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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 3 February

by In Wales Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 05:25:12 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1937 - birth of "Billy" Eduard Albert Meier , a citizen of Switzerland who claims to be a UFO contactee and prophet.

More here and here

 The European Salon is a daily selection of news items to which you are invited to contribute. Post links to news stories that interest you, or just your comments. Come in and join us!


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Display:
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:02:19 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Foreign Affairs / EU official predicts major anti-Putin rally

BRUSSELS - EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has predicted there will be a big turnout at a pro-democracy rally in Moscow on Saturday (4 February).

Reading to MEPs from a written statement at the tail-end of a lengthy Q-and-A session in Brussels on Wednesday evening, she said: "The protests that started in December are set to continue. The movement has grown and we can expect a large mobilisation this Saturday."

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:21:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Justice & Home Affairs / Breast implants scandal set to lead to tougher EU legislation
BRUSSELS - The European commission aims to strengthen oversight of companies that certify medical devices following a breast implant scandal thought to have affected at least 400,000 women worldwide.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:23:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the tentacles of socialism ever threatening to strangle business innovation

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Winter freeze kills scores across Europe - EUROPE - FRANCE 24

AFP - A cold snap kept Europe in its icy grip on Thursday, pushing the death toll past 150 as countries from Italy to Ukraine struggled to cope with temperatures that reached record lows in some places.

Nine more people died in Poland overnight as temperatures plunged to minus 32 Celsius (minus 25.6 Fahrenheit) in the southwest, bringing the overall toll to 29 since the deep freeze began last week, national police said.

In Ukraine, tens of thousands of people have headed to shelters trying to escape the freeze that the emergencies ministry said has now killed 63 people.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:48:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Now for the next acronym of the eurozone crisis: OSI
As a deal with Greek private sector creditor is moving closer, focus is now switching towards official sector involvement, OSI; Evangelos Venizelos is calling on the ECB to take a hit, saying a debt target of 120% requires both PSI and OSI; ECB has considered several scenarios, but there is still no agreement with the ECB's governing council;the issue of dispute is whether to include purchases made under the securities markets programme; after meeting with Angela Merkel, China's premier Wen Jiabao says that China is considering support for an IMF eurozone package; the Spanish government plans to force banks to make writeoffs of their real estate investments to clean up their balance sheets; move is very like to trigger the next phase of declining Spanish house prices; Mario Monti's government is determined to force labour market reforms against the will of the trade unions; at stake is a reform of an article which forces companies to rehire workers deemed to have been unfairly dismissed; a poll among the French working population has Nicolas Sarkozy in third place, behind Marine Le Pen; an ECB working paper demonstrates that rating agencies have reinforced the eurozone debt crisis; there are reports of a conspiratorial meeting of finance ministers of a AAA-rated countries in Berlin - without participation by France and Austria; future ESM programmes, meanwhile, will be limited to countries that have ratified the fiscal compact.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:06:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monti to force labour reforms against the trade unions

La Repubblica quotes Italian labour minister Elsa Fornero as saying that the Italian government will go ahead with labour market reforms even without the consent of the social parts. The issue is Art. 18 of the Italian labour code, which forces an employer with more than 15 staff to rehire workers subsequently deemed to have been unfairly dismissed. The employers are saying that they want to restrict Art. 18 only of cases of discrimination. Fornero says the government would present legislation in two to three weeks. Reuters reports that Mario Monti recently mocked the idea of a permanent job, provoking a row with Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the Democratic Party, who said a permanent job was desirable for someone outside the labour market.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:13:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Italy govt to pass labour reforms even without unions
Attention has largely focused on Article 18, a section in the labor law which obliges companies with more than 15 workers to re-hire workers judged by the courts to have been unjustly laid off.

...

"A fixed job for life? How monotonous," said Monti, sparking angry reactions on online social networks and some mild criticism among the parties supporting his government.

"A fixed job becomes monotonous when you have one and you can look around. When you don't have one it is desirable," Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the left-leaning Democratic Party told journalists.

Obviously Monti is unaware of the difficulties an ordinary citizen encounters in renting a dwelling or obtaining credit if they lack a permanent job.

Sounds a lot like Romney's "people should enjoy the freedom to fire their health insurance provider".

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:17:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AAA-rated finance ministers meet in Berlin (without France and Austria)

So much for the protestations that the French and Austrian ratings downgrade would have no effect. Reuters reports of a conspirative meeting among the finance ministers of the four remaining AAA-rated countries to take place in Berlin today - Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Finland, and yes without France and Austria. The article suggests that it won't be the first time, which means that the French and Austrian ministers must have participated in such meetings before, but not no longer.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:19:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
the Spanish government plans to force banks to make writeoffs of their real estate investments to clean up their balance sheets

Does this mean writedowns or writeoffs on amounts due on the mortgages? I bet it doesn't.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:35:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Chris Huhne to face charge over speeding points case

Chris Huhne is to be charged with perverting the course of justice over claims his wife accepted speeding penalty points on his behalf in 2003.

The energy secretary's now ex-wife Vicky Pryce will face the same charge, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said.

Mr Huhne, Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh, in Hampshire, has denied any wrongdoing.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson says there will be an urgent cabinet reshuffle, limited to the Lib Dems.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 05:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
perverting the course of justice is a fairly serious charge, maximum sentance is Life (anything over a year and he loses his seat)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 05:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
@MatinaStevis
Moral lesson: don't cross a Greek woman. Bad things happen to you. #huhne



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:18:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the ECB is totally blameless in all this: Save the ECB from the danger of Greece (2 February 2012) from
De Tijd of Antwerp, via Presseurop
The currency of a country whose central bank has suffered a mortal blow has little chance of survival. Athens understands this very well and takes advantage of it. Why should Europe give to Greek politicians, who clearly have shown no intention of introducing reforms worthy of the name, a weapon that can be turned against her? We must protect the ECB, and now.

...

Putting larger amounts into the European Stability Mechanism (MES), the permanent relief fund [to come into force July 1], will on the contrary save money. And committing more money to protect the ECB would, for the same reasons, also save money. This is what is called "promising to increase spending," but that does not mean that the money will actually be spent.

...

European policymakers cannot afford the risk that Greece, feeling that it is about to excluded from the euro, will launch a final attack like a dying bee and default. They must protect the ECB from what could be a fatal sting.

Blah blah blah.

Because the ECB is not solvent by fiat in its own currency.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worse to me is how successful the Germans and other right-wingers have been in minimising the reality of Greek reforms. Greece has brutalised it's social safety net in the name of "virtue" - and gets no credit for it.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 10:39:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...Putin makes more sense than the entire EU economic policymaking apparatus.

Greek Reporter: Vladimir Putin Says "Greece Was Deprived of Any Possibilities of Economic Recovery"

Moreover, Putin emphasized that the only way left for Greece to recover was to cut social spending and promote competitiveness, because it is absolutely impossible to strengthen the economy, industry, and the real sector without investments, and it is likewise impossible to attract investments within difficult financial times.

"Many countries face similar problems", Putin said, and added that foreign countries have not provided aid to Greece up until now.

The problem is not that Greeks do not want or do not know how to work, according to Putin. "The problem is that there are no hi-tech possibilities in Greece so that a qualified workforce can be used efficiently in Greece", the Russian PM concluded.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:31:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(h/t talos)

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:57:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's exactly (word for word) what I thought when I saw that you had posted this on Facebook. So I came to write it... but you had already ;-)

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin would know.

He saw Rob Rubin's gang of four fuck over Russia in precisely the same way back in the Yeltsin years.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:03:26 PM EST
Germany looks to China for eurozone support | World | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday that resolving the European debt crisis was 'urgent' and called on the international community to work together.

Speaking at Beijing's Great Hall of the People following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on three-day visit to China, Wen said Europe was of "strategic importance" to his country. He said China was considering greater involvement in the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the 550-billion-euro ($724.6 billion) European Stability Mechanism (ESM), due to take effect in July.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:06:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel looks to calm eurozone fears in China - CHINA - GERMANY - FRANCE 24

AFP - German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in China on Thursday for a three-day visit that will focus on the eurozone crisis, Iran, and Syria.

Her trip comes just days after China was hit by deadly unrest in Tibetan-inhabited areas, and the leader of Europe's biggest economy will also broach the issue of human rights with her Chinese counterparts.

Germany and China, the world's top two exporters, enjoy vibrant trade relations and Merkel will meet investors and seek to boost confidence in Europe on her fifth trip to the world's second largest economy.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:49:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Zuckerberg's coup: Facebook applies to go public | Business | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

Facebook aims to raise $5 billion (3.8 billion euros) with its initial public offering (IPO), according to paperwork filed with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) this week. But that figure is only a starting point to help the social media company calculate its registration expenses. Some analysts expect the IPO could raise up to $10 billion.

The number of shares on offer and actual date they will be made available are yet to be announced, but experience shows most companies float within three months of applying to the SEC.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:10:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Facebook embarks on largest-ever US tech IPO - BUSINESS-TECHNOLOGY - FRANCE 24

FP -  Facebook will set a target of raising $5 billion in papers to be filed on Wednesday for an initial public offering, according to reports on Tuesday.

The New York Times and International Financing Review said $5 billion is only a preliminary target for the IPO by the social networking giant and the final size could be larger.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook would seek to raise $10 billion at a valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:50:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Earthquakes, debt crisis hit world's biggest reinsurer | Business | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

Munich Re said Thursday that it recorded a profit of 710 million euros ($935 million) last year, marking a 71 percent drop in the company's income. In 2010, the world's largest reinsurer posted a profit of 2.43 billion euros ($3.19 billion).

Reinsurance companies issue backup insurance for primary insurers, enabling them to handle large losses.

Munich Re attributed the sharp decline in profits to a series of severe earthquakes and weather-related catastrophes, as well as the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:12:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German job creation miracle is not yet over, pundits say | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

While many European nations currently have a two-digit jobless rate, Germany seems to be an island of bliss. The impact of the winter season on the domestic labor market has again been rather mild. The Federal Employment Agency (BA) said 3,082 million people were out of a job in Germany in January of this year - the lowest January number in 21 years.

But despite well-filled order books, some companies have already announced substantial job cuts.

Information technology giant IBM says it'll axe thousands of jobs over the next few years. It currently employs 20,000 people in Germany, but aims to reduce that number eventually by up to 10,000.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:13:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it any surprise that failing economies within the EU helping to depress the euro would assist an exporting nation like Germany to increase production? The weaker economies leaving the euro would be an absolute disaster for Germany, but I can't think of what harm it would do those whom are struggling. Maybe it would be more expensive for individuals to buy a BMW or Merc, but that's sort of the point, isn't it?
by Andhakari on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:29:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Bank's investment banking takes a beating | Corporate | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

Net profit jumped by 87 percent last year to a total of 4.3 billion euros ($5.5 billion), and revenues rose by 16 percent to 33.2 billion euros ($43.7 billion), Deutsche Bank reported Thursday.

However, the bank's good overall results were marred by an unexpectedly weak fourth quarter, in which earnings dwindled to 186 million euros - down 76 percent from the preceding three months and a drop of 69 percent compared with the same period in 2010.  Excluding tax benefits in the fourth quarter, the bank actually lost 351 million euros.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:13:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Bank survey highlights EU economic gloom
BRUSSELS - Euro-area banks are becoming less happy to lend and consumers are more reluctant to borrow, according to an authoritative new survey out Wednesday (1 February).
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / IMF worried by social cost of Greek austerity

BRUSSELS - Budget cuts alone will not save the Greek economy as the country is reaching the "limit" of what society can endure, the International Monetary Fund's point-man for Athens has said, in a departure from the institution's traditionally more technocratic communiques.

"We will have to slow down a little as far as fiscal adjustment is concerned and move faster - much faster - with the reforms needed to modernise the economy," Poul Thomsen, a Danish IMF official overseeing the Greek austerity programme told Greek daily Kathimerini on Wednesday (1 February).

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:44:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...move faster - much faster - with the reforms needed to modernise the economy,

Doesn't that sound promising.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:08:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barclays Plans 25% to 30% Pay Cut for Bankers - Bloomberg

Barclays Plc (BARC), the British lender run by Robert Diamond, plans to cut compensation for the 24,000 employees at its investment banking unit by as much as 30 percent, two people with knowledge of the talks said.

The lender is preparing to tell employees at Barclays Capital next week that overall pay will be down by 25 percent to 30 percent on average from a year earlier, said the people, who declined to be identified because the plans haven't yet been made public. The bank will also eliminate about 5 percent of its senior bankers, said the people. Those at risk typically hold titles such as executive directors and managing directors.

The world's biggest lenders are curbing pay as they grapple with declining revenue. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc. (C) have all reduced senior investment bankers' pay for last year as revenue slows. Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Germany's largest, today said it reduced compensation for employees at its corporate and investment bank by 15 percent.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 04:44:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the recent "bad press" the banks, etc., are getting, bet you ten euros to a sack of moldy rice they are going to reduce pay (salary) without reducing total compensation (salary + bonuses.)  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:24:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Holder & Obama's Propaganda is "Belied by a Troublesome Little Thing Called Facts"   William K. Black  New Economic Perspectives

The Obama administration's record of prosecuting elite financial frauds is worse than the Bush administration's record, which is a very large statement. Syracuse University's TRAC issued a report on November 11, 2011 entitled "Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall."

Neither administration has prosecuted any elite CEO for the epidemic of mortgage fraud that drove the ongoing crisis. This contrasts with over 1,000 elite felony convictions arising from the S&L debacle. The ongoing crisis caused losses more than 70 times greater than the S&L debacle and the amount of elite fraud driving this crisis is also vastly greater than during the S&L debacle. Bank CEOs leading "accounting control frauds" now do so with impunity from the criminal laws. They become wealthy through fraud and even if they are sued civilly they almost invariably walk away wealthy with the proceeds of their frauds.

....



As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 08:57:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
William Black is an out and out liar. The "elite felony convictions" in the S&L crisis amounted to a bunch of small fry taking the fall and a scattering of mid level regional bank execs - most of whom spent at most a year or two playing tennis before returning to their gains.  It's really remarkable that he's been able to sell his level of bullshit for so long.
by rootless2 on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 10:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Obama has been relentless in prosecuting financial fraud, I suppose?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 10:18:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that Black is a fabulist. Thus a judgment about Obama's record based on his false reporting is meaningless.

BTW: Black deleted my comment from his article. I don't think he's interested in explaining how tennis playing holiday for a VP of an S&L in Wisconsin qualifies as an "elite felony conviction"

by rootless2 on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 10:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your point is that there is always something wrong with any comparison that is unfavorable to the Obama Administration and you will find some cherry picked item and try to use it to discredit any who are being held up as a counter-example. That is the kind of crap that totally turned me off to orange in 2008.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you shouldn't read the comment threads, they're worse than useless.

But many of the FP and recommended stories are worth at least a glance

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the comment threads are one of the chief assets of ET.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:59:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
funny how that works, innit ?

I'm sure that orange readers come here and are completely put off by the strange meanderings which pass for discussion here. Horses for courses, and it's what you get used to, but I've always disliked orange comment threads for one reason or another

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:11:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's too much me-too-ism, contentless fawning praise, and vitriol in DKos comment threads.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 06:29:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the new software makes reading the comments such a pain that you can now focus on the articles alone.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 02:09:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No cherry picking at all. The central claim Black makes is utterly false.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:06:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So in comparision how many small fry and mid level regional bank execs has been convicted of felonies in the present crisis?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:28:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no idea. However, it's a kind of silly topic since one of the results of the S&L crisis and "law enforcement" aftermath was that the small thrifts and regional banks were gobbled up by Wall Street, often with huge federal subsidies. The whole segment of small and regional banks was shrunk enormously to the benefit of Citibank and friends. The reason why Lehaman and Citi and DB were able to roam the nation with their  crappy mortgages is that the old thrift system of local mortgage banks was destroyed in the S&L crisis.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the thrifts and local mortgage banks were not destroyed by the law enforcement response to the S&L crisis. The fact that they blew themselves up (or that they were blown up by their managers) is the S&L crisis.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:38:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many failed, and then the RTC packaged up the assets and gave them away to connected people who passed them on to wall street.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:42:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The prosecution team can only recommend sentences and likely had no role in the disposition of assets. That would have been above their pay grade. Putting Charles Keating in jail was their signal accomplishment, IMO. It is unfortunate that their scope of investigation did not extend to the Latin American Debt Crisis, which definitely would have involved Citi.

At least financial fraud did not have complete air cover from the federal government in those days. Michael Milken, Ivan Boskey and the junk bond scandal is the last serious financial fraud investigation I recall, excepting Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi investment scheme which targeted the rich. Now the Obama administration openly defends 'regulatory forbearance'.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Milken and Boesky walked out of a few years in club fed and went back to their ill gotten gains.

And what Milken did was nothing near as fraudulent (in the common sense, not the legal sense) as what Peterson and Schwarzman did.

Of course Black's mission did not extend to Citi and the Latin American debt crisis. Black prosecuted SMALL TIME CROOKS not members of the power elite.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:23:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The end result, especially for Milken, who got out with $600 million in ill gotten gains for his Milken Foundation and future as a 'philanthropist', were despicable, but that is not on Black's head. In any case, Milken, Boskey, et al would certainly have preferred not to have spent their time in even the cushiest federal lockup. The real take away is the need to reform campaign finance and the typical career path of politicians to ensure their allegiance is to their constituents and not their backers.

I would argue that the problem was not the efficacy of the prosecutions in the S&L scandal, but the limited scope of their investigation, and that subsequent fraud succeeded in spite of this, because more effective re-regulation was prevented by both Democrats and Republicans. The problem is bi-partisan.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The crisis was due to capital demands for returns above what the economy actually produced plus a wave of deregulation. The "scandal", contra Black, was not due to a few bad apples, but to a systemic change in finance in the USA.  Essentially, the New Deal program of housing subsidies to the white working class plus to the real-estate industry, eventually created both a powerful regional finance industry that could not be sustained on retail housing mortgages alone plus a right wing white middle class that opposed the New Deal's grand bargain (as JK Galbraith explained). This historical process produced the crisis and then the consolidation of finance. For Black to try to sell this process as an example of old fashioned righteous regulation is fucking insane. For "progressives" to suck up such a rancid fabrication is more interesting - I think it shows the results of the ideological collapse of the left.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:48:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mischaracterize Black, his motives and his actions. He investigated and prosecuted actual, serious crimes, many of them blatant, which had devastating consequences on many people of relatively modest means. I recall seeing Lincoln Saving and Loan ads for ridiculoulsy high rates on CDs back in the late '80s. Just reading Barron's and the LA Times left me with little doubt as to the seriousness of the problem, which was confirmed by reports of the effects on people who purchesed these non-FDIC backed CDs.

Allowing financial fraud to flourish, as Black has noted, creates a criminal environment and Gresham's Law comes into play, putting at a disadvantage all banks which do not engage in the lucrative frauds which are not prosecuted. I fail to see how that is 'progressive'.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly: according to Black a set of circumstances where loan officers of $10million Savings and Loan Banks from Shithole Texas were sentenced to many minutes in prison and where the assets they controlled plus huge government subsidies were then given to people like Ronald Perelman to package up for Citibank is not a criminal environment.

Great.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. At least Black and the others on the prosecutorial teams did what they could. We cannot even say that today. I do not see that as an improvement, any more than setting up a political hit on Elliot Spitzer was a victory for justice. Flawed as he is, he was at least going after activities that are harming the vast majority of US citizens.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:05:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BOASTS 905 CONVICTIONS IN S&L SCANDAL  Desert News archives  July 21, 1992  

(UPI)The Justice Department said Monday it has charged more than 1,100 people so far in nearly four years of prosecuting the multibillion-dollar savings and loan scandal, winning 905 convictions but less than half a billion dollars in restitution.

The department, in a release containing statistical information about the major savings and loan prosecutions, said 905 of 1,188 people charged in the scandal had been convicted in cases between Oct. 1, 1988, and June 30, 1992. Only 71 defendants were ac-quit-ted.The cases prosecuted represented $8.3 billion in losses to the thrifts. Of the 750 cases in which sentences have been handed down, judges imposed $11.2 million in fines and ordered $439 million in restitution. They ordered prison terms for 582 defendants but let off 168 without jail time.

Among those charged, 137 were chief executive officers, board chairmen or presidents of savings and loan institutions. Of the high-level executives charged, 102 were convicted and 10 were acquitted. The Justice Department said 166 of the 195 other thrift officers charged were convicted while seven were acquitted.

The department said the statistics covered only those cases in which the fraud involved $100,000 or more, the defendant was a director or owner of the thrift or there were multiple borrowers involved.

A 50% conviction rate is not bad and acquittals do not exonerate the accused. And a billion dollars is not what it used to be. My point is not that more of this is what is called for today, though it is necessary to continue this level of enforcement. The scale of the problem today dwarfs that in the S&L crisis. We are dealing with trillions, not single or double digit billions this time and the problem has been shown clearly in 2008 to threaten the very functioning of the society. So a much greater effort is needed now.

The point is that this is possible, that it could and should be extended to Wall Street and that doing so on an appropriate scale would disable most of the currently dominant players and set the table for real reform. Though they are operating on a vastly greater scale, todays fraudsters are breaking the same laws as did those in the S&L crisis. And this is something that can be made understandable to the average citizen, were the Obama Administration to even try.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:29:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great how we get "1000 high level felony convictions" from "of the high-level executives charged, 102 were convicted and 10 were acquitted." Some of them, no doubt served a few years even.

And these high level executives were high level executives of small/medium banks.

So if Black were boasting more accurately, we'd get something stirring like "barely over 100 regional bank execs were convicted". Wow!

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:34:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please proceed to make the case that the Obama Administration has done a much better job in a much worse situation.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:58:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Easy. First, the situation was obviously worse: the S&L fiasco was a regional panic involving housing/commercial real-estate at a time when the underlying economy was much stronger (millions more manufacturing jobs for example). BTW, Galbraith's great little novel "A Tenured Professor" takes part during the S&L period. And the S&L prosecutions just wasted time - essentially assisting the consolidation of finance and the growing power of Wall Street by crushing regional rivals. On the other hand, the Obama team has reversed the tide of regulation with Dodd-Frank, hammered financial speculators on the auto rescue, funneled a lot of TARP money into credit unions and even labor union banks, embarked on an ambitious (for the time) direct loan policy, cut off the student loan subsidy to wall street,and created a strong public movement against the special tax treatment of cap gains.

No comparison.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're glossing over the foreclosure fraud scandal. The subprime crisis is peanuts compared to that, in my opinion.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 05:41:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the Obama Administration is neck deep just now, attempting, apparently with some success, to draw into their proposed bank friendly settlement of the suit and investigation brought by multiple state attorneys general the NY State AG, Schneiderman. The settlement would limit the liability of banks without bringing significant reform or a fine commensurate with even a significant fraction of the damage they have inflicted on the public and on the state and local governments. This is en leiu of prosecution of criminal behavior - give 'em a get out of jail free card, virtually, and let the victims go pound sand.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 11:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a great example of what is wrong with "progressive" America.

(1) there has never been an actual settlement - just years of uninformed speculation - you have no idea whether it is bank friendly or not, just a naive reliance on what people with agendas leak.

(2) the decision is not up to the Federal government alone, the state AGs are independent agents

(3) People who actually know something about litigation understand why settling for sub-optimal terms is often a good idea. Particularly when we have the right wing judiciary to consider: the DOJ would have to be fucking stupid not to worry about losing.

(4)nobody who is not participating in the negotiations has any idea about what is on the table and only the various representatives know the difference between stated position and actual position. This is a common "progressive" mistake: staring at the poker table and without looking at the cards panicking about what faces people make.

So you have ZERO IDEA what the Obama administration is doing. You are just making use of circular reasoning to agree with yourself.

by rootless2 on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 11:30:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, once again, no one should be complaining about the actions/lack of actions of the Obama Administration because no one knows anything.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 03:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Close: people should bother to understand the process before complaining.
by rootless2 on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 04:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not necessary to understand all of the intricacies to see that a system is badly flawed and in need of reform, nor that existing leaders are not even giving the appearance of trying, nor to have read every wonkish book available on the political process. Making that assertion is either just being supercilious or just trying to stifle criticism and defend the status quo. I fail to see how that is progressive.  Close.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 01:30:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but understanding that the AGs are not under the direction of the Obama administration and are responsible for state laws, not Federal laws, or that the courts are a dangerously corporate tilted venue, or that negotiators do not always tip all their cards, is not "wonkish". If you want to critique the process, you have to understand the process.
 
by rootless2 on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 09:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I am quite acutely aware of the things you listed.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 12:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great so: "the Obama Administration is neck deep just now, attempting, apparently with some success, to draw into their proposed bank friendly settlement of the suit and investigation brought by multiple state attorneys general the NY State AG, Schneiderman"

is based on what? You are party to the negotiating strategy of the DOJ team? You have the ability to evaluate the terms of a settlement that nobody has seen as "bank friendly" based on what? You know that, despite all indications, DOJ wants to be able to end state investigations via the settlement - how exactly?

I bet you don't know anything at all, but are just using the standard progressive circular logic.

by rootless2 on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 03:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh please. Most of the foreclosure problem is due to people who borrowed too much money to speculate in a boom.
by rootless2 on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 11:22:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A simplistic, blame the victims gloss! Most of the damage was done to people who needed to buy a house during the bubble which was blown by Wall Street fraudsters who commissioned and financed mortgage originators and who financed the process with cheap money from "Bubbles" Greenspan. They were left underwater when prices dropped and then defaulted when one or more family members lost their jobs. But the tip of the spear was the sub-prime, adjustable rate and alternate A loans which were pushed by the Wall Street commissioned mortgage originators even for people who qualified for FHA and other standard loans. Greenspan is on record telling a room full of real estate and mortgage originators that "financial innovation" had a lot of room left to keep the expansion going. You gloss over the massive differential in market knowledge between the originators and the borrowers as well as the incentives for originators to saddle borrowers with expensive and risky loans, even when they could have qualified for better terms.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 11:39:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course there was a lot of unsavory lending and duplicitous terms. But the proximate reason the larger economy is stalled is that the consumer buying and housing demand fueled by unsustainable pyramid scheme debt came to an end. The crappy paperwork handling of mortgage agents has little to do with it.
by rootless2 on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 12:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a wave of foreclosures and then there is foreclosure fraud (e.g., foreclosing on people who never borrowed to buy their home, forging documents, stacking courts...).

I'm talking about the latter, and you misdirect with the former.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 at 10:58:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've a feeling that excessive fees may be even more of a problem, but I'm not sure if we'll ever know.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 at 11:16:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a lot of systemic problems. But the gist of rootless' position is that since the rot is systemic, with Obama in the White House we have the best POTUS we can reasonably expect to have, which seems like a strangely Panglossian view. You think this is bad, but we live in the best of all possible worlds!

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 at 11:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, the Obama team has reversed the tide of regulation with Dodd-Frank...

ObamA called for legislation when he had in his hands in January '09 the power to extract concessions from the bankers while they were clearly on life support. Then he abandoned the entire process to the legislative process and allowed the provisions of Dodd-Frank to be picked apart by lobbyists, including deleting provisions that would have protected investors in the MF Global fiasco. At this point it is questionable if Dodd-Frank will do much, if anything, to tighten regulation of finance and what is there is due to the perseverance of the legislators, not to pressure from the Obama Administration. So let us give credit where credit, if any, is due.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 11:25:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's such a naive idea of how legislative negotiations work. I really recommend Mettler's Submerged State for the very rare actual reporting on what happened.

And, it's also very annoying to keep seeing this "progressive" insistence that their hobbyhorse on bank regulations is more important than anything else: more important than getting a handle on the military so that the Iraq war could be wound down, more important than student loans, more important than health care reform, more important than anything, because WAAA!

 

by rootless2 on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 11:33:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
because WAAA!

NO! Because we live in a capitalist society and control in that society is exercised through the big banks, which have effectively captured the legislative and executive branches and are using that control to further their looting of the society and that process can only end badly. The other items you mention are secondary consequences of run-amok finance. You are the one who wants to to treat symptoms, not the infection.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 03:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So regulating banks would have withdrawn US troops from Iraq or regulating banks was more important and US soldiers who would have died in Iraq while the more important issue was solved should have accepted the cost?
by rootless2 on Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 04:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Had we not allowed finance the role it assumed the MIC, fronted by Cheney, would have had far less power to lead the country on our misconceived misadventure. The concentration of the MSM into a few voices controlled by financial interests would not have been so relentless, etc. The operation of the system, my understanding of the detailed functioning of which you deplore, was and is predicated on big finance calling the tune - a tune selected by reactionary elites of wealth.

You seem to be attempting to maneuver optimally within that losing environment while I want to change the environment. I do not see how we are likely to do anything but delay the tide of anti-progressive reaction without changing the environment. Fortunately, more people are coming to understand that.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 09:27:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And your theory is that the Obama presidency could have reversed the 40 year financialization of the US economy and overthrown the power of wealthy elites with one bold legislative stroke in 2009, based on the popular support it carried in from some vague promises about change? And not only that, you are disappointed that the Obama administration did not seize the moment that you claim was there, to implement this radical program?

Wow! You are an optimist. I had a completely different idea of the "moment". My idea was that the best we could hope for was a pause in the slide toward fascism and that during that pause, there might be a slim opportunity to organize popular support for a step back from the brink.

by rootless2 on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 09:38:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having the federal government swallowed by finance WAS the brink. January 2009 may have been the last best opportunity to roll it back. We are in the belly of the beast and all that happens with the passage of time is that we get further digested. I would rather kill the beast, or at least try.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 12:29:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hate that "at least try" because I think it really means "make a noisy stand, get defeated, and feel righteous". Maybe cutting the student loan bank subsidy and increasing insurance coverage and enforcing labor laws and exposing tax unfairness all does not feel as tough as yelling about prosecuting banks, but it's got a lot more chance of actually winning something

http://krebscycle.tumblr.com/post/14171228736/slavoj-zizek-for-the-win

by rootless2 on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 05:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had to check what - apart from the article here - he says about the S&L scandal.

Banking System Rotten to the Core | William K Black PhD | FINANCIAL SENSE

I told you I would bring you a message of hope. I will disagree a little bit with a fact pattern about the Reagan administration and re-regulation on Savings and Loans, because that's where I was. I will tell you this: everyone opposed our re-regulation of the industry. The big deregulation bill, the equivalent of the repeal of Glass-Steagall and such, occurred in 1982 and became effective in 1983. By November 1983, we were already re-regulating the Savings and Loan industry. And we were called re-regulators because that was the greatest swear word the Reagan administration believed existed--to call people re-regulators. But this was not partisan--a majority of the members of the House at the time it was controlled by Democrats co-sponsored a resolution saying do not go forward with re-regulation.

Five US Senators who became known as the Keating 5 because the most infamous fraud of that era got them together--and who, by the way, did Charles Keating and that fraud use to recruit the Keating 5? Brought him as a lobbyist to walk the halls of the Senate--a guy named Alan Greenspan. Who also put in writing Lincoln Savings posed no foreseeable risk of loss. It was only the most expensive failure--a 3000 position error. And after he got everything wrong in the most important issues he had ever dealt with, after that fact we named him Chairman of the Federal Reserve because we promote incompetence if it helps the 1%.

The Reagan administration was so outraged that we were closing insolvent Savings and Loans with great political support that the Office of Management and Budget threatened to file a criminal referral against the head of our agency on the grounds that he was closing too many insolvent banks. Do we have that problem recently? You see Geithner out trying to close the big powerful banks? And that Reagan administration tried to appoint two members--there were only three members running the place--so this would've given control to Charles Keating, the most notorious fraudster in the Savings and Loans crisis, who selected two individuals to run the agency that would then not regulate him. One of them got knocked out on ambiguous political grounds and the other I had to blow the whistle to get him to resign in disgrace, but of course they didn't prosecute him.

We can prosecute these frauds.

So deregulation caused the crisis, re-regulation is necessary and prosecution of fraud is part of re-regulation, but it is a constant battle.

I don't see a description of old fashioned righteous regulation. I see a claim that prosecution is a necessary part of re-regulation, then and now. There may or may not be an assumption of pre-80ies old fashioned righteous regulation underpinning his worldview.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "scandal", contra Black, was not due to a few bad apples, but to a systemic change in finance in the USA.

Huh? Black doesn't talk of a few bad apples but of systemic control fraud, that is, widespread criminal behaviour by the management. That is "a systemic change" in finance: in the culture of it, in the practice of it, and in the regulation of it.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 06:26:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of what I meant by mischaracterization.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:59:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, a lot of bad apples. And his control fraud line has nothing to do with actual law.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:55:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that Black is a fabulist. Thus a judgment about Obama's record based on his false reporting is meaningless.

Calling Black a 'fabulist' does not make it so. Black's remit was the S&L Crisis. That was the hot topic that led to the whole investigation and prosecution. His team prosecuted and convicted a significant number of S&L CEOs and corporate officers. Perhaps you think it was wrong to allow him to have done this, as corruption is inevitable, but he did what he was appointed to do. His remit did not extend to Wall Street. The people he did convict were some of the wealthiest and most powerful in their local communities, and, absent law enforcement, would likely have made it to Wall Street. Some probably have anyway. That is not Black's responsibility, sadly.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooh, it was a "hot topic"! You do know, I hope that the DOJ prosecutes small time finance scumbags all the time?

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/February/12-crm-159.html
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/February/12-tax-153.html
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/February/12-tax-153.html
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-civ-084.html
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-crm-080.html
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/00-usao-000.html
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-at-034.html
etc. etc.

I'm sorry, but what I think was wrong was that Black has been able to sell as heroic and righteous his role as a minor figure in a pathetic under the rug sweeping propaganda campaign designed to fool the masses into the belief that the bad guys had been punished.

Black's story is false.You cannot get to a valuable critique of finance capitalism in the current era from a self-promoting fable about the good old days.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a great example of the wonderful RTC era that Black extolls

Perelman first entered what became known as the Savings & Loan crisis in 1988 when along with Gerald J. Ford he bought five insolvent thrifts with $12.2 billion in assets and $5.1 billion in federal aid for $315 million

Pretty nice!

by rootless2 on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 11:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, you cannot tar Black with the issue of the disposition of assets. That was not in his remit. The fact that these assets ended up in the hands of the biggest banks has more to do with the power of the financial industry, the permitting of which is and has been a bi-partisan problem at least since Clinton.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:14:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Elite financial institutions officers engaged in fraud face a dramatically reduced risk of prosecution compared to 20 years ago when financial fraud was far less common.

Right, the reduced risk of getting sweetheart deals like Perelman got makes me weep.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whilst your point about the S&L prosecutions is valid, I think Black is at least entitled to make the point that the Obama administration's record in pursuing prosecutions is lamentable to say the least.

The fact that Black chose to highlight that by making a demonstrably false comparison doesn't undermine that criticism, it simply puts Black into the mainstream of American journalism

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:02:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But it's actually a key point, because rather than this banking scandal being an aberration or the sudden failing of a working system of rule of law, it's actually the normal operation of the system. In fact, even Larry Summers notes that the 2007 bank panic comes as part of a series that includes the S&L panic. What I find enormously deceptive about the story that Black and other "progressives" sell is that it includes a fairy tale about the virtuous nature of the system, somehow betrayed by unusually corrupt bankers and slack prosecutors.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What you're saying, essentially, is that the system has always been the same so criticism of Obama for perpetuating or not fighting it is invalid.

Not a particularly strong point. Certainly not strong enough to warrant the aggressive tone of your language.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:38:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No I am saying nothing of the sort. I'm saying that the criticism offered by Black is duplicitous. There was no serious law enforcement after the S&L crisis. The doctrine of "control fraud" that Black keeps bullshitting about is not an operating legal doctrine in American corporate law - otherwise the entire PE business model would be banned (as it should be). In fact, Black is pushing a highly reactionary right wing fable in the guise of a "progressive" critique and I think the rapturous reception of this right wing drivel as if it were a left wing critique is more interesting than any other part of the story. The fable is that there was some virtuous financial system operating under the stern guise of regulators and prosecutors and if only someone had some balls, we could return to this paradise of the imagination. However, that's a lie. Dear God, that I have to even explain that Ronald Reagan's America was a cesspool of self-dealing and sleaze is truly remarkable.

If you want to critique the Obama administration, you should use a reality based argument. Seizing onto bullshit and then defending it by attacking the motivation of anyone who points out that bullshit is bullshit is a silly project.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:41:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<sigh>

Another example of what I was complaining about.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What you're saying, essentially, is that the system has always been the same so criticism of Obama for perpetuating or not fighting it is invalid.

is that the system has always been the same

No. The system changes constantly. This is the historical view that was, at one time, considered non-controversial on the left.

so criticism of Obama for perpetuating or not fighting it is invalid

No. It would, in fact, be interesting to see a left wing critique of the Obama administration response. However, I find the right wing critique to be uninformative, even when it called a left wing critique.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you be inclined to present such a critique, since you do not consider "put crooks in prison" a valid left-wing objective?

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:33:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crooks in prison takes revolution, not law enforcement. The standard operation of finance capitalism is fraudulent, but not illegal. Let's just consider the well known to be legal method of a PE owned company issuing bonds to pay dividends to the PE investor. That's "control fraud" in its purest form, but it's apparently legal as are the "good faith" decisions of mutual fund managers to put suckers money into those bond issues.

As for a critique of the Obama administration economics policies, there's a very interesting one in Mettler's "Submerged state" although I think more could be done. Of course, one has to note that the Obama administration was NOT elected on a platform of radical change in economic structure - so it's kind of pointless to build a critique which lambastes them for failure to produce an economy system based on radical decentralization of finance and expansion of a democratic public sector - something I'd prefer.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:35:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"All crooks in prison" is not possible, revolution or no revolution.

"Some crooks in prison" can be done with law enforcement.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:37:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Law enforcement is exactly how you put crooks in prison. And if the law appears to be insufficient wrt the criminalisation of duplicitous activities, then an effort can be made to change it - for the next time.

But, whatever, if Obama and the Dems never made any promises...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:26:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the law has been strengthened.

http://www.nelsonmullins.com/DocumentDepot/Balliro_DRI.pdf

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But what's the use if we need a revolution to put crooks in jail?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

As Jake notes, the law will put some crooks in prison. The fundamentally dishonest and exploitative nature of finance capitalism will not be cured, however.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rather than this banking scandal being an aberration or the sudden failing of a working system of rule of law, it's actually the normal operation of the system.

Of course. If all men were angles there would be no need for law enforcement. But they aren't and there is - unless you want a system characterized by lawless behavior and think, somehow, that allowing the control of the flow and disposition of capital doesn't matter in a capitalist society. The more important a sector is to the overall health of the society the more important it is to ensure that it is run within rules designed to take those interests into account. A system to do that is what The New Deal put in place and that system is what has been systematically dismantled through bi-partisan effort over the last 40 years - not that you appear to have noticed.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course I noticed that the Apartheid Welfare System of the New Deal has been dismantled. JK Galbraith, an actual economist who knew something about the New Deal pointed to the paradox that the New Deal policies generated the Republican power base in the white working/middle class- a power based used by the right to dismantle the conditions which produced that class.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:38:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Galbraith referred to "the Apartheid Welfare System"?

Or is that you trolling?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:30:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Galbraith noted that the beneficiaries of the new deal became conservatives.

As for the apartheid part, one merely needs to note that until 1962, 98% of Federal housing funds went to white people.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:56:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So wasn't it rather Civil Rights and LBJ that, at that moment, lost the white working class, and especially the Solid South, to the Republicans? (And not the New deal per se)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:06:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that was it alone - the white suburbs that are the foundation of the modern GOP were the creations of the New Deal housing policies. But whatever the case, the New Deal was a special deal for white America.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:23:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Deal policies became a bad thing when it became clear that the bounty would have to be shared with blacks. So an effect of the success of the civil rights movement was to turn a large chunk of the white working class against government intervention.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 05:07:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure if this is fully accurate - although it's widely stated and I would have agreed until recently. It may be that the demographic change was also important. College educated office workers lack the same ethos of solidarity and the same tradition of industrial unions as factory workers - and the new deal transformed many of the former into the latter.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 05:19:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a hell of a coincidence, and so much of the rhetoric is racially charged.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 05:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously a big part of it, but I'm not sure it's the whole thing. Race is the dark matter of US politics though, whenever you see something changing direction with no apparent cause, it is likely to be race.
 
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 06:16:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I find enormously deceptive about the story that Black and other "progressives" sell is that it includes a fairy tale about the virtuous nature of the system, somehow betrayed by unusually corrupt bankers and slack prosecutors.

Black was clearly critical of the Reagan Administration and its deregulation strategy, as askod's quote of his work shows. And the financial industry began to turn cancerous and to metastasize in the 70s. We did have a much better run and regulated financial system, courtesy of The New Deal, prior to the '70s, so that would have to be the source of any 'fairy tale about the virtuous nature of the system', your characterization.

I would suggest that such virtue that there was owed more to the fact that the business class was preoccupied with making money in a favorable environment and didn't need a return to the financialized disaster that led to the crash of '29. Ad to that the fact that many New Deal politicians were still in Congress and the Administration through the 60s. That changed and right wing libertarian think tanks began polluting the media with deregulation propaganda in the 70s while their reactionary backers began aggressively recruiting and promoting politicians who agreed with this agenda - essentially a return to The Roaring 20s.

This should not be too hard to see, unless you want to conflate William Black, his actions, writings and his colleagues at UMKC and New Economic Perspectives with Reagan Administration policies in order to smear him. Being the only pure leftist is not a path to success.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Being the only pure leftist is not a path to success. "

Nor does it appear consistent with being an Obama supporter. Being the only pure slightly moderate rightist might be, though.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Feb 5th, 2012 at 03:37:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you implying that the Obama administration has been aggressive in its efforts to prosecute those responsible for the financial crisis in global capital markets which came to a head in 2007?
by redstar on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 10:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

Glad I could clear that up for you. But just in case you need further illustration, the argument "Prayers prevented war in the 1940s so the failure of the Obama administration to pray caused wars now" is a false argument, whether or not one applauds the foreign policy of the Obama administration. Or in terms of logic, one can object to "False implies Q" without saying anything about Q.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 11:02:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ah, I think I see the problem.

I don't think there is anyone on ET who doesn't know that the oversight and regulation of the global financial has been a complete joke for a few decades and that is most especially true in the USA.

So, Black's assertion that the S&L fraud were vigorously pursued is something that all here would agree is a fatuous lie somewhat undermined by the historical record. So, equally we might have some sympathy with the using of this "record" as a stick with which to beat the Obama administration is mendacious to say the least.

Nevertheless, where I think many of us would depart from the narrative is the belief that the dishonesty of the comparison exonerates the OA from their apparent refusal to prosecute any of the several hundred deserving culprits in the current fiasco.

Or, more simply, just because Black is an arse doesn't stop Obama being one too

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 11:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok getting somewhere. But "exonerates" is a term I don't get in this discussion. If we want to know why the OA does what it does, "they suck" strikes me as not too illuminating. Maybe there are few prosecutions because it's an enormously complex and time consuming project that takes years to start up. Maybe 30 years of Law and Econ judicial decisions have made prosecutions impossible. Maybe the OA has decided to work on other issues and the states AGs who should have primary jurisdiction don't have resources or political will. Maybe Goldman-Sachs paid off Holder. Maybe Holder is incompetent and Obama is fearful. But if one argued any of these without starting from Black's nonsense, you'd get a very different perspective - one that has a potential to tell you something useful.

From my point of view, prosecutions would be losing political theater. If you gave me a choice, I'd much rather the OA Department of Justice invest time and energy fixing up the nightmare ICE than making show trials on Wall Street - trials I think  they would lose. And I'd much more want the OA to be them to be pushing crowdfunding and expanding SBA and direct funding and the kinds of consumer protection disclosure's than prosecuting. Perhaps there is a case to be made that the OA has let drop a great opportunity to smash wall street in the courts, but I have not seen that case argued - except as with Black, based on a kind of ideological fraud.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just don't find myself caring all that much about what Obama does or doesn't do, it's more or less irrelevant to me, and I always chuckle a bit to see the elite press here in Europe report in such great detail about the goings on in the United States, as if it mattered all that much to us.

It doesn't, unless of course you are an elite looking for validation of your neo-liberal biases.

by redstar on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 at 10:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
William Black is an out and out liar. The "elite felony convictions" in the S&L crisis amounted to a bunch of small fry taking the fall and a scattering of mid level regional bank execs...

Well, if you characterize the CEOs and CFOs of Savings and Loans as small fry, perhaps. But Charles Keating was, at one time, a rising star in politics in Cincinatti, prosecuting Larry Flyn, and he tarred John McCain and four other US Senators with his aggressive attempts to obtain 'regulatory relief'.

The fact that this turned out to only be an embarrassment to McCain and that Black and his team were never in a position to investigate the role of Wall Street banks in the scandal is much more an indication of the extent of the corruption of the government than an indictment of Black.

A term like "out and out liar" requires more than mere assertion.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He says "1000 high level felony convictions" and the example you produce is a guy who (a) got his convictions reversed on appeal and (b) was tied to bigger political powers who escaped any consequences and (c) was a regional scam artist, not a top level banker anyways. Keating was not any bigger a fish than Madoff, for sure.

Black's argument is that the Obama Administration has failed to measure up to the aggressive punishment of wrongdoing that was a crowning glory of Ronald Reagan's tenure. And that argument is a ridiculous pile of untruth.

The S&L debacle helped centralize banking under Wall Street. If your political analysis starts with that as the epitome of justice, you will never get anywhere good.

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Justice has to do with the appropriate handling of cases at hand. Regulation of the structure of the financial industry has to do with politics and policy. Black was involved with justice, not policy. When justice forbears in order to achieve policy goals both policy and justice are compromised.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, Dick Fuld is the greatest example of a slimeball crook who should be in jail. Would it have been easy to convict him? No. Possible? Maybe.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/business/11bear.html

by rootless2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:51:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:03:50 PM EST
Egyptian premier fires football board after deadly soccer riots | World | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

The leadership of the Egyptian Football Association has been fired and the governor of seaside city of Port Said has resigned in the wake of Wednesday's deadly soccer riots that killed 74 people and injured at least 1,000.

Prime Minster Kamal el-Ganzouri told an emergency session of parliament on Thursday that the football association's director and management board had been fired for their responsibility in the violence.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Football stadium violence sparks protests in Cairo - EGYPT - FRANCE 24

REUTERS - Egyptians incensed by the deaths of 74 people in soccer violence clashed with security forces on Thursday during protests against the army-led government for failing to prevent the deadliest incident since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators near the headquarters of the Interior Ministry in Cairo, prompting hundreds to flee. "Down down with military rule," they chanted, many holding aloft pictures of those killed.

State media reported scuffles between members of the security forces and demonstrators who included hardcore soccer fans known for confronting the police and who were on the frontlines of protests against the state in the last year.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt: Port Said football disaster - 2 February 2012 | World news | guardian.co.uk
Egypt: Port Said football disaster - 2 February 2012

* Tear gas reported outside Interior Ministry in Cairo
* Fans believe Port Said football violence linked to politics
* Ultra fans call for protest outside government buildings
* Port Said governor resigns, Egypt's FA dissolved

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Munich Security Conference looks at global upheaval | World | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012
Top officials and military experts from around the world will debate global security issues at the 48th Munich Security Conference. But a new era of disarmament is not in sight despite empty state coffers.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:09:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO missile shield to be based in Germany: diplomat | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

NATO plans to set up the command center for its missile shield at the US military base Ramstein, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

Speaking in Brussels on condition of anonymity, the diplomat said the command center was planned for the Ramstein Air Base, located in the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The missile shield is intended to protect Europe from a potential attack of medium-range missiles. Several European countries will take part in the project. Spain will host US ships with interceptor missiles, while Turkey will be home to an early warning radar system. Poland and Romania have also confirmed their participation.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:15:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A missile shield that has not been demonstrated to work except in the most ideal circumstances is being built to protect us from non-existent threat of missiles.

I don't know whether to be angry or relieved

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO needs to present a creditable defense to protect West Germany from the armor and infantry units of the Red Army pre-staged in East Germany and the other Warsaw Pact countries.

</snark>

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 01:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN's Ban Ki-moon faces angry protesters in Gaza | World | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was met by a crowd of angry Palestinian protesters on Thursday as his convoy attempted to cross into the Gaza Strip.

Demonstrators pelted slippers, sticks and stones at the vehicle, angered that Ban's visit to the region did not include meetings with the families of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Signs reading "Ban Ki-moon, enough bias to Israel" were held by some 40 relatives of the Gaza prisoners before the vehicle pushed through the crowd, entering Hamas-ruled territory.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:15:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistani prime minister faces Supreme Court contempt hearing | Asia | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

Pakistan's Supreme Court announced it will charge Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with contempt of court for his failure to reopen an old corruption case against the country's president.

If convicted, Gilani could lose his office and serve up to six months in jail.

Gilani told the press on Thursday he will appear before the court on February 13, when he is scheduled to be charged.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain names first Somali ambassador in 21 years | World | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has made the first visit by a British foreign minister to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in over 20 years. During the trip, Hague named Britain's first ambassador to Somalia since 1991.

Matt Baugh, who previously held the post as Britain's senior representative to Somalia, will work from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, until the security situation in Somalia allows for a proper embassy to be opened, Hague said.

Hague's surprise trip comes in the run-up to a global conference on Somalia that will be hosted in London on February 23. He said his visit was a "sign of Britain's commitment to the people and country of Somalia."

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Evidently somebody in the government really really hates Matt Baugh.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:13:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well at least he gets to hang out in Nairobi. If they really hated him they would have demanded that he work in Mogadishu.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:49:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO ministers mull early combat withdrawal - AFGHANISTAN - FRANCE 24

Hours before a two-day NATO meeting on Afghanistan started in Brussels Thursday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the shock announcement that his country plans to wind down combat operations in 2013.

The Brussels talks among top NATO officials were set to focus on possible adjustments to the alliance's Afghanistan strategy. But the harbingers of a strategy shift were sounding hours before NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen opened the Thursday summit- with Panetta's announcement on a flight from a Andrews Air Force base in Maryland to the Belgian capital.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN considers revised Syria resolution - SYRIA - FRANCE 24

AP - U.N. Security Council ambassadors on Thursday were considering a revised resolution aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria that removes an explicit reference to President Bashar Assad stepping aside.

The latest draft, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, still "fully supports" the Arab League's Jan. 22 decision to "facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system."

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mining company fires 13,000 after strike - SOUTH AFRICA - FRANCE 24

AFP - Impala Platinum, the world's number two producer, on Thursday fired 13,000 miners who went on an illegal strike in South Africa, the company said in a statement.

"Approximately 13,000 mining employees who participated in the illegal work stoppage at Impala Rustenburg... have been dismissed," parent company Implats said.

Miners downed tools on Monday demanding higher wages, grounding operations to a halt. Workers had been given until Wednesday to return to the job, the statement added.

Over the past month, the Johannesburg-based company has sacked a total of about 17,200 workers at its mine in the northwestern town of Rustenburg -- more than half of the 30,000 people employed in the town.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:49:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has been a while since I've dabbled with the platinum industry, but as far as I know the mining sector hasn't been performing too well past few years. Probably could use striking workers like a dose of toothache.

It's quite possible that the company will take on the same workers it just sacked - but after having been sacked, offered wages would possibly be lower than what they were even before the strike... With that route, the mineworkers union, will have left little to stand on.

by Nomad on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 06:52:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Company towns are pretty much at the mercy of the company, especially if the company has a substantial cash reserve.
by Andhakari on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kabila's party and allies win parliamentary majority - DR CONGO - FRANCE 24

AFP - DR Congo President Joseph Kabila's party and its allies won a parliamentary majority in November elections, results showed Thursday, some two months after polls slammed by the opposition and observers.

The ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and its allies captured an absolute majority of about 260 seats in the 500-seat National Assembly while the opposition took about 110 seats, according to figures released by the electoral commission.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:50:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From CNN.
Business before animosity: Three Iranian businessmen are expected to attend Agritech Israel 2012, where they will buy advanced agricultural equipment, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.

Set for mid May, Agritech - the 18th International Agricultural Technology Exhibition - is one of the world's leading exhibitions in the field of agricultural technologies. The three-day show will be held in Tel Aviv.

According to the report, the three Tehran-based businessmen - who have dual passports - have contacted the expo's organizers and expressed interest in attending the exhibition and purchasing hothouse equipment.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:04:09 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Wind Energy / Wind energy: Good or bad?
BRUSSELS - It is not all roses in the world of wind energy. Against those who believe it is the key to a future of renewable, clean energy, there are those who believe it is "the work of the devil" - in the words of British eurosceptic MEP Godfrey Bloom. It is a lively debate and there is a lot at stake.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:22:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reminded of a cartoon I saw recently

Big Energy CEO speaking;-

You want oil and gas ? We own the wells.
You want coal ? We own the mines.
You want nuclear ? We own the uranium.
You want wind power ? We own th..ahhh... wind power isn't feasible

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:20:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Environment / EU funds spent on 'environmentally harmful' projects

BRUSSELS - Waste incinerators instead of recycling, highways running through nature parks, airports in protected areas - 33 projects in central and eastern Europe funded with €16 billion out of the EU's regional policy coffers are "environmentally harmful", says a study published on Thursday (2 February) by Friends of the Earth Europe and Bankwatch, a coalition of environmental NGOs.

"These 33 projects are economically dubious, socially harmful and in breach of environmental law," Markus Trilling from Friends of the Earth Europe said during a press briefing.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:23:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Waste incinerators are wonderful devices for transporting destabilized toxins into the air and water, adding carbon pollution, and permanently removing potential resources from the waste stream. There's nothing like a fly ash landfill to transport poisons into an aquifer, and putting cadmium and mercury into a municipal environment via the stacks is a piece of cake.
by Andhakari on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 07:58:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New generation of nuclear reactors could consume radioactive waste as fuel | Environment | The Guardian

A new generation of "fast" nuclear reactors could consume Britain's radioactive waste stockpile as fuel, providing enough low-carbon electricity to power the country for more than 500 years, according to figures confirmed by the chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).

Britain's large stockpile of nuclear waste includes more than 100 tonnes of plutonium and 35,000 tonnes of depleted uranium. The plutonium in particular presents a security risk as a potential target for terrorists and will cost billions to dispose of safely. The government is currently considering options for disposing of or managing it.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:52:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wiki
The reactor's criticality responds within the flight time of the neutrons across the core. Design of a fast reactor is therefore more demanding, because there is no moderator whose thermal or mechanical behavior can adjust the reactor. Fast reactors cannot be reliably stabilized with control rods, which are too slow.

oh good, so we have a reactor which can go critical in the blink of an eye if the control system fails. And we're supposed to believe this can be manufactured and maintained perfectly for a century.

vitrify and dump it in the oceans, cos when the great population crash comes, this planet will be up shit creek if we haven't dealt with it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 03:32:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Breeders are a deus ex machina, the same way Yucca Mountain has been in America. It's the non-existent dream of the future which justifies the nuclear pollution we create today. The nuclear energy industry rests on a foundation of such future promises. Without them there can't be any justification for creating mountains of insidious pernicious civilization destroying pollution just to boil water.
by Andhakari on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:06:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like thermal reactors, fast neutron reactors are controlled by keeping the criticality of the reactor reliant on delayed neutrons, with gross control from neutron-absorbing control rods or blades.

They cannot, however, rely on changes to their moderators because there is no moderator. So Doppler broadening in the moderator, which affects thermal neutrons, does not work, nor does a negative void coefficient of the moderator. Both techniques are very common in ordinary light water reactors.

Doppler broadening from the molecular motion of the fuel, from its heat, can provide rapid negative feedback. The molecular movement of the fissionables themselves can tune the fuel's relative speed away from the optimal neutron speed. Thermal expansion of the fuel itself can also provide quick negative feedback. Small reactors such as those used in submarines may use doppler broadening or thermal expansion of neutron reflectors.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 08:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Bob's Your Uncle" Technology warning!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:05:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fast breeder reactor: been there, done that, not finished paying the costs...

Superphénix - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Design work began in 1968, the same year as construction began for the smaller-scale LMFBR Phénix, following the abandonment of the graphite-gas designs. The fast breeder design was chosen in the face of fears of disruption to the supply of other fuels; the "plutonium economy" seemed viable if oil prices stayed high and uranium supplies dwindled. Construction was approved in 1972 and lasted from 1974 to 1981, but power production did not begin until 1985. Costs rose rapidly during construction.

Power production was halted in December 1996 for maintenance. However, following a court case led by opponents of the reactor, on February 28, 1997 the Conseil d'État (Supreme State Administrative Court) ruled that a 1994 decree, authorizing the restart of Superphénix, was invalid. In June 1997, one of the first actions of Lionel Jospin on becoming Prime Minister was to announce the closure of the plant "because of its excessive costs". Jospin's government included Green ministers; pro-nuclear critics have argued that Jospin's decision was motivated by political motives (i.e., to please his Green political allies) rather than rational considerations. However, the reactor did not produce electricity most of the time in its last ten years because of malfunctions[4] (in fact it was consuming substantial power to maintain sodium above melting temperature).
by Bernard on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 12:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUObserver: Deja vu as Russia gas cuts hit eight more EU countries


BRUSSELS - Eight EU countries have joined Italy in noting a sharp drop in Russian gas supplies, in events recalling the massive 2009 crunch.

Gazprom deliveries to Austria and Slovakia reportedly fell by 30 percent on Thursday (2 February). Shipments to Poland fell 7 percent and Czech distributor RWE Transgaz said deliveries are "several" percent lower than normal.

The European Commission on Friday added that Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Romania have also been affected.

The cuts began in Italy on Tuesday. Earlier this week it reported a 10 percent drop, but the figure hit 20 percent on Thursday.

Member states created special reserves after the 2009 gas crunch - which cost EU firms hundreds of millions of euros and which saw blackouts in some former Communist EU countries in the middle of a harsh winter.

But there are signs the 2012 crunch could also get nasty.



Vencit omnia veritas.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 04:29:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SF Gate - UCSF scientists declare war on sugar in food

Americans eat and drink roughly 22 teaspoons of sugar every day - triple what they consumed three decades ago - and most people aren't even aware of the various ways sugars sneak into their diets, often via breads and cereals and processed foods. Terms that identify sugars on labels include sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey.
by sgr2 on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 02:36:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:04:28 PM EST
Swedish court denies final appeal to Pirate Bay founders | Sci-Tech | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

Sweden's Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday not to hear the appeal of four founders of controversial The Pirate Bay website, the world's largest clearinghouse of peer-to-peer BitTorrent filesharing.

Carl Lundstöm, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde were denied appeal. Together with fellow founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, who was ill and did not attend the appeal, the four men now face prison sentences of between 4 and 10 months and a combined fine of 46 million kroner ($6.8 million).

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish art museum shows off first copy of Mona Lisa | Art & Architecture | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2012

A Mona Lisa copy owned by Spain's Prado Museum was almost certainly painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci's apprentices. And, what's more, it all occurred under the watchful eye of the master himself, officials at the Madrid-based museum say.

Miguel Falomir, curator of Italian painting at the Prado, said that expert analysis on the piece, including the use of infrared scanning, suggests that "the painting was done in the painter's own workshop.

"It is absolutely consistent with Leonardo's work," he added. But, Falomir is convinced, "It is a work in which Leonardo himself did not intervene."

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:19:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Throwing food at politicians: A national French pastime | Les blogs

Emerging from a cloud of carefully-targeted baking flour at a campaign meeting on Wednesday, presidential frontrunner François Hollande shouldn't have been all too surprised. He's not the first French politician to fall victim to a one-sided food fight. Both Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-socialist candidate Ségolène Royal have had cream pies thrown in their faces, and former PM Lionel Jospin once came under attack from a tube of Ketchup.


In fact, the practice is so common here that actual verbs exist to tell the tale, depending on the "weapon" in question. Quite impressive for a language that actively fights the English practice of turning nouns into verbs...

 

Entartrer: "Cream-pied"

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:46:57 PM EST
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by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:04:45 PM EST
DNA tests on mauled deer give wild cat theorists paws for thought | UK news | The Guardian

It had been hoped that tests carried out on the remains of a deer found on National Trust land would prove once and for all that big cats are roaming the British countryside.

But extensive DNA tests commissioned by the trust have concluded the only beast that made a meal of the roe deer that met its bloody end at Woodchester Park in Gloucestershire was a boring old fox.

Dr Robin Allaby, associate professor at the school of life sciences at the University of Warwick, who did the testing, made the anti-climactic announcement on Thursday morning.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:53:35 PM EST
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Presseurop: Beijing tells Merkel "to do her homework"
From Germany's point of view, China could play a key role with its 3.2 trillion dollars of foreign currency reserves. However, Frankfurter Rundschau points out that the People's Republic will expect a gesture from Europe in return: for example -
EU recognition of China's status as a market economy, which would make it more difficult for European companies to take action against unfair competition or price dumping.
As a result, Handelsblatt remarks: the Chancellor, who can claim to be the leader that the Chinese believe "has taken charge of the drive to restore the euro," had no opportunity to promote bi-lateral relations as she had planned, and will now have to wait for further meetings later in the year to extract promises from the Chinese Prime Minister.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 09:14:40 AM EST
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