Posts Tagged ‘gold’

ATTACK WALL STREET

April 16, 2010

Attack Wall Street, Not Social Security by Dean Baker April 13, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

Suppose our top generals described the growing threat from a hostile Middle East power. The country has tens of billions of oil dollars, a growing army, chemical and biological weapons, and is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. After carefully describing the risks posed by this country, our generals suggested an immediate attack on Canada. They explain that combating this Middle East country would be difficult, but defeating Canada is easy.

This is essentially the story of the latest attack on social security. Everyone who looks at the projections agrees; the scary budget stories being hyped in the media and by the Wall Street crew are driven almost entirely by projections of exploding healthcare costs. But instead of proposing ways to fix the healthcare system, these deficit hawks want to attack social security. They tell us that fixing healthcare is hard. By contrast they think that cutting money from social security will be relatively easy.The facts on this are straightforward and known by everyone involved in the budget debate. The US healthcare system is broken. We pay more than twice as much per person as the average for other wealthy countries.

The long-term problem is not that anything improper has been done with the programme; the reason that social security is projected to eventually face a shortfall is that future generations are projected to live longer than we do. This raises costs since our children and grandchildren are projected to enjoy longer retirements than we do. In short, there is no story of generational inequity here, contrary to what the Wall Street deficit hawks say.

If our deficit hawk generals are too scared to take on the healthcare industry then we also have to also make them too scared to take on social security. If we need to reduce the deficit the best place to start is a financial speculation tax. A modest set of financial transactions taxes, like the 0.5% tax on stock trades in the United Kingdom, can easily raise $150bn a year. This would go a long way toward addressing future budget shortfalls and it would raise money from people who can afford it: the Wall Street crew whose financial shenanigans led to the meltdown. Federal Reserve board chairman Ben Bernanke recently suggested cutting social security because: “that’s where the money is“. That’s not true, the real money is on Wall Street. Let’s go get it. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/13-2

Big Banks Rebel Against Push to Help Struggling Homeowners by James R. Hagerty April 13, 2010 by The Wall Street Journal

Some big U.S. banks are pushing back against the idea that they should slash mortgage balances for millions of troubled borrowers.

In written testimony prepared for a hearing in Washington Tuesday of the House Financial Services Committee, some of the nation’s top mortgage lenders warned of the risks of relying heavily on forgiving principal as a means of averting foreclosures

That may set up a clash with Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the committee, and other lawmakers eager for more aggressive action to prevent foreclosures. In a letter last month to four big banks, Rep. Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, argued that “to save homes on a large scale, we must move past temporary modifications in interest rates or terms and focus on permanent principal reductions that result in truly sustainable mortgages.”and argued for concentrating mainly on other methods, such as reducing interest rates.

The Obama administration recently announced plans to put somewhat more emphasis on reducing principal in its foreclosure-prevention program.

To write down loans enough to bring those debts down to no more than the home values would cost $700 billion to $900 billion, J.P. Morgan Chase estimated in its testimony. That would include costs of $150 billion to the Federal Housing Administration and government-controlled mortgage investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the bank said.

J.P. Morgan also said broad-based principal reductions could raise costs for borrowers if mortgage investors demand more interest to compensate for that risk. Borrowers probably would have to increase down payments, and credit standards would tighten further, the bank said.

Wells Fargo said principal forgiveness “is not an across-the-board solution” and “needs to be used in a very careful manner.” Bank of America said that it supports principal reductions for some customers whose debts are high in relation to their home values and who face financial hardships but that “solutions must balance the interests of the customer and the (mortgage) investor.”  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/13

Obama’s Efforts to Foster Harmony on Wall St Reform Erupt into Warfare by Giles Whittell April 15, 2010 by TimesOnline/UK

America’s most powerful politicians met at the White House yesterday for the start of a six-week battle in which both main parties will fight for the right to claim that they are taming Wall Street’s wildest excesses and safeguarding a resurgent US economy.

Emboldened by continuing popular disgust over the big banks’ role in the worst US recession since the 1930s, President Obama invited Republican leaders to what was billed as a cordial bipartisan discussion of financial regulatory reform.

It was anything but. In an hour-long meeting that appears to have deepened party divisions over the future of the economy, Mr Obama attacked his Republican guests for their closeness to Wall Street lobbyists, demanded a complete overhaul of the risky derivatives markets that led to the brink of a financial meltdown two years ago and accused Republicans of a “campaign of misinformation” about his reforms.

In open defiance of Mr Obama’s call for cross-party backing for the Senate finance Bill, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, denounced the Bill minutes after the White House meeting as a recipe for institutionalising the bank bailouts of 2008. The $85 billion (£50 billion) rescue of the AIG insurance giant in particular has become a reviled symbol of taxpayer-funded indulgence of Wall Street irresponsibility.

This is the first serious test of Mr Obama’s ability to sway Congress since senior Republicans, including Senator John McCain, vowed to block every item on his domestic agenda after their defeat on healthcare.

Democrats still fear that victory may cost them dearly at the midterm elections but they are confident that when it comes to reining in Wall Street they will have the public behind them.

“This ought to be a bipartisan Bill and I think in the end it will be,” Mr Goolsbee said.

The White House is calculating that Republicans who choose to remain opposed to the most sweeping Wall Street reforms in several generations will risk being punished by voters for appearing to support irresponsible bankers at the expense of Main Street. Senator McConnell and others had a private meeting in New York this week with hedge fund managers and their lobbyists. Democrats have since gleefully accused him of parroting Wall Street’s talking points. On yesterday’s evidence, he may have to find some new ones. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/15

Climate Bill Would Curb EPA by Lisa Lerer April 14, 2010 by Politico.com

Efforts to limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases has emerged as a major battleground in the climate debate, as three key senators move toward releasing the first draft of their revamped climate bill.

Recent drafts of the legislation would hobble the EPA by limiting the agency’s regulatory powers under the Clean Air Act, according to lawmakers and lobbyists familiar with the bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’s crafting the climate bill with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), says the provision is necessary to win business backing for the bill.

“I wouldn’t support EPA regulation on top of congressional action, and I couldn’t support 50 states coming up with their own standards,” he said. “That’s one thing business legitimately needs.”

In response to concerns voiced by moderate Democrats, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that she expects the agency to weaken its proposed pollution standards and delay implementation of the new rules until 2011.

But Jackson also urged lawmakers to focus on passing a climate bill instead of on stopping the agency.

“We are not going to be regulating this calendar year, and I really think it would be wonderful if the energy of the Senate on this issue would be put to new legislation to do something,” she said. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/14-2

GOLD!

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RICH THIEVES

October 11, 2009
GOLD!

GOLD!

8 Shocking Ways the Billionaires Have Schemed to Rob Us of Every Last $ By Mark Ames, eXiled Online. American billionaires keep cooking up scheme after scheme to shake down Americans and plunder the national wealth, as if the last one was too easy and boring.

Every day and every week we hear another shocking story about how our billionaires have cooked up an even sicker scheme to shake down Americans and plunder the national wealth, as if the last scheme was too easy and boring. They don’t even bother hiding it anymore: take the story about the “Death Bonds” I wrote about last month, first reported (however blandly) in the New York Times: the very same Wall Street bankers who conned $23 trillion out of America’s wealth is now going to use some of that play money to place bets on when we Americans will die—and the sooner we die, the more billions in E-Z profits Wall Street will earn.

It’s as if America is some kind of despised abstraction to our ruling class: a faraway colony to plunder, a mass of humanity to use and exploit as it sees fit. In fact, there’s a pretty clear pattern developing of just how much they despise Americans and how little they value our lives and our humanity.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143146/8_shocking_ways_the_billionaires_have_schemed_to_rob_us_of_every_last_%24

Eight Years Is Long Enough: What You Can Do to End the War in Afghanistan By Peter Rothberg, The Nation. Antiwar activists are reallocating their attention from Iraq towards Afghanistan, organizing protests and demonstrations for the coming weeks.

Editor’s Note: Pressure to end the occupation is coming directly from members of the Afghan govt. as well — writing for the Women’s Media Center, CODEPINK Founder Jodie Evans has returned from Afghanistan with a petition signed by Afghan leaders, including two female members of Afghanistan’s parliament and President Hamid Karzai’s sister-in-law. Check out Evans’ article and add your name to the petition here.

Within a matter of months a majority of Americans have shifted from supporting to opposing the Afghanistan war as we approach the eighth anniversary of the start of the conflict. According to recent polls, a solid 57 percent of Americans now object to the military effort.

http://www.alternet.org/world/143132/eight_years_is_long_enough%3A_what_you_can_do_to_end_the_war_in_afghanistan

Who Ran Away with Your 401K? By James Ridgeway, MotherJones.com. What starts with “f,” ends with “k,” and means “screw your workers”? That’s right — 401(k).

Like most people whose quality of life depends upon the fluctuations of an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other acronym-soup retirement account, I was born long before such things existed. It’s easy to forget, now that more than half of us have been made shareholders, that until well past the middle of the 20th century, most people had nothing to do with the stock market: Wall Street was for the wealthy and the reckless. It was a world most Americans didn’t understand and, after 1929, didn’t trust. Some lucky people had pensions, but few had the privilege of even thinking about retirement. They were too busy trying to survive the present — which in my childhood meant the Great Depression and then World War II.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143145/who_ran_away_with_your_401k

Nezcalacca

HOLY GRAIL, BABOON HEART

July 10, 2009
Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Ammunition for discussions, harangues and loud debates

BEYOND DAN BROWN: The DeVinci Load. The so-called Holy Grail is the object of legendary quest for Arthurian knights and may be a “wide-mouthed or shallow vessel,” although its precise etymology (in the true literal sense of the word) remains uncertain, and small wonder. The Grail was probably inspired by classical or Celtic mythologies, which abound in horns of plenty, magic life-restoring caldrons, and the like. In Finland, the pre-Christian Kalevala features the sampo, which might be a pillar that holds up the sky, or a mill to produce salt, meal and gold, or a talisman of happiness and prosperity. Take your pick.

The first extant text (or more aptly invention) about the Grail is Chrétien de Troyes’ late 12th century unfinished romance Parceval or Le Conte du Graal, which combined the religious with the fantastic. In the 13th century Robert de Borron’s poem extended the Christian significance of the legend, linking the Grail with Christ’s cup at the Last Supper and with Joseph of Aramea whom he said used it to catch Jesus’ blood as he hung on the cross. In the same century, Wolfram von Esenbach’s Parzival* gave the Grail profound and mystical expression as a precious stone fallen from Heaven (sampo, anyone?). Malory’s late 15th century Le Morte D’Arthur transmitted the fanciful Grail essence to English-speaking readers.

In the story-telling invention, the quest itself became a search for mystical union with God. Through various permutations by many different writers over several hundreds of years, the Grail theme formed a culminating point for the Arthurian romance. It’s a good story device; it doesn’t really matter what it really is, as long as it stands for truth, justice and the “right” way. Its physical presence is just like the True Cross, Longinus’ Spear, St. Michael’s pickled peritoneum, or any other “holy” relic: e.g. entrepreneurs started fabricating bits of the true cross as soon as they noticed a market for it – in fact, selling bits and pieces obviously would part the cross out, so they invented the miracle of overnight renewal; as we’ve seen from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the DeVinci Code, and Newsweek, people are still making big bucks selling new baubles to hang on the old artificial tree, which is patently, the Grail’s only real value. When you get right down to it, it’s buying a box of air, isn’t it? That’s the way faith works, so have fun with the storyline.

Incidentally, Christ is the Greek Chrestos – a mystery cult popular with the poor and lower middle class of the 1st century C.E. Working people infected their middle class masters with it. Female heads of households were particularly susceptible to its egalitarian message. Self-proclaimed “Apostle” Paul of Tarsus cobbled Chrestos with the historical Jesus movement as a sales package for Gentiles (infuriating the Jesus movement because he co-opted and lied about their guy; of such petty human foibles are great religious movements conceived), but that’s another story.

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* Parzival by Wolfram Von Eisenbach, 13th century C.E. Much ado about fabrics, flags, one’s place at the table, head-busting by foolish men for foolish ladies, and the romantic search for the fabulous grail – the holiest snipe hunt for the silliest prize: the Americas-Stanley-Wimbledon cup of immortality available only for unblemished boobery.  “He’d paid his debt to joy, his life was but a dying.” – Wolfram Von Eisenbach, Parzival.

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MOURNING IN AMERICA: In time, the plastic fantastic mourning that passes for genuine grief will dim.  Society’s itch to have its heroes, even if it has to lie like hell to make them, will be satisfied for the time being.  It will be trotted out again with the next “must-vent” crisis, and we shall have walls of flowers, teddy bears, and balloons – everything in short, nothing short of a full Super Bowl extravaganza – and many blathering speeches shy of substance and dripping with hypocrisy and crocodile tears, mindless chest thumping and blubbering, murmured prayers and homilies, all accepted as available.  Flags will fly.  Guns will boom.  Vendors and trinket salesmen will profit.  Blimps will display large advertising messages and rockets will light the night sky with red, blue, green, yellow and, Lordy loo, who knows what color pyrotechnics?  The body politic will sleep steadier, enervated and expended by a good old-fashioned group grope and mope. This has to be one of the silliest societies on record.

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REVERY: We’ve come a long way, you and I.  Thousands upon thousands of miles, and yet we’re still far short of our destination.  Where are we going anyway?  Haven’t we already been there?  The universe is a big round circle in a dimension so large that we poor mites cannot see the curve.  It looks like a straight line to us, but so does time, and time is a repetition of itself, always telling us the same thing.  As each generation is born, the next arises, and each of those, and all of those millions more, grows by the same learning process, through the same biology, give or take a tiny percent of one gene, which seems to specify skin tone and what we call racial differences.  It’s the same as classifying men by the size of their nipples and finally as insignificant. We all begin as fertilized eggs.  We are one with the chicken and the salamander, the fish and the spider. There is not one atom within us that is remarkable for being unique.  There is nothing unique in the universe, except individual discovery.

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SOME LINKS WORTH VIEWING:

Washington Diarist by Leon Wieseltier, Accommodationism: “One of the most troublesome qualities of reason is that it is not always reasonable.” http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=cf4e433c-60bd-4184-abc3-fc372c7f8304

Broken Promises: Health Care Deals Struck in Secrecy http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-1

Law Will Let Afghan Husbands Starve Wives Who Withhold Sex http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-4

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FINAL WORD: “We’ve never done it with a baboon‘s heart!” Hector Elizondo, ER, 9-29-94

Robin the Old: One Brunch Only