Category Archives: Academia

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.

Headlines of the day II: Shutdown/Greco/Fuku/crisis


Before we get to the headlines, another choice cartoon about the Greek crisis, this one featuring two of the key players, International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. From Kathimerini English:

BLOG Greece

Now on with the latest of the shutdown/default crisis in Washington, first with a headline from MSNBC. And yes, there really is a poll [PDF]:

Congress less popular than dog poop, more so than Miley Cyrus, twerking

Next, from Al Jazeera America:

World fears potentially catastrophic effects of US debt default

Economic leaders warn that failing to come to a debt-ceiling agreement could hurt dozens of economies globally

From north of the border, the GlobalPost weighs in:

The US is sneezing like crazy. Will the world catch a cold?

Analysis: Odd as it may seem, investors in Rio or Zurich or Hong Kong may have their financial decisions influenced by backwoods voters in Alabama or Texas, who, through the magic of redistricting, have been able to push an increasingly hard-line agenda on America and the world.

While the Buenos Aires Herald offers a dash of optimism:

Moody’s says US default extremely unlikely

Moody’s Investors Service sees very little chance of a US debt default later this month, the rating agency’s president and chief operating officer said today.

And with a new pick for head of the Federal Reserve, UC Berkeley emeritus economist Janet Yellen Sky News reports would-be marching orders:

IMF Issues $2.3trn Warning Over QE’s End

The International Monetary Fund puts a number on the potential cost of a messy end to emergency central bank support worldwide.

Tea Party tells Santa “Bah, humbug,” via BuzzFeed:

U.S. Retail Industry Group Says Shutdown Threatening $600 Billion Holiday Season

The government shutdown is crushing consumer confidence and making it harder for retailers to plan their businesses. The National Retail Federation says more than 10% of Americans work in retail and related fields.

From BuzzFeed again, spare change?:

Furloughed Government Employees Are Selling Their Possessions On Craigslist For Cash

“I am only selling this guitar because my wife was affected with the government shutdown and I am trying to help with some bills,” wrote one user.

And Slashdot offers us real reassurance [snicker]:

90% of Nuclear Regulators Sent Home Due To Shutdown

from the homer-simpson-asked-to-come-in-for-overtime dept.

From Bloomberg, from those with the least to give, the most is asked:

States Eliminating Aid for Poor as U.S. Shutdown Forces Layoffs

Michigan is preparing to put as many 20,000 state workers on unpaid leave and eliminate cash and food aid to poor residents. North Carolina furloughed 366 employees and closed its nutrition aid program to tens of thousands of women and children. Illinois this week may furlough hundreds of federally-funded employees, including workplace safety inspectors.

And a reminder, via The Allegiant:

Over 26,000 Americans Died in 2010 from a Lack of Health Insurance

Should a Lack of Health Insurance Excuse 26,000 Deaths of Americans Who Need Care?

Baby Boom goes bust, via Bloomberg Businessweek:

U.S. Drops to No. 11 in Global Retirement Rankings

The 2013 edition of the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (PDF), a ranking of national retirement systems around the world, has the U.S. ranked 11th, down two slots from last year. The bottom line: Americans don’t save enough, our policies are inadequate to help poor and middle-income earners, there are too many loopholes that reduce savings further, and we’re unprepared for how long we’re going to live in retirement.

While CNBC takes a penthouse view:

In New York, the billionaires have all the fun

And Ars Technica offers the inevitable:

AT&T: The Internet is awesome, so let’s get rid of phone regulations

Astroturf group pushes AT&T agenda to deregulate telecom.

On to Europe, first with a regional story from Reuters:

EU must speed up banking union to gain trust, IMF says

The International Monetary Fund urged the European Union to quickly set up an agency that would close or salvage troubled banks across the continent as part of an effort to shed a mountain of bad debt impeding economic recovery.

But will trust be all that easy to earn, given that things in Brussels work much as they do in Washington? Spiegel illustrates:

Conflicts of Interest: Brussels’ Revolving Door for Top EU Officials

Senior European Commission officials have a penchant for changing sides when they join the private sector. They take up positions with Chinese companies, cigarette manufacturers or PR firms — and potential conflicts of interest are often ignored.

EUbusiness covers transcontinental trolling:

EU seeks China investment boost

Investment flows between the EU and China, major trade partners, are far below what they should be and must be improved, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Tuesday.

And the companion headline from EUbusiness:

MEPs urge tough conditions on China investment accord talks

European lawmakers insisted Wednesday they should have oversight of talks on an EU-China investment protection agreement and set conditions which could prove unwelcome in Beijing.

Meanwhile, as New Europe reports, he regulated seek to shed their regulators:

We need less regulation, not more, says ETNO

New telecoms plans will stifle investment says industry group

But there’s one place European governments want more regulation,. And that’s at the borders. From Spiegel:

Fortress Europe: How the EU Turns Its Back on Refugees

They come seeking refuge, but when asylum seekers cross into the European Union, they often find little compassion. In Greece, they are held in squalid detention camps, while in Italy they often end up on the street. Here is what they face at entry points across the EU.

New Europe reports on the latest moves from EU’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki

Commissioner says Lampedusa illustrates European problem

Damanaki urges for more sea surveillance funds

And from New Europe as well, concern from the European Commission’s Number Two, Viviane Reding, who singled out attempts to impose border controls to block the free movement of the Roma and Europe’s other wandering peoples:

Commission Vice-President says she’s ashamed of some MEPs’ comments

Reding: ‘no invasion expected after 2014′

Meanwhile, Northern Europe wants to kick the fallen. From Keep Talking Greece:

EU wants hikes in V.A.T & other taxes in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy…

We begin our country coverage with a London Telegraph head:

IMF: Britain’s deficit to shrink at fastest rate in developed world in 2013

Global fund performs second about-turn in as many days on the health of Britain’s economy

From the Telegraph again, more misery to accompany the sale of an iconic commons:

Royal Mail warns of job losses after privatisation

Royal Mail has warned MPs that job losses are likely after its historic privatisation as the industry continues to modernise.

And another falloff for another British icon, from New Europe:

Industrial production fell by the most in almost a year

Record fall for the British industrial output

At the very same time, those at the top get a handout, via the London Telegraph:

UK top rate tax cut was world’s largest in 2013

Britain’s top rate of tax has fallen from fifth to 11th highest in the EU – but it remains higher than in Greece or Italy.

The Telegraph again, reporting the failure to make a logical connection:

OBR: UK hurt more by lack of investment than austerity

Government’s official forecaster says private investment, particularly from business, has been “almost completely absent” over the past few years

On to Germany, and a sentiment that flourished in Germany 80 years ago rises anew, via EurActiv:

Germany refuses to take in more refugees

As the human tragedy near the Italian island of Lampedusa prompted calls to rethink the EU’s immigration policy, the German Interior Minister rejected any suggestion that his country should accept more refugees. EurActiv.de reports.

While EUbusiness covers the rise of similar sentiments in France:

French far-right in pole position for EU election

France’s far-right anti-immigration and anti-EU Front National party is tipped to get 24 percent of the domestic vote in next May’s election for the European Parliament, a survey said Wednesday.

On to the Alps, and a headline from MarketWatch:

Swiss to vote on plan to give everybody $34,000 a year: reports

Next up, Spain, with numbers epitomizing the growing class divides. From El País:

Stock market recovery helps boost number of millionaires in Spain by 13%

Spaniards with wealth measured in seven digits stands at over 400,000

Meanwhile, there are close to six million people in the country without a job

BBC News sounds an austerian warning:

Watchdog warns Spain of impact of cuts on children

The Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights watchdog, has warned Spain its austerity programme could have a devastating impact on children.

El País again, with more numbers:

IMF improves growth forecasts for Spain but raises its estimate for unemployment

Agency sees GDP contracting 1.3 percent this year, but predicts growth of only 0.2 percent in 2014, 0.5 points less than the government

More on the IMF’s latest pronouncement from thinkSpain:

FMI says 40% of Spain’s debt is ‘in the hands of businesses’ and warns lack of cashflow is stifling growth

THE International Monetary Fund (FMI) says the ‘huge’ level of debt sinking companies in Spain, Portugal and Italy and the ‘weak’ state of the three countries’ banks are the main obstacles to their economies ever recovering or credit flowing freely.

El País parses austerian semantics:

Finance Minister defies official figures and claims Spaniards’ wages aren’t falling

Montoro insists there has merely been moderation in pay increases

And Europe Online watches the ax fall:

Spain’s Catalunya Banc to sack one-third of its staff

Bailed-out Spanish lender Catalunya Banc plans to shed between 2,400 and 4,800 people from its workforce, the bank announced Wednesday.

The Portugal News takes us to the eastern side of the Iberian Peninsula, where certain immigrants are welcomed with open arms:

Golden Visas bringing in millions

Investment in excess of €150 million had been attracted to Portugal under its “gold” fast track visa system, Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas told the second Business Forum gala dinner taking place in Vilamoura, the Algarve.

From the Portugal News again, optimism:

Government betters its economic outlook

The Portuguese government took a slightly less pessimistic view on the macroeconomic conjuncture for this year and improved that for the next in documentation sent out to social partners.

Italy next, with an entry from ANSAmed:

Italian households’ spending power crumbles

Down 1.7% in first half of 2013

And that rare economic news item from the Vatican, via Spiegel:

Like an Offshore Paradise: Vatican Moves to Close Dirty Accounts

More than 1,000 customers who have no business holding accounts at the Vatican Bank have parked more than 300 million euros there, money the institution’s officials suspect is illicit. They are now calling for the funds to be removed.

After the jump, the latest criminal and austerian developments from Greece, Latin American news, more woes from India, neoliberalism from the People’s Republic, and the latest shocker in Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Now that’s a distinguished-looking scholar


From the homepage of today’s London Daily Mail:

9 October 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 250, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

9 October 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 250, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Headlines of the day: Spooks, pols, corporateers


Our daily compendium on the world of spooks, political users and abusers, and corporateers who emulate them begins with this from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Polls Continue to Show Majority of Americans Against NSA Spying

From Techdirt, contempt of Congress or contempt for Congress?:

Former CIA Director Morell Skips Surveillance Review Board Meeting; Pats Self On Back For Not ‘Distracting’ Congress From Shutdown

from the taking-one-for-the-team dept

The Verge offers a non-surprise:

Obama’s surveillance review panel is the latest government shutdown casualty

While Techdirt covers a plea to the absentees:

Technologists To NSA Review Group: Don’t Forget About The Interests Of Non-US Persons

from the because-that-matters-too dept

From TechCrunch, an observation:

The NSA Oversight Farce

A pattern has become clear, regarding the surveillance activities of both the United States and the United Kingdom, most especially when it comes to their keeping tabs on their own citizenry: Clarity with the opacity of wet mud.

While the McClatchy Washington Bureau offers some minor hopes:

Congress now is expected to revise NSA, FISA court operations

From disinformation, hit “Search”:

NSA Tracks Google Ads to Find Tor Users

And from a Wired piece by Bruce Schneier, one of the world’s leading computer security experts, commending what he calls the “air gap”:

Want to Evade NSA Spying? Don’t Connect to the Internet

Writing at his own blog [Schneier on Security], he describes some of the techniques employed by the spooks

How the NSA Attacks Tor/Firefox Users With QUANTUM and FOXACID

From RT, they’re under every rock [and listening to everyh line]:

Canadian spy agency ‘dissected’ Brazilian Energy Ministry

Canada, as well as the US, infiltrated and spied on the Brazilian Energy Ministry, a new leak by Edward Snowden has revealed. The leaked documents show how the data gleaned through espionage was shared with international spy network the ‘Five Eyes.’

More from the CBC:

Brazil spying allegations elicit no comment from Canada

Canadian officials refuse to say whether they listened in on Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry

And from The Guardian, ignorant in Old Blighty:

Cabinet was told nothing about GCHQ spying programmes, says Chris Huhne

Ex-minister says he was in ‘utter ignorance’ of Prism and Tempora and calls for tighter oversight of security services

From the World Socialist Web Site, like we said, under every rock:

German state intelligence agency spies on journalists

The intelligence agency of the state of Lower Saxony has for years been illegally spying on journalists involved in researching and publishing information about extreme right-wing circles.

And from To Vima, another rock in Athens, other ears?:

Government and Opposition clash over telephone surveillance

Tsipras allegedly claimed at Parliamentary Group Assembly that SYRIZA’s telephone lines were monitored

From EUbusiness, a tale of inaction:

Despite data privacy scandal, no deal yet on new EU laws

EU justice ministers meeting for the first time since revelations of US spying on Europeans, agreed on Monday that new data protection laws were needed but disagreed on how to proceed.

From U.S.News & World Report, the daily d’uh:

Governments Worldwide Increase Online Surveillance, Report Shows

U.S. drops from second to fourth place in global Internet freedom ranking

The Guardian covers another opportunity for spookless profit. . .or is it?:

Australia’s Fastmail secure email service claims it is ‘NSA proof’

The email provider joins a growing number of communications firms claiming to be out of reach of US intelligence agencies

And from Al Jazeera English, Hope™-less:

Human rights groups say Obama has failed on Guantanamo

Groups criticize president for failing to follow through on commitments to close controversial prison

The Daily Dot brings us a reminder of the ubiquity of of corporate iniquity:

How apps capture your kids’ data—without you even knowing

And The Verge reports latter-day legal blackmail:

Google, payment providers take action against firms profiting from mug shots

While CNN’s iReport reminds us that whistleblowers oftenpay a price:

Whistleblower Terminated from Northwestern for Revealing Human Experimentation:Top Secret Writers

Why would a bright and promising cardiologist be fired from the University hospital that she had practiced at since 2000? Apparently, protecting her patients is grounds for dismissal. At least, that is the case at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Quote of the day: Greed and the classroom


From Cory Doctorow, writing at Boing Boing:

The University of Toronto’s School of Business has advised its faculty to avoid assigning articles from the Harvard Business Review to their students. Though the U of T library has a digital subscription to the Review, Harvard has put it — and other schools — on notice that they will be billed separately if they are caught assigning, suggesting, or referring to HBR articles in classrooms. That’s because the license agreement for academic HBR subscriptions forbids using HBR in coursework, and Harvard is now enforcing those terms, and hoping to extract rent from universities where the profs assume, foolishly, that just because a scholarly journal is in their library on a paid-up subscription, they can tell the students to go and read it.

Headlines of the day I: Economy, environs, more


Slow posting today, for health reasons. Lots to report, including the latest from Greece, China, Russia, and Japan — includikng Fukushimapocalypse Now! After the jump. . .

We’ll start here in the U.S. with this from The Contributor:

BoA Mortgage Crisis Prosecutors: ‘Promise of Quality Was Largely a Joke’

Next, from Forbes, someone else harbors our own suspicions:

Bubblecovery: Why Our Economic Recovery Is Actually An Illusion

From the Los Angeles Times, another sign of a culture in near-collapse:

California truancy is at ‘crisis’ level, says attorney general

Kamala Harris’ report says one-quarter of elementary students are truant, jeopardizing their academic futures and adding to school funding problems.

And Deutsche Welle, some know it better than others:

For Native American tribes, sequester is just another hardship

The US government has left many Native American tribes in the lurch with the sequestering of federal funds. But they have become used to Washington giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

Off to Europe, starting with this from Reuters:

Euro zone inflation falls to 3.5-year low in September

And from Spiegel, European bank regulations in limbo:

‘Last Opportunity’: ECB and Politicians at Odds Over Stress Tests

The European Central Bank wants to impose rigid tests on financial companies in the euro zone before it assumes its new supervisory role. But even before the tests are set to begin, the ECB is already tangling with policymakers.

On to the U.K., first with a headline from The Independent:

Stressed nurses are ‘forced to choose between health of patients and their own’

Report cites staff cuts and fears for patient welfare  – and says bullying by managers is increasing

And Europe Online reports a suitor in waiting:

Singapore set to invest in privatization of British postal service

And hints of more bubbling from the London Telegraph:

UK house prices to rise by a quarter with London average to hit £500,000 by 2018 – CEBR

House prices across Britain will soar by nearly a quarter to record levels over the coming five years with homes in London averaging more than half a million pounds in 2018.

For those at the bottom, austerity reigns. From the BBC:

George Osborne extends ‘work for benefit’ for jobless

The long-term unemployed will have to undertake work placements in return for their benefits, under tougher rules unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne.

Off to Ireland, with a peculiarly rosy report from Independent.ie:

Consumer sentiment jumps to six year high in September

Next, a hop across the channel with FRANCE 24:

Technical error halves French unemployment drop

France’s labour ministry was forced into an embarrassing climbdown Monday, when it emerged that its August unemployment data was wrong. Due to a technical error, the drop in unemployment numbers was actually half that previously published.

The Independent offers the latest on hard times bigotry:

François Hollande under intense pressure to resolve poisonous split within French government over mass expulsion of Roma immigrants

Left and Right accuse president of ignoring divisive issue

From FRANCE 24, the latest official response:

France opposes border-free travel for Romania, Bulgaria

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned that Bulgaria and Romania were not ready to join Europe’s passport-free Schengen area, amid a heated debate on Roma (Gypsy) immigration in France.

Meanwhile, New Europe covers Swiss maneuvers:

Swiss army practice fighting off bankrupt France

And Reuters looks at Merkel’s realm:

Analysis: Euro zone current account surplus puts Germany in dock

A sharp rise in the euro zone’s current account surplus puts the focus firmly on what Germany’s new government can do to boost consumption and revive investment in Europe’s largest economy.

Quartz defines the problem:

Germans may be too cheap to keep their economy growing

Next, from the Copenhagen Post, a reality too often ignored:

Immigrants are good for the economy, report says

Despite the gloom and doom from some quarters, immigration actually adds to the state’s coffers

And to the Iberian Peninsula, first with this from the Portugal News:

Ruling party suffers worst showing ever in municipal vote

The senior coalition party, the PSD, have recorded their worst showing in municipal elections while the opposition Socialists (PS) have never done better. The PSD struggled to hold on to major town halls, while in others where they was challenging they fared dismally.

The bottom line, via EUobserver:

Portuguese reject austerity policies in local elections

And to Spain with this from El País:

Next year’s budget sees public debt matching GDP

  • Pensioners to receive minimum hike of 0.25 percent set in Popular Party reform

  • Public investment cut once more

  • Royal Household gets less money as government salaries stay frozen

  • Cabinet approves “recovery” state budget for next year

New Europe covers a bailout outlook:

EU and ECB review Madrid’s €40bn bank bailout

Spanish bank bailout on track

And thinkSPAIN charts the austerian norm:

Healthcare gets biggest budget cuts for next year; industry gets greatest extra funds

Next to Italy, where Reuters covers the brewing crisis:

Berlusconi faces party revolt over Italy political crisis

About 20 Italian center-right lawmakers may break with leader Silvio Berlusconi if he tries to bring down prime minister Enrico Letta’s coalition in a dispute over Berlusconi’s fraud conviction, a center-right party source warned on Monday.

More from The Independent:

Prime Minister Enrico Letta battles to save Italy from political chaos

Leader of the centre-left Democratic Party will urge moderates from Silvio Berlusconi’s party and waverers in the anti-establishment Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo to keep the administration afloat

And the London Telegraph covers a consequence:

Political turmoil in Italy shakes markets

Market jitters are running high in Italy as political turmoil raises the threat of another phase of the eurozone debt crisis.

And El País covers the response form Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy:

Rajoy urges Italy to find quick solution to political crisis

Spanish prime minister voices concerns about the risk of sovereign debt contagion

Bloomberg Businessweek notes the obvious:

Berlusconi May Have Overplayed His Hand

And Spiegel sums up:

The Hostage-Taker: Berlusconi Pushes Italy to Brink

He’s to blame for 20 years of standstill in Italy. Now he’s leading the nation and the whole of Europe to the brink of disaster. If Silvio Berlusconi succeeds in toppling the government this week, his cynicism will have won.

And Merkel has wishes, via EUobserver:

Germany wants a stable Italian government

While Independent.ie has another reaction:

Italian bond yields jump and European shares fall

After the jump, Greek crisis, Russia rumblings, a busted bubble in India, China goes market, Japan frets, and Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Econ, Greece, environs


Once again, a very hectic news day, with lots happening in Europe [especially Greece], Asia, and here at home.

And of course there Fukushimapocalypse Now! after the jump.

First up, a note of alarm from Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, via Salon:

Democratic Senator warns of Civil War-level danger

“We are at one of the most dangerous points in our history.”

And the headline from a commentary for The Guardian by economist Richard D. Wolff:

Recovery hype: American capitalism’s weapon of mass distraction

You don’t have to be a Marxist to see how the 1% tries to fool us that we too are sharing in their renewed wealth. But it helps

And from CNBC, another piece of evidence that all’s not well:

Mortgage bailout not over, FHA to draw $1.7 billion

Another warning from The Guardian:

Debt standoff could ‘all but wipe out’ US recovery, economists warn

Analysts say government shutdown would be nothing compared to a failure to raise America’s $16.7tn debt ceiling

From the Center for Public Integrity, anther reminder of Barack Obama’s real allegiance:

Obama taps Goldman Sachs executive as ambassador to Canada

Bruce Heyman ranks as 20th elite fundraiser nominated for diplomatic post this term

From The Blog of Rights, the latest in American judicial bigotry:

Judge to Sikh Man: Remove “That Rag” or Go to Jail

Oh dear. Via The Independent:

IPCC report: The financial markets are the only hope in the race to stop global warming

The chairman of the IPCC warns that the only way to reduce large-scale fossil-fuel use is to ‘price’ carbon emissions

On to Europe, starting with this from Capital.gr:

Euro-Zone Private Sector Loans Declined Further

Loans to the private sector in the euro zone declined again in August, signaling that a key aspect of any sustained recovery in the euro-zone economy has yet to get off the ground.

And from EUobserver, yet another instance of the encroachment of greedy hands where they don’t belong:

Private security firms cash in on guarding EU borders

A growing number of EU countries are using private security firms to guard migrant detention centres, raising questions about accountability if things go wrong.

But the spirit of Candide lives, via Reuters:

Faith in euro zone economy hits two-year high in September

Also from Reuters, a dissonant note:

Europe’s plan to address weak banks risks unraveling

And on to Britain, where CNNMoney evokes a memory:

Record London house prices stoke bubble fears

London house prices have hit record highs, jumping by 10% in a year and earning some lucky homeowners more than their annual pay packets.

And who’s got cash to buy? From the London Telegraph, boosters always:

Good news – foreigners are buying up Britain

The present phase of globalisation is painful for the West, but we should see it through

And from The Independent, the true face of austerity revealed:

Kings Mill Hospital: Nurses in tears as ‘horrendous’ understaffing hits patients, says watchdog

Figures reveal 5,500 nursing posts have been cut since Coalition came into office

Another glimpse, from the Manchester Evening News:

Unemployed man sets fire to job centre to get meal in police cells

Bee O’Brien, 49, flew into a rage after a row over his benefits payments and set fire to the customer telephones at Moss Side job centre after he hadn’t eaten for three days

And unholy alliance, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Henry VIII’s church, via Sky News:

Church Consortium Wins RBS Branch Sale Race

A new player in high street banking is to emerge as the Church of England-backed bid secures 314 branches.

On to France, with more on the nasty face of pseudo-socialism from the BBC:

French police clear Roma camp in centre of Roubaix

Police in the northern French town of Roubaix have dismantled a Roma (Gypsy) camp, days after the interior minister said most Roma should be expelled.

More on the latest in hard times intolerance from FRANCE 24:

Roma deportations split French government

Several French ministers have rejected statements by Interior Minister Manuel Valls that Roma immigrants are inherently different and should be thrown out of the country, casting a shadow on the Socialist-led government ahead of local elections.

And still more form RFI:

Hollande silent as key minister demands backing in Roma row

On to Germany, with a quick question from CNN:

After Fukushima: Could Germany’s nuclear gamble backfire?

As Germany’s switchover from nuclear power to renewable energy gathers pace, concerns are mounting over the cost to country’s prosperity and its already squeezed consumers.

And cross the border to Denmark with this from the Copenhagen Post:

Anti-EU parties call for referendums to brake integration

The government may have to turn to voters to ask for permission to increase co-operation, but it would really rather not

Next up, Spain. From ANSAmed:

Spain: 2014 budget sees light at the end of the tunnel

GDP and employment figures expected to rise next year

And from El País, more shenanigans from a pseudo-socialist:

Savings bank’s former chiefs implicated in bonus scandal

Ex-Caixa Catalunya chairman and onetime Socialist minister officially targeted by judge along with rest of board

Worry not, through. From Deutsche Welle:

Spain eases austerity as 2014 budget banks on recovery

Spain’s government has presented its most pain-free budget in many years, banking on a nascent economic recovery gathering steam in 2014. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Rajoy still needs to dole out some bitter pills.

And from El País, some misbehavior, this time from the Right:

Economy minister’s niece gives up regulator job

New giant supervisor gets off to a rocky start owing to accusations of nepotism in major appointments

On to Italy and an offering from The Guardian:

Italy’s coalition on brink of collapse as politicians fail to agree fiscal deal

Failure to agree on €3bn of budget measures underlines breakdown between Democratic party and People of Freedom

More from Xinhua:

Berlusconi’s party reprimanded over resignation threats

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano issued a severe reprimand to Berlusconi’s party after mass resignation threats.

And still more from Europe Online:

Italy premier to meet president amid looming Berlusconi showdown

After the jump, Greek cataclysm continues, Fuksushimapocalypse Now! And more. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Greek coup threat, more


The biggest news in a big news day lacked only a beer hall, evoking memories of a similar plot in living memory. From To Vima:

Government concerned over KEED announcement regarding a coup

  • Chief of Armed Forces has been ordered to investigate allegations of officers training Golden Dawn members

  • The government is concerned about the announcement by Special Forces Reserve Officer Community (KEED) which demands that the current government resigns in order for a new one to be formed under the leadership of the Supreme Court.

Details from EnetEnglish.gr:

Special forces reservists call for resignation of government

  • Shadowy group wants ‘government of national unity’

  • A group calling itself the Special Forces Reserve Union (KEED) wants the government to resign, the suspension of all laws relating to the troika memorandum and the expulsion of ‘illegal immigrants’

From Kathimerini English, another complication:

Golden Dawn threat to quit creates doubt

  • Greece may face the possibility of snap elections if Golden Dawn MPs resign en masse from Parliament, an option that party leader Nikos Michaloliakos refused to discount on Thursday.

  • Anti-Fascist Fury: Protest against Golden Dawn turns violent in Greece

More from EnetEnglish.gr:

Evidence builds against Golden Dawn

  • Eavesdropping recordings may implicate three party MPs

  • Golden Dawn leader leaves question open on whether he will pull his party out of parliament, a move which would trigger byelections in a number of constituences

New Europe reports the party’s political ploy, a move to force new elections:

Golden Dawn has threatened to pull its 18 MPs following investigation into the party’s alleged criminal activities

Greek deputy PM says Golden Dawn would not benefit from forced elections

A video report from RT:

Anti-Fascist Fury: Protest against Golden Dawn turns violent in Greece

The program notes:

A mass anti-fascist rally has turned violent in Athens – after furious protesters tried to storm the headquarters of the far-right Golden Dawn party. The anger was sparked by the murder of a left-wing rapper last week – by a sympathizer of the neo-Nazi party. It’s not going to be easy for the government to crack down on the neo-Nazis – as we’ve been hearing from the author of ‘The Greek Crisis in the Media’.

More from the BBC:

Thousands join fresh Greece protests against Golden Dawn

Thousands of people have joined protests in Athens and elsewhere in Greece against the far-right Golden Dawn party.

Kathimerini English covers the legal front, where long-needed moves begin:

Phone records back up criminal gang charges against Golden Dawn

An investigation into the phone records of Golden Dawn members has revealed information that could lead to charges being brought against at least three of the neofascist party’s MPs, judicial sources revealed on Thursday.

More from EnetEnglish.gr:

Former Golden Dawn member testifies to prosecutor

  • Supreme Court prosecutor begins hearing testimony into 32 cases involving members of neonazi Golden Dawn

  • Recordings, along with tapes made in the past on individuals under surveillance by the National Intelligence Agency (EYP), will be used by a Supreme Court prosecutor investigating criminal cases involving members of Golden Dawn

And Greek Reporter covers a threat rising in a land where half the youth lack jobs:

Golden Dawn Recruiting Young Greek Students

It seems that the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has invaded Greek schools, as it is attempting to recruit young students, while several teachers talk about groups of out-of-school individuals who try to recruit minor boys and girls in order to staff the organization’s hit squads.

Back to the business of austerity with this from To Vima:

Troika representatives visit Ministry of Finances for negotiations

Ministry of Finances will host two meetings to negotiate primary surplus and fate of defense industries

And from Reuters, a bit of boosterism:

Greece does not need third bailout: deputy PM

Greece does not require a third bailout and can cover its needs without further burdening its current backers, by improving the terms of its debt and possibly returning to the bond market next year, the country’s deputy prime minister said.

And from Kathimerini English, academic implosion:

Eight universities shut due to mobility scheme dispute

Eight universities from which more than 1,300 administrative staff will be moved into the public sector mobility program are now closed due to protests by the remaining employees.

The scourge of austerity slices again, via To Vima:

National Bank makes plans for 2,000 voluntary departures

Bank management aims to reduce its annual employment costs by 120 million euros

And a final Greek item from ANA-MPA:

PM Samaras to meet IMF chief in Washington next week

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will have a meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington next week, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.

Moving into the Mediterranean with a headline from CNNMoney:

Cyprus reeling 6 months after EU rescue

25% pay cuts. 40% increase in unemployment. Europe may be recovering but Cyprus is still battling for survival.

To close, oore Cypriot red ink from ANSAmed:

Crisis: Cyprus; private-sector deposits in banks slide, ECB

Headlines of the day II: The debacle in Greece


The pace of crisis in Greece accelerates at an alarming rate, and the murder of young Hip Hop artist Pavlos Fyssas has only added to the intensity of the furor as Greeks struggle with the grim consequences of an austerian doctrine laid down from afar.

Our first story concerns the judgment of one member of the Troika overseeing the dismemberment of Greece on behalf of foreign investors. From ANA-MPA news agency:

Greek economy gradually transforming, competitiveness improving, Commission report says

Greece has begun a transformation process, from an economy based in consumption, to an economy focusing more on investments and exports, a report by the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Note that concept of Greece into an economy focused on investments. Wasn’t that what got us into this fix in the first place?

From Capital.gr, a suspicion that despite Angela Merkel’s repeated declarations to the contrary, some relief may be coming:

Credit Suisse: Greece is likely to receive some kind of debt relief

Indeed, with record unemployment, wages and benefits radically trimmed, the education and health systems gutted, something’s got to be done lest the cash cow of vulture funds succumb to the remedy.

From ANA-MPA, some modestly good news, given that one of the reasons for the uptick in the export share of trade was that imports are down because people simply can’t afford to buy them:

Greek trade deficit down 17.4 pct in Jan-July

From Kathimerini English, yet another university goes dark in the austerian grip:

Ioannina joins list of Greek universities closing doors

The senate of Ioannina University decided on Wednesday to suspend all administrative and teaching activities until Monday following the induction of 1,349 administrative staff from eight universities into a troika-imposed mobility scheme.

Salon sums up:

Austerity pushes Greek universities to point of collapse

Internationally mandated cuts have crippled Greek’s debit-ridden universities.

From ANSAmed, yet another symptom of decline:

Crisis: Greece sees major decline in use of credit cards

And another, from Capital.gr:

Greece’s Piraeus Bank warns of rising bad loans

One more, from Neos Kosmos:

Greek migration to Australia increases

Impact of crisis reflected in latest figures

And a Troikarch delivers the ironic twist, via To Vima:

Lagarde admits “Greek debt restructure should have happened sooner”

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde addressed concerns about Eurozone and world economy in CNN interview

From International Business Times, more casualties of the financial raptors:

Goodbye Greek Forests, Hello Hotels

As Greece continues to face stern austerity measures following the European debt crisis, the nation’s lawmakers are preparing to relax environmental restrictions and allow development of previously protected forest land.

Yet another development certain to hit hard at a population laboring ubnder Troika-mandated pay cuts, via Kathimerini English:

Greek minister admits 25-euro fee will apply at hospitals

Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis admitted on Wednesday that he will not be able to keep a pledge he made in August, when he promised that patients being treated at public hospitals would not have to pay a 25-euro fee to be seen by doctors and nurses.

Yet another woe, from ANSAmed:

Crisis: Greece; unpaid electricity bills continue to pile up

And from EnetEnglish.gr, one small defeat for the elite:

Controversial amendment on shipping company shares withdrawn

  • Change would have exempted politicians and publishers from declaring ownership of shares in shipping companies

  • Amendment withdrawn after MPs from almost all parties, including ruling New Democracy, said they would not vote for the measure, described by one as a ‘backdoor to money laundering’

Austerity-fueled fascism and the response

The rise of the bloody-minded Golden Dawn, that cadre of thugs who give the Hitler salute and sing the Horst Wessel Song , accounts for most of the body count in this from Kathimerini English:

Watchdog warns of rise in racist violence

There were more than 281 racist attacks in Greece between January 2012 and April 2013, leading to at least four murders and 400 injuries, Ombudsman Calliope Spanou informed Parliament on Wednesday.

From EnetEnglish.gr, more reactions to the murder of Pavlos Fyssas:

Thousands attend antifascist protest

  • Unions, parties and other groups called for mass rally against Golden Dawn

  • ‘Pavlos lives! Crush the nazis!’ was the main slogan chanted at the demonstration, which got underway on Syntagma Square at 6pm. Metro stations in central Athens are closed because of the rally

More from To Vima:

Rallies and concerts against fascism and Golden Dawn

Demonstrations taking place in Thessaloniki, Serres, Ioannina, Volos, Heraklion, Katerini and Chania]

Greek Reporter has a follow:

Battles Break Out at Anti-Fascist Rally

On another front, the murder has finally forced a reluctant state to act, as To Vima reports:

Police guard arrested after investigation in Golden Dawn offices

Suspended police guard assigned to MP Barbarousis stored his police equipment in Golden Dawn’sAgrinio offices

And more developments from Neos Kosmos:

Murder investigations reveal more Golden Dawn

At least five more members of Golden Dawn are expected to be charged in connection with the murder of Pavlos Fyssas last week

Kathimerini English reports on more government moves:

Probe extends to top echelons of Golden Dawn

Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Charalambos Vourliotis on Wednesday reportedly ordered restrictions to be lifted on the telephone records of officials and lawmakers of the ultra-right Golden Dawn as an investigation into the criminal activities of the party widens.

One reason for the fast pace of criminal case developments from EnetEnglish.gr:

Former Golden Dawn member testifies to prosecutor

Supreme Court prosecutor begins hearing testimony into 32 cases involving members of neonazi Golden Dawn

Recordings, along with tapes made in the past on individuals under surveillance by the National Intelligence Agency (EYP), will be used by a Supreme Court prosecutor investigating criminal cases involving members of Golden Dawn

More on the informant here.

And, finally, Greek Reporter hints at another development:

Golden Dawn’s Parliamentary Group out of Greek Parliament?