Four years after the banking system nearly collapsed from reckless mortgage lending, federal prosecutors have stayed on the sidelines, even as judges around the country are pointing fingers at possible wrongdoing.by Scot Paltrow
December 22, 2011
Freddie Mac Profits If Homeowners Unable to Refinanceby David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff
January 31, 2012
Borrowing a page from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks that bet against investments sold to investors, mortgage giant Freddie Mac is banking that Americans won't be able to refinance their homes—even though making refinancing easier is one of the taxpayer-owned operation's primary missions.
An investigation by ProPublica and NPR News found that Freddie Mac has been betting against refinancing opportunities since late 2010, which was around the same time it started to make it harder for homeowners to get out of high-interest mortgages...Old mortgages rise from the dead, haunt homeownersby Michelle Conlin
January 26, 2012
In July 2009, Roy and Sheila Bowers refinanced the mortgage on their suburban ranch home in Topeka, Kansas. The couple wanted to take advantage of the low interest rates that were all the rage at the time.
Roy, a truck driver, and Sheila, a former hotel housekeeping supervisor, knew their new loan from Wells Fargo would enable them to save $198.86 a month — a nice chunk to help with gas and groceries.
But what the Bowers never imagined was that their old loan, the one Wells Fargo told them was paid off, would resurrect itself, trashing their credit report, scotching their son's student loans and throwing the whole family into foreclosure. All, they say, even though they didn't miss a single mortgage payment.
The Bowers are not alone...Alan Greenspan's ship of foolsby Dean Baker
January 18, 2012
The Fed's FOMC is supposed to steer the US economy to prosperity. As we now see, it was completely rudderless in 2006
In keeping with its policy of releasing transcripts with a five-year lag, the Federal Reserve Board recently released the transcripts from its 2006 Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. There is much there to cause pain and amusement...The Foreclosure Crisis: A Government in Denialby Bruce Judson
New Deal 2.0
January 9, 2012
As we start the New Year, the executive branch and Congress continue to pretend the gravest risk to our economy and social stability does not exist: the ongoing foreclosure crisis. The financial crisis began with the housing crisis and it will not end until we resolve housing. Government policymakers who seemingly ignore this basic fact are leading the nation to another potential catastrophe.
This past week, a number of important events occurred in Washington, including important recess appointments by President Obama. However, the most noteworthy event did not make front page news: the Federal Reserve's (apparently) unsolicited memo to the committees of Congress that oversee financial services warning of the dangers the current housing market poses for the economy.
This represents an extraordinary action and underscores both the seriousness of the continuing crisis and the absence of meaningful discussion of the problem in Washington. Bernanke's memo reviewed federal actions to date and effectively concluded that they were unlikely to solve this national tragedy...
The Foreclosure-to-Rental Screwjob
by Mike Whitney
January 14, 2012
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke wants US taxpayers to purchase more of the garbage loans and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that the big banks still have on their books. (Cash for trash) That's the impetus behind the Fed's 26-page white paper that was delivered to Congress last Wednesday. The document outlines the Fed's plan for ‘stabilizing the housing market', which is a phrase that Bernanke employs when he wants to provide more buy-backs, giveaways, subsidies and other corporate welfare to big finance.
"Restoring the health of the housing market is a necessary part of a broader strategy for economic recovery," Bernanke opined in a letter to the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees.
Indeed. The housing depression continues into its 5th year with no end in sight, mainly because the people who created the crisis are still in positions of power. And, they're still offering the same remedies, too, like handing the banks another blank check to save them from losses on their bad bets. That's what this new "housing stabilization" boondoggle is really all about, bailing out the bankers...
Jobless? Face It: Obama's Not That Into Youby Ted Rall
Remember the $700 billion bailout that prompted rage from right to left? Which inspired millions to join the Tea Party and the Occupy movements? Turns out that that was a mere drop in the bucket, less than a tenth of what the Federal Reserve Bank doled out to the big banks.
Bloomberg Markets Magazine reports a shocking story that emerged from tens of thousands of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act: by March 2009, the Fed shelled out $7.77 trillion "to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year."
The U.S. national debt is currently a record $14 trillion.
We knew that the Fed and the White House were pawns of Wall Street. What's new is the scale of the conspiracy...
This stinks. It's terrible economics. And it's unbelievably cruel...
Every man, woman in child in the United States would have received $24,000.
A family of four would have gotten $96,000.
And that's without an income test.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 100 million American citizens—one of out of three—subsists below or just above the official poverty line. Demographers, statisticians and economists were stunned. "These numbers are higher than we anticipated," Trudi J. Renwick, the bureau's chief poverty statistician, told The New York Times. "There are more people struggling than the official numbers show."...
There isn't any money to help you.
We don't have the budget.
You can't get the bank to call you back about refinancing, much less the attention of your Congressman.
But not if you're a banker.
Bankers get their calls returned. They get anything they want.
There's always a budget for them...California Refuses to Accept Obama's Banking Selloutby By Robert Scheer
There is no three-strikes law for crooked bankers, not even a law for a fifth strike, as The New York Times reported in the case of Citigroup, cited last month in a $1 billion fraud case. Unlike the California third-striker I once wrote about whom a district attorney wanted banished forever to state prison for stealing a piece of pizza from the plate of a person dining outdoors, Citigroup executives get off with a fine and by offering a promise not to do it again, and again and again.
As the Times reported when Citigroup agreed to settle SEC charges last month: "Citigroup's main brokerage subsidiary, its predecessors or its parent company agreed to not violate the very same antifraud statue in July 2010. And in May 2006. Also as far back as March 2005 and April 2000."
Not that the bankers face prison time, since the Justice Department has refused to act in these cases, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is bringing only civil charges, which the banks find quite tolerable. This time, the fine against Citigroup was $285 million, which may sound like a lot except that the bank raked off as much as $700 million on this particular toxic securities deal. As the Bloomberg news service editorialized, "... there should be only one answer from Jed S. Rakoff, the federal judge in New York assigned to weigh the merits of the agreement: You've got to be kidding."
Not to pick on Citigroup, the too-big-to-fail bank that Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin helped make legal before he was paid off with a $126 million job on Wall Street; that corporation was not the only serial offender. "Citigroup has a lot of company in this regard on Wall Street," the Times noted, "nearly all of the biggest financial companies-Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America among them-have settled fraud cases by promising that they would never again violate an antifraud law, only to have the SEC conclude they did it again a few years later."
So forget relying on the federal government to hold the Wall Street swindlers accountable. Indeed, the Obama administration has been involved in negotiating a deal with state attorneys general to settle their complaints with the banks for a pittance of compensation for the victims. In return, the states would promise not to institute further legal proceedings against the banks.
The fix was in for what a New York Times editorial on Tuesday headlined "Letting the Banks Off Easy" described as "paltry" mortgage relief, reducing by less than $20 billion the balances of 14.5 million underwater homeowners who are "drowning in some $700 billion of negative equity." The deal has been stalled by the refusal of California Attorney General Kamala Harris to accept this sellout. Among its other disastrous concessions would be ending further investigation by the states into financial skulduggery connected with the housing meltdown.
In September, Harris, elected in a Democratic sweep of the state's top offices in 2010, went against the dictates of the Democrat in the White House, stating that she refused to release the banks from legal liability for the mortgage crisis. That is the nub of the pending White House-brokered deal with the banks. As the Times summarized it: "The proposed settlement reportedly would prevent the states from pursuing claims against banks relating to fraud or abuse in the origination of the bubble. It would also prevent states from pursuing claims for foreclosure abuses, like improper denial of loan modifications."
Traditionally the states provided the essential regulation of mortgage origination, ownership and sales as a transparent process duly recorded and subject to public examination at the county level. But in order to facilitate the gathering of those mortgages into the sort of collateralized debt obligations that the banks could then bet on and trade worldwide, homeownership became a murky matter. Many of the mortgages now in question, including the ones that Citigroup's "synthetic" derivative was based on, are no longer owned by the banks that originated them. They are instead part of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) database, owned by a consortium of banks and residing in computers in Reston, Va.
The MERS system is described by the Times as "a land registry system implicated in bubble-era violations of tax, trust and property law." The Obama-supported settlement would make it very difficult if not impossible to investigate at long last the workings of MERS and other systemic sources of what is now a full-blown international economic crisis. As the Times editorial put it, "In effect, the legal waivers being contemplated would let the banks pay up to sweep wrongdoing under the rug."
Thankfully, we have a few state attorneys general, most prominently California's Harris, standing up for the American people, but it is outrageous that a president who avowedly committed to defending the public interest would now be subverting that effort rather than leading it.Occupy Wall Street on the Moveby Ralph Nader
Published on Thursday, October 27, 2011 by CommonDreams
We know that the Occupy people want to keep their opposition on a general level of informed outrage and not get to the specific policy level. Fine. The 535 people in Congress, who put their shoes on every day like we do, are quite susceptible to a fast rising rumble from the people. They don't need specifics. They know all about the savagely avaricious corporate paymasters and their swarming lobbyists on Capitol Hill wanting ever more varieties of goodies and less corporate law enforcement. What they need to know is that you've got their number and that people are fed up and on the move.
More members of Congress than one might expect, with their finger to the wind, start readjusting their antennas when they sense voter agitation. It is just that for years, there has been nary a breeze from that crucial source, while the corporatists have had their party year after year with their governmental toadies on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Make no mistake; support for the power shift espoused by the 99 percent movement is now only a breeze but a windstorm is coming. The protesters are feeling their way — demonstrating before big banks and closing out their accounts in favor of smaller community banks. Protests in front of the Manhattan mansions of the superrich from the big media and the big hedge funds also make sense...
This vanguard of larger protests to come is building on the personal stories of desperate but failed attempts to find work; stories of heart-breaking inability to pay for healthcare for themselves or their families'; stories of being defrauded of their pensions, their tax dollars, their savings and their rights. They demand accountability for the culprits who lied, stole and got away with it destroying the economy. And they want Congress to never bailout the Wall Street crooks, swindlers and speculators with taxpayer dollars.Shining the light of the 99 percenters on the operations base of the corporate supremacists and their Congressional minions in one location after another both empowers and further informs those Americans who are seeing that showing up is half of democracy.
Why Not Occupy Newsrooms?by David Carr
The New York Times
October 23, 2011
The week before the editorial ran, Craig A. Dubow resigned as Gannett's chief executive. His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett's stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.
Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.
Given that legacy, it was about time Mr. Dubow was shown the door, right? Not in the current world we live in. Not only did Mr. Dubow retire under his own power because of health reasons, he got a mash note from Marjorie Magner, a member of Gannett's board, who said without irony that "Craig championed our consumers and their ever-changing needs for news and information."
But the board gave him far more than undeserved plaudits. Mr. Dubow walked out the door with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits. That comes on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years.
And in case you thought they were paying up just to get rid of a certain way of doing business — slicing and dicing their way to quarterly profits — Mr. Dubow was replaced by Gracia C. Martore, the company's president and chief operating officer. She was Mr. Dubow's steady accomplice in working the cost side of the business, without finding much in the way of new revenue. She has already pocketed millions in bonuses and will now be in line for even more.
Forget about occupying Wall Street; maybe it's time to start occupying Main Street, a place Gannett has bled dry by offering less and less news while dumping and furloughing journalists in seemingly every quarter...Thoughts on Occupy Wall Streetby Al Gore
October 12, 2011
For the past several weeks I have watched and read news about the Occupy Wall Street protests with both interest and admiration. I thought The New York Times hit the nail on the head in an editorial Sunday:
"The message - and the solutions - should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening."
"At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity."
From the economy to the climate crisis our leaders have pursued solutions that are not solving our problems, instead they propose policies that accomplish little. With democracy in crisis a true grassroots movement pointing out the flaws in our system is the first step in the right direction. Count me among those supporting and cheering on the Occupy Wall Street movement.
You can support the protests by clicking here.My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street ProtestersHit bankers where it hurtsby Matt Taibbi
October 12, 2011
(This story is from the October 27, 2011 issue of RollingStone.)
I've been down to "Occupy Wall Street" twice now, and I love it. The protests building at Liberty Square and spreading over Lower Manhattan are a great thing, the logical answer to the Tea Party and a long-overdue middle finger to the financial elite. The protesters picked the right target and, through their refusal to disband after just one day, the right tactic, showing the public at large that the movement against Wall Street has stamina, resolve and growing popular appeal...
There just isn't going to be an iconic "Running Girl" photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or Bank of America - just 62 million Americans with zero or negative net worth, scratching their heads and wondering where the hell all their money went and why their votes seem to count less and less each and every year.
No matter what, I'll be supporting Occupy Wall Street. And I think the movement's basic strategy - to build numbers and stay in the fight, rather than tying itself to any particular set of principles - makes a lot of sense early on. But the time is rapidly approaching when the movement is going to have to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street. To do that, it will need a short but powerful list of demands. There are thousands one could make, but I'd suggest focusing on five:
1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called "Too Big to Fail" financial companies - now sometimes called by the more accurate term "Systemically Dangerous Institutions" - are a direct threat to national security...
2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts...
3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer's own money to lobby against him.
4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires...
5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later...
If Occupy Wall Street can do that - if it can speak to the millions of people the banks have driven into foreclosure and joblessness - it has a chance to build a massive grassroots movement...Confronting the Malefactorsby Paul Krugman
The New York Times
October 6, 2011
There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people...Wall Street protests: A good place to startBy Bernie Sanders
The Boston Globe
October 6, 2011
The protest movement called Occupy Wall Street has struck a nerve. The demonstrators' goals may be vague, but their grievances are very real. If our country is to break out of this horrendous recession and create the millions of jobs we desperately need, if we are going to create a financially-stable future, we must take a hard look at Wall Street and demand fundamental reforms. I hope the protesters provide the spark that ignites that process.
The truth is that millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings because of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street. Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke agreed when I questioned him this week at a Joint Economic Committee hearing that that there was "excessive risk taking" by Wall Street. Bernanke also said the protesters "with some justification" hold the financial sector responsible for "getting us into this mess" and added, "I can't blame them."
The demonstrators and millions of sympathetic Americans understand that odds are stacked in Wall Street's favor because of the extraordinary economic and political clout of the big banks. Believe it or not, the country's six largest financial institutions (Bank of America, CitiGroup, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs) now have amassed assets equal to more than 60 percent of our gross domestic product. The four largest banks issue two-thirds of all credit cards, half of all mortgages, and hold nearly 40 percent of all bank deposits. Incredibly, after we bailed out the behemoth banks that were "too big to fail," three out of the four are now even bigger than before the financial crisis..."I've been waiting for something like this to happen," Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee chair and governor of Vermont, told The National Memo. "Wall Street is an institution that is not serving the country well. Because of their financial practices, money's not getting invested in the long-term creation of jobs. They basically have turned Wall Street into a gambling casino. Credit default swaps, about 95 percent of that is speculation. So I'm glad to see all these young people on Wall Street."
On the Occupy Wall Street ‘media blackout'by Nathan Schneider
October 2, 2011
Among those part of and concerned with the Occupy Wall Street movement, it's very common to hear complaints about the lack of mainstream media coverage. There's even a sign at the occupation's media center that says, "Welcome to the media blackout." To a large extent, the blackout is real. The New York Times and other local papers didn't give the movement headlines until almost a week in, with the exception of a cover story in Metro that first Wednesday. And, while several local TV stations were at Liberty Plaza during the first week, their reports weren't being picked up by national affiliates. Only recently has this begun to change.
Online, there have been accusations of outright censorship. Yahoo has admitted to "not intentional" blocking of emails with links to occupywallst.org, blaming their spam filter. (This excuse is not widely believed, but plausible-I've seen the site trigger non-Yahoo spam filters as well.) Twitter has similarly blocked #occupywallstreet from being listed as a trending topic. (This may be because it keeps being throttled by Anonymous bots-or, more conspiratorially, because a considerable stake in the company is owned by JPMorgan Chase, which also just donated $4.5 million to the NYPD.)
Really, though, what do you expect? Resistance movements should not count on coverage by establishment news outlets, much less favorable coverage. Mainstream media are usually a part of a movement's opponent, and they certainly are in this case. The movement's job, then, is to make its actions so irresistible that the media have to cover it, despite themselves. In an instructive essay about her experience doing media relations during the fight for civil rights in the 1960s, Mary King writes:
"Attentive news coverage can never be taken for granted or assumed. It must be won. Gaining the attention of the news industry is one of the central functions that must be planned by a nonviolent movement that hopes to succeed."
In this respect, Occupy Wall Street is already succeeding..."This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers' healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people's lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.Police Arrest About 400 Protesters on Brooklyn BridgeBy Al Baker and Colin Moynihan
The New York Times
BREAKING NEWS— updated 10-1-2011 at 8:00 PM EST
In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested about 400 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
The police did not immediately release precise arrest figures, but said it was the choice of those marchers that led to the swift enforcement.
"Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge walkway were not arrested," said the head police spokesman, Paul J. Browne. "Those who took over the Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested."
But many protesters said that they thought the police had tricked and trapped them, allowing them onto the bridge and even escorting them across, only to surround them in orange netting after hundreds of them had entered.
"The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us on to the roadway," said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street who was in the march but was not arrested.
Things came to a head shortly after 4 p.m., as the 1,500 or so marchers reached the foot of the Brooklyn-bound car lanes of the bridge, just east of City Hall. In their march north from an encampment at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, they had stayed on the sidewalks - forming a long column of humanity penned in by officers on scooters...
Who will occupy Wall Street on September 17?
by Nathan Schneider
September 13, 2011
When the culture-jamming activist group Adbusters put out a call on July 13 for "20,000 people" to "flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months," it never said who those people would be. Now, the question on the minds of everyone from the Department of Homeland Security to the Lower East Side anarchist set is just who and how many will actually show up.
The simplest cop-out of an answer is to say that nobody exactly knows. To an extent, it's true. The large, established, membership groups-unions, lobbies, etc.-have kept quiet about it, so their rank-and-file can't be counted on en masse. There's no central planning committee, no permit with the city, and not even an official website, so there's no obvious person to ask for a prediction or a figure. (Adbusters continues to say 20,000, though its role in organizing is, according to Senior Editor Micah White, solely "philosophical.") Saturday, among other things, will be a test of the scattered American grassroots-their ability to mobilize against the outsized power of corporate elites, and their inclination to do so.
Some on the right-wing's most lunatic of fringes have taken advantage of the information vacuum with headlines declaring "Wall Street Targeted for Britain-Style Riots" (along with thoroughly fictitious links to ACORN, SEIU, and even President Obama), a claim which has already turned into a fundraising scheme for Republican political candidates. Imaginative, but false...
And then there's the internet. Ever since the news began circulating that Anonymous hacktivists would take part, there has been a lot of speculation online about what they might actually do. One hint comes in the form of Operation Lighthouse, "a fully legal operation in support of the wall street occupation on the 17th" which, in its promotional video, is branded as an Anonymous project. It has also been billed as a revival of New York's embattled Critical Mass bike ride. According to the website, though, "The @oplighthouse (Twitter) account was suspended shortly after the operation was publicly announced." Fully legal or not, someone is on to it...
The Kingdom and the Towers
by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
Was there a foreign government behind the 9/11 attacks? A decade later, Americans still haven't been given the whole story, while a key 28-page section of Congress's Joint Inquiry report remains censored. Gathering years of leaks and leads, in an adaptation from their new book, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan examine the connections between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers (15 of whom were Saudi), the Bush White House's decision to ignore or bury evidence, and the frustration of lead investigators-including 9/11-commission staffers, counterterrorism officials, and senators on both sides of the aisle.
The Crisis Enters Year Five
Richard D. Wolff is professor of economics at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The US budget for Fiscal Year 2011 is scheduled to spend $ 3.5 trillion while taking in $2.0 in taxes. It is borrowing the other $ 1.5 trillion - the deficit - and thereby adding to the US national Debt (already over $ 14 trillion, roughly the same as the annual output - GDP -of the US). Such massive borrowing is what got Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and other countries into their current massive crises. The "great debate" between Republicans and Democrats over the first few months of 2011 haggled over $60 billion in cuts versus $30 billion with the final compromise of $38 billion. That $ 38 billion cannot and will not make any significant difference to a 2011 deficit of $ 1,500 billion (the equivalent of $ 1.5trillion). Obviously both Republicans and Democrats are agreed to do nothing more that quibble over insignificant margins of so huge a deficit. Meanwhile they perform live political theater about their "deep concern about deficits and debts" for a bemused, bored, and ever-more alienated public.
Neither party can shake off its utter dependence now on corporate and rich citizens' monies for all their financial sustenance. Therefore neither party imagines, let alone explores, alternatives to massive deficits and debts. After all, government deficits and debts mean (a) the government is not taxing corporations and the rich, and (b) the government is instead borrowing from them and paying them interest. So the two parties quibble over how much to cut which government jobs and public services...
A changed system - perhaps called "economic democracy" - in which the workers themselves collectively operate their enterprises would immediately redirect enterprise profits in different ways with very different social consequences. For example, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during 2010, the pay for average workers rose 2% while the pay for CEOs rose 23% (Time magazine, May 16, 2011). Workers who collectively directed their own enterprises would distribute pay increases very differently and far less unequally. Likewise, to take another example, self-directing workers would allocate their enterprises' profits to the government (i.e. pay taxes) but demand in return the sorts of mass-focused social programs that the current CEOs and Boards of Directors want government to cut. Democratic enterprises would have to work out collaborations and agreements with democratically run residential units (cities, states, etc.) where their decisions impact one another...
Throughout the Cold War decades and even after the USSR dissolved in 1989, we remained, as a nation, afraid openly to discuss and debate a basic economic issue. Does our economic system, capitalism, serve our needs sufficiently; does it need basic changes; or might a change to another economic system be best? Instead of a debate over alternative answers to such questions, we permitted little beyond self-congratulatory cheerleading for capitalism. Seriously questioning capitalism (let alone challenging it) remained taboo, an activity to keep repressed. That repression encouraged an unquestioned and unchecked US capitalism to become ever more unequal, delivering more "bads" than "goods" to ever larger majorities of people. This unsustainable situation is being strained toward the breaking point by the crisis that now enters Year Five.Senate panel concludes Goldman Sachs profited from financial crisis