Category Archives: Schools

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: Econ/long con/environs

Just another day on Planet Earth, with the austerian agenda firmly in place.

We begin in the U.S., first with this from Reuters:

U.S. consumer confidence falls sharply in October

U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in October as consumers turned gloomier in their outlook for the future, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

From CNBC, good news of sorts, coming as it does at a time when existing home sales are falling:

US home prices rise in Aug, yearly gain best since 2006: S&P/Case-Shiller

U.S. single-family home prices rose in August and also posted their strongest annual gain in more than seven years, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.

From World Socialist Web Site, tellin’ it like it is:

Cutting food stamps: The ruthlessness of the American ruling class

Food assistance benefits for over 45 million Americans will be slashed starting this Friday, in the first-ever nationwide reduction in benefits under the US government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), popularly known as food stamps.

MarketWatch covers a spending spree:

What will China buy? Beijing goes shopping in the U.S.

China is forecast to spend roughly $1 trillion over the next decade buying up foreign assets, including about $15 billion to $20 billion a year on U.S. investments, according to the Kiplinger Letter.

And Quartz breaks esnl’s heart:

A global wine shortage could soon be upon us

It isn’t only France that’s suffering from a growing dearth of wine—it’s the entire world, says a report released on Monday (Oct. 28) by Morgan Stanley Research.

This Morgan Stanley chart [via Quartz] says it all:


To Europe, starting with a case of the eurobanksters busting their budget, with a $700 million project headed for$1.8 billion. Via Spiegel:

ECB Headquarters: Skyrocketing Costs for Skyscraper Project

Estimated costs for the European Central Bank’s new headquarters in Frankfurt have more than doubled. As has been happening with so many major projects in Germany, its construction has been plagued by poor planning, oversight and execution — and endless delays.

From Keep Talking Greece, a matter of priorities:

EU spends more in cows than in young jobless

Old Blighty next, with a striking story from BBC News:

University strike expected to go ahead on Thursday

A planned one-day strike over pay by university staff is expected to go ahead on Thursday after employers refused talks, say unions.

And from BBC News again, John Bull goes soliciting:

Cameron to unveil Islamic bond plan

Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce that the UK will become the first non-Muslim country to issue an Islamic bond.

More from The Independent:

Islamic investment: David Cameron moves to make London a Mecca for Middle East wealth

Moves to turn London into a leading centre of Islamic finance will be announced by David Cameron today amid soaring Middle East investment in Britain and around the world.

From Sky News, a Court of Appeals setback for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who lacked the power to cut emergency and maternity care costs at Lewisham Hospital in London, the the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Hunt ‘Had No Power To Make Hospital Cuts’

Health campaigners celebrate after the Court of Appeal tells the health secretary he did not have the power to announce cuts.

On to Ireland, with a one-city bubble reported by

Demand for family homes in Dublin outstripping supply and pushing prices up

The gap between the capital and the rest of the country continues to grow as fears of a bubble increase

More from the Irish Times:

Dublin house prices up 12.3% in year to September

Two-tier property market emerging as prices continue to slide outside the capital

To Iceland, and bad news for barristers from the Reykjavík Grapevine:

More Lawyers, Less Work

Around 60 lawyers are unemployed in Iceland and the number of lawyers per capita is higher than in most other countries.

Germany next, with a bankster bummer from Deutsche Welle:

Deutsche Bank Q3 profits pummeled by legal costs

Deutsche Bank has suffered a massive drop in profits as the fallout from the financial crisis continues to plague Germany’s biggest lender. Embroiled in major scandals, the bank expects challenging times ahead.

Followed by a Dutch downer from BBC News:

Rabobank fined $1bn over Libor

Dutch bank Rabobank says it has agreed to pay fines of 774m euros ($1bn; £662m) imposed by US, UK and Dutch regulators over the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal.

From France 24, another setback for the government:

France caves in to Brittany ‘ecotax’ protesters

The French government has decided to suspend an unpopular environmental tax on heavy goods vehicles following a weekend of protests in Brittany. The move is expected to cost the France hundreds of millions of euros in lost revenue.

Spain gets a slapdown, via El País:

Spain slips down World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ ranking

Country rated 142nd out of 189 for setting up a company, behind Uzbekistan, Zambia and South Sudan

But good news for Lisbon, or so reports the Portugal News:

Recession may be over in weeks – Deputy PM

Portugal’s deputy prime minister, Paulo Portas, has said that the country could be “a few weeks from knowing that it is out of a technical recession”.

After the jump, Greece’s downward spiral continues, Latin American protests, Indian anxieties, Chinese neoliberalsm, and the latestfrom Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: EconoEthnoGrecoEnviro

Long again today, but we’re going to have to break for a day or two to get our taxes done, so bear with us.

We begin with the global stories, starting with a shocker from MarketWatch:

World likely to have 11 trillionaires within two generations: Credit Suisse

And from CNN, the first of our shutdown woes headlines:

World Bank boss: U.S. debt crisis will hit globe’s ‘poorest’

A U.S. default on its debt would be “devastating” for the global economy and would hit the poor particularly hard, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim told CNN’s Richard Quest Wednesday.

While the London Telegraph covers a dressing down:

China warns US to ‘stop manufacturing crises’ and raise debt ceiling

China criticises “mind-boggling political infighting” over issue of raising America’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling

From the Telegraph again, another dressing down:

Failure to raise US debt ceiling will do ‘serious damage’ to global economy, says IMF chief Christine Lagarde

Failure to raise the US debt ceiling will do “serious damage” to both the US and global economies, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

While Deutsche Welle covers a would-be comeback:

World Bank to restore its international clout

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim wants to raise his institution’s international profile by increasing its efficiency and supporting states involved in the Arab uprising. He also aims to eliminate poverty by 2030.

From Bloomberg, a warning:

IMF Sees Possible Oil-Price Shock From Middle East Unrest

And from CNNMoney, some blowback:

U.S. debt loses some appeal in Hong Kong

Early Thursday, the operator of Hong Kong’s futures and options markets cut the value of short-term Treasury bills held as collateral.

While CNBC sees a bubble bursting:

Plunge in US shares coming in early 2014: Societe Generale

U.S. shares are headed for a big drop in the first quarter of 2014, followed by a year-long period of stagnation, Societe Generale predicts.

And from Reuters grim numbers:

California, government shutdown lift U.S. jobless claims to 6-month high

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits hit a six-month high last week amid a computer glitch in California, but the underlying trend pointed to a steadily improving labor market.

CNBC notes a phenomenon:

US is minting almost all of the world’s millionaires

A new report from Credit Suisse shows that 1.7 million of the 1.8 million millionaires added to the ranks in the past year were created in the U.S., which now boasts 13.2 million millionaires. Rising stock markets, the housing rebound and a broader increase in asset values have fueled the surge.

While Bloomberg notes a bit of the dark side of the wealth machinery:

Mother Dies Amid Abuses in $110 Billion U.S. Stent Assembly Line

And the New York Times covers a privileged story:

Bank Examiner Was Told to Back Off Goldman, Suit Says

Carmen Segarra says that she was fired from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York after refusing to change her findings that Goldman’s controls on conflicts of interest were inadequate.

On to Europe, starting with regional stories, first from the London Telegraph:

Mario Draghi: Europe not moving towards federal ‘super state’

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi bids to dispel fears Europe is moving “inexorably” towards a federal “super state”

New Europe covers a hedging move:

Move set to reduce Bejing’s reliance on dollar ahead of possible default

EU signs China currency agreement

While Quartz covers the well-wheeled elites:

high rollers

European governments may be begging for cash, but their consumers are splurging on luxury cars

And New Europe notes yet another symptom of crisis:

The prices also fell by 1.3 per cent in the EU during the second quarter of 2013

House prices in Eurozone down by 2.2 per cent

Deutsche Welle covers the latest chapter in the rise of hard times xenophobia:

European Parliament approves Eurosur border surveillance

EU lawmakers have approved the Eurosur border surveillance program, aimed at monitoring the bloc’s external border. The vote comes just one week after at least 289 asylum seekers drowned off the coast of Lampedusa.

As does 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.

And a Deutsche Welle video report looks at the latest symptom of a perennial form of European bigotry:

Sweden: A register for Roma | European Journal

Program notes:

The Swedish police drew up illegal lists of Roma. The lists’ purely ethnic criteria suggest racist motives.

The police in the southern Swedish province of Schonen titled the controversial register “Travelers”. With more than 4,000 names, it details the exact genealogy of many Roma families in Sweden. Individuals were put on the register without even being under suspicion of breaking the law. After a Swedish newspaper publicized the list’s existence, the police force has filed charges against its own members.

From the European Union Times, a British manifestation:

UK watchdog bans government ‘Go home’ ads targeting immigrants

A UK advertising watchdog has banned a controversial Home Office advert suggesting that illegal immigrants in the UK to ‘Go home or face arrest,’ saying that it was misleading. However, the ad was not ruled to be ‘offensive’ or ‘distressing.’

From The Independent, another austerian lash for the poor:

Tories ‘to cut aid given to poorest customers by energy companies’

Ministers may reduce levies on firms as SSE blames latest price rise on cost of subsidies

While BBC News covers yet another fruit of Tory neoliberalism:

Big jump in hospital waiting lists in Wales

Figures show another significant rise in the number of patients waiting more than nine months for hospital care.

From, the German chancellor’s support of Ireland’s reluctance to tax corporations threatens her coalition-building efforts:

Ireland’s low corporation tax under threat from Germany

IRELAND’S low corporation tax is again under threat after this country’s problems have became the sticking point in coalition talks between Germany’s two largest parties, according to one of Germany’s leading newspapers.

And from Portside, some aren’t happy with that Troika-endorsed Irish austerity:

Irish Doctors Strike to Protest Work Hours Amid Austerity

Next to France, starting with this from EurActiv:

France to push common ‘digital tax’ at EU level

French plans for a ‘Google tax’ on all digital companies would take the form of a minimum levy calculated on a common base across all EU countries. reports.

From Deutsche Welle, another day, another strike:

French air controllers strike over EU aviation initiative

France has been hit by another strike by air traffic controllers protesting a European Union plan to centralize the continent’s airspace. Airlines have been advised to cancel a tenth of the day’s flights.

And from ANSAmed, yet another ugly manifestation of crisis:

Crisis: French farmers committing suicide every two days

Driven by isolation, financial distress, administrative burdens

While the World Socialist Web Site picks up on hypocrisy:

French austerity budget raises taxes on workers

The French budget prepared by the Socialist Party (PS)-Green Party government of President François Hollande is a massive attack against the working class. It plans to cut the budget deficit from 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by cutting state spending by €15 billion and significantly boosting taxes on working households.

On to Germany for one quick item on a familiar subject via Deutsche Welle:

Does Germany need an Integration Ministry?

Immigration carries a negative connotation in Germany. But it is about time for that to change, migration researchers say. They have proposed corralling immigration issues into a federal Ministry for Integration.

Next up Spain, first with a regional warning via El País:

IMF warns of corporate loan default problems in Spain, Portugal and Italy

Spanish lenders could face losses of 104 billion euros from bad debt, but have coverage lined up

From ANSAmed, a grim diagnosis:

Spain: three mln people in ‘extreme poverty’, Caritas report

Caritas documents ‘neglect, injustice, disenfranchisement’

Confirmation, via thinkSPAIN:

Children ‘suffer malnutrition, poor education and social exclusion’ due to austerity measures and three in 10 live in poverty, says Council of Europe

AUSTERITY measures in Spain are having ‘devastating’ effects on the mental and physical health of children and the disabled, according to human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

But some are doing better than ever, as El País reports:

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

And thinkSPAIN gives us another Banksters Behaving B0adly tale:

Caja Madrid ‘ordered staff to hide’ preferential share details from customers ‘duped’ into signing their savings away

ONE of the main banks involved in the preferential share scam which has seen thousands of account-holders across Spain lose their life’s savings sent an internal memo round to staff ordering the to hide the terms and conditions from customers.

Next Lisbon, where some immigrants [the rich] are welcomed, via the Portugal News:

China citizens dominate list of Portugal ‘gold visas’

China tops the list of countries whose citizens have secured “gold visas” assuring the right to reside in Portugal in exchange for a minimum investment, with 168 of the total of the 226 issued so far, Portugal’s consul-general in Macao, Vítor Sereno, said on Wednesday.

After the jump, the latest from Greece [both economic and political/criminal], Latin America, Russia, , China — plus Fukushimapocalypse Now! and a fracking roundup. . . Continue reading

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. 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

Headlines of the day II: Econo/Fuku/Greco/chaos

The shutdown resonates, the Italian government doesn’t collapse, Fukushima sprouts another leak, stasis warnings fly, and Greece spirals deeper into chaos.

You’ll find the latest Greek developments, including the peculiar progress of the criminal cases against the leaders of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn after the jump, but in the meantime, here’s another graphic cartoon from the Greek press, this time from Panos Maragos of To Ethnos in Athens. The two Greeks, stabbed in the back by daggers bearing the Golden Dawn logo, dance to the tune set by the Troika’s Lords of Money. Via Presseurop:

Now we’ve finished with Golden Dawn. . .Let’s enjoy the Wild Dusk

Now we’ve finished with Golden Dawn. . .Let’s enjoy the Wild Dusk

We begin with item of global interest, starting with a sober declaration via the London Telegraph:

Real economy has not improved, despite surge in markets, says IMF

Threats to the global economy from the financial crisis have been defused but not eradicated, while the real economy continues to suffer despite a broad improvement in markets, the head of the International Monetary Fund has said.

Given the tension over the Federal Reserve that’s been dominating world press coverage, consider the following from MarketWatch:

Easing policy could be extended: Fed’s Rosengren

The Federal Reserve ‘s easy policy stance, including its bond-buying program, could last for “several years” to make sure that the economy is on track for solid growth and moderate inflation, a Fed official said on Wednesday.

And from Al Jazeera America, another factor in the global economy:

War on drugs leads to more potent narcotics, study shows

Price of illegal drugs has declined while potency has increased, researchers warn

And on a parenthetical note, and arrest made in a San Francisco public library makes headlines, via Reuters:

FBI shuts alleged online drug marketplace, Silk Road

U.S. law enforcement authorities have shut down “Silk Road,” an anonymous Internet marketplace for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine and criminal activities such as murder for hire, and arrested its alleged owner.

More from Business Insider:

FBI Says Illegal Drugs Marketplace Silk Road Generated $1.2 Billion In Sales Revenue

And from TechCrunch, major economic impact:

Bitcoin Falls 15% Following FBI’s Silk Road Seizure

From the Japan Times, one more consequence of the Tea Party congressional shutdown:

U.S. paralysis leaves travel agencies scrambling

The U.S. government shutdown that started at midnight Monday has impacted the global travel industry, with tourist agencies in Japan scrambling to avoid severe losses.

And in the U.S., a hint of things to come via CNBC:

Shutdown may idle non-federal workers next week

The federal government shutdown is already affecting contractors and threatens to dampen private-sector employment, at least in the near-term, industry officials say.

And one potential shutdown that’s got to worry the wizards of Wall Street, an announcement via the Economic Times that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has stopped publishing traders commitments and other market reports:

Commodity markets will go dark if shutdown continues

From Al Jazeera America, another shutdown victim, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children [WIC]:

Vulnerable mothers fear shutdown threat to WIC food aid

‘Non-essential’ WIC program provides low-income mothers with food vouchers, health care referrals, faces funding gap

From CNBC, the lighter side of the shutdown:

‘TSA feel-ups’: What you miss during the shutdown

Moving on from the shutdown to a potential shutout, via Al Jazeera America:

Microsoft investors reportedly push for Bill Gates ouster

As company searches for new CEO, three Microsoft investors want Gates to step down as chairman, says Reuters

And from Rolling Stone, avarice reigns:

Looting the Pension Funds

All across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers

But pension funds mean something only to those with full-time jobs with benefits, a steadily diminishing part of the labor market, as My Budget 360 notes:

The Rise of a Semi-employed America: Amazon to hire 70,000 part-time workers while Merck will fire 8,500 full-time employees. Before recession 4 million part-time workers today over 8 million.

From Salon, yet another major score for Big Agra:

Monsanto’s big data taxpayer ripoff

The GMO giant buys a Silicon Valley startup that uses government-gathered information to sell insurance to farmers

Bloomberg Businessweek plays it this way:

Monsanto’s Billion-Dollar Bet Brings Big Data to the Farm

As if we needed any more proof that the Big Data phenomenon is well and truly upon us, Monsanto (MON) has agreed to acquire the Climate Corp. for $930 million. The real stunner of a deal marks one of the largest buys of a new-era data analytics company.

From The Contributor, a reminder of those left out:

Hungry and Fat: America’s Lowest Wage States Have the Most Food Insecurity

And from the Washington Post, the latest token wrist-slappery:

Freddie Mac says three banks to pay a total of $1.3 billion to settle mortgage claims

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Tuesday that three of the country’s largest banks — Wells Fargo, Citigroup and SunTrust Banks — had agreed to pay a total of $1.3 billion to resolve claims on millions of home loans that have soured or may go bad.

The San Francisco Chronicle reminds of of those who’re always left out:

Government shutdown’s hit magnified for tribes

American Indian tribes have more than access to national parks on the line with the government shutdown, as federal funding has been cut off for crucial services including foster care payments, nutrition programs and financial assistance for the needy.

And on to Europe, first with another qualified pronouncement from the eurobankster via the Buenos Aires Herald:

ECB’s Draghi, reiterating pledge on low rates, says euro zone slowly recovering

The euro zone economy remains on track for a slow recovery, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said today, reiterating the ECB’s pledge to keep interest rates low for now.

EUbusiness adds another qualification:

US shutdown risk to global economy if protracted: ECB

The US government shut-down could threaten not only the United States but also the global economy if it lasts, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said Wednesday.

And the European Union itself may not last, as George Soros sees eurozone tsuris, via MarketWatch:

Soros: German elections mean euro crisis over, but EU might not survive

Next up, the U.K., starting with a Tory austerian declamation via the London Telegraph:

Under-25s would not be able to claim benefits under all-Conservative government, David Cameron says

David Cameron has appealed to voters to give the Conservatives a mandate to govern alone, allowing them to withdraw welfare from young people and cut taxes for families.

Another piece of the European commons goes on the block, and a very hot one at that. Via Sky News:

Uranium Processor Edges Closer To £10bn Sale

  • Executives at the UK-based uranium processor take another step towards a potential £10bn privatisation, Sky News learns.

  • The uranium processing group jointly owned by the British, Dutch and German governments is inching towards a £10bn sale after directors picked advisers to steer them through one of Europe’s biggest-ever privatisations.

From the London Telegraph, a major corporation takes a hit:

Tesco profits fall as sales slide around the world

Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, has reported a fall in like-for-like sales across all its ten international businesses in the first half of the year, prompting a sharp decline in profits.

So they head abroad for new customers. From Xinhua:

Britain’s Tesco, China’s CRE sign supermarket joint venture agreement

British retail giant Tesco PLC announced on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with China Resources Enterprise Ltd (CRE) to create a retail joint venture in China.

And from the Telegraph, Britain Googles for taxes:

Google under fire over tax arrangements

Google has defended its tax arrangements in the face of growing criticism that it is structuring its European arm to avoid paying UK corporation tax.

From the Irish Times, austerity reigns supreme on the Emerald Isle:

Central Bank: push ahead with austerity budget

Bank warns against any scaling back of planned fiscal adjustment of €3.1bn

And the Irish Health Service Executive covers a pending walkout, via

HSE ‘disappointed over completely avoidable doctors’ strike’

The IMO has refused an invitation to the Labour Relations Commission.

And from the Copenhagen Post, more banksters behaving badly:

Former bank CEOs charged with stock manipulation

A network of bankers conspired to profit from inflated stock prices and used their wives as cover

From France, more U.S. shutdown anxieties, via RFI:

US shutdown could hurt France, rest of world, minister warns

The US government shutdown is a threat to the economies of France and other US trade partners, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told the weekly French cabinet on Wednesday.

FRANCE 24 covers yet another shutdown impact:

US shutdown closes iconic D-Day cemeteries in France

While New Europe reports a Parisian schism over intolerance:

He opposed French Interior Minister’s views that Roma could not be assimilated into French society

French Prime Minister endorses Roma integration into society

Next up, Spain, via Europe Online:

Spain unemployment rises in September

And the head of the US Chamber of Commerce in Spain talks image, via El País:

“Spain’s negative image is too visible,” says US commerce chief

Jaime Malet is worried about perceptions of the country abroad

From thinkSPAIN, the out-of-office Socialists campaign:

Budget for 2014 ‘will create poverty and inequality’, says PSOE

SOCIALIST members in opposition all over Spain are due to hold 40 press conferences today (Tuesday) over what they call a ‘poverty budget’ which will ‘increase inequality’, ‘destroy quality of life’ and leave residents with ‘the highest tax burden in 30 years’ from the start of 2014.

And from El País, charity comes home:

Spain becomes net recipient of remittances for first time in a decade

  • Spanish people living overseas send record amounts back home

  • Naturalized Spaniards may be source of funds

And thinkSPAIN covers resistance:

Hospital dispensary drugs law now in force – but regional governments refuse to make patients pay

A CONTROVERSIAL new law forcing chronically-ill patients to pay for medication dispensed in hospital came into force yesterday – Tuesday, October 1 – but the majority of Spain’s regional governments have refused to comply.

Next up, Italy, and a Bunga Bunga backdown from Deutsche Welle:

Italian government survives confidence vote after Berlusconi backtracks

The Italian government has comfortably survived a confidence vote. Silvio Berlusconi reversed plans to topple Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Wednesday afternoon.

Sky News gave it the right twist:

Italian PM Wins Vote After Berlusconi U-Turn

Silvio Berlusconi abandons his bid to topple the government after key allies rebel against his leadership.

And the top Europol gives his blessing via EUbusiness:

Barroso hails Italy vote as ‘decisive’ for eurozone

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday hailed the Italian Senate’s vote in favour of the government as “decisive” not just for Italy, but for the eurozone and European Union as a whole.

ANSAmed covers another economic development certain to please the Lega Norde:

Italy: immigrants suffering from crisis, says CGIL union

Half looking to migrate elsewhere

And from Spiegel, hard times intolerance:

‘They Want Scapegoats’: Hungary Cracks Down on Homelessness

The conservative Hungarian government has repeatedly targeted the homeless with its recent policies. Now a new ban on sleeping outdoors is drawing outrage and accusations of scapegoating.

After the jump, the Greek crisis heats up, policy shifts in Russia, China continues its neoliberal way, and Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . ., Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Econ, Greekrisis, Asia, Fuku

On today’s agenda: Economics, politics, more neo-Nazis busted in Greece, warning bells in Russia and India, changes in China, and the ongoing Fukushima debacle, and more.

Just because it’s so damn powerful, this depiction of the Golden Dawn debacle in Greece from Eleftherotypia’s Sketchophrenia via

BLOG Golden Dawn

Loots more Greece after the jump. . .

For our first headline, we start here in the U.S. with this most intriguing offering from the Christian Science Monitor:

Amid surge of the cut-rate ‘sharing economy,’ a backlash grows

They call it the ‘sharing economy’: people going online to rent out rooms in their homes, set up informal ride-shares, or repair car brakes in your driveway. Even as the trend booms, it is meeting resistance from established businesses, city officials, and even neighbors. Can they stop it?

The Los Angeles Times goes minimalist:

‘Sharing economy’ is here to stay, so get used to it

Sounding a companion note, from the Federal Reserve Board’s FEDS Notes:

Why Have Americans’ Income Expectations Declined So Sharply?

Data from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers (Michigan survey) suggests that Americans’ income expectations declined sharply in the 2008-09 recession and remain depressed. The reasons for this marked increase in pessimism are important because theory suggests that income expectations are a fundamental determinant of consumer spending and may help us understand the slow economic recovery.

But fear not, Gentle Reader! Some folks are consuming. Conspicuously. From CNBC:

Private jet gets $2 million gold-plated makeover

When the super rich want to give their private jets an extreme makeover, one of the designers they turn to is Eric Roth at International Jet Interiors in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. A private jet is one of a billionaire’s ultimate luxuries and Roth’s clients take “super rich” to a whole new level.

And our schools are being turned into indoctrination centers for the corporateer’s desideratum. From The Guardian:

The copyright cartel’s plot to indoctrinate California kindergartens

Sharing is the essence of digital creativity, but its enemies want to brainwash grade-schoolers with their commercial interests

And from The Guardian, the press pass as a target:

San Francisco Bay Area TV news crews hit by spate of brazen robberies

In latest incident, KRON 4 reporter, filming in high crime neighborhood, set upon by armed men demanding equipment

And whilst we’re in the Golden State, a blast from the past from Salon about a secular saint:

Ronald Reagan’s shameful legacy: Violence, the homeless, mental illness

As president and governor of California, the GOP icon led the worst policies on mental illness in generations

North of the border for a CBC report on a growth industry:

$1.3B medical marijuana free market coming to Canada

New system will use large indoor marijuana farms certified by RCMP

And off across the pond, for bubbly British news from The Independent:

Fears of debt and a housing bubble after David Cameron hurries out second phase of Help to Buy three months early

Vince Cable and Sir Mervyn King among those concerned that the Government could be exposed to billions of pounds of future housing debt whilst inflating the property market

An Irish question equally applicable on this side of the pond from

Five years older and deeper in debt… So why don’t the Irish protest more?

In the last few years, there’s been a noticeable decrease in the numbers taking to the streets to voice their anger. We asked the experts — why are the Irish so reluctant to protest?

Next to Germany, with news of what we’re told are job changes rather than layoffs, via Bloomberg:

Siemens CEO Kaeser Cuts 15,000 Jobs to Catch Up With GE

And from Bloomberg again, Austria’s Social Democrats retain a very thin edge on power as voters shift rightward:

Austrian Ruling Parties Eke Out Win With Record-Low Support

And one name familiar in the San Francisco Bay Area won a seat in the Austrian parliament, Frank Stronach, the 81-year-old owner [via his Magna Entertainment] of Golden Gate Fields horse racing track. Yahoo! News reported on his anti-euro conservative candidacy:

Canadian throws money, ego into Austrian election

On a cool day in Eisenstadt, far from the prairies of Canada where he made his fortune, billionaire Frank Stronach rails against corrupt politicians, posing as the prodigal son who has returned to save Austria.

On to Spain with politic economics from El País:

Cabinet approves “recovery” state budget for next year

Austerity drive to continue but with no new tax hikes and the expectation of job creation for the first time since the start of the crisis

El País again, with some austerian detail:

Wage freeze for 2.8 million public workers extended into next year

Administrations will be allowed to replace one in 10 state workers who retire in education and health

Labor unions say that workers have lost 20 percent of purchasing power

And some cultural news via thinkSPAIN:

‘Morning after’ pill users are ‘predominantly Catholic’, says survey

The Independent covers lost regal luster:

The rise and fall of King Juan Carlos, ‘saviour of Spain’

A series of PR gaffes and the whiff of financial scandal in the midst of recession have left the monarchy’s popularity at an all-time low

El País covers a consequence:

Demonstrators brave heavy rain to demand an end to the monarchy

Police prevent around 1,500 protestors from setting up camp at Oriente Palace

Next up, Bunga Bunga revenge via the London Telegraph:

Italy in chaos as Silvio Berlusconi removes ministers from government

Italy has been plunged into chaos after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi pulled his centre-right ministers out of the cabinet on Saturday, effectively bringing down the government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

More form the Buenos Aires Herald:

Italian president hopes to solve political crisis without new vote

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta will meet the president today to try to chart a way out of a deep political crisis after Silvio Berlusconi pulled his ministers out of the government and called for new elections.

Reuters covers maneuvers:

Italy to face international pressure if crisis drags on

Italy could face pressure from international partners if the current political crisis persists and reverberates through the euro zone, Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini said on Sunday.

The Independent covers the response from the toppling top:

Italy political crisis: Crisis talks aim to save Enrico Letta’s coalition from Berlusconi exit

Premier Enrico Letta accuses People of Liberty party of ‘a big lie and attempt to distort reality’

And it’s not just the government that’s on the verge of collapse. From New Europe:

Alitalia seeks more funding to avoid collapse

After the jump, arrests and uproar in Greece, warnings in India and Russia, China, Japanese economic rumbles, and Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . 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

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

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

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: Spooks, corporateers, hacks

Lots to report today as the Senate engages in a token show of ornament rage necessitated by Edward Snowden’s ongoing leaks of all those NSA secrets, some Google blowback in Britain, and lots more.

We open with a headline from The Hill:

US intelligence chiefs lobby to prevent Congress curbing surveillance powers

NSA director and director of national intelligence to appear before Senate committee a day after senators propose reform bill

Next up, getting our hopes up, via The Guardian:

NSA reform bill to trim back US surveillance unveiled in Congress

Ron Wyden says Snowden disclosures have ‘caused a sea change’ and announces most comprehensive package so far

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, DiFei politics:

Feinstein may suggest changes to FISA today

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is expected today to unveil a bill that would change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in response to anger over the NSA’s wide collection of Americans’ telephone records.

But Techdirt neatly gets to the heart of her hypocrisy:

Redefining English: Senator Feinstein Says The Press Needs To Stop Calling Patriot Act Surveillance Program A ‘Surveillance Program’

from the wow dept

From Slashdot, we want it all and we want it now:

No Upper Bound On Phone Record Collection, Says NSA

PCWorld reports that “[a] U.S. surveillance court has given the National Security Agency no limit on the number of U.S. telephone records it collects in the name of fighting terrorism, the NSA director said Thursday. The NSA intends to collect all U.S. telephone records and put them in a searchable ‘lock box’ in the interest of national security, General Keith Alexander, the NSA’s director, told U.S. senators.”

From The Guardian, mum’s the word in Washington:

US intelligence chiefs urge Congress to preserve surveillance programs

Officials refuse to say in Senate testimony whether cell site data had ever been used to pinpoint an individual’s location

From the New York Times, evidence that they’re getting their way, since the proposed legislation would allow to NSA to keep on vaccuming up all our calls and online activities:

Senators Push to Preserve N.S.A. Phone Surveillance

The Senate Intelligence Committee appears to be moving quickly to pass a bill aimed at building public confidence in a once-secret National Security Agency program.

And lest you get your hopes up that one good thing might happen from a GOP government shutdown, consider this from The Hill:

Shutdown unlikely to stop NSA spying

A government shutdown, set for Oct. 1 if lawmakers fail to strike a deal, would be unlikely to impede the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

From the Salt Lake Tribune, reporting some unsurprising news about the Utah Data Center at Camp Williams, that $1.5 billion complex bigger than five Costcos and filled with computers to store all the snooped-up, spooked-up data of ours:

Shhh … NSA’s Utah Data Center may be open already

Spy agency » Officials won’t say directly whether it’s up and running or not.

Back to The Guardian, and targets:

UK detention of Reprieve activist consistent with NSA’s view of drone opponents as ‘threats’ and ‘adversaries’

A top secret NSA document provides context for yesterday’s abusive detention of Baraa Shiban

And on the subject of drones, from the Los Angeles Times, another unsurprising surprise:

FBI has been using drones since 2006, watchdog agency says

Operating with almost no public notice, the FBI has spent more than $3 million to operate a fleet of small drone aircraft in domestic investigations, according to a report.

From the BBC, a blast from the past:

NSA spied on Martin Luther King, documents reveal

The US National Security Agency spied on civil rights leader Martin Luther King and boxer Muhammad Ali during the height of the Vietnam War protests, declassified documents reveal.

From the Washington Post, targeting a humorist:

Declassified documents show NSA listened in on MLK, Muhammad Ali and Art Buchwald

And from the Department of Oops, via the Los Angeles Times:

L.A. students breach school iPads’ security

As students at Roosevelt High and other schools hack L.A. Unified-issued iPads for non-schoolwork, the district ponders solutions.

More from Engadget:

LA officials may delay school iPad rollout after students hack them in a week

Off to China, for a pullback of a policy announced yesterday, via SINA English:

No special access to banned websites at free trade zone in Shanghai: official

The management measures over the Internet at the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone will be consistent with the rest of the country’s, official sources were quoted by the news portal as saying on Wednesday

The Daily Dot reports censorship closer to home:

Facebook censors ACLU screed about censoring boobs

Facebook blocked the American Civil Liberties Union because of its blog post condemning censorship of a statue of a naked woman.

Then, for good measure, it banned the ACLU from posting for 24 hours.

More censorship, not unexpected, via Techdirt:

Russians Censor Website About Russians Censoring Websites

from the we’ve-gone-meta dept

And from Quartz, the Brits turn their goggles on Google:

Public enemy #1

“Too big, too powerful and too influential”—why British lawmakers are obsessed with Google

More from The Register:

Google’s boffins branded ‘unacceptably ineffective’ at tackling web piracy

‘Not beyond wit’ to block rip-offs say MPs demanding copyright safeguards

And by way of proof, consider a second headline from The Register:

Google’s latest PRIVACY MELTDOWN: Web chats sent to WRONG people

Now your buddies can play NSA spook

More woes for the Web giant from Mashable:

Google’s Gmail Keyword Scanning May Violate Wiretap Law

Google’s Gmail automatic keyword scanning might violate laws in the United States against wiretapping, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

And a disturbing note from Slashdot:

Malware Now Hiding In Graphics Cards

The Washington Post reports yet another social media hazard:

Comedian Dan Nainan arrested after journalist punched in face over tweets

And to close, one last hazard of the digital realm from Business Insider:

Apple’s iOS 7 Is Making People Sick

Headlines of the day II: The mainly economic edition

Plus added Fukushimapocalypse Now! and more after the jump.

We open with the BBC, reporting on upbeat reaction to an Obama failure:

US shares rise on Summers withdrawal

Shares in the US and elsewhere are boosted by the news that former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has withdrawn his candidacy to be head of the US central bank.

From The Guardian, the usual suspects, doing unusually well:

US super-rich hit new wealth record five years after financial crisis

Forbes magazine says the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.2tn, up from $1.7tn in 2012

From Forbes, here’s the U.S. Top Ten list:

From the London Daily Mail, more on what it means:

Employment gap between America’s rich and poor at widest level on record — with lowest earners at same jobless rate as the Great Depression

And one stunning consequence, reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Amid slow economic recovery, more Americans identify as ‘lower class’

A small but surging share of Americans consider themselves ‘lower class,’ a surprise to some researchers and activists despite the bruising economy.

The Atlantic Wire, reporting on a symptom:

All Three ‘Big Brother’ Finalists Have Been Fired From Their Jobs for Being Racist

On to Europe, starting with this from EUobserver:

EU commission not giving up on finance tax

The EU Commission has said it is not giving up on a planned financial transactions tax for 11 countries after a legal opinion said it was against Union law.

And from EUbusiness, an alarm sounds in the North:

Finland’s debt to breach Maastricht limit

From England, a vote of less than confidence reported by the London Telegraph:

Cash reserves rise to £166bn as businesses play it safe

The amount of cash blue-chip companies have stockpiled since the 2008 recession has swelled to £166bn, according to Capita Asset Services.

And a bailed out bank gets partially bought out, from the BBC:

Lloyds Bank privatisation begins

The government’s sale of Lloyds Banking Group has begun, with big investors being offered 6% of the bank.

More of those bizarre confessions from newly released tapes, this one a conversation between Anglo Irish Bank boss David Drumm and Itrish Treasurer John Bowe in November, 2007, from

Anglo Tapes: Forget reality, it’s not working – David Drumm

Drumm wanted Central Bank to help out with credibility boost

In Germany, the usual, via Deutsche Welle:

German stocks index DAX hits all-time high

German stocks have hit record highs amid a global equities’ rally. Investors appetite for risk has increased after a controversial frontrunner for the chairmanship of the US central bank pulled out of the race.

From Bloomberg, another German invasion of Poland:

Germans Export Grandma to Poland as Costs, Care Converge

And an alarm bell sounds for Paris, reported by Xinhua:

France risks sanctions if fails to meet financial target: EC president

On to Spain, with a good news/bad news headline from El País:

Experts see positive but minimal economic growth in third quarter

Pace of the recovery next year too weak to create jobs

Confirmation from thinkSPAIN:

No new employment for Spain until at least mid-2014, says CEOE

And from El País, anxiety in Madrid:

EU will wait to rule on bailout extension for Spain

Rajoy administration hopeful of leaving rest of funds untouched but finance ministers say it will depend on deficit target being hit

But the cash drawer is open, as MercoPress notes:

Leading Spanish bank ready to lend 10bn dollars for infrastructure in Brazil

Following a meeting with President Dilma Rousseff, Banco Santander Chairman Emilio Botin said that the Spanish bank has 10 billion dollars available to finance infrastructure projects in Brazil. He also anticipated that loan book growth at Banco Santander Brasil SA would be up about 10% in 2013.

Anxiety for Barcelona, via EUbusiness:

‘Troika’ in Portugal for fresh review of bailout

Greece, Fukushima, more after the jump. Continue reading

Massive privatization protests rock Latin America

From Oscar León of The Real News Network, two reports on protests, one that ended with a win and the other ending with massive police repression.

First up:

Mexico City Police Violently Crackdown on Occupying Teachers

From the transcript:

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: On Friday, September 13, a force of an estimated 3,000 anti riot police cleared El Zócalo Plaza in downtown Mexico City.

CROWD: Solutions, solutions. We don’t want repression.

A public place that tens of thousands of teachers had occupied for five months now, opposing an “Educative Reform” allowed, and among other things it would impose nationally standardized evaluations of teachers that would lead to their automatic firing if they receive negative ratings.


Once in control of the plaza, following a script that has become familiar to many cities in the world, the riot police tore the occupation camp down and arrested those who dare resist the government and its policies, even if they are teachers.

Since assuming power, Enrique Peña Nieto had faced opposition from many different sectors, which he has met with a heavy hand, criminalizing unions and student groups, all of which have faced police brutality and arbitrary detentions. Amnesty International reported the detention and violation of human rights of a number of independent journalists. AI called the Mexican government to respect the freedom of the press.

Some of the detainees are charged with “disrupting public peace” and even “attacks to the nation”. Beatings and inhumane treatment were reported by detained teachers and journalists.

In Xalapa, Veracruz, near the Caribbean coast, Sin Embargo, an independent newspaper, reported that police armed with electric knives evicted 300 teachers who had occupied Plaza Lerdo. There was an unreported number of injured and detained.

But further south, another nationwide protest ended in a victory:

National Farmers and Social Strike gets seeds control law 970 suspended

And excerpt from the transcript:

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: In Colombia after 21 days of a nationwide strike by thousands of farmers, who were supported by bus and truck drivers, miners, students, and others joining massive demonstrations in cities and towns all around the country in places as far as Boyacá, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Huila, Putumayo, Caldas, Cundinamarca, and Nariño, and blocking more than 40 roads, in an historic moment, protesting farmers forced the Colombian government to negotiate the rejection of a farm bill and the release of detained protesters.

On Sunday, September 8, Vice President Angelino Garzón met with the Strike Negotiating Commission in Popayan and agreed to suspend Law 970, the one that gave control over seeds to the government. They also were promised the release of the 648 arrested during the strike and the creation of a new mining law.

Under this first and provisional agreement, the government will compensate the farmers for their losses when competing with cheaper products imported under as much as ten free market treaties with countries all around the world. In other cases it will suspend the importation of such products.

The strike was ended and negotiations started to discuss the farmers’ proposals. The process of negotiation, as well as the final agreement and its implementation, will be verified by the United Nations.

In Putumayo in the south of the country, farmers leaders and other actors of Colombian society met with President Santos and other authorities and officially started the negotiations after signing the initial document.

The destruction of the farmers’ rice stock seeds, seeds they were keeping for the following year’s planting time, occurred in Campo Alegre and other towns in 2012. For some these images became the symbol of the farmers’ strike fighting for the right to keep their seeds. Seed control was described by President Santos as having Colombia “tune up to international reality”.

Headlines of the day II: Econ, Fuku, and more

Lots happening, including more disaster in Greece and at Fukushima after the jump. . .

We open with an item from our Department of That Explains a lot by way of the  American Psychological Association:

Dishonest Deeds Lead to ‘Cheater’s High,’ as Long as No One Gets Hurt

Behaving unethically may lead to feeling better than being guilt-free, research discovers

And our Upbeat Story of the Day, from the Los Angeles Times:

Big U.S. banks keeping door open to another financial crisis

Big banks have watered down rules aimed at keeping them from fobbing bad loans off on investors and ensured loopholes in transparency rules. ‘Fundamentally not that much has changed,’ an analyst says.

Ditto, from My Budget 360:

Pension disaster looms over the horizon: In 1980 60 percent of Americas participated in a pension program. Today it is less than 10 percent and the amount saved for retirement is startling.

Ditto again, from Bloomberg:

Factory Rebirth Fizzles in U.S. as Work Shipped Overseas

And there’s this, by way of Testosterone Pit:

“A difficult second half”: Fabulous Excuses By Clothing Retailers As Sales Fall Apart

And a Golden State due bill bill by way of the Environment News Service:

Rim Fire Suppression Costs Exceed $100 million

From InfoWorld, a sign of things to come:

Verizon’s diabolical plan to turn the Web into pay-per-view

The carrier wants to charge websites for carrying their packets, but if they win it’d be the end of the Internet as we know it

Ditto, from Slashdot:

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

And more grim from The Nation:

Poverty in 2013: When Even Diapers Are a Luxury

Being a poor mother in the United States today means re-using diapers and struggling to afford food. But House Republicans think they have it too easy.

And from the Washington Post, greed at its worst:

This man owed $134 in property taxes. The District sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000 house and sold it. He and many other homeowners like him were

Left with nothing.

Upbeat compared to the foregoing, via Al Jazeera America:

Mixed economic data raises concerns

Economists are worried the eventual end of a federal stimulus program will quell economic growth

On bright spot, via the Los Angeles Times:

California Legislature approves raising minimum wage to $10

The bill would boost the state’s minimum wage of $8 an hour to $10 by 2016. Gov. Jerry Brown said he would sign it.

From the Department of The Revolving Door, via The Atlantic Wire:

Rick Stengel Is at Least the 21st Journalist to Work for the Obama Administration

And from AlterNet, the best Boardroom Barry headline yet:

Shocking New Research Reveals Obama’s Legacy Could Be an America of Aristocrats and Peons

Inequality experts Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez reveal the biggest gap between rich and poor ever recorded by economists.

China Daily addresses a bifurcation:

US tapering to split markets

The United States plan to taper its quantitative easing policy will “split” emerging economies, with some — including China — better-placed to withstand the change while others will face currency depreciation and capital flight.

And no reassurance from the London Telegraph:

The idea that the eurozone storm is over is delusional. It’s merely resting

It is either one extreme or the other with financial markets, and for the time being we are very much in what City old hands call the “risk-off mode”.

The Independent spotlights another consequence of corporate greed in Old Blighty:

Revealed: Private equity firms are making millions out of failing children’s care homes – yet care for vulnerable is ‘unacceptable’

Review launched after Rochdale child-grooming scandal discovers that 63 privately owned homes did not meet the Government’s minimum standards

And the BBC reports on an anti-austerian action:

Strike action by firefighters in a row over pensions appears “unavoidable”, the Fire Brigades Union has warned.

Firefighters strike looks ‘unavoidable’, says union

On to Ireland, where The Irish Times reports on another ongoing corporate move, the destruction of the neighborhood-owned pub:

British chain Wetherspoon set to open up to 30 pubs in Ireland

And a German move, by way of the London Telegraph:

Germany ‘plans banking union without treaty change’

German officials have drawn up controversial plans to force through a eurozone banking union without requiring new laws, according to reports.

On to France, starting with this from the London Telegraph:

IMF warns France on austerity overkill

France’s socialist government has pushed austerity too far and risks inflicting needless damage on the economy, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

And from the Department of Sure, That’ll Work, via Reuters:

Hollande turns to robots to revive industry

Francois Hollande laid out a 10-year roadmap to revive French industry by promoting new technologies to drive job creation, but which offered little public money from stretched state coffers.

Bloomberg Businessweek looked it over and came to a quick verdict:

France Has a Plan to Restore Its Industrial Glory. It Won’t Work

From the Department of Oh, Crap via EUbusiness:

Le Pen wants to campaign with Dutch far-right: report

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen wants to campaign with Dutch anti-Islamic party leader Geert Wilders in next year’s European parliamentary elections, she said in an interview Saturday.

And from the Department of The Horror, The Horrow, via The Independent:

Disneyland Paris feels fury of disenchanted customers as more than 5,000 visitors sign petition demanding higher standards

Theme park enthusiast starts petition after being shocked by closed attractions and ‘re-heated food in one of the most expensive restaurants’

And from the Department of Strange Bedfellows by way of FRANCE 24:

McCain: US inaction put Hollande in ‘unfair position’

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Friday, US Senator John McCain acknowledged François Hollande’s support on Syria and noted that US inaction had put the French president in an “unfair political position”.

On to Italy, with this from Xinhua:

Italy’s PM pledges to keep deficit-GDP ratio within 3 percent

More after the jump, include Greece and Fukushimapocalypse now! Continue reading

Cart of the day II: High costs for student housing

From the Oakland Tribune, reporting on high housing costs in a state where university tuitions have soared:

BLOG Apartment costs

Chart of the day: Industries on parade

Some surprising numbers from Gallup, which finds that — among other things — Americans look on banks and the advertising business more favorably than their own government. Only Big Oil ranks lower in the public’s esteem:BLOG popularities

Chomsky tackles corporatization of the university

A very important, very timely video from Noam Chomsky addresses one of our greatest concerns, the corporate takeover of the American university, nowhere more evident than right here in Berkeley, home of the largest corporate academic grant in American history, $500 million from the deep and bloody pockets of BP.

American universities are being transformed into labs and training grounds for multinationals with no ties to local communities and no desire other than the accumulate profits by offloading costs onto the rest of us, a legal obligation under the Doctrine of Fiduciary Responsibility, the corporate version of the Prime Directive.

Chomsky’s remarks were delivered 12 July at the University of Michigan and deserve a wide audience:

Some excerpts from a report on the address by Giacomo Bologna of the Michigan Daily:

Chomsky said as the price of higher education has continued to increase, many public institutions have often operated on a budget increasingly comprised of private rather public funds, leading to these institutions to act more like their private counterparts.

He said this trend could have catastrophic results for the future of higher education.

“It’s pretty hard to imagine an economic reason for (increasing tuition rates across the country),” Chomsky said.

To prevent increasing privatization, he said the United States should put greater emphasis on funding higher education. He added that many other countries, such as Germany and Mexico, offer free or heavily subsidized access to higher education.

“If you want to privatize something and destroy it, it’s simple,” Chomsky said. “First you defund it so it doesn’t work anymore.”

Read the rest.

No child left behind?: Tests and imprisonment

Jaisal Noor of The Real News Network interviews Boston University professor of economics Kevin Lang and Garfield High School history teacher and Black Student Union adviser about implications of Lang’s research showing that 12 percent higher incarceration rates among youths in states with make-or-break high school exit exams.

But since corporations create the tests and corporations also benefit from low-cost prison labor. . .

Study Links High Stakes Testing to Higher Incarceration Rates

From the transcript:

LANG: Well, I did this study because for two reasons. One is for 13 years I was an elected member of my local school board, and there were a lot of debates about whether our high-stakes tests were good or bad and who they were good for, and there wasn’t a lot of good work that has been done on that. And I also get very interested because I served on some of the National Academy of Sciences panels which were trying to assess the effect.

Now, the big results were: for most areas there really wasn’t much of an effect. It was neither wonderful nor terrible. We didn’t find big improvements in wages or people losing their earnings. We didn’t find a large increase in the dropout rate. We found a small increase in the dropout rate partially offset by people getting the GED. But the one really disturbing result was the one that you’ve emphasized, which is that we saw a noticeable increase in the incarceration rate.

NOOR: So, Kevin, particularly since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2002, we’ve seen a dramatic increase of high-stakes tests. And this has greatly expanded under the Obama administration. Talk more about why this finding should concern citizens of this country, especially people involved in public education.

LANG: Well, a lot of people have thought that high-stakes testing was really going to be the way that the United States could catch up and surpass Finland and Singapore. I think the overwhelming evidence from all of the studies we’ve looked at is that the effects are not dramatic. And what we’re finding is we’re not finding any positive effects in our study, and we’re finding one noticeably adverse effect. And I certainly think all of us should be concerned if indeed these sorts of tests increase the incarceration rate. That’s certainly not good for the society and it’s not good for the individuals who are affected.

Unions launch more massive protests in Brazil

We now have video reports on Thursday’s demonstrations, which included the presentation of specific demands to the government of President Dilma Rousseff reported in yesterday’s post.

We begin with a report from RT:

‘Day of Struggle’: Police violently disperse workers’ strike in Brazil

The program notes:

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse masked protesters in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, as demonstrations continued throughout Brazil. Unions are demanding better work conditions and tougher government measures to tackle inflation. Tens of thousands of union members marched throughout the country, blocking roads and grinding traffic to a crawl in dozens of cities.

In an accompanying story, RT reports:

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse masked protesters in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, as demonstrations continued throughout Brazil. Unions are demanding better work conditions and tougher government measures to tackle inflation.

Tens of thousands of union members marched throughout the country, blocking roads and grinding traffic to a crawl in dozens of cities.

Bus drivers, metal workers and other unionized workers took to the streets as part of a one-day strike. Labor leaders are pushing for workers’ rights to take center stage in the national debate which emerged after huge protests rocked the country last month, Reuters reported.

Brazil’s unions, which represent around one-tenth of the country’s workforce, appear to be trying to give the protests direction while they fight for political and social goals.

Read the rest.

Another video report, this one from Australia’s Sky News:

Violent protests stops Brazil traffic

The program notes:

Violent protests stops Brazil traffic.

And here’s the report from Agence France-Presse:

Brazil workers protest nationwide for better conditions

The program notes:

Striking workers block highways and stage mainly peaceful marches across Brazil in a day of industrial action called by unions to demand better work conditions and tougher measures to contain rising inflation.

Finally, an extended report from Nerita Oeiras of The Real News Network:

Brazil’s Major Unions Join Movement for First Time, Strike in 150 Cities

From the transcript:

In the year of the Brazilian Spring, July 11 became known as the National Day for Social Struggle.

After a month with plenty of demonstrations, when more than a million people reached the streets to protest and obtained important political and social achievements, such as the investment of a full 100 percent of oil revenue in education and health, today was the first day that workers paralyzed the country and joined the demonstrations.

Centra Unitaria do Trabajadores (CUT), the national worker’s coalition, called workers to join the strikes and protests that took place in more than 150 cities in 18 states of the country. More than 80 kilometers of roads where blocked. The city of São Paulo alone registered more than 20 street demonstrations, all gathering in the economical hub of the city, the Avenida Paulista, by the end of the day.

Read the rest.

Chart of the day: Americans love soldiers

And they think they give more to society than teachers. As for journalists, fuggedaboudit. From a new survey from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Professions

Keiser Report: Brit student loan selloff?

Student loan debt’s a problem in the UK, but for a different reason. Pressure’s on for a privatization of government loans to students as well as a raise in rates of existing loans.

In the second half of this episode of Keiser Report, Max interviews journalist and author Andrew McGettigan, who noted in a 16 June post for The Guardian:

Last month, a story in the Guardian on the related issue of terms of repayment for current students quoted an anonymous university vice-chancellor: “There is quite a lot of evidence that students and parents don’t really understand the new financial system, so you could play around with it quite easily.”

Gee, so student ignorance is a feature, not a bug, of higher education in Old Blighty!

Keiser Report: #AngloTapes & Banksters’ Trolololing

The program notes:

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the hashtag AngloTapes and the trolollolling by the banksters at the heart of the Anglo Irish scam to get taxpayers to bail them out before the same taxpayer could understand how much was really needed. They also discuss ‘feral hogs’ and colonscopies for lulz banksters. In the second half, Max talks to journalist and author, Andrew McGettigan, about the attempts by the UK government to sell off its £40 billion student debt portfolio.

Chicago saga: Schools close, millions for stadium

A report from journalist Jaisal Noor for The Real News Network on the fate of Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

As Noor notes, “Chicago’s board of education voted Wednesday, May 22 to close 50 Chicago public schools, the largest such wave of closings in U.S. history. The schools are almost all exclusively located in black and Latino low-income neighborhoods in Chicago’s South and West Side.”

Meanwhile, the city is spending $100 million of the money saved from closing schools to build a new athletic stadium for DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university.

A transcript of the program is posted here.

Quote of the day: Seeing the future in urban form

From a stunning and very perceptive 1999 report by Robert Fishman for Fannie Mae Housing Facts & Findings on the trends shaping of American cities, past and future.

The number one trend he saw for the first half of the 21st Century is proving right on the money:

The past 30 years have seen increasing concentrations of income and wealth at the top of the income scale, relative stagnation in the middle, and worsening poverty at the bottom. Our respondents expect this trend to continue in the next 50 years, with possible dire consequences for American cities and regions. For growing disparities in income and wealth lead inevitably to an increasingly divided metropolis. If, as our respondents believe, these growing disparities of wealth will become the most important single influence on the American metropolis in the next 50 years, some of the negative consequences are detailed in the rest of the top 10 list: a perpetual “underclass” in central cities and inner-ring suburbs and the deterioration of the “first-ring” post-1945 suburb, as the struggling portions of the middle and working classes find themselves trapped in deteriorating older suburbs. On the wealthier side of the great metropolitan divide, we are likely to see the winners in our “winner-take-all society” isolate themselves in gated communities or other exclusive preserves at the edge of the region.

Other likely trends include a home-building industry increasingly focused on high-end “trophy houses” or “tract mansions;” a similar concentration in retailing on upscale malls; office parks located near the enclaves where the top executives live-locations that often leave the bulk of the employees with long, difficult commutes; and increasing disparities between the quality of the school systems and other services in elite suburbs versus less-favored suburbs and inner cities. We are also likely to see new building focused not just on the outer edge of a region but in certain “quadrants” favored by the affluent: for example, in Washington, DC, the Northwest; in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Southwest; in Atlanta and Chicago, the North. For the affluent who choose to live in gentrified neighborhoods in central cities, the rule of isolation will also obtain, as the wealthy use the techniques of privatization, ranging from private schools to special tax-and-service districts, to insulate themselves from the urban crisis around them.