several facilities in an effort to cut costs in a climate of reduced federal spending.

From IllinoisTimes, the ultimate neoliberal indignity for Honest Abe:

Mayor talks with company about Oak Ridge

StoneMor Partners, a Pennsylvania based cemetery company, has been quietly talking with Springfield Mayor Mike Houston and other top city officials about taking over management of Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Calling StoneMor “a good company,” Houston acknowledged Tuesday that he has spoken with no other firms about taking over cemetery operations. He has said that the city plans to issue a request for proposals aimed at soliciting bids to privatize Abraham Lincoln’s final resting place. The city council must approve any management deal

Up to Canada for something we’d like to see here from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Conservatives take first step on unbundling cable channels

Canadian Heritage Minister Shelley Glover is taking the first step towards forcing television service providers to let subscribers pay for only those channels they want.

From CBC, an exception:

Canadian tourism declines despite world travel boom

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing businesses, yet the number of international travellers to Canada has declined 20 per cent since 2000, according to a report from Deloitte & Touche.

Oh, and what about our ongoing coverage Toronto Mayor Bob Ford?

The following brief press encounter [NSFW] is all we’ve got to say on the matter:

Off to Europe with the Japan Times:

Eurozone recovery grinds to a near halt; tough slog lies ahead

The recovery from recession in the 17-country eurozone nearly came to a grinding halt in the third-quarter, raising concerns that the region faces a long slog back from its five-year economic crisis.

But the eurobankster raises hopes, via EUbusiness:

ECB survey sees lower eurozone inflation, higher growth

Eurozone inflation will remain below target in the next years, while growth will gather momentum, according to a new survey published by the European Central Bank on Thursday.

But it’s not just “lower inflation,” reports The Guardian:

Deflation fears stalk eurozone as Spain reports fall in prices

Economists fear low inflation plus high unemployment and the economic malaise may drag eurozone towards Japan-style slump

Some austerity at the top from MercoPress:

EU approves 2014 budget 7% lower; 62bn Euros to stimulate growth and jobs

The European Union has clinched a deal on a sharply trimmed 2014 budget after a marathon 16-hour session ending a long dispute over how best to spend taxpayers’ money. After decades of growth, next year’s EU budget is set to be around 7% lower than this year’s at 135.5 billion Euros in contributions by member states.

Reuters reports resistance from the primary beneficiary:

Germany challenges use of euro zone cash to repair banks

Germany challenged a central plank of plans to forge a banking union in the euro zone on Thursday, arguing against the use of the currency bloc’s funds to help lenders exposed as dangerously weak by health checks next year.

On to Britain and a falling ax from BBC News:

Barclays plans to cut 1,700 jobs Barclays sign

Barclays is cutting 1,700 jobs from across its branch network in the UK, saying it is in response to changes in the way people use the bank.

Ireland next, with EUobserver:

Ireland becomes first euro country to quit bailout programme

Ireland will become the first eurozone country to exit a bailout programme, after deciding that it will not request a temporary credit line when its €85 billion rescue ends.

A declaration from Michael Noonan delivered by TheJournal.ie:

“The purpose of the programme was actually to exit the programme” – Noonan

The Finance Minster says that Ireland’s decision not to take a post-bailout credit line was because this was a “benign” time. The Troika say Ireland is in a “strong position”.

From DutchNews.nl, a Dutch coming out?:

The Dutch economy is out of recession – just

The Dutch economy managed to creep out of recession and grew by 0.1% in the third quarter of this year compared with Q2, according to new estimates from the national statistics office CBS on Thursday.

Germany next, with eviction notices in the wind via Spiegel:

Exit Clause: Merkel’s Partners Want Broke Countries Out of Euro

Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the next government to be unified on its EU policy, but her sister party is resorting to populism. Bavaria’s Christian Social Union wants tougher provisions against deficit offenders and the ability to drive them out of the euro zone.

From EUbusiness, heightened interest in lack of interest:

Germany feeling pinch of low interest rates

Banks and insurers in Germany are increasingly feeling the negative side-effects of ultra-low interest rates, the German central bank or Bundesbank warned on Thursday.

Europe Online delivers a German ax blow:

German energy giant RWE to cut 6,750 jobs

German energy giant RWE AG is to cut 6,750 jobs, around 10 per cent of its workforce, by 2016 amid falling profits, a company source said Thursday

BBC News delivers another:

Volkswagen recalls 2.6 million cars

German carmaker Volkswagen has announced a recall of about 2.6 million cars worldwide, including 640,000 in China, a crucial growth market.

France next, with a raging alarm from the London Telegraph:

French officials warn of social tinderbox as economy contracts again

Francois Hollande called on France to judge him on his success in “bending the curve in unemployment”, but this has come back to haunt him

BBC News takes a slice of the commons:

France sells stake in jet engine firm Safran

The French government is selling a 3.6% stake in jet engine maker Safran worth 937m euros ($1.3bn). The government will remain Safran’s biggest shareholder with a stake of more than 22%.

And Reuters delivers a major blow:

French economy contracts 0.1 percent in setback for Hollande

France’s economy unexpectedly returned to contraction in the third quarter as investment dropped, dealing a new blow to President Francois Hollande’s efforts to revive the euro zone’s second biggest economy.

New Europe delivers another:

Electorate looking for radical political solutions to get them out of the crisis

Poll: French want parliament dissolved or PM change

And France 24 has numbers:

Hollande’s popularity hits new low of 15%

After falling to a record low of 26 percent in October, approval for French President François Hollande has collapsed even further, with a poll published Thursday giving him just 15 percent support.

Spain next, with The Local.es, reaching for favorable comparison:

Spain doing better than ‘stagnant’ France

For the first time in nearly five years, the Spanish economy is outperforming that of France, official French figures released on Thursday show.

El País cofers a blessing:

Europe endorses Spain’s exit from bailout program

Economy minister heralds January end to 18-month banking rescue plan

From thinkSPAIN, another emergence:

CAM bank boss pays 1.5-million-euro bail release and leaves prison

HEAD of the now-defunct CAM bank Roberto López Abad has paid a 1.5-million-euro bail release to get out of jail.

El País covers an action against an action:

Madrid mayor gives cleaning companies strike ultimatum

Botella says contractors have 48 hours to cut a deal and meet minimum services in capital’s streets

The Portugal News brings us the same old story with the same old beneficiaries at a time when everyone else has been bled dry:

Rich get richer

The number of multi-millionaires in Portugal soared by more than 10 percent in 2012 alone, while their fortunes swelled even further (11.8 percent), a report by Swiss bank UBS has revealed. The definition of multi-millionaire for the purpose of the study is a person who has a fortune of 25 million euros or more.

El País notes continuing emergence:

Portuguese economy grows for second quarter in a row

GDP rises 0.2 percent in the period July-September as the IMF suggests the need for yet more wage cuts

The Portugal News looks at the victimology:

More than half of Portuguese on some form of benefits

While taxes show no signs of decreasing and wages remain stagnant at best, resulting in widespread social unrest, it has now emerged that the number of Portuguese receiving taxpayer-funded handouts has risen to 57 percent of the total number of the country’s inhabitants.

The Portugal News again, with a note of caution:

House prices fall in September, but optimism remains

While the Portuguese residential market has in modern history often accompanied trends established elsewhere in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom and Germany, it has so far failed to match the spiralling house prices recorded in 2013 over much of northern Europe.

Italy takes a hit, from Europe Online:

Italy posts ninth straight quarter of negative GDP growth

Italy suffered negative growth in the third quarter of the year, official data showed Thursday, confounding earlier expectations that the country would finally exit from a record-length recession.

From Corriere della Sera, the Baron of Bunga Bunga strikes out with Deputy Prime Minister Angelino Alfano:

Berlusconi’s Crucial Rome Meeting with Alfano

Forty-eight hours for reflection. PD warns expulsion from Senate will not be postponed. Former PM’s lawyer rules out request for pardon

From Bulgaria, out-of-sight/out-of-mind with the Associated Press:

Hungarian capital bans homeless from public areas

Budapest’s city council has banned the homeless from living in many public areas of the city, including playgrounds, train stations, cemeteries, and the Hungarian capital’s largest park.

The decision was made possible by a constitutional amendment adopted in March which allows municipalities to ban homeless from public places for security, health and other reasons. A similar law had been earlier declared anti-constitutional by Hungary’s highest court.

After the jump, Greek tensions, Latin American warnings, Indian economic woes, onrushing Chinese neoliberalism amidst mixed signals, Japanese downslides, environmental alarm bells, and the lastest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day: Spooks, liars, corporadoes


Our daily trip to the dark side begins with a case of chutzpah personified via Wired:

NSA Transparency Hurts Americans’ Privacy, Feds Say With Straight Face

Adding limited public accountability to the NSA’s vast electronic spying programs would actually harm the privacy of Americans, Obama administration officials told a Senate hearing today.

Along the same line, there’s this gem from Techdirt:

Michael Hayden Admits That He Can’t Prove Stories Revealing NSA Snooping Have Harmed National Security

from the oh-now-he-tells-us dept

And from RT, blowback that could really blow [up]:

Germany warns US facilities could be targeted in wake of NSA leaks

Officials in Germany have cautioned authorities to prepare for possible attacks against United States facilities overseas as revelations continue to emerge about America’s secretive National Security Agency.

The Verge answers a question:

Smooth operators: why phone companies don’t fight the NSA

  • Will AT&T and Verizon ever push back against NSA surveillance? Don’t bet on it

  • In part, the problem is the weird structure of American phone companies, which have always operated more like the postal service than an independent business.

And from Slashdot, why Zuck sux:

Facebook Patented Making NSA Data Handoffs Easier

Techdirt casts another light on California’s sleazy plutocratic senator, the one whose hubby is making a mint off the sale of our beloved post offices:

Dianne Feinstein Receives Three Times More Cash From Intelligence Contractors Than Patrick Leahy

from the funny-how-that-works dept

Techdirt again, covering curious omissions:

Cell Phone Manufacturers Offer Carefully Worded Denials To Question Of Whether NSA Can Track Powered-Down Cell Phones

from the it’s-not-so-much-what’s-being-said,-it’s-how-it’s-being-said dept

From Slashdot, a little help:

Stanford’s MetaPhone Project: Crowdsourcing Metadata To Challenge the NSA

And the view from Poland in the form of an editorial from Krytyka Polityczna translated by the estimable folk at Watching America:

Stop Watching Us!

Only when Obama promised improvement to the world did the subject of tapping European leaders stop being taboo.

From Watching America again, this time a Yomiuri Shimbun editorial from Japan:

US Intelligence Agency Wiretapping: We Need Rules that Won’t Invite Distrust

This is an age in which communications can be intercepted at any time, in any place. It is crucial to base one’s diplomacy on this premise.

From the Sydney Morning Herald, a partner in crime:

Australian spy agency helped BHP negotiate trade deals

BHP was among the companies helped by Australian spy agencies as they negotiated trade deals with Japan, a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer says.

From the Washington Post, another case of Spooks Behaving Badly:

Senior Navy civilians investigated in alleged scheme to defraud military for $1.6 million

Federal authorities are investigating three senior Navy intelligence officials as part of a probe into an alleged contracting scheme that charged the military $1.6 million for homemade firearm silencers that cost only $8,000 to manufacture, court records show.

And the scent of another via The Guardian:

The real question about the terror suspect who fled in a burqa: did MI5 bring him here illegally?

Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed’s escape was an embarrassment. The alleged torture and rendition that came before it might just be a major scandal

From the Washington Post, some accident, eh?:

UK police: Spy whose body was found in padlocked gym bag probably died by accident

More than three years after the naked, decomposing body of British spy Gareth Williams was discovered stuffed inside a locked gym bag at the bottom of his bathtub, the mystery over his bizarre death lingers, and a police investigation has done little to clear it up.

The Japan Daily Press covers yet another assault on the press in the interests of national security:

Japanese justice minister says that news organizations could be raided under secrets bill

Japan’s Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki had suggested in a Diet session on Nov. 12 that news organizations could undergo government sanctioned searches and raids if they are suspected of leaking special state secrets, saying this under the deliberations toward the controversial confidentiality bill that the lawmakers are pursuing. His statements contradict those of Masako Mori, state minister in charge of the bill, who had earlier said that there can be no such possibility.

From Want China Times, the panopticon evolves:

Chinese cities investing in ‘skynet’ surveillance networks

Various cities across China are building “skynet” networks that can achieve full coverage of a fixed area with real-time monitoring and recorded video surveillance, reports Duowei News, an outlet run by overseas Chinese.

And not just in China, as Storyleak reports:

Las Vegas Installs “Intellistreets” Light Fixtures Capable Of Audio Recording

The Las Vegas Public Works Department has begun testing a newly installed street light system around City Hall with wide-ranging capabilities including audio and video recording.

From The Verge, a case of “security” that’s more placebo:

TSA screening works only ‘a little better than chance,’ according to government report

And from Quartz, Orwellian realization, corporate style:

This company promises it can delete slanderous results from Google—for $7,500 (and up)

Brand.com knows the value of brands. That’s why it spent a US dollar amount reported to be in the six figures to change its own name from “Reputation Changer” to “Brand.com.” It expects its clients will spend just as happily to safeguard their online reputations.

From Slashdot, possible customers:

Britain’s Conservatives Scrub Speeches from the Internet

The Guardian, with the head of India’s FBI counterpart inserting foot in mouth:

‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it,’ says India’s top police official

Ranjit Sinha, chief of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, apologises for remark that causes outrage across country

And from Salon, an ominous story about a doctoral candidate research government treatment of animal rights activists:

FBI calls Ph.D. FOIA research a national security risk

Activist researcher Ryan Shapiro, whose FOIA research at MIT is entirely legal, faces dangerous government backlash

Finally, just a reminder of the sort of thing security stories used to cover, via Want China Times:

PLA Navy soon capable of nuclear strike against continental US

A soon-to-be-released US congressional report reveals that China’s sea-based nuclear deterrent has nearly reached its initial operational stage, the Washington-based Defense News reports.

Headlines of the day: Econo/Enviro/Fukuphobic


The meltdown continues, the rich get richer, and the rest of us are left in the dust.

We begin with a headline from the World Socialist Web Site focusing on the real winners:

Wealth of world’s billionaires doubles since 2009

Even as workers in the US and other countries have seen their incomes plummet, the combined net worth of the world’s billionaires has doubled since 2009, according to a report published Tuesday by UBS and Wealth-X, a consultancy that tracks super-rich individuals.

And starting here in the U.S., a question of priorities via CNBC:

Job seekers: Forget insurance, we need a salary

A majority of job seekers want a paycheck even if that means not getting health insurance at the workplace, according to a new survey from online career placement firm Beyond.com

From CNBC again, the usual suspects playing unusual games:

Billionaires flip their super jets

The age of house flipping may have faded. But the super rich have found a new path to instant profits: flipping their megajets.

Mother Jones brings us a Happy Veterans Day from the Tea Party:

GOP Food Stamp Cuts Would Kick 170,000 Vets Out of the Program

My Budget 360 gives us a somber reminder:

The two-income trap for Americans: How dual income households are a financial necessity in a time when the median per capita wage is $27,000.

Al Jazeera America covers a partnership:

US Postal Service to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays

Starting Nov. 17, shoppers in NYC and LA will be able to receive Amazon packages daily, amid tumbling USPS revenues

And Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project documents to collapse of the Fourth Estate:

At newspapers, photographers feel the brunt of job cuts

The ranks of photographers, artists and videographers have been trimmed by nearly half (43%)—from 6,171 in 2000 to 3,493 in 2012, according to ASNE. By comparison, the number of full-time newspaper reporters and writers dropped by 32%—from 25,593 to 17,422. In the same period, 27% of copy and layout editor and online producer jobs were lost, falling from 10,901 to 7,980.

From CNBC, first Detroit, next the Windy City?:

Citing economy, pension worries, Fitch downgrades Chicago

Fitch Ratings cut Chicago’s bond ratings on Friday, citing the city’s sluggish economy and its inability to find a solution to its union pension obligations.

From USA TODAY, more chops at the commons:

More states consider toll roads to raise infrastructure dollars

Cash-strapped states are scouting for ways to pay for critical road work, and increasingly, the result for motorists is the same: You’re going to have to pay a toll.

The Japan Times covers an influx:

Fewer Japanese, more Chinese, studying in U.S.

The number of Japanese students at U.S. colleges and universities has dwindled while Chinese students have increased for the eighth consecutive year, according to a yearly report by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

More from China Daily USA:

Chinese students in US jump 21%

While enrollment from India and South Korea are both in decline

North of the border with the Toronto Globe and Mail and a bubble warning:

Canada’s housing market ‘teeters precariously,’ Financial Times warns

The Financial Times is warning that Canada’s housing market is “perched precariously at its peak.”

Turning toward Europe, let’s make a deal via Spiegel:

Trans-Atlantic Free Trade: US Pushes for Deal Despite NSA Scandal

The NSA spying scandal has many in Europe calling for the suspension of negotiations on an EU-US free-trade deal. Officials in Washington are undeterred, and continue to push forward with talks despite growing skepticism this side of the Atlantic.

From Spiegel, dancing on the brink:

Easy Money: ECB Embarks on Risky Experiment

Last week’s ECB interest rate cut was aimed at averting deflation and shows that the central bank is following the risky policy of monetary expansion adopted by Japan and the United States. Despite the latest figures, inflation is by no means banished.

More from Bloomberg:

Euro Zone’s Fizzling Growth Seen to Back Draghi Cut Case

Euro-area growth data this week may show the region’s nascent recovery slowing to a crawl, supporting Mario Draghi’s case for an interest-rate cut to help the economy get back to its feet.

And another spin from the London Telegraph:

Reports of the survival of the eurozone may have been greatly exaggerated

Last week’s surprise interest rate cut by the European Central Bank (ECB) was largely a response to the looming danger of deflation in the eurozone

Reuters brings us consequence of European bellicosity:

Italy and Malta say EU must press Libya to stop boat migration

Italy on Monday called on the European Union to press Libya to stem the gangs smuggling migrants from Africa on overcrowded boats and prevent shipwrecks like the one that killed hundreds last month.

On to Old Blighty and feigned shock from BBC News:

Private school influence in public life ‘shocking’ says Major

The influence that a privately educated, middle-class elite have on public life is “shocking”, former prime minister Sir John Major has said.

Ireland next, with an austerity consequence from Independent.ie:

One in four couples fear they are too poor to start a family

FALLING household incomes and pressure on family finances have forced one in four couples in their 30s to consider putting off having a baby.

Off to Scandinavia with The Guardian:

Sweden closes four prisons as number of inmates plummets

Decline partly put down to strong focus on rehabilitation and introduction of more lenient sentences for some offences

France next, with blowback to a 20 percent tax on riding schools reported by the Associated Press:

Horses, riders say ‘nay’ to French tax hike

Thousands of riding enthusiasts — and hundreds of horses — took over Paris’ Bastille square Monday to say “nay” to a proposed tax hike on riding schools.

More tax blowback from EUbusiness:

France’s tax policy has ‘reached limits of acceptability’: EU chief

France’s fiscal policy has “reached the limits of acceptability”, with high company taxes weighing on growth, the head of the European Commission told French television late Monday.

While RFI brings us populist rage:

François Hollande booed during First World War Memorial ceremony on Champs Elysées

Shouts of “Hollande Resign!” and “Socialist Dictatorship” were heard as Hollande’s cortège passed.

Germany next, with an automotive record-in-the-making from Deutsche Welle:

BMW in record race gets boost from October sales

German auto maker BMW remains the world’s top-selling manufacturer of luxury cars, ahead of Audi and Mercedes. Boosted by record October sales, the Munich-based car group appears set to extend its lead in 2013.

The London Telegraph salutes Berlin:

Don’t blame Germany for the eurozone’s travails, blame the euro itself

Germany didn’t set out to design an economic model that impoverishes much of the rest of Europe

On to Spain with bad news for the bubbly from ANSAmed:

Spain: separatism, boycott of Catalan bubbly wine feared

Sales of Cava fall by 5.5 million bottles in 2012

El País covers the woes of a favorite Troika target:

How politics has blighted Spain’s regional broadcasters

The Valencia government’s decision to close down Canal 9 has highlighted the weaknesses of a publicly funded media model that has systematically failed to meet its remit

The Portugal News reports an austerian reward:

IMF delivers latest bailout tranche

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has finished its eighth and ninth assessments of Portugal’s adjustment programme and approved the release of €1.9 billion for the country, the IMF announced in a statement.

Bloomberg covers a beneficiary:

Chinese Get 80% of Portugal Property-Investor Visas

Chinese accounted for almost 80 percent of the investors who have obtained visas to live in Portugal through a program that encourages foreign investment in the country’s battered real estate market.

From the Portugal News, austerian blowback:

Former finance minister criticises ‘socially unacceptable’ cuts

Portugal’s former finance minister, Manuela Ferreira Leite, has criticised the “socially unacceptable” measures imposed on pensioners and public sector workers on Monday, in exchange for “things that will not be reached”, meaning the deficit objectives for 2014.

Italy next, with Europe Online and Bunga Bunga bravado:

Berlusconi pledges to fight on, even if expelled from Parliament

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi vowed in an interview published Monday not to bow out of politics even if he is kicked out of Parliament because of a tax fraud conviction.

After the jump, the Troika’s assault on Greece, Russian woes, radical action in Venezuela, the Chinese neoliberal rush, Japanese economic worries, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Go Bears! Please, go


From Michael Meranze of Remaking the University:

The problems besetting Cal athletics keep multiplying.  In addition to the evidence that central campus resources have been used to subsidize Intercollegiate Athletics it has now become clear that the Athletics department has not been fulfilling its responsibilities to its student Athletes in major sports.  A recent NCAA report shows that the graduation rate for Cal Football and Basketball are among the lowest of any University participating in the major sports.  In football, Cal has the lowest graduation rate among the 72 schools listed, while in Basketball Cal has the 4th lowest amongst teams in the major conferences.  These results are occurring at a moment when graduation rates across the country’s athletic programs appear to be rising.

Although the Cal Athletics department argued that the figures did not represent present coaching staffs it is hard not to see this as a deep-rooted institutional problem.  Nor can Berkeley insist that its numbers are lower because of the difficulty of its academics.  Stanford on the other hand ranked 5th in graduation rates.

Berkeley has been diverting resources away from the general campus population in favor of their elite athletes. Now it seems, they are failing to meet their obligations to those athletes as well.

Headlines of the day II: eCons, wealth, meltdowns


Plus the latest edition of Fukushimapocalypse Now!

We get straight to it, starting in the U.S. with this grim reality from Al Jazeera America:

Median wage falls to lowest level since 1998

While incomes and jobs stagnate, top earners and corporate profits continue to gain

Meanwhile, Banksters Behaving Badly, as always. From the Washington Post:

SAC pleads guilty to insider trading, agrees to pay $1.2 billion penalty

The beleaguered hedge fund owned by billionaire Steven A. Cohen agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle charges accusing it of encouraging rampant insider trading for more than a decade, a record deal that could sink one of Wall Street’s most successful hedge funds.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore brings us a bit of good news:

US factory orders rise 1.7% in September

US factory orders rose 1.7 percent in September led by aircraft orders, ending two months of declines, the Commerce Department said on Monday.

As does Jiji Press:

U.S. New Auto Sales Up 10.6 Pct in Oct.

New auto sales in the United States in October increased 10.6 pct from a year before to 1,208,036 units, up for the first time in two months, U.S. research firm Autodata Corp. said Friday.

More corporate misdeeds, from USA TODAY:

J&J to pay $2.2B in drug marketing penalties

The federal government alleges J&J illegally paid doctors and pharmacies kickbacks to promote three drugs for unapproved uses.

Ditto, via the Los Angeles Times:

California probe of campaign donations sheds light on ‘dark money’

Probe of millions raised by a Republican consultant in 2012 and routed through nonprofits tracks a twisting trail.

From CNBC, inflating away:

‘Definitely a bubble brewing’ in stocks: Pro

The market might be heading into bubble territory, but it’s not time to get out of stocks yet, Simon Baker of Baker Avenue Asset Management said Monday.

Salon covers another grim reality:

Child care is more expensive than college in a majority of states

A new report reveals that child care is the single largest expense for families in 22 states

And new research reported at the American Public Health Association’s Boston conclave reveals another economic drag, via Newswise:

Firearm Injuries Cost More Than $16 Billion in Hospital Care Over 9 Years

According to the research, 275,939 victims of gunfire in the U.S. resulted in 1.7 million days of hospital service — an average of 6.7 days per incident. The average cost of medical treatment for each hospitalization was $59,620. Additionally, roughly one in three patients was uninsured.

Off to Europe with a mixed report from EUbusiness:

Eurozone manufacturing rallies, despite French PMI drop

Eurozone manufacturing activity held firm in October despite unexpectedly weak signals from France, a closely-watched survey indicated on Monday.

From EUbusiness, consolidation on the cheap:

Fewer banks with fewer assets in euro area: ECB

The number of banks in the 17-country eurozone has declined over the past five years and they significantly reduced their balance sheets, the European Central Bank said on Monday.

EUbusiness again, with the neoliberal agenda strong as ever despite all those NSA stories and ornamental raginking:

US, EU to hold second round of trade talks Nov 11-15

The United States and the European Union will hold a second round of trade talks this month to create a massive transatlantic free-trade zone, the two governments announced Monday.

Britain next, starting with a headline from BBC News, covering a largely symbolic gain — though more than 400 employers have signed on. The new living wage is non-binding, and equates to $12.20 an hour, while the legal minimum wage is the equivalent of $10.06:

Living Wage rise provides a boost for low paid workers money

  • The living wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living.

  • More than 30,000 low paid workers will receive a pay rise worth up to £400 a year after a rise in the voluntary “living wage” rate.

Old Blighty next, with separation anxiety from the London Telegraph:

Public-support for EU membership is ‘wafer-thin’, says David Cameron

The Prime Minister says he wants to spend time ahead of a possible in/out referendum in 2017 on getting Britons’ “consent” for EU membership

Off to the Emerald Isle, with backs turned. From the Irish Independent:

Unions refuse to meet troika on its final mission

THE Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has rejected an invitation to meet the troika during its latest review mission after walking out of a meeting in the summer.

EurActiv takes us to Germany, with social democrats declaring the price for partnership with the Iron Chancellor:

SPD wants wage floor, dual citizenship included in German coalition deal

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) will not agree to a “grand coalition” with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives without agreement on core issues including labour market reforms and expanding dual citizenship, its leader said.

El País brings us to Spain and a really Big Box:

Wholesale expansion

  • Costco is preparing to enter the Spanish market

  • The giant American discount chain will be opening outlets in Seville and Madrid next year

From thinkSPAIN, activism in the face of bakruptcy at a failing major appliance manufacturer:

Fagor appliance manufacturer workers stage lock-in over factory closure

EMPLOYEES facing the chop at a leading electrical appliance firm staged a lock-in yesterday (Monday) at one of the factories and plan to stay there ‘for as long as is necessary’ to make bosses reconsider.

El País counts a cost of crisis followed by the austerian bludgeon:

Crisis wipes 80,000 Spanish households off the map

Immigrants leaving the country and young people moving back home considered prime reasons

The Independent covers more victims:

The great Spain robbery: Pensioners protest as the watch their life savings vanish into the banks’ black hole

Pensioners are set to be the biggest losers in the Spanish banking crisis as they see their life savings vanish

And BBC News covers royal scandal:

Spanish royal’s property impounded in corruption case

A judge in Spain has ordered properties belonging to the king’s son-in-law to be impounded amid a corruption scandal that has embarrassed the royal family.

El País notes that others not engaged in corruption face housing woes of their own:

S&P sees Spanish house prices continuing to fall into 2016

Agency believes Sareb bad bank will find it difficult to meet home sales target

The Portugal News take us to Lisbon and news of a strike:

Partial Lisbon ferry strike all week

A partial strike by ferries on the Tagus at Lisbon means only minimum services are running on Monday morning. The workers began seven days of strikes on Sunday, affecting peak-time services between Lisbon and Barreiro on the south bank.

The Portugal News covers the costs of the austerity imposed to appease the Troika on behalf of lenders and vulture funds:

National health service debt halved by year end

The Portuguese Ministry of Health expects to close the year with total outstanding debt of €1.5 billion, a total deemed “historically low” by State Secretary Manuel Teixeira in a parliamentary debate Monday.

Italy next, with a threat via the London Telegraph:

Italy’s Mr Euro urges Latin Front, warns Germany won’t sell another Mercedes in Europe

The plot is thickening fast in Italy. Romano Prodi – Mr Euro himself – is calling for a Latin Front to rise up against Germany and force through a reflation policy before the whole experiment of monetary union spins out of control.

After the jump, Greek meltdown continues, Russian xenophobia, Chinese neoliberalism on steroids, Fukushimapocalypse Now! And much, much more. . . Continue reading

Corpocracy, Food, Cal, superweeds and profit


We beginb with this from Drake Bennett of Bloomberg Businessweek reports on two contrasting decisions by Latin American courts:

A week and a half ago, according to Mexican media reports, a federal district judge issued an injunction suspending field trials of genetically modified corn. It’s been illegal to grow GM corn for consumption in Mexico since 1998, so the decision effectively means no one can grow genetically modified varieties of Mexico’s national crop for any reason.

Contrast this with what’s happening in Brazil. There, Embrapa, the national agricultural research and development institute, is going full-tilt on a project to bring to market a bean genetically modified to fight off the golden mosaic virus, a plague that, according to the Financial Times, costs the country 8 percent of its average annual bean crop. (Beans are as ubiquitous on Brazilian dinner plates as corn tortillas are in Mexico.) Some 85 percent of Brazil’s soy crop is already GM, and the country’s Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (CTC) is working on genetically engineered varieties of sugar cane, a major crop.

Read the rest.

In this video, Jaisal Noor of The Real News Network discusses the Mexican court action decision with Timothy A. Wise, Director of the Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute’s Research and Policy Program and leader of its Globalization and Sustainable Development Program:

From The Real News Network:

New GMO Crops Temporarily Blocked in Mexico

In this excerpt of the transcript, Wise cites research we’re very familiar with:

GM corn came into the United States without much attention or fanfare, because that’s very much the way that the biotech companies wanted it back in the mid ‘90s. In Mexico, though–I mean, the United States, we mainly grow on large monoculture farms. There’s very few, if any, native varieties of corn that are still grown in the country.

In Mexico, it’s completely different. There are still 3 million farmers growing corn using all different kinds of technologies and all different kinds of native varieties of corn. Mexico is the center where corn was first domesticated. And so it’s a very important center of agricultural biodiversity. It makes Mexico a much more sensitive place for the introduction of GM crops.

And it has been–there was a moratorium on any such planting of GM corn in Mexico until about 2005. But despite that, there was a documented case of contamination or gene flow. And that happened in the early 2000’s. It was discovered by University of California Berkeley researchers. And what was alarming about it was that it showed that genetically modified traits could introgress or enter the genetic makeup of traditional varieties of corn. So that was one of the unknowns about transgenic technology. This showed that, yes, it could happen, and it prompted a huge study under NAFTA’s environmental commission into the implications of this in the early 2000s.

The research he cites, by UC Berkeley microbiologist [and friend of the blog] Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, established that genes inserted in crops by profit-hungry corporations could spread to the native cultivars, the fountain from which all modern varieties of maize have sprung.

But publication of those findings resulted in a campaign of ad hominem attacks on Chapela and Quist backed by covert Monsanto funding led to an unprecedented retraction by Nature of their published findings, followed by the rejection of tenure for Chapela, despite the overwhelming endorsement of his fellow faculty.

After protests that we covered while reporting for the Berkeley Daily Planet and a subsequent lawsuit, Chapela gained tenure. And it is now widely accepted in plant biology that genes can jump from genetically engineered crops across species lines into other plants — a phenomenon resulting in rapid spread of so-called superweeds resistant to the same herbicides the GMO crops were designed to withstand.

UC Berkeley is hugely invested in genetic engineering and so-called synthetic biology, sucking on a half-billion-dollar BP tit, and heavily infused with cash from the Department of Energy, until recently headed by a Berkeley prof who served as head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory [he left tbhe cabinet for Stanford, Cal’s arch-gridiron rival.

In Brazil, the GM agenda moves forward, and in Mexico its on hold.

Monsanto and their allies in the gene-tweaking scientific community are currently lobbying heavily on behalf of GM crops, though some opposition remains.

The goal of the neoliberal corporation is the New Ownership, with the corporation retaining ownership of everything, and the farmer and peasant reduced to reduced to licensees of corporate intellectual property rights, forbidden from planting or breeding the stuff of life itself.

Headlines of the day II: EconoEnviroFukuFubar


The game grinds on, the looting accelerates, those at the bottom suffer, and the agenda endures, with Greece the epitome of what’s in store for the rest of us — with the political murder count on the rise — unless. . .

CNBC invokes a specter:

For signs of bubble, look no further than LBOs

Leveraged buyouts for both big and midsize companies are approaching debt levels last experienced in 2007.

USA TODAY delivers the chop:

Financial firms cutting thousands of jobs

Financial firms are cutting tens of thousands of jobs because of a slowdown in the mortgage business, the sluggish economy, the growth of online banking and new regulations.

CNBC tests the water:

Fed sets tough tests in annual bank health war games

Banks in the United States will have to test whether they can survive a halving of the stock market during a severe U.S. recession, the Federal Reserve said on Friday, as it set the rules for next year’s model runs to gauge the health of the financial system.

And another kind of bank faces another kind of stress test, congressionally induced. Via USA TODAY:

Food stamp cuts create high demand for food bank supplies

  • The holiday season is approaching in November and December, the time of year when most food banks receive more than half of their donations for the year.

  • The flip side: More people turn to food banks for help during that time, too.

  • Food banks across the country, stretched thin in the aftermath of the recession, are bracing for more people coming through their doors in the wake of cuts to the federal food stamp program.

From Salon, unindicted co-conspirators:

How Democrats enable California’s pension slashing

New “bipartisan” initiative allows state and local governments to reduce retirement benefits for current employees

And AlterNet notes the bottom line:

America’s Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom

Why do we put up with such injustices?

North of the border with CBC News and an unpleasant senior moment:

Job hunt posing big challenges for people over 50

Federal program aims to get older unemployed people through the dark days

Britain next, with a question from The Independent:

Is social deprivation to blame for 450 avoidable deaths from breast cancer each year?

Study reveals women from lower income groups are much more likely to be diagnosed later

More from BBC News:

Benefit delays ‘hit hundreds of terminally ill patients’

Hundreds of terminally ill cancer patients face waiting weeks and months for their income support because of a new payments system, a leading charity has warned.

If where the heart is is home, it’s in a metal box. From RT:

My home rocks, but it’s only a box: Soaring rents force Londoners to live in shipping containers

A London charity has imported steel containers from China and converted them into bargain basement homes, as part of a novel solution to try and solve homelessness amid soaring rents in the British capital.

And The Guardian has the ultimate in neoliberal desiderata: Paying lawyers to sell out their clients, [ideally, no doubt, to send them off to corporate owned-and-staffed prisons, preferably turning out products and services for profit]:

Lawyers to earn higher legal aid fees for early guilty pleas

Legal critics brand government moves to shave £220m off legal aid bill as perverse, unethical and counter-productive

The first of three items from the Irish Independent, first with a hint of things to come:

IMF: Lenders should set aside post-bailout funds for Ireland

Ireland’s lenders should set some money aside for when the country exits its bailout, which it should do step by step, a senior International Monetary Fund official said today.

The Irish Independent again, this time with a promise:

James Reilly pledges free GP care for every citizen by 2016

MINISTER for Health James Reilly has said that the government is ‘committed’ to providing free universal primary care for the entire nation within the next three years.

And the Irish Independent covers the Prime Minister’s underboss getting blown back by angry public protests after stuffing coal in Christmas stockings:

Now Tanaiste calls for Revenue U-turn on home ‘tax grab’

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has piled the pressure on the Revenue Commissioners to abandon their pre-Christmas tax grab on homeowners.

And from the Irish Times, legalizing Hollywood and the Top 40:

Blasphemy offence a ‘dead letter’, constitutional convention told

Law’s requirement on causing outrage makes it ‘very difficult’ to prosecute

Germany next, feeling the heat from New Europe:

IMF backs US criticism of German surplus

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday echoed US criticism of Germany’s trade surpluses which the US Treasury said have been having an adverse impact on European economies during the crisis.

To Spain with an upbeat from the Global Times:

Fitch revises Spain’s outlook to stable

Fitch Ratings, a London-based credit rating company, Friday revised Spain’s sovereign credit rating outlook to stable from negative and affirmed long-term rating at BBB.

From thinkSPAIN, going for the gold in the ivory tower [just like UC]:

Spanish universities have 6,000 Chinese students on their books and aim to double the number

SPAIN’S education ministry is hoping to encourage more undergraduates from China to study in the Mediterranean country – but they are mostly put off by the fact that it takes so long for Spanish colleges to process qualifications.

The Toronto Globe and Mail takes us to Italy with a somber declaration:

Italy’s economic woes pose existential threat to euro zone

Xinhua casts a similarly sinister pall:

News Analysis: Italian youth mired in unemployment, analysts warn of lost generations

In times of economic recession, with the number of unemployed people increasing sharply, young Italians not only are the first targets of job cuts but are faced with the choice of building an uncertain future in their home country or seeking their fulfillment abroad.

After the jump, Greek meltdown continues, mixed Latin and Asian numbers, a Chinese neoliberal acceleration and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Econo/Enviro/Fukumania


The machine rumbles on, chewing and spewing, fueled by destructive debt and driven to consume every last bit of this beleaguered sphere we all inhabit.

Meanwhile, Fukushima’s leaking water hits a new radioactive high, Greece continues to crumble, and alarm bells keep a-ringin’.

We open today’s account with China Daily USA, reporting on a bit of boosterism from an unusual source, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Report: China could profit rebuilding US

The US’s aging and ailing infrastructure needs help and a new report says the crumbling bridges and highways offer China the opportunity to help pay for them to be rebuilt while earning a profit.

Reuters notes the negative:

U.S. jobless claims stay elevated, manufacturing slows

And Reuters again, elucidating:

U.S. factories hit by shutdown, China production rises

Factories in China boosted production this month, but U.S. manufacturing output fell for the first time in four years while the euro zone economy lost momentum, surveys on Thursday showed.

International Business Times covers the hardly unsurprising:

Politically Connected Banks More Likely To Receive Emergency Loans From The Fed During Crisis, Study Finds

Banks with political connections were more likely to receive emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis, a study released Thursday by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University found.

And New Europe adumbrates an admonition:

Fund welcomes Congress fiscal deal but says US must look to the medium-term

IMF: US should focus on fiscal challenges

And we conclude our U.S. coverage with one mildly bright spot from the Los Angeles Times:

Tuition increases at public colleges in U.S. slow

The average price for tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. rose 2.9% this year to $8,893 for in-state students, a College Board report says.

Net up, a somber summary from Nature newsblog:

Millions of TB cases going undetected, says WHO

Around 3 million people who were infected with tuberculosis (TB) in 2012 were not picked up by global health systems, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed. In addition, the testing and treatment of patients with drug-resistant forms of the disease are inadequate, according to the body’s 2013 Global Tuberculosis Report, published today.

From Bloomberg, greasing the skids:

Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On

The era of easy money is shaping up to keep going into 2014.

On to Europe, starting with a headline from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

Eurozone business activity slows

Eurozone business activity slowed in October, coming off a 27-month high in September to highlight concerns the economy is recovering only slowly from recession, a survey showed on Thursday.

New Europe reports a neoliberal exhortation:

EU regulation and policy-making should focus on securing the competitiveness of European business

European business leaders call for action to make European businesses more competitive

And Macropolis pronounces a sentence:

Eurozone periphery condemned to low wages, demand, EC study suggests

A research paper by an economist at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), which was initially published online this week by accident, withdrawn and then released again the next day, provided more fuel for the austerity debate in the euro area

Ditto, this time from the London Telegraph:

Europe already has one foot in ‘Japanese’ deflation grave

Europe is sliding into a deflationary trap, displacing Japan as the world’s epicentre of policy error. The effect is already causing debt ratios in half a dozen countries to ratchet upwards to the point of no return, making a mockery of the EMU debt crisis strategy.

Looking East, with New Europe:

Bloc says it wants more access to China market

China-EU: “fruitful” day

An interesting entry from the the Reykjavík Grapevine:

Icelanders Trust Cops Most Of All

The poll, conducted by Market and Media Research, shows that only three institutions are trusted by most Icelanders: the police (77.1%), the University of Iceland (61.3%) and the National Broadcasting Service (52.3%). The level of trust in the police force is, however, down from 81.3% in 2011.

On to another island nation, this one at least half-crocked? From Independent.ie:

Map reveals new gold concentrations in Ireland

Parts of Ireland could really contain a crock of gold afterall, even despite the absence of lucky leprechauns.

Independent.ie again, with a crock of Acapulco Gold endorsed by Independent national legislator Luke Ming Flanagan:

Ming: Legalising cannabis would save us €300m annually

DECRIMINALISING cannabis could save Ireland €300m a year, a legalisation campaigner has claimed.

Next to Scandinavia, with a pair of headlines from Europe Online:

Sweden central bank leaves lending rate at 1 per cent

Europe Online again:

Norway central bank keeps interest rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent

Germany next, with stress from Spiegel:

‘Over-Banked’: ECB Tests Set to Reveal German System Flaws

The European Central Bank’s upcoming review of the euro zone’s largest banks could expose weaknesses in the German banking sector. It may also reveal Germany’s political role in limiting the scope and efficacy of the Continent’s nascent banking union.

Deutsche Welle, with some papal stressing:

German ‘bling’ bishop takes forced sabbatical

The controversial Bishop of Limburg has been dismissed from his diocese for an unspecified length of time after spending millions on his residence. Many German Catholics hope the Vatican’s last word is yet to come.

To France, with the first half of a presidential double whammy for François Hollande. From euronews:

French jobless claims hit record high, Hollande under pressure

The number of registered unemployed increased by the highest margin since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009.

Reuters delivers the potential coup de grâce:

France’s Hollande seen losing 2017 presidential election: poll

Four fifths of French voters believe President Francois Hollande will not win the next presidential election in 2017, a poll showed on Thursday, a fresh blow to the leader of the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

Spain next, with a striking story from ANSAmed:

Spanish schools strike against cuts and reform

Protests in several cities

A video report from euronews:

And the headline from the accompanying story from euronews:

Millions of students and thousands of teachers protest in Spain

Students, teachers and unions alike are all against the so-called Wert Law – a law that is named after the Minister for Education Jose Ignacio Wert. They are angry with the six million euros in cutbacks over the last two years.

thinkSPAIN has an update:

Arrests for vandalism as country strikes over education conditions

And some qualified good news from El País:

Unemployment falls due to temporary hiring for summer tourist period

  • Number of people out of work declines by 72,800 as the jobless rate drops just below 26 percent

  • PM Rajoy welcomes “positive” figures

After the jump, Greek meltdown continues, Latin America ag woes, Indian tremblings, Chinese flexing, and record-making water radiation spikes in the latest edition of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Curiouser and curiouser: Callous economists


Folks call economics the dismal science. While there’s good reason to question some of the “science” claims, there’s no cause to challenge the adjective.

In a Psychology Today blog post headlined “Does Studying Economics Breed Greed?,” psychologist Adam Grant looks at the evidence and comes to an appropriately dismal conclusion.

Here’s a small sampling of the evidence of the evidence he’s amassed:

Less charitable giving: In the US, economics professors gave less money to charity than professors in other fields—including history, philosophy, education, psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, physics, chemistry, and biology. More than twice as many economics professors gave zero dollars to charity than professors from the other fields.

More deception for personal gain: Economics students in Germany were more likely than students from other majors to recommend an overpriced plumber when they were paid to do it.

Greater acceptance of greed: Economics majors and students who had taken at least three economics courses were more likely than their peers to rate greed as “generally good,” “correct,” and “moral.”

Less concern for fairness: Students were given $10 and had to make a proposal about how to divide the money with a peer. If the peer accepted, they had a deal, but if the peer declined, both sides got nothing. On average, economics students proposed to keep 13% more money for themselves than students from other majors.

Read the rest.

Do read the rest. The evidence is overwhelming, and grim.

Sugar: Killing ourselves ever so sweetly


Two videos well worth your while.

The firstl short and sweet, is from Credit Suisse:

Sugar: Sweet With a Bitter Aftertaste

Program notes:

Sugar may be sweet, but excess consumption leaves a bitter aftertaste: millions of people worldwide are affected by type II diabetes or obesity, costing the global healthcare system billions of dollars every year. As the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s 2013 study “Sugar: Consumption at a Crossroad” found, close to 90 percent of general practitioners in the US, Europe and Asia believe excess sugar consumption is linked to the sharp growth in these health problems.

The full report is posted online here [PDF].

Our second video comes from UCTV is an updated version of a talk featured previously here at esnl and is simply chilling:

Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0

Program notes:

Dr. Robert Lustig, UCSF Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, updates his very popular video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” He argues that sugar and processed foods are driving the obesity epidemic, which in turn affects our endocrine system. Series: “UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine presents Mini Medical School for the Public.”

The Koch Brothers, hatin’ our children


Florida Rep. Alan Grayson deftly dissects the very creepy campaign by the billionaire brothers to convince America’s students to deny themselves healthcare:

Koch Campaign to Keep College Kids from Getting Obamacare

Program notes:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) appears on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation to talk about the Koch campaign to dissuade college students from signing up for health insurance under Obamacare. October 22, 2013.

Headlines of the day I: Spooks, drones, corps


The news just seems to grow by the day, with our Tuesday report ranging from the latest NSA leaks to corporate phone tricks, and the latest from the drone wars.

We open with an editorial cartoon by Alfredo Martirena Hernández for Diario Siglo XXI in Valencia, Spain [via Presseurop]

 Peep show

Peep show

Next up, RFI reports a Parisian climbdown, no doubt because someone in Washington thought to remind Paris of just how extensive its own buggery and skullduggery programs are:

France backs away from showdown over NSA snooping revelations

France does not want an escalation of the row over US snooping on millions of French citizens’ telephone communications, the government’s spokesperson said Tuesday, after a breakfast meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius.

But there’s a new angle, reports New Europe:

New Snowden revelations set to cause further tension

US spying on French diplomats

CNN covers a carefully worded denial:

U.S. spy chief says reports of NSA logging French phone calls are false

The director of national intelligence for the United States says the allegation made in a French newspaper that the National Security Agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France over 30 days is false.

The Register covers another leak:

New leak claim: NSA saw hole in Mexican prez’s email box – and hacked it

Operation Flatliquid sparks further fury down south

And The Guardian has follow-through:

Mexican diplomats say Obama promises investigation into NSA spying

Apparent pledge come after documents reportedly showed NSA accessed current and former Mexican presidents’ email systems

El País raises Iberian suspicions:

Spanish intelligence believes NSA was also active in Spain

CNI suspects millions of phone calls were tapped, but no politicians were spied on

And Corriere della Sera covers the Italian front:

America Snoops on Italian Emails, Text Messages and Conversations

COPASIR parliamentary defence committee seeks clarification. from junior minister for intelligence services Minniti at hearing tomorrow

EUbusiness covers blowback:

Euro-MPs push leaders on data privacy

European Union lawmakers on Tuesday urged heads of state and government to endorse a proposal for beefed-up data privacy laws ahead of a summit in Brussels later this week.

And The Guardian notes a turn-around:

Richard Cohen’s reverse on Snowden: not a ‘traitor’, but a whistleblower

A memorable about-face from the Washington Post columnist has re-opened the debate about the former NSA contractor

From The Guardian again, the self-referential:

Edward Snowden NSA files: Guardian should be prosecuted, says Tory MP

Julian Smith speech to Commons attacked as McCarthyite by Labour MPs, furious at being prevented from speaking

Reuters quotes another spy, an unhappily aggressive one:

Saudi spy chief says Riyadh to ‘shift away from U.S.’ over Syria, Iran

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a “major shift” in relations with the United States in protest at its perceived inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

From the Japan Times, a suggestion of flattery-by-imitation:

Russia eyeing NSA-like surveillance

All data passing though providers,’ mobile networks will be stored

New Europe covers the latest on the Orwellian European Border Surveillance System:

EUROSUR aims to reinforce control of the Schengen external borders

Council adopts regulation regarding EUROSUR

And EUobserver reports the inevitable dronal compnent:

Ashton calls for military-grade drones in EU airspace

A security strategy paper by EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton says EU countries should use military-grade drones for border surveillance.

The London Daily Mail covers American scandal:

Navy hit with bribery scandal as high profile commander charged with accepting Lady Gaga tickets and prostitutes in exchange for classified information

  • Also charged were Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd

  • And John Bertrand Beliveau II, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service – NCIS

And the Daily Dot has an interesting tale from north of the border:

Canadians sue their own government over domestic spying

American privacy advocates aren’t the only ones taking their own government to court over domestic spying programs. On Tuesday, Canadian activists announced they were suing Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency.

From Channel NewsAsia Singapore, Old Blighty grows desperate:

Britain may hire hackers for cyber-defence

Britain may recruit convicted computer hackers to a new military unit dedicated to combatting cyber-attacks, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said.

The Guardian, with some hopeful news:

Breakthrough on data privacy rules raises pressure on EU leaders

EU commissioner urges national leaders to rise to the challenge after European parliament committee backs draft rules

From the Japan Times, another war on leakers:

Japan moves toward adopting tougher penalties for leakers

The Abe administration wants a tougher secrecy law that imposes a prison term of up to 10 years on leakers of “special secrets” concerning foreign and national policy, in line with its plan to create a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council.

And from the Asahi Shimbun, why did it take so long?:

Japan finally backs U.N. statement against use of nuclear weapons

For the first time, Japan has thrown its support behind a United Nations statement that calls nuclear warfare inhumane.

Back north of the border, telco snooping commences, via the CBC:

Bell’s data collecting may be legal, but is it ethical?

  • The Canadian telecom giant will begin highly targeted advertising program Nov. 16

  • Bell customers got a letter last week telling them that, as of Nov. 16, the company would begin collecting detailed information about their consumption habits in order to offer “relevant ads.”

The Hill reports snooping closer to home, including search of our job histories and even car registrations:

Report: TSA searching records of passengers before they reach airport

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is screening people before they get to the airport by looking at records in government and private databases, according to a report.

From Wired, a sensible judicial ruling at long last:

Court Rules Probable-Cause Warrant Required for GPS Trackers

An appellate court has finally supplied an answer to an open question left dangling by the Supreme Court in 2012: Do law enforcement agencies need a probable-cause warrant to affix a GPS tracker to a target’s vehicle?

And one again, California’s noxious Sen. Dianne Feinstein announces a despicable resurrection, via The Register:

NSA-friendly cyber-slurp law CISPA back on the table with new Senate bill

  • Unsurprisingly with spooks’ full support

  • The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which allows private companies to share customer information with the NSA and others in the name of cybersecurity, is back on the legislative agenda.

From People’s Daily, another crackdown:

Five suspects arrested for fabricating online rumors to create troubles

Five men have been arrested in central China’s Hunan Province on charges of fabricating online rumors, blackmailing others and provoking troubles.

Still another Chinese crackdown, via The Guardian:

Author bows to Chinese censorship of his Deng Xiaoping biography

Ezra F Vogel says it was ‘better to have 90% of the book available there than zero’

Again from China, The Register reports spooky data holes in routers from a Chinese manufacturer:

D-Link hole-prober finds ‘backdoor’ in Chinese wireless routers

Tenda networking kit contains easily-cracked vuln, claims researcher

The Guardian covers academic spookery:

Universities: where you go to learn – and be monitored

Universities are increasingly snooping on their students and staff. Everything from emails and social media to campus whereabouts

And CNET discovers Googling for pot:

Google Earth helps cops nab suspected marijuana grower

Satellite images capture an Oregon man allegedly growing more than his fair share of medical ganja.

And the Pentagon’s tech development arm goes on a flaw-hunt, via The Register:

DARPA slaps $2m on the table for the ULTIMATE code vulnerability hunter

Brown trousers time for some in security industry

From the Japan Daily Press, droning on:

China slams Japan’s plan to shoot down drones as ‘playing up tension’

Following the report on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval to shoot down unresponsive foreign drones entering the country’s airspace, China warned Japan on Tuesday that it will resolutely respond to any external provocation. Beijing also warned Tokyo for “playing-up” the tension between the East Asian neighbours.

And from Just Security, word that Amnesty International found unarmed victims from drone strikes in North Waziristan and Human Rights Watch found killings of random civilians in Yemen:

Human Rights Groups Release Investigation Reports into US Targeted Killings: A Guide to the Issues

Today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) released two detailed studies of US targeted killings in Yemen and Pakistan, putting forward specific evidence of civilian deaths and legal violations by the United States.

To conclude, the inevitable denial from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney via The Hill:

Carney: US drone strikes ‘precise,’ ‘lawful’

Chart of the day II: Charting science fictions?


And it’s animated!

From The Economist’s YouTube channel:

Daily chart: Unlikely results

The program note:

Why most published scientific research is probably false.