Category Archives: Schools

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.

Headline of the day: Owning their homework

From the Washington Post, the ultimate proof that American education is doomed:

Prince George’s considers copyright policy that takes ownership of students’ work

Headline of the day: Bureaucrats run amok

From ABC News:

Kindergartner Suspended Over Bubble Gun Threat

Quote of the day: Til [student] debt do us part

The one apocalypse that’s coming off on schedule, destroying the hopes of a generation.

From Chris Maisano, writing in Jacobin Magazine:

In June 2010, total outstanding student loan debt became larger than total outstanding credit card debt for the first time in the country’s history, and in the spring of 2012 this figure surpassed the astonishing figure of $1 trillion. This explosion in student loan indebtedness has been the logical result of the dramatic inflation in the cost of higher education (particularly public higher education) in recent decades. Economists estimate that the cost of tuition and fees has more than doubled since 2000, easily surpassing the rate of inflation in energy, housing, and even health care costs.

The driving force behind this explosion in higher education costs is the long-term disinvestment in public colleges and universities at the state level. While public higher education institutions have absorbed the majority of new undergraduate enrollments since 1990, the proportion of state spending on higher education has dramatically declined. According to a recent study by Demos, between 1990 and 2010, real funding per public full-time enrolled student declined by over 26%. This shortfall has not been filled by other sources of public funding, but rather by a marked increase of students’ out-of-pocket costs. Over the same period, tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities rose by 112.5% while the price of public two-year colleges increased by 71%. Because household incomes have stagnated over the previous two decades, students and their families have been compelled to turn to student loans to cover these costs. According to the Department of Education, 45% of 1992-1993 graduates borrowed money from federal or private sources; today, at least two-thirds of graduates enter the workforce with educational debt.

Even though college-educated workers tend, on average, to earn higher incomes than their less-educated counterparts, young college-educated workers have not escaped the pressures of wage stagnation. In the last decade, the average annual earnings of workers ages 25 to 34 with Bachelors degrees fell by 15%. New graduates, meanwhile, saw their as the average debt load increase by 24%. What makes this dramatic expansion of student loan indebtedness particularly troubling is the fact that unlike most other forms of personal debt, student loans cannot be discharged through the standard bankruptcy process. In the event of default on a private or federal student loan, borrowers face a range of invasive measures: wage garnishment, the interception of tax refunds or lottery winnings, and the withholding of future Social Security payments.

GreeceWatch: Entering the wilderness of mirrors

In the most bizarre day since the start of the Greek crisis, a welter of conflicting news reports left Greeks and observers like esnl reeling.

The bombshell beginning the day was an announcement from a German newspaper that the Greek coalition had won its desideratum, a two-year extension of the time needed to implement those draconian cuts demanded by the IMF/EU/ECB Troika.

Accompanying that declaration was another: The cuts were a done deal.

Accounts filled the paper and virtual pages of the world’s press and media sites and were bandied about on the airwaves.

Yet by the time the day was over, both accounts had been denied by all three members of the Troika, even though they’d also been confirmed by the Greek finance minister following the Troika’s denials.

More specifics of the cuts emerged, as did more signs of division within the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The German money minister really sent Greek heads spinning, first by by declaring he’d be ready to fund a third Greek bailout, then by demanding that Greeks cede control over the nation’s borrowing and surrender all tax cash collected bailout funds into a eurobankster-controlled escrow account. And on the subject of banks, Greek bank employees are on strike today.

In other news, Golden Dawn has added a new category to its target list, non-citizens attending Greek universities, while Golden Dawn itself is being targeted, with three of its most thuggish parliamentary delegates stripped of immunity for prosecution for their violent actions.

Oh, and some crooks tried to steal a bridge before the Troika could.

But we’ll begin with a two-part video on Greece from The Real News Network, first on the impacts of the austerity measures already imposed:

And following up with a report on the increasing radicalization of Greek politics:

For more reports from The Real News Network, see here.

German paper reports: Greece wins a delay

Spiegel reports on the source of the report on the extension:

Süddeutsche Zeitung is reporting that Greece’s international creditors have agreed to grant the heavily indebted country two more years to reduce its budget deficit below the 3 percent maximum allowed by European Union rules. While not citing sources beyond a draft version of a “Memorandum of Understanding,” the paper also reports that Athens will additionally be given a breather on deadlines for labor market reform, energy policy reform and privatization efforts.

It is unclear whether the draft deal seen by the Süddeutsche is the same paper that news agency Reuters claims also to have seen. The news agency is also reporting on Wednesday that Greece and its lenders are moving towards a deal that would give Greece two additional years, until 2016, to reach its target of achieving a “primary budget surplus” of 4.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). A “primary budget” does not include interest payments on debt.

Berlin officials have been quick to deny the Süddeutsche report, saying that no agreement has been finalized. Steffen Kampeter, a state secretary in Germany’s Finance Ministry, insisted that no decision will be made until a report from the troika — made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — is completed. “Anything prior to that is reading tea leaves,” he told German radio on Wednesday morning.

Read the rest.

Confirming the original German report was the Greek Finance Minister.

Andy Dabilis of Greek reporter has the details:

Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras told journalists a deal had been agreed with PASOK Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left head Fotis Kouvelis and with international lenders, with the package set to go before the government-controlled Parliament by the end of the week, the newspaper Kathimerini said.


Stournaras told Parliament that Greece had won more time to meet its fiscal targets and to reduce its deficit from 9.3 to 3 percent. He didn’t say how long the reprieve would be but media reports indicated it was the two years, until 2016, that Samaras had hoped for, although it’s unsure how Greece would be funded after 2014. Stournaras said without the extension the spending cut and tax hike plan would have reached nearly $24 billion.

Read the rest.

Troikarchs deny extension claims

The first two denials came from the boss eurobankster, followed by the European Union’s top money man.

From ANSAmed:

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Wednesday said that progress is being made over how to assist crisis-stricken Greece.

Answering a reporter’s question after he appeared before the German Parliament, in the wake of a Greek minister saying an extension had been granted by the troika of the EU, ECB and IMF, Draghi said: ‘’Progress has been made but there are things which need to be defined. I can’t comment on rumors”.

A spokesman for European Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn echoed Draghi, saying: “ Substantive progress has been made in the talks with the Greek government but there remain pending issues before an accord at a technical level can be concluded”.

Draghi and Rehn were responding to a report from Greece’s Skai TV that Athens had obtained a two-year extension from the troika on the deadlines to hit the targets set in conditions for international aid it needs to avoid a default.

Read the rest.

The IMF then joined in the denials.

From Agence France-Presse:

The International Monetary Fund announced Wednesday that there had been progress in talks with Greek authorities but no agreement on Greece’s economic performance under an IMF-EU rescue program.

“There has been progress in recent days, but some outstanding issues remain to be agreed upon to reach full staff-level agreement. Furthermore, financing issues will be discussed between the official lenders and Greece,” an IMF spokesperson said.

The brief IMF statement confirmed the European Union’s insistence earlier in the day that there was no deal, after Greece’s finance minister announced he had agreed on a new austerity package with the IMF, the EU and the European Union and won more time to fix the debt-crippled nation’s finances.

Read the rest.

Germany says no money till report card’s done

The folks with their hands on the purse strings appear to have been the folks who scotched the deal.

While nobody’s saying it officially, that’s the conclusion we draw from this paragraph from a report by Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos of Reuters:

European paymaster Germany said the EU would only decide on the matter after receiving a report on Greece’s progress from the ‘troika’ of lenders – the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund – while ECB President Mario Draghi said no final decision had been made.

Read the rest.

But even if Greece flunks, can the Troika afford not to dish out the latest €31.5 billion bailout tranche?

From Helena Smith of The Guardian:

“Even if the troika give us a negative report what are they going to do? Are they really going to not give us the installment ( to keep Greece’s debt-choked econony afloat) two weeks before the US elections with everything that entails – default, bankruptcy, global market turmoil,” asked one senior Greek official.

“These labour reforms will turn our country into Bangladesh. They have no fiscal benefit and will actually derail the adjustment program. The political system will collapse if we impose them. The Troika is demanding that we commit suicide which is why we believe this is a matter that should be solved on a political level by the PM and not here in Athens with the troika.”

More details emerge on Troika-demanded cuts

They’re draconian, as expected.

The Guardian lists some of the austerian measures included in the package:

  • Maintaining the emergency solidarity levy until 2018 – this is an increase in personal taxation of up to 5% that was introduced last year.
  • Lowering the number of income tax bands to three or four, from eight at present.
  • Big cuts to the public payroll: with 20,000 civil servants leaving in 2013, and a further 5,000 in 2014
  • Increasing the retirement age by 2 years, from 65 to 67
  • Increase in interest on deposits from 10% to 15% in 2014.
  • Eliminating various tax exemptions
  • Increasing taxes on farmers.
  • Retroactive reductions from 1 August 2012 to “special payrolls”, on a sliding scale from 2% to 35%.
  • A huge cut in the the number of associate professors from 15,226 to 2,000.
  • Increasing urban traffic ticket prices by 25%, from March 2013.
  • Remove special seasonal unemployment benefit payments.

Keep Talking Greece hones in on two measures certain to increase public outrage at both the Troikarchs and the coalition government:

And when you think ‘you’ve seen everything’, Greece’s lenders are always good for one or two additional surprises. Electricity bills will go up by 40% and public transport fares will increase by 25%. Yes. In times of harsh austerity, where many households struggle to make ends meet and the new austerity package will force millions deeper in despair.


Electricity bill hikes will affect private households and small enterprises making use of ‘low voltage electricity’. The hikes of total 40% will be implemented in two or three steps and are expected to go in effect in Janurary 2013.

Public Transport Fares

Hikes will be at least by 25%. Cheap tickets for buses, tram and trolley will go up to 1.50 euro (from 1.20 today) and for Metro or combined for all public transport means will go up to 1.75 euro (from 1.40 today).

The public transport hikes will have to be implemented by March 2013.

Coalition divisions center on labor “reforms”

Once upon a time, the word “reform” was assumed to mean changes in government policy that enhanced its ability to serve its citizens.

No more.

In these days, when Orwellian language dominates public discourse, “reform” means changes in government structure designed to increase its ability to serve Continue reading

GreeceWatch: The debt madness nears climax?

In its original Greek, klimax meant a ladder, and, by extension, the culmination of a process achieved through a series of steps leading to a defined end.

So it’s an appropriate term to use to describe the process now underway as, step by step, Greece is prepared for what amounts to the final act of, well, a Greek tragedy, is which a people and the wealth they’ve accumulated through a ancient and conflict-ridden history and are sacrificed to appease the paramount god of the age, the financial agora.

With Prime Minister Antonis Samaras busily paying obeisance to the market’s minions this week, the citizens of Greece await word from the North on the next round of miseries awaiting them.

At issue is whether or not the country will receive the next round of Troika bailout cash needed to keep the country in business while it dissects itself, piece by piece, and sells off its body parts to raise the cash to pay off interest on the earlier bailouts and all those bonds, themselves dissected into sundry black instruments of speculation.

There’s a lot to tell today, starting with the latest maneuvers by prime ministers and presidents to iron out the latest austerity package and all those cuts needed to get that next fix of cash. The eurozone’s top financial minister says no money til October, and only then if Greece pays proper obeisance, and there’s worrying evidence that even more cuts are called for, while the top two europols are polishing up their messaging, with some theatrics thrown in for free.

No sooner do we hear softer sounds from the German press that another paper reveals that the world’s giant banks are strategizing for the Grexit.

More pay cuts for civil servants are unveiled, city governments close their doors in protest, while tax collectors angrily denounce layoffs in their own ranks as more evidence of tax evasion surfaces and the government announces a new war on tax cheats. And despite all that, the Democratic Left pledges allegiance.

For out final offerings we have a call to listen to history, a Greek editor’s reminder that the Torika is making real profits from Greece’s misery, and word that Greek junk bonds are all the rage at investment houses.

No bailout money until October at the earliest

The next round of cash is contingent on Greece’s capitulation to the latest demands for budget, jobs, pay, and pension cuts, as well as the sell-off of parts, gas lines, the post office, and so very much more.

Samaras is spending the week ducking in and out of meetings with the powerful pols of the North, trying to sell them on his coalition’s latest round of deadly cuts, whilst simultaneously making a plea to spread the misery out over four years instead of two.

Eurozone finance chief and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker Wednesday told Samaras there’ll be no word on the next round of the bailout until October at the earliest.

He also took pains to warn the Greek public that the country’s now getting its final chance for Troika aide.

From the BBC:

After a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Mr Juncker praised the nation’s “tremendous efforts” so far to cut its deficit.

But he said “priority number one” was further consolidation of the public finances of Greece.

He added that Athens must put in place economic and structural reforms.

These include changes to the labour market, and the relaunching of privatisation programmes which have been promised but not enacted.

Read the rest.

As for Samaras’s plea to give the country two more years to implement the austerity measures, Juncker said “I have to underline this will depend on the findings of the troika mission and we have to discuss the length of the period and other dimensions.”

More from Agence France-Presse:

Juncker, head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, said he was “totally opposed” to Greece being forced out of the 17-nation bloc, a move he said would create a “major risk” for the entire euro area.


“As far as the immediate future is concerned, the ball is in the Greek court. In fact this is the last chance and Greek citizens need to know this,” Juncker said after a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Juncker added that in his opinion, the Greek government’s “priority number one is the consolidation of public finances, (along with) a robust and credible strategy for closing the mid term gap” in its debt-laden accounts.

He called this a “precondition” for the release of further installments from a 130-billion-euro ($161-billion) rescue package that Greece has been drawing from this year to ward off bankruptcy.

Read the rest.

But it gets even worse. . .

Greece may have to make even greater cuts

This is getting ridiculous. Each time the Greek government makes the cuts demanded by the the Troikarchs of the IMF/eurobank/European Commision, they get hit with demands to make even greater cuts.

Andy Dabilis of Greek Reporter writes of that latest ill omen:

[T]he Financial Times reported that Samaras’ uneasy coalition government, consisting of his New Democracy Conservatives, the PASOK Socialists and Democratic Left, may need to make $16.9 billion in cuts, some $2.76 million more than anticipated, although there are fears it could reach $18.7 billion, the amount the government has identified. Much of that would come from yet more pay cuts, tax hikes and a fourth round of slashed pensions that would push many elderly below the poverty line, with some auxiliary pensions to be eliminated while tax evaders owing the country $70 billion continue to escape.

A senior official told the Financial Times that if the cuts are carried out that Greek primary budget expenditures would be the lowest in the Eurozone as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, a humiliating comedown. Greece is trying to cut its budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP in two years, from 9.3 percent now. Samaras wants a two-year extension because he said the austerity measures have worsened a five-year recession that has seen unemployment hit 23.1 percent – 54.9 percent for those under 25 – and is set to shrink the economy by 7 percent. Greece has lost 25 percent of its GDP in five years.

“The economy will not be able to bear the burden of such huge spending cuts in 2013 and 2014. If there is no extension, economic activity will be depressed and it will be very difficult for any government to survive,” said another government official. The government is also considering laying off 40,000 state workers at reduced pay and firing them within a year.

Read the rest.

This is simply madness, an infliction of even more draconian measures that will ensure that the country is unable to raise the revenues demanded, which in turn will lead to one of two eventualities, either a quick Grexit or the final and complete looting of the nation’s resources and the subjugation of its populace into latter-day serfs.

Merkel and Hollande plot their Grand-Guignol

From Wikipedia

Grand-Guignol was a Parisian theater with a bill of fare that gave its name to a genre, the presentation of graphic, amoral horror productions as exemplified in the poster to the right, .

The woman, bound and blinded, threatened by a shadowy man with knife raised to strike provides the perfect metaphor for the people of Greece today, enchained my misery and privation and deprived of a vision of hope.

Two key players in scripting the drama are German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, and they’ll soon be meeting to draft the latest act.

From Agence France-Presse:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will try to present a united front when they meet Thursday ahead of a fateful few weeks for Greece’s eurozone future.

As leaders of the bloc’s top two economies, the pair carry the weight of expectations that they will drive decisive action to remedy the near three-year crisis, despite their differences.

The timing of the evening summit in the German capital is no coincidence — Merkel will host the Greek prime minister in Berlin less than 24 hours later before he meets Hollande in Paris Saturday.


Germany, Europe’s effective paymaster, has insisted Athens must stick to the timeline and reforms agreed in return for its second rescue package, while France is seen as more flexible.

Read the rest.

But is there a rift between the writers?

Hollande is one of that strange, flabby, and subservient species that passes for a socialist in today’s European politics, while Merkel’s a stolid conservative in the traditional German mold, devoted to banks, business, and bürgerlich values.

So their dance is delicate, and fraught with nuance. Holland must appear to at least mouth the values that once went with the S-world, while invariably capitulating to the demands of the market.

Now there seems to be a tiff, worthy of note, but, we presume, ultimately meaningless.

From Deutsche Presse Agentur:

Signs of tensions between France and Germany emerged Wednesday as cash-strapped Greece stepped up a diplomatic offensive to convince Europe that it needs more time to introduce a tough round of economic reforms.


Merkel‘s spokesman said Berlin and Paris had agreed that the German and French leaders would just make short statements to reporters before a dinner meeting to discuss Greece crisis and the eurozone debt crisis.

But it emerged Wednesday that Hollande now plans to break ranks with the Chancellor and to hold his own press briefing of the French media in the French Embassy in Berlin after his talks with Merkel.


Merkel‘s spokesman Steffen Seibert denied that Germany was upset at this departure from the usual practice in Berlin.

“If a foreign guest wants to also go to his country‘s embassy, that‘s up to him and certainly not open to criticism from us,” he said.

Read the rest.

Ah, there’s another European term for it, appropriately French: Théâtre de l’Absurde.

And while we’re on the subject of Théâtre de l’Absurde

Consider the following from Melissa Eddy and Jack Ewing of the New York Times:

Bild, Germany’s most-read newspaper, has accused Greece of “making our euro kaput” and only a few days ago referred to the country as “a bottomless pit.”

On Wednesday, though, the paper featured a friendly chat with the man in charge of that bottomless pit: Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister, who pleaded during an interview for more time to repair his country’s shattered economy. The Bild reporter even inquired how Mr. Samaras was feeling after an eye operation.

Coming from a newspaper known for a keen understanding of what its 2.8 million readers want to hear, the shift in tone could be significant. It coincides with signals from members of Chancellor Continue reading

EuroWatch: Bad numbers in jobs, suicides, more

We begin with a recession prediction, then on to some upbeat trade numbers, the banking coup that’s on for next month, Finland’s about-face on a eurozone exit, and the Portuguese are selling off their gold jewelry and heirlooms.

From Spain we have bad numbers for the leading parties, record bad bank loan numbers, signs the Spailout call is coming, and a grocery-expropriating mayor on the march.

From Italy, bad news for immigrant workers, the pending closure of Europe’s largest steel plant, and a tax dodge lament.

From Britain we’ve got a surge in suicides and an overeager former Murdoch minion turned into eager privatizer of schoolyards, while Denmark gives us downsized journalists and a novel solution to the growing numbers of evicted tenants.

Wse close with an ominous court ruling from Germany.

Economists predict year-plus recession

Considering that Britain’s already in one — and Greece and Spain already have depression-level unemployment numbers, consider this an easy call.

From EurActiv:

The eurozone will slip into recession and won’t grow until 2013, according a poll of economists who also don’t expect any new aggressive policy response from the European Central Bank.

The latest monthly survey results of the Reuters poll, released yesterday (16 August), follow news that the eurozone just barely skirted recession in the first half of the year, with only Germany growing in the three months to June and France, the second largest eurozone economy, flatlining.

Taken together with a worsening outlook for the eurozone’s most vulnerable economies in a Reuters poll published last week, there appears little expectation for an end to the euro crisis or any prospects for a meaningful economic rebound.

Adding to the deeper concerns, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said in the Daily Telegraph published today (17 August) that European leaders must prepare for the looming breakup of the eurozone.

Read the rest.

But the eurozone had a record trade surplus

So that should mean everything’s hunky-dory, right?

Well. . .

From Agence France-Presse:

New EU data out on Friday showed the eurozone logging a record trade surplus and bumper cash earnings in what some analysts said was evidence that austerity and structural economic reforms pay off.

However, the devil in the detail for others was a huge depreciation year-on-year in the real-terms value of the single currency and darker signals from more recent Chinese trade data — with a prolonged recession still tipped into next year.

The Eurostat agency said the 17-nation eurozone’s surplus in the trade of goods surged to 14.9 billion euros in June ($18.4 billion), the highest since the European Union began collating numbers in 1999.

The preliminary headline figure was up from just 200 million euros for the same month in 2011. Seasonally-adjusted exports rose by 2.4 percent compared to May, while imports remained stable.

At the same time, the European Central Bank in Frankfurt announced that the eurozone’s current account surplus grew to 12.7 billion euros in June from 10.3 billion in May.

Read the rest.

Banking coup set for next month?

The Merkel agenda, backed by the Bundesbank, is to force common currency countries to yield sovereignty over the national purse strings to the eurocrats.

Now comes word that a major plank in the platform, centralizing control of all the eurozones banks in the money wizards of the eurobank in Frankfurt, will be rammed through next month.


The European Commission will propose next month giving the European Central Bank supervision over all of the euro zone’s major banks, Handelsblatt daily reported on Friday, citing Commission sources.

That would include Germany’s Sparkassen savings banks and Genossenschaftsbanken cooperative banks, which Germany had hoped would be exempt when it signalled it wanted supervision only over the biggest 25 banks, the paper reported.

The Commission’s proposal, due on September 11, envisages national authorities supervising day-to-day business and the ECB only intervening where it sees “dangerous risks”, Reuters said citing Handelsblatt.

Outside the euro zone, national banking supervisors would stay in charge of their banks, the paper reported.

Read the rest.

Finland does a skinback on the Finxit

No sooner do folks in Helsinki suggest their country may dump the euro than words comes that it ain’t so.

We suspect phone lines to the south were burning up before this latest turn of events.

From Angela Monaghan of the London Telegraph:

Finland is totally committed to the euro, its European affairs minister said following comments from its foreign minister that the country was preparing for a break up of the single currency.

“Foreign minister Tuomioja’s statement in no way reflects the Finnish government position,” said Alexander Stubb, highlighting deep divisions within the coalition government. “Finland stands 100pc behind the euro,” the European affairs minister added.

He was speaking after foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja told The Daily Telegraph “we have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up.”

Mr Tuomioja, a member of the coalition’s Social Democratic Party, said that Finnish officials had an “operational plan for any eventuality.”

Mr Stubb, a member of the centre-right Kokoomus Party, said his colleague had probably spoken in a personal capacity. “The government’s position is very clear: we stand pro-European and we stand to work, to improve the situation in the eurozone,” he said.

Read the rest.

Immiserated Portuguese cash in their gold

Yesterday’s heirlooms and cherished gifts are headed to the smelter as people resort to desperate measures in the face of need.

From Bloomberg’s Henrique Almeida:

In Portugal, the historical home of some of Europe’s biggest gold reserves, the number of jewelry stores, which include cash-for-gold shops, increased 29 percent in 2011 from a year earlier, a study commissioned by parliament found. In the first quarter, an average of two new stores opened every day, the report said. Now some of them are closing.

“Business has gone from great to terrible in a matter of months,” Luis Almeida, whose family has owned a gold store near Lisbon’s Rossio Square for more than 40 years, said in an interview. “The sad truth is that most of my clients have already sold all of their gold rings.”


Portugal’s gold exports increased by more than five times to 519.4 million euros last year from 102.1 million euros in 2009, according to Continue reading