Category Archives: Race

Chart of the day: Black journalism jobs plummet


From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Black journos

The other Holocaust: Hitler’s war on the Roma


We’ve explored at some length previously Hitler’s other Holocaust, the one targeting those peoples often grouped under the name “Gypsy,” a term assigned them because of their once-supposed Egyptian origin.

We are therefore pleased with a new to the University of California Television channel on YouTube, featuring Ian Hancock, European-born Roma professor from the University of Texas:

From University of California Television:

Porrajmos: The Romani and the Holocaust with Ian Hancock – Holocaust Living History 

Program notes:

The Holocaust claimed anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million Romani lives, a tragedy the Romani people and Sinti refer to as the Porrajmos, or “the Devouring.” Notwithstanding the scope of the catastrophe, the Romani genocide was often ignored or minimized until Ian Hancock and others exposed this misfortune. A Romani-born British citizen, activist, and scholar, Hancock has done more than anyone to raise awareness about the Romani people during World War II. Now a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Hancock is presented here as part of the Holocaust Living History Workshop, a partnership between Judaic Studies at UCSD and the UC San Diego Library.

Recorded on 05/07/2014. Series: “The Library Channel”

In light of Hancock’s insights on the common links the Nazis drew between the Romani people and Jews, another UCTV video recorded at an address for CARTA [the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny] makes an interesting point.

University of Southern California social anthropologist Christopher Boehm looks at patterns of aggression among hunter/gatherer peoples and friends that ethnic identity was the cause of most in intergroup violence. He notes that virtually every foraging group self-identifies as “the people” and other groups as something less.

From UCTV:

Violence in Human Evolution – Christopher Boehm: Warfare and Feuding in Pleistocene Society

Program notes:

In this talk, Christopher Boehm (USC) discusses how today’s hunter-gatherers are used to portray likely patterns of male aggression among culturally-modern foragers in the Late Pleistocene epoch. Patterns of aggressive behavior are considered at three levels: within groups, between groups of the same ethnicity, and between groups that consider one another strangers.

Recorded on 05/16/2014. Series: “CARTA – Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny”

Quote of the day: The madness of pot busts


Following up on Sunday’s lead editorial call for an end to federal marijuana prohibition, the New York Times is back again today with an editorial on pot possession busts, which includes this:

From 2001 to 2010, the police made more than 8.2 million marijuana arrests; almost nine in 10 were for possession alone. In 2011, there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes put together.

The costs of this national obsession, in both money and time, are astonishing. Each year, enforcing laws on possession costs more than $3.6 billion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It can take a police officer many hours to arrest and book a suspect. That person will often spend a night or more in the local jail, and be in court multiple times to resolve the case. The public-safety payoff for all this effort is meager at best: According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report that tracked 30,000 New Yorkers with no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession, 90 percent had no subsequent felony convictions. Only 3.1 percent committed a violent offense.

The strategy is also largely futile. After three decades, criminalization has not affected general usage; about 30 million Americans use marijuana every year. Meanwhile, police forces across the country are strapped for cash, and the more resources they devote to enforcing marijuana laws, the less they have to go after serious, violent crime. According to F.B.I. data, more than half of all violent crimes nationwide, and four in five property crimes, went unsolved in 2012.

The editorial also calls out the radical racial disparities in pot possession arrests, nothing that in some counties, blacks are 30 times more likely that whites to be arrested.

Chart of the day: Discrimination in academia


Dramatic evidence that discrimination is at work in the Groves of Academe comes from a study [PDF] by three academics, Katherine L. Milkman of Whrton, Dolly Chugh of NYU’s Stern School of Business, and Modupe Akinola of Columbia Business School on how academics at universities would respond to an email request for a meeting with a prospective student seeking advice.

The recipients were 6,500 professors at the nation’s top 250 schools.

The message was the same in all the emails, save for the ethnicity and gender of the supposed sender. Just who received answers was illuminating, and the results are graphed here with non-response rates [red] and response rates [black] in comparison with a supposed with mail.

Discrimination rates were lower at public compared to private institutions.

Click on the image to enlarge [and alarm]:

Microsoft Word - 30Mar2012_Manuscript_Final_QJE

Headlines: Pols, players, loans, lies, pollution


And, of course, Fukushimapocalypse Now!, including wordf that the nuclear waste dump used by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory faces a closeure of two years or more.

From PBS NewsHour, our first item features the usual suspects:

Koch group plans to spend $125 million on midterms

Kochs plan to spend big: To the surprise of no one, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s repeated attacks against Charles and David Koch have failed to dissuade the conservative billionaires from investing heavily in the 2014 midterm elections. Politico’s Ken Vogel reports that Americans for Prosperity, the main political arm of the Koch brothers, plans to spend more than $125 million “on an aggressive ground, air and data operation” to help boost conservative candidates. That sum would “exceed the total 2012 fundraising hauls of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the National Republican Senatorial Committee,” Vogel writes. The $125 million projection comes after the Kochs’ political network raised more than $400 million trying to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012.

Aiming for the red-state Democrats in the South: This time their aim will be vulnerable Senate Democrats in red states such as Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. By the end of March AFP had already spent $7 million targeting Hagan. AFP has so far dropped more money than any other outside group on the right, and Friday’s headline signals that spending is only going to continue — and likely escalate — as the calendar moves closer to November.

Even before the election, they’ve already won one significant victory. From ABC News:

Wyoming is 1st state to reject science standards

  • Coal-producing state Wyoming declines new science standards with global warming components

Wyoming, the nation’s top coal-producing state, is the first to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components.

The Wyoming Board of Education decided recently that the Next Generation Science Standards need more review after questions were raised about the treatment of man-made global warming.

Board President Ron Micheli said the review will look into whether “we can’t get some standards that are Wyoming standards and standards we all can be proud of.”

BBC News raises the heat:

Pressure mounts on FCC over net-neutrality changes

Pressure is mounting on the US Federal Communications Commission to delay or abandon plans to change the rules that govern how internet traffic is treated.

More than 50 venture capitalists have sent a letter expressing concerns about proposals to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to charge for prioritised network access. It comes a day after 100 technology companies signed a similar letter.

Two FCC commissioners are now calling for the 15 May vote to be delayed.

Whilst on the subject of neutrality, ponder this from Montclair SocioBlog:

Whose Speech, Whose Religion?

Does a justice’s view of the First Amendment’s “establishment clause” depend on which religion is being established?

The First Amendment doesn’t specify any religions as more or less establishable. It just says no establishment.

This week, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court voted to allow a town council in Greece, NY to open their meetings with Christian prayers. These referred to “our Christian faith,” Jesus Christ, and the Resurrection. The justices ruled that these Christian prayers were in perfect accord with the First Amendment.  Needless to say, the five justice majority was all Christian (Catholic in fact).  The two Jews and two other Catholics dissented. (The Court has no Protestants.)

The Washington Post politics:

Obama warns Democrats that midterms could imperil his agenda — and America

On the West Coast to raise millions of dollars for his party, President Obama spent the second half of this week preaching to rich supporters about why Democrats are better than Republicans. It sounded like a conventional stump speech in the windup to the midterm battle — including a rote apology to the first lady for running another campaign.

As he toured a series of mansions, Obama made the case that should Democrats fail to keep their hold on the Senate and win back the House, both his second-term priorities and the country’s future could be imperiled.

He described the public’s dissatisfaction with Washington as nearly at a tipping point, where working-class Americans see leaders as unresponsive to their most basic concerns. If that were to continue, he said, more middle-class Americans could dismiss the political process completely.

CNBC covers a political blunder featuring a company where Hillary Cklinton once served as a director:

Obama heads to Wal-Mart, triggers backlash

Calling it the right thing to do for America’s bottom line, President Barack Obama announced new steps Friday by companies, local governments and his own administration to deploy solar technology, showcasing steps to combat climate change that don’t require consent from a disinclined Congress.

Framed by rows of clothing and patio supplies at a Wal-Mart in California, Obama said more than 300 companies and state and local governments have pledged to use solar energy

>snip<

The White House said it chose Wal-Mart because the company has committed to doubling the number of solar energy projects at its stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers.

But in choosing the giant retailer as the backdrop for his announcement, Obama triggered a backlash from labor unions and pay equity advocates who say low wages paid by Wal-Mart fly in the face of Obama’s vaunted push on pay equity.

“What numbskull in the White House arranged this?” former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served in the Bill Clinton administration, said on Facebook.

And from Reuters, more about the company in question:

Wal-Mart should face lawsuit over alleged Mexico bribery: U.S. judge

Wal-Mart Stores Inc should face a U.S. lawsuit accusing it of defrauding shareholders by concealing suspected corruption at its Mexico operations, after learning that a damaging media report detailing alleged bribery was being prepared, a federal judge said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Setser in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Thursday recommended denying Wal-Mart’s request to dismiss the lawsuit led by a Michigan pension fund against the world’s largest retailer and former Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company disagrees with Setser’s recommendation, which is subject to review by U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey. District judges are not bound by magistrate judges’ recommendations but often follow them.

BBC News covers more corporate conundra:

US politicians raise questions over Pfizer bid

Pfizer’s bid for AstraZeneca is being questioned by US politicians.

The governors of the states of Maryland and Delaware have written to Pfizer’s boss saying they are “very concerned” about the deal and the possibilities of job losses in their states.

Meanwhile senators Carl Levin and Roy Wyden are looking to close the tax loophole that Pfizer plans to use. One of the attractions of the deal to Pfizer is that it could significantly lower the company’s tax bill.

While MintPress News catches one of the more loathesome outcomes of Proposition 13:

Calif. City Boosts Revenue By Detaining And Deporting Immigrants

Despite protests and calls from activists, an immigrant-dominant California city opts to continue its controversial relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Santa Ana, Calif., welcomed its first Latino police chief on Tuesday during a City Council meeting, then the city with an 80-percent Latino population opted to increase its revenue by deporting undocumented immigrants.

As MintPress News previously reported, since 2006, Santa Ana officials have allowed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to detain those suspected of being undocumented immigrants at the Santa Ana City Jail for a fee of about $82 per day. Despite protests in recent years, city officials have not only expressed an interest in continuing their financial relationship with ICE, but also hope to increase the immigrant detainee fee to $110.

The controversial detention practice has been criticized by immigrants rights activists for years, as individuals can be detained for up to 48 hours without a warrant — even if they are American citizens. This 48-hour period does not include weekends or holidays, which means many are detained for much longer than two days. As Theresa Dang, a representative of the Orange County May Day Coalition shared, more than 70 percent of the detainees do not have any criminal record.

From United Press International, a better way for regional governments to make a little spare change:

Colorado generates over $25M in marijuana revenue since legalization

Colorado made over $3 million in licensing and application fees before recreational pot shops even opened their doors.

Marijuana has already generated Colorado nearly $25 million in revenue since legalization, between taxes, licenses, and fees.

Before it even became legal to sell recreational marijuana on Jan. 1 of this year, the state had already collected over $3 million in licensing fees.

And in the first three months of this year alone, Colorado’s raked in nearly $22 million — over $16 million of that was in taxes, the rest in license and application fees — according to a report from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The license and application fees may represent the boom of a new economy, and might eventually slow as that market stabilizes and fewer new shops open. Still, the tax revenue so far continues to climb month to month, as recreational sales jumped to $19 million in March — up nearly a third from $14 million in February.

Consider also a second UPI story:

Report: Global war on drugs a failure

The report emphasizes public health treatment instead of incarceration and prosecution

The global war on drugs is a failure, economists of the London School of Economics, including five Nobel Prize winners, said in a report.

The 84-page report, entitled “Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy,” calls for reform of drug laws and theorizes a “drug-free world” based on prohibition is wasteful and expensive. It calls for a “major rethink of international drug policies.”

The report suggests decriminalization would reduce incarceration and health care costs worldwide, and notes countries with the harshest drug penalties have higher incarceration and HIV infection rates.

And then there’s this, from the Guardian:

Arrests for low-level marijuana crime plummet in New York City

  • Commissioner says police are using ‘more discretion’ as arrests for minor crimes fall 34% in first quarter of new mayor’s term

Minor marijuana arrests in New York City have plunged in recent years amid questions about police tactics. But new statistics show the arrests dropped more modestly in the first three months of a new mayoral administration that has pledged to reduce them.

Arrests for the lowest-level marijuana crime fell 34% in the first quarter of – and 9% in the first quarter of this year, to roughly 7,000, according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services data obtained by the Associated Press. Both comparisons are to the same period in the previous years.

Police commissioner William Bratton recently said the department is “attempting to use a lot more discretion” and decreasing the arrests, which Mayor Bill de Blasio decried during his campaign last year.

While Want China Times takes the fast track:

China mulls building high speed railway to the US

The first of the three cross-border high-speed railway plans being constructed or promoted is the high-speed railway line connecting Europe and Asia, which starts from London, will pass through Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Kiev, Moscow and then branch out to Kazakhstan, or Khabarovsk and then enter China’s Manzhouli. The domestic section of this line has already started construction while the sections outside China are still being negotiated.

The second line is a Central Asia high speed railway that will start in Urumqi, pass through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey and conclude in Germany. The domestic section is being promoted, while the sections outside China are still being negotiated.

The third line will be the Pan-Asian high speed rail, which starts in China’s southwestern province of Kunming.

From the San Jose Mercury News, a local-to-esnl reminder that it ain’t over yet:

Underwater homes: Minorities still suffering from housing collapse

Despite the Bay Area’s robust housing recovery, the East Bay communities of Vallejo, Antioch and Richmond are among the nation’s 100 cities with the highest percentages of underwater mortgages, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, by UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, points out that these communities and others with large minority populations have substantial percentages of homes still underwater, or worth less than their mortgages. Initially targeted by subprime lenders and then hit with the steepest home price declines, the communities are still struggling from the housing crash.

The study called for more federal action to help the cities, and without that, endorsed Richmond’s plan to use eminent domain to take over underwater homes and modify their mortgages. That proposal has critics saying it would end up in the courts for years, and would hurt the city’s real estate market if it were implemented.

On to Canada, and one of the dumbest political moves ever from CBC News:

Tim Hudak would cut 100,000 public sector jobs if Tories win Ontario election

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader drew swift condemnation from his opponents Friday as he announced a plan to slash the number of public sector workers in the province by 100,000 if he wins next month’s election.

Tim Hudak said it would be a tough move, but one that would reap benefits in the future. “I take no joy in this, but it has to be done if we want job creators to put more people on the payroll in our province,” he said in Barrie, Ont.

Hudak’s vision — which forms part of his much-touted plan to create one million jobs over eight years — would trade jobs in the public service for the creation of new positions in the private sector.

Another reason why it’s a stupid move from BBC News:

Canada sees little employment growth in last year

The Canadian economy shed 29,000 jobs in April while the unemployment rate remained flat at 6.9%, according to Statistics Canada. However, the number of people working rose 0.8% from a year earlier, split between full- and part-time workers.

Employment fell in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and New Brunswick but rose in Saskatchewan.

Since August 2013, the Canadian economy has seen little overall employment growth, according to the report. And labour force participation fell to 66.1% from 66.5% in April 2013.

There’s much, much more after the jump, including Britain’s household debt timebomb and some Cameron intransigence, a Dutch call for restricting European labor movement and a boom in yachts, then on to Germany for a unique legal victory and a business decline, France next, with Chinese police on the streets and an administration in trouble, a Swiss bankster surrender, a harsh austerian prescription for Portugal, Italian legal woes, the latest from Greece [including electioneering, dirty tricks and all], Russia nostalgia for the Soviet era, turmoil and trucks in the Ukraine, Latin American inflation and political turmoil, a Chinese economic invasion of Africa, Indian bankster chutzpah, billionaires in fisticuffs Down Under, Indonesian graftm, Thai turmoil, mixed news from China, Japanese corporate shenanigans, a host of environmental woes, a cartoon, music, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

John Oliver tackles the death penalty


During his second broadcast of his new HBO series, former Daily Show “correspondent” John Oliver tackles the death penalty, and America’s peculiar love of dealing out frontier-style justice, sometimes ineptly.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Death Penalty

Program notes:

Can the death penalty be executed humanely?
Should we even be implementing it at all?
Why are we talking about this on a comedy show?
John Oliver tackles the tough questions.

Class in the courtroom: Matt Taibbi strikes again


Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi, who rose to fame for his hard-hitting reports on American financial institutions and politics before joining Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and the other members of the new venture The Intercept, talks with Larry King about one of America’s dirty little secrets.

The focus of their conversation is Taibbi’s new book,  The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.

Here’s how journalist Hedrick Smith describes Taibbi’s work in a review for the Washington Post:

In 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. warned that “mortgage-fraud crimes have reached crisis proportions.” He vowed bravely to fight back, but the Justice Department’s inspector general recently reported that, in fact, Holder’s department has made Wall Street crime its lowest priority and that, since 2009, the FBI has closed 747 mortgage-fraud cases with little or no investigation.

No wonder, writes Matt Taibbi, a reporter known for exposés in Rolling Stone on the banks’ rigging of financial markets. In “The Divide,” Taibbi offers the searing indictment that America’s wealth gap has corrupted the nation’s system of justice, fostering a “legal schizophrenia” that harshly prosecutes the poor but practices selective leniency on Wall Street. After “the greatest crime wave in a generation,” the Obama administration’s failure to jail top bankers, Taibbi contends, shows that the United States now lives by a hypocritical double standard — “letting major systemic offenders walk, bypassing the opportunity for important symbolic prosecutions and instead . . . putting the smallest of small fry on the rack for negligible offenses.”

Taibbi is a relentless investigative reporter. He takes readers inside not only investment banks, hedge funds and the blood sport of short-sellers, but into the lives of the needy, minorities, street drifters and illegal immigrants, to juxtapose justice for the poor and the powerful. How can it be, he asks, that a street drifter such as Tory Marone serves 40 days in jail after cops find half a reefer in his pocket, but not a single executive of HSBC faces criminal charges after the bank “admitted to laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, washing money for terrorist-connected organizations in the Middle East, allowing rogue states under formal sanctions by the U.S. government to move money freely by the tens of billions through its American subsidiary, [and] letting Russian mobsters wash money on a grand scale”?

Read the rest.

Nuff said. And now, on with the show:

From RT America:

Politicking: Matt Taibbi on America’s ‘Injustice System’

Program notes:

Journalist Matt Taibbi joins Larry to examine inequality in the U.S. justice system. In his new book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, Taibbi says white-collar criminals walk, while the poor get locked up in record numbers.

Lee Judge: White Lie


From the editorial cartoonist of the Kansas City Star:

BLOG Lie

Challenging racism: Of bananas and melanin


There’s a key rule of derogatory history: The more melanin you have in your skin, the more likely you’ll be called or compared to a simian.

Here is the U.S., African Americans were often compared to gorillas or, in the case folks sitting on stoops or in a once ubiquitous by now-vanished architectural feature of single-family homes, “porch monkeys.”

And Adolf Hitler, that most famous of European racists, called darker skinned Mediterranean peoples [including Arabs] as angemalte Halbaffen [painted half-apes] and back Africans as Halbaffen.

Now as everyone knows, thanks to countless cartoons [both on the printed page and on screen], apes like bananas.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

For one famous African American, the association between her dark skin and the banana was made over. Josephine Baker became the toast of Paris and Weimar Berlin by her brilliant ovation-evoking dances. And one of her most famous routines was danced topless, wearing a wryly subversive skirt of jiggling costumer’s bananas. But when Hitler came to power, the last thing he wanted was a black nightclub star, so Baker retreated to Paris, and when Hitler’s troops invaded, she joined the Resistance, ultimately winning the Croix de Guerre. After her return to the U.S., she became active in the civil rights movement.

But the association between bananas and a derogatory view of folks with an abundance of melanin remains strong in Europe.

Consider the case of Italy’s first black cabinet minister, who has several times been the target of banana-throwing racists.

BBC News describes one such incident in this 27 July 2013 report:

Black Italian minister Kyenge suffers banana insult

Italian politicians have reacted with anger after the country’s first black minister had bananas thrown at her during a political rally.

Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, who has suffered racial abuse in the past, dismissed the act as “a waste of food”.

But Environment Minister Andrea Orlando said on Twitter he felt the “utmost indignation” over the incident.

An earlier International Business Times article on 1 May 2013 reported on incidents that had led to a call for a government investigation:

Kyenge, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is an eye surgeon, has been targeted by racist and far-right websites, as well as by a member of the right-wing Northern League party.

She was appointed integration minister by new prime minister Enrico Letta on Saturday, making her one of seven women in the new government.

Now, in the wake of racist taunts from an array of sources, including epithets that described Kyenge, 48, as a “Congolese monkey,” “Zulu” and “the black anti-Italian,” equal opportunities minister Josefa Idem has ordered the National Anti-Discrimination Office to investigate.

One venue where banana-throwing has become almost a regular feature is the European soccer match [though Canada hasn’t been spared either], as NBC Sports documented back on 23 September 2011 in “A brief history of racist banana-throwing incidents in sports.”

But the latest such incident generated a genuinely interesting response.

From TheLocal.es:

Spain goes bananas for anti-racism campaign

FC Barcelona player Dani Alves decided to eat a banana thrown at him during Sunday’s game against Villareal, a quick-witted reaction which is quickly turning into a worldwide anti-racism campaign with the help of his teammate Neymar.

The Brazilian full-back picked up the banana as he prepared to take a corner (see the video here) in his side’s match at Villareal on Sunday, and rather than take offense to the racist jibe, he gobbled up the fruit in one bite.

“I have been in Spain 11 years and it has been the same for 11 years,” Alves said after his team’s 3-2 comeback. “You have to laugh at these backward people. We are not going to change it, so you have to take it almost as a joke and laugh at them.”

Here’s the video, via Barca Vs Madrid Multimedia:

Dani Alves Eats Banana Thrown From Public – Villareal vs Barcelona 2-3 La Liga 27 04 2014

The response on Facebook and Twitter was immediate. Here’s an example, in tis case posted by Alves’s companion Thaíssa Carvalho [via Independenti.e]:

BLOG Bananas

 

UPDATE: A new, high level development, via ANSA. Photo and more at the link:

Renzi, Prandelli eat banana to back Alves

  • Premier, Italy coach show solidarity against racism

Premier Matteo Renzi and Italy coach Cesare Prandelli on Monday ate a banana, copying Barcelona player Dani Alves’s reaction to racist abuse and giving a symbolic demonstration of solidarity.

Brazilian defender Alves won international acclaim for his intelligent response to having a banana thrown at him from the stands while taking a corner during Sunday’s 3-2 win at Villarreal – peeling it and then taking a bite. Renzi and Prandelli showed their support during a meeting with Italy’s Five-A-Side football team, who were recently crowned European champions. Many other high-profile Italians also hailed Alves.

“Bravo Dani Alves. Fight racism forever. With elegance and imagination,” tweeted former immigration minister Cecile Kyenge, whose short tenure as Italy’s first black minister under ex-premier Enrico Letta was plagued by racist verbal attacks and gestures from the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

But there’s another factor in play: The spread of a fungus that threatens the very existence of the fruit.

The story from NBC News:

Bananas can’t seem to catch a break.

The fruit is under assault again from a disease that threatens the popular variety that Americans slice into their cereal or slather with chocolate and whipped cream in their banana splits. But aside from its culinary delight, the banana is the eighth most important food crop in the world, and the fourth most important one for developing nations, where millions of people rely on the $8.9 billion industry for their livelihood.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida. In 1989 Ploetz discovered a strain of Panama disease, called TR4, that may be growing into a serious threat to U.S. supplies of the fruit and Latin American producers.

“There’s nothing at this point that really keeps the fungus from spreading,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

If the banana does go the way of the dodo, let’s just hope racist fans don’t take to throwing that other “fruit” so frequently linked with blacks by racists. Via Free Republic:

BLOG Melon

‘David Simon on America as a Horror Show’


From Moyers and Company:

David Simon on America as a Horror Show

From the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: Watching the president’s speech the other night– he was hopeful, he was upbeat, he was encouraging and inclusive and what he said. But I kept listening and thinking about that speech you had made last fall in Australia where you said what’s happening here in America is “a horror show.” And I wonder, how do you reconcile those two visions of our country?

DAVID SIMON: I don’t think that you can call the American government anything other than broken at this point. And I think the break has come at the legislative level. I mean, that’s the part of the government that has been purchased.

You can buy these guys on the cheap. And the capital’s been at it a long time and the rules have been relaxed. The Supreme Court has walked away from any sort of responsibility to maintain democracy at that level. That’s the aspect of government that’s broken.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s Obama or Clinton or Bush or anybody at this point. If this is the way we’re going to do business, we’re not going to do business. You know, they’ve paid for it to be inert. And it is inert. And ultimately that aspect of capitalism hasn’t been dealt with in any way.

Musings: Greece and the rise of neofascism


We’ve been fascinated since childhood with the rise of National Socialism in Germany.

Throughout most of the 1920’s, following their brief attempt to seize power at the peak of hyperinflation in 1923 — when a bushel basket of thought-mark notes wouldn’t buy a loaf of bread, the Nazi’s were a small party on the fringes. But the Wall Street crash sent numbers soaring, leading less than four years later to their capture of the chancellorship and subsequent imposition of dictatorship.

The Nazis seized power after the once-dominant Social Democrats lost power and a series of shaky right-leaning coalition governments inevitably collapsed, leaving the dangerous precedent of ruling by decree when parliamentary majorities couldn’t be raised.

Today, Greece hasn’t seen hyperinflation since the crash of 2008, but the once mighty social democrats of PASOK have been reduced to a pitiful remnant in a coalition government dominated by the Right.

Like the Nazis, Golden Dawn voices contempt for the conventional Right and mobilizes anxiety triggered by economic collapse to focus blame on aliens within and immigrants [Hitler’s first major deportations were of immigrant Polish Orthodox Jews].

Golden Dawn shares with the Nazis a salute, a fondness for the Horst Wessel Song, and the mobilization of the angry to physically assault their chosen scapegoats.

And so we watch Greece with great interest.

Since the eruption of the crisis precipitated by the murder of an anti-fascist rapper by a self-identified Golden Dawn activist, he response of the coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been to prosecute party leaders and ban the party itself.

Both were tried in Germany, something which Samaras and his colleagues should keep in mind.

We’ll have more on the Greek crisis in our final Headlines of the day post, but for now consider an image and a video.

First up, from Carlos Latuff and featuring Prime Minister Antonis Samaras:

“@PrimeministerGR far from uprooting fascism in #Greece”

“@PrimeministerGR far from uprooting fascism in #Greece”

Next, consider an interview that makes the same critical point.

Jaisal Noor of The Real News Network discusses the rise of Golden Dawn and the government’s suppression efforts with political economist Costas Lapavitsas of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies

Gov’t Crackdown on Golden Dawn Won’t Defeat Greek Fascism

The program notes:

Costas Lapavitsas: The only way to defeat the Golden Dawn and Greek fascism is through popular mobilization that persuades Greek working people and the middle class that democracy and social change can create a just economy

And an excerpt from the transcript:

There are three reasons why Golden Dawn has emerged as a genuine political popular force. The first is, of course, terrible social conditions–unemployment, loss of income, and a sense of destruction of everyday life. Golden Dawn talked to ordinary people and basically argued–falsely, but it did–it argued that immigrants are to blame, policies of the IMF and so on are to blame, and they were going to change things–Greece for the Greeks. That’s the first thing.

The second reason why Golden Dawn became so powerful is because of corruption. Corruption has been endemic in Greece, and there was a widespread sense of the political system being incredibly corrupt. Golden Dawn spoke to people about this again and promised them that it would bring a state of clean hands about. They themselves were clean, and they were going to clean up Greek politics.

The third reason why Golden Dawn has become powerful is because of a sense of national humiliation that has prevailed in Greece. Greece has been humiliated the last three years. People feel very keenly that they are beggars, that they’ve been spoken to very, very badly by the rest of Europe. And Golden Dawn has appealed to them by–to people by talking to them about the flag, traditions, and so on, and touched a rich vein of national feeling.

For these reasons, Golden Dawn, which is actually a fascist party, has managed to establish itself as a genuine political organization in Greece. This isn’t just a criminal organization. Anyone who thinks of it as a criminal organization doesn’t quite understand it. This is a popular movement, and it will not go away very easily.

My stars and garters! Fear the white hooligans!


Stars and garters? Well, twas a favored saying of old timers when esnl was a tad. But somehow it seems to fit this delightful little interview of Gawker West Coast Editor Cord Jefferson by CNBC’s Chris Hayes.

Kinda puts things in perspective:

Chart of the day: Black-white marriage approval


From Gallup, a heartening graphic, depicting increasing tolerance over time:

BLOG Marriage

Chart of the day: A disconnect over justice


BLOG Biased justiceFrom a new Gallup poll which concludes that “While 68% of blacks say the American justice system is biased against blacks, 25% of whites agree. Blacks’ attitudes about the justice system have remained virtually constant over the past 20 years, but whites have become less likely to perceive bias.”

‘I’m an old Kansas man myself,’ said the Wizard


The first time we heard the line from The Wizard of Oz, we laughed, being of that same peculiar species.

Kansas, once the home of abolitionist John Brown [a fact seemingly forgotten by Barack Obama and the mainstream media when Barry O launched his re-election campaign in Brown's former home base of Osawotamie], has a mixed history when it comes to people with higher melanin content in their skins.

We grew up in Abilene, the great-grandson of abolitionists who abandoned their pacifist Mennonite faith to wear the Union blue in the Civil War. Though nearby Wichita’s school system was segregated, leading to the Supreme Court’s  landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Abilene’s schools were integrated, largely because there were too few darker-skinned people to build separate schools. The swimming pool, however, was white only, a fact never advertised by nonetheless well known except to young children like esnl, who were told only that “Negroes don’t like to swim.”

But the language of bigotry was universal. We were perhaps nine years old before we learned that what folks called “Nigger Toes” in Abilene were called Brazil Nuts in more genteel society. And when choosing up sides, every kid used the old formula, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch a nigger by the toe. . .”

The nearest town to Abilene of any size was Salina, less than 25 miles away, and the source of frequent visits because our maternal grandmother lived there. It was also the home of the nearest movie palace, where “usherettes” clad in microskirts and tights escorted you to your seats with flashlights equipped with long translucent tubes that emitted a soft, warm orange glow. They also brought your drinks, popcorn, and candy to your seats, carried in trays suspended by straps from their necks.

The usherettes are long gone, but a story in the Salina Journal reveals that some of the attitudes we recall from childhood still remain.

Consider the case of Saline County Commissioner Jim Gile, who’s in hot water for accusing fellow commissioner John Price of “nigger-rigging” plans to repair the county’s Road and Bridge Department building:

In a recording made by County Clerk Don Merriman of the study session, Gile, who is white, can be heard to say the county needed to hire an architect to design the improvements rather than “nigger-rigging it.”

His comment brought laughter from others in the room. Salinan Ray Hruska, who attends most commission meetings and study sessions, asked Gile what he said.

“Afro-Americanized,” Gile replied.

When pressed about his comment later, the Journal reports, Giles responded, “I am not a prejudiced person. I have built Habitat homes for colored people.”

Well, that certainly clears things up, doesn’t it?

Chart of the day: Satisfaction, American-style


From Gallup, a new poll reveals that we’re happiest with the military and the war on terror:

BLOG Satisfaction

Romney’s Mormon faith, or Gott Mitt Uns


We have faulted the mainstream media for their singular unwillingness to confront former Mormon Bishop Mitt Romney about the peculiarities of his religion, one allegedly revealed through a “seer stone” translating some golden plates in Egyptian hieroglyphs found buried on a New York hilltop.

What concerns us is the explicit prophecy in Mormonism that the president of the U.S. and the head of the Mormon church will be one in the same, and will lead the nation to take over the globe at the apocalyptic moment, ushering in the Mormon millennium, when Mormons will be gods and go off to cdreate their own worlds.

Given that the very secretive Romney has a shot at the job, we’re glad to see that at least the alternative media are picking up the story.

From Alternet:

Watch Mitt Romney get in a heated exchange with a radio host  from a radio interview in 2008 about where Jesus will reign and rule over the Earth for 1,000 years — in Jerusalem and Missouri. Romney displays deep familiarity with the thinking of a Mormon hermit-conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen, who was also Glenn Beck’s great inspiration.

Background from Prisoner Minister: “Mormons believe Jesus will return to earth in Independence, Missouri to begin a 1,000 year reign.  They think Mormons will at that time become gods.  But before the return of Jesus, they believe the United States will come to a constitutional crisis, on the verge of collapse.  They believe America will be saved by a Mormon leader. The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith, said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation (USA) will hang upon a single thread.  At that critical juncture, this people (Mormons) will save it from destruction.”  Their prophet Brigham Young said, “When the Kingdom of God bears rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter.” Mormons, also called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), believe the Kingdom of God will arise from the rule of one man on earth, a political figure who will also be their spiritual leader.  They believe there will be a one-world government ruled by this god-king. He will be a prophet and high priest of the Mormon faith, ruling the world from America.”

Read the rest.

And from vlogger Zac Barr, consider this little bit of Mormon history:

And reporters, if you’re going to address candidates by former offices they’ve held, how about using the phrase “Bishop Romney”?

GreeceWatch: Strikes, money, blood, and racism


There’s an anti-austerity general strike today that could shut down most of the government, Mario Monti paid a visit and made meaningless pronouncements, the German finance minister is calling for patience, the eurobank says it can’t help in a bailout, the finance minister threatens to quit over cuts, doctors reveal a bloody truth, expats protest language class cuts, the suicide epidemic continues, and racism becomes a target.

Wednesday general strike challenges austerity

Government offices across the country are closed as the latest anti-austerity action challenges the government’s latest round of proposed Troika-mandated cuts.

From Ekathemerini:

A banner with the word ‘SOS’ announces Wednesday’s general strike as pedestrians wait to cross the road in Athens, Tuesday.

As government officials resumed talks on a tough austerity package ahead of the anticipated return of troika officials in coming days, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras clarified Tuesday that a two-year extension that Greece is seeking for its fiscal adjustment period would cost between 13 and 15 billion euros.

In comments made to Reuters, Stournaras sought to curb wild speculation in the foreign press about the cost of an extension for Greece — which Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung set at 30 billion euros in its report Tuesday — and about the size of Greece’s fiscal deficit. “We estimate the funding gap that would be created if we get the two-year extension at 13 to 15 billion euros,” Stournaras said, adding that the size of Greece’s fiscal deficit was 13.5 billion euros, hence the need for 11.5 billion euros in spending cutbacks and 2 billion euros in new revenues.

Read the rest.

More from Athens News:

The country will come to a standstill Wednesday as the two main labour unions, GSEE and ADEDY, have declared a 24-hour nationwide strike. The strike includes workers such as civil servants, teachers, doctors, hospital staff, merchants, lawyers, civil engineers, and bank employees.

Public transportation including ilektriko, trolleys and busses will run from 9am to 9pm, while the metro run 8am to 9pm, and the tram will work from 6am to 10pm. Proastiakos and OSE will not run. Airlines and ferries will also be striking, and the metro branch that goes to the Athens International Airport (stops Pallini, Peania, Kantza, Koropi, Airport) will not run.

The two unions are protesting finalisation of the 11.5 euro austerity package. A joint statement issued by ADEDY and GSEE reads, “During the past 2.5 years wages, pensions and benefits have been slashed repeatedly, yet the ‘monstrous debt’ remains intact and continually calls for new sacrifices and austerity measures.”

Read the rest.

And this, from More from Agence France-Presse:

“S0S – save the country, but above all its people,” the leading union confederations the GSEE and ADEDY said in posters strung from lamp-posts across the capital.

“Salaries, pensions and benefits have been cut again and again for 2.5 years and the ‘monster’ of the debt and deficits remains invincible, constantly demanding new sacrifices,” the unions said in a statement.

Two general strikes were held against a previous austerity package in February, but this is the first walkout to test the three-party coalition government headed by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that came to power in June.

Read the rest.

Mario Monti declines to offer advice to Greece

While the Italian rime Minister’s never at a loss for words, he was strangely reluctant to offer Greece the advice in public he’s so free to press behind closed doors.

Here’s the money question and his answer from an Ekathemerini interview:

What is your advice to the Greek prime minister and the Greek people at this point, when frustration with the results of the fiscal adjustment is clearly on the rise? Do you think it is possible to obtain better terms and more time for the implementation of its program?

It would be presumptuous for me to provide advice on specific policies for Greece as I don’t follow the situation closely enough. Nevertheless, experience shows that the sacrifices are worth the effort. And the Greek people are not alone. Italy is providing nearly a fifth of the financial support to Greece as well as to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM), despite having a high level of debt and seeing its servicing costs increasing dramatically because of the crisis in the euro area and investors’ doubts about our collective resolve to solve it. Without its contribution to the financial assistance, Italy’s debt would be a full three percentage points of GDP lower.

I welcome the economic measures recently decided by the Greek government as a clear sign of its will to reform the economy. We are convinced that Greece will respect its commitments, pursue the structural reforms it needs in order to boost growth and employment, and continue the painful but necessary process of fiscal discipline that it has embarked upon. Italy is aware of the ongoing efforts that Greece is making to overcome the crisis and it will continue to support the strong commitment of the Greek authorities at the bilateral level as well as in the European context.

Read the rest.

German money minister calls for patience

And avoid that speculation, he says. Indeed, it was that flood of speculative investments by various and sundry banksters that brought the country down, when added to a weak and often corrupt social structure.

But that’s not what Wolfie meant.

From Agence France-Presse:

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday called for patience rather than engaging in “speculation” ahead of a report by Greece’s troika of international creditors.

“We all agree that we are totally patient in waiting for the next report of the troika,” he told reporters in Vaanta, Finland, after meeting with Finnish counterpart Jutta Urpilainen and Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager.

“Any speculation before that doesn’t make sense,” he added when asked about the possibility of restructuring Athens’ debt again.

Representatives of the troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — called time out on Friday on lengthy bailout negotiations with Athens.

The talks are expected to resume this week.

Read the rest.

Eurobank executive says it won’t bailout Greece

All the cash has got to come from national treasuries, not the bank’s, he says.

And that would mean the biggest chunk would have to come from Germany.

From Alexandra Hudson of Reuters:

Greece’s possible financing gap can only be filled by euro zone states and the European Central Bank would not participate in any potential debt restructuring, ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen told German newspaper Die Welt.

In an advance copy of an interview to be published on Wednesday Asmussen told the paper: “The ECB would not be able to take part in any such restructuring, because this would constitute state financing, Continue reading

Europe’s war on the wandering poor accelerates


As we’ve noted countless times before, immigrants become targets when economic times get tough, whether they’re Irish-Americans in the United States in the late 19th Century or Eastern European Jews in 1930s Germany and Austria.

As the Library of Congress notes:

As immigration from Europe and Asia neared its crest in the late 19th century, anti-immigrant sentiment soared along with it. The U.S. was in the grips of an economic depression, and immigrants were blamed for taking American jobs. At the same time, racialist theories circulated in the press, advancing pseudo scientific theories that alleged that “Mediterranean” types were inherently inferior to people of northern European heritage. Drawings and songs caricaturing the new immigrants as childlike, criminal, or subhuman became sadly commonplace. One 1891 cartoon claimed that “If immigration was properly restricted, you would never be troubled with anarchism, socialism, the Mafia and such kindred evils!”

The same phenomenon is at work in crisis-gripped Europe today, with many in Northern Europe complaining about “lazy” Mediterranean peoples, and folks in the south singling out immigrants from a chaos Middle East and Africa who are fleeing violence Europe did so much [with the deep-pocket assistance of Uncle Sam] to provoke.

And there are Europe’s own native-born “aliens,” the Roma, Sinti, and Trvaelers often collectively called gypsies.

A French socialist ethnic cleansing

First, a video report from euronews of the latest action against Europe’s wanderers, the Roma, carried out by the French Socialist [sic] government of François Hollande, carrying out a tradition set by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy:

Next, the details from Radio France Internationale:

French authorities on Thursday evicted several hundred Roma from improvised camps in the north of the country and planned to deport others from the southern city of Lyon. Roma rights groups have accused the Socialist government of carrying right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s policies on the question.

Two Roma camps on state-owned land near Lille were evacuated on Thursday morning. About 200 people were expelled from one and “15 caravans” from the other, according to Villeneuve d’Ascq deputy mayor Maryvonne Girard.

And officials sent about 240 Roma back to Romania from Lyon, the biggest such deportation since President François Hollande took office in May.

Rights campaigners accuse Hollande of breaking an election promise that camps would not be dismantled unless alternative accommodation was available.

“At least the last president had the honesty to say what was going to happen,” commented Father Arthur, a Catholic priest who had planned to baptise six Roma children in Lille as a sign of resistance to evictions.

Last week Interior Minister Manuel Valls declared that he would not oppose evictions that a court ruled legal.

But on Wednesday he said he would review the provisions introduced by the Sarkozy government for handling Roma, raising the possibility of lifting an employment ban introduced in 2007.

Read the rest.

The BBC adds that the raid also targeted “a camp housing about 160 Roma in the 19th arrondissement of Paris” which was evicted Wednesday.

They add:

A Roma rights campaigner, whose name was given only as Jean-Philippe, told France 3 television the voluntary returns were “expulsions in disguise”.

The compensation given – 300 euros (£237; $317) per adult – was a waste of public money, he argued, because many of the Roma would return to France.

Campaigners argue that the Roma face discrimination in their home countries.

The Roma are EU citizens, mostly from Romania or Bulgaria, but French law requires them to have a work permit and prove they have the means to support themselves if they intend to stay for more than three months.

Read the rest.

More from Agence France-Presse:

Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has cultivated a ‘tough on crime’ image, defended the raids as legal and necessary due to the health risks of hundreds of people living in makeshift accommodation.

“Unsanitary camps are unacceptable,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Often located in the midst of working class neighbourhoods, they are also a challenge to community life.”

>snip<

Valls said the government would re-examine conditions for granting the aid to illegal immigrants. It would also review restrictions on working in France for citizens of Romania – an EU country which is the home country of many of Roma migrants.

Rights groups said no arrangements for temporary housing had been made for the group of Roma near Lille, which includes some 60 children.

“What will become of these families?” said Father Arthur, a priest who advocates on behalf of Roma. “Everything is being taken away – it’s a breach of fundamental human rights.”

Read the rest.

Another ethnic cleansing, this time in Greece

We begin with a video report from International Business Times on the massive “illegals” roundup now underway in Greece which has thus far swept up an estimated 6,000 people, most of whom proved to be “legal”:

And from Athens News, a police video of a sweep at the main train station in  Athens Thursday:

And a report on the roundup from Capital.gr:

Migrants living in Athens are held at an ID-check operation in Athens. Around 1,000 immigrants were arrested and another 4,900 brought in for questioning by police.

Migrants living in Athens are held at an ID-check operation in Athens. Around 1,000 immigrants were arrested and another 4,900 brought in for questioning by police, Hurriyet Daily reported.

Greek authorities transferred about 1,000 undocumented immigrants an area close to the Turkish border Aug. 7, after a weekend police sweep in Athens led to a mass arrest of foreigners.

A local police official said the immigrants were being held in two temporarily closed police schools in Thrace, a part of northeastern Greece bordering Turkey, Agence France-Presse reported. It’s unclear how long the immigrants will remain in the centers, as recession-choked Greece has scant money to return them to their home countries. Greek government figures show more than 100 migrants crossing the country’s border with Turkey daily. Turkey and the European Union formally launched the visa-exemption process for Turkish citizens last June and initiated a readmission agreement with the bloc. The deal envisages the repatriation of illegal migrants in Europe via Turkey after temporary stays in the latter country, in response to key steps outlined by the EU for a visa-free agreement with Turkey.

Read the rest.

Human rights groups protest Greek roundup

The list of organizations opposing the mass arrests is growing.

The latest from Ekathemerini:

The Greek Council of Refugees on Thursday became the latest group — following Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — to Continue reading

EuroWatch: Crisis heats up, bonds rebuked, more


Tectonic shifts are underway across the continent. A leading IMF official has resigned, charging that incompetent bureaucrats and hacksrepeatedly ignored warnings about the impending crisis.

We’ve got a major bombshell in the announcement that the eurozone’s central bank is refusing Greek bonds as collateral, a move that sent Spanish share prices down and seems certain to add more intensity to a national tragedy. [The story's after the jump, grouped with out other Greek items.]

We got another harsh eurobankster warning, graphic eviden ce of what’s at stake in the event of euro breakup, the latest on the Spailout, a warning of a Spanish regional collapse, the flight of Iberian young to former colonies, and an airline that won’t be taking them.

From Greece, we’ve got another resignation from government, the return of electricity to a sweltering hospice, a Samaras meeting, another warning from another German, a visit from Bubba. a Prime Ministerial strike-breaking raid, more racist attacks [including a video].

From Italy, we’ve got a prime ministerial coup against provincial governments, a Sicilian mayor’s warning of civil war, a rating agency’s back-pat, and more legal worries for a seemingly resurgent Baron of Bunga Bunga.

There’s a Cyprus bank upgrade, a German business upbraid, suspicions of deep French agendas, and a very untransparent European Parliament.

We begin with a trio of videos.

BBC: Wildfires sweep across Southern Europe

Just as austerity cuts are demolishing firefighting services, an epidemic of fires has erupted in Greece and other countries along the southern edge of the continent.

From BBC News:

Associated Press: ‘The Dark Knight’ Paris Premiere Cancelled

The Colorado theater midnight Batman massacre carried out by a armor-clad gunman who told police “I am the Joker” has a European echo:

From Deutsche Welle: Greece – Crisis in sports

A stark report on the sad plight of competitive sport in the country that gave us the Olympics:

IMF economist resigns in anger

The International Monetary Fund, the critical third member of the Troika now engaged in the deconstruction of Europe for the benefit of investors, is riddled with incompetence and hacks, declares one of its leading economist in a tempestuous resignation letter.

What’s even worse, senior officials ignored clear warnings of the approaching economic crisis.

From Ian Talley of the Wall Street Journal:

A senior International Monetary Fund economist is resigning from the Fund, writing a scathing letter to the board blaming management for suppressing staff warnings about the financial crisis and a pro-European bias that he says has exacerbated the euro-zone debt crisis.

“The failure of the fund to issue [warnings] is a failing of the first order, even if such warnings may not have been heeded,” Peter Doyle said in a letter dated June 18 and copied to senior management.

Doyle is formerly a division chief in the IMF’s European Department responsible for non-crisis countries. He currently acts as an adviser to the Fund but is expected to officially leave in the fall.

“The consequences include suffering [and risk of worse to come] for many including Greece, that the second global reserve currency is on the brink, and that the Fund for the past two years has been playing catch-up and reactive roles in the last-ditch efforts to save it,” he said in the letter.

>snip<

“After twenty years of service, I am ashamed to have had any association with the Fund at all,” he said in the letter. Mr. Doyle wasn’t immediately available for further comment.

Read the rest.

More from the BBC:

He writes of “incompetence”, “failings” and “disastrous” appointments for the IMF’s managing director, stretching back 10 years.

>snip<

In the letter, dated 18 June and obtained by the US broadcaster CNN, Mr Doyle said the failings of IMF surveillance of the financial crisis “are, if anything, becoming more deeply entrenched”.

He writes: “This fact is most clear in regard to appointments for managing director which, over the past decade, have all-too-evidently been disastrous.

“Even the current incumbent [Christine Lagarde] is tainted, as neither her gender, integrity, or elan can make up for the fundamental illegitimacy of the selection process.”

Read the rest.

CNN has posted the full text of the letter [PDF].

Such are the minions of money now dissecting the prone corpse of material and human capital across the globe, selling off the parts and stilling any last, faint cadaveric spasms.

Another harsh eurobankster warning

They’re coming so regularly now you could almost set your watch by them.

But then the euro’s an increasingly hard sell this days, going these days for under $1.22, while the Canadian dollar is within a hair’s breadth of the U.S. dollar [98.70 cents, as we write].

From Reuters:

The euro zone political commitment to the euro should not be underestimated, European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said on Friday in a warning to those doubting the single currency’s survival.

In a speech in Mexico City, Coeure said there was a lack of understanding about the euro zone’s approach to tackling the debt crisis and that he disagreed with those who said the bloc did not have the right tools to fix the situation.

“I would caution those who have doubts about the euro, that they underestimate the political commitment to it at their own risk,” Coeure said.

“The ambition to provide long-term foundations for EMU in less than a decade is a historical step of great significance,” he added.

Read the rest.

So what’s a stake? A graphic answer

David Keohane of FT Alphaville reports on a new JP Morgan Chase report speculating on the costs to Finland of a eurozone exit [insignificant, according to the banksters].

But what caught our eye was this chart from the bank report, showing the net international investment positions [NIIPs] of eurozone countries.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines the term:

The difference between a country’s external financial assets and liabilities is its net international investment position (NIIP). A country’s external debt includes both its government debt and private debt, and similarly its public and privately held (by its legal residents) external assets are also taken into account when calculating its NIIP.

A country’s international investment position (IIP) is a financial statement setting out the value and composition of that country’s external financial assets and liabilities.

Basically, the more a country appears on the right hand side of the chart, the greater its potential losses in the event of a eurozone exit or collapse. [For where the U.S. Stands, see this graphic nightmare.]

And look at Germany’s position, the best single illustration of why Angela Merkel is so desperate to destroy national budgetary autonomy.

And on to Spain. . .

Word of final Spailout total coming in September

We presume this means Spain will go through the same kind of vetting now underway in Greece.

The eurocrats are playing with fire in holding off on their announcement, given the high tensions inside the country, where growing numbers are taking to the streets in outrage over the austerian demands.

From Reuters:

The exact amount that Spain will borrow from the euro zone to recapitalize its banks will only be determined in September, euro zone finance ministers said on Friday, after approving the terms of a loan of up to 100 billion euros ($123 billion).

In return for the loan, Spain will have to restructure its banking sector and its assets, and improve governance and regulation, the Eurogroup of euro zone ministers said in a statement.

But Madrid will also have to honor its government deficit reduction targets and commitments on structural reforms and rebalancing of its economy, undertaken under separate procedures of the European Union.

Read the rest.

Spanish region on brink of collapse

Following up on today’s earlier post about Spain, now comes word that one of the countries major regions is about to default.

The announcement sent Spanish stocks on the biggest plunge in the last two years and dropped stock markets across the continent.

From the London Telegraph’s Emma Rowley and Martin Roberts:

Spanish shares suffered their biggest one-day drop in two years, leading European markets’ plunge downwards, after a major Spanish region said it needed rescuing by its cash-strapped government and Continue reading