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Archive for March 2011

Tell the Senate to Reject the Korea-U.S. Trade Agreement!

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The banks that just wrecked the economy and got Washington to bail them out are lining up for more handouts.

This time, they’re pushing a NAFTA-style trade pact with Korea that prohibits countries from banning risky financial products and services, among other regulatory limits that put banks’ profits before economic stability and jobs. But we won’t let it happen.

Tell Congress to support good jobs over Wall Street greed and reject the Korea trade deal!

You can tell a lot about a trade deal by who is hyping it. Bailed out banks like Citigroup love the Korea trade pact. They say it has “the best financial services chapter negotiated in a free trade agreement to date.” But who wants to support financial policies celebrated by megabanks that helped wreck the economy?

Tell Congress to stand up to Wall Street and reject the Korea trade deal!

This NAFTA clone helps big banks’ short term interests, at the expense of the rest of us. Consider this example: in 1997, the Korean economy collapsed when financial speculators treated the country like a casino and pushed crazy amounts of money in and out of the country. Some of this bad behavior resurfaced in the most recent financial crisis too.

Korea responded in 1997 and again a decade later by utilizing what are known as capital controls — basically speed bumps that slow down the capital floods and flights. But the NAFTA-style deal with Korea would prohibit restrictions of big corporations’ ability to make these hasty speculative transfers — even when economic crisis or hardship could be avoided by doing so. Oh yeah, and the big banks could even demand that taxpayers pay them off millions of bucks in compensation if our governments even try to use these important economic stability policy tools.

Have we learned nothing from the global financial crisis?

Tell your representative to reject the casino economy and vote “No” on the Korea trade deal.

Both the U.S. and Korea have tried to reign in the job-killing behavior of Wall Street over the last few years, and more remains to be done. The last thing we need is a NAFTA-style deal with Korea that will limit our ability to regulate the financial casino that is harming Main Street.

If the rest of us are tightening our belts, corporations shouldn’t treat our democracy as their all-you-can-eat meal ticket.

Tell Congress to reject the Korean trade deal!

Info from Public Citizen

Government sues bankers over offenses government regulators ignored

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Left Hand, Meet Right Hand

The government sues bankers over offenses government regulators once ignored.

By Bethany McLean Tuesday, March 29, 2011, Slate

Kerry Killinger. Click image to expand.

A couple of weeks ago, the government started signaling, at long last, that it was ready to get tough on the bankers who caused the 2008 financial crisis. On March 16 the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, sued three former top executives of Washington Mutual, or WaMu, for taking “extreme and historically unprecedented risks,” thereby causing the bank to lose “billions of dollars.” That same day, the New York Times reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission had sent so-called Wells notices—often a sign that civil charges are imminent—to a handful of former executives at mortgage-securitization giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The targets seem well-chosen. The collapse of WaMu, acquired by JPMorgan Chase at a fire-sale price in the fall of 2008 was, according to the FDIC, the biggest bank failure in U.S. history. The FDIC is seeking to recover $900 million from the three bankers. Fannie and Freddie were taken over by the government in the fall of 2008. So far, they have cost taxpayers about $130 billion.

Perhaps you’re thinking: If only the government had known at the time what these scoundrels were up to, we could all have been spared a great deal of pain. The trouble with that line of reasoning is that, um, the government did know what was going on. The Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulated WaMu, and the Office of Housing Enterprise Oversight, which regulated Fannie and Freddie, were supervising the very behavior that their sister agencies are now suing over. The government’s lawsuits call to mind a cynical boast by Burt Lancaster, playing tabloid power broker J.J. Hunsecker, in the 1957 noir classic Sweet Smell of Success: “My right hand hasn’t seen my left hand in 30 years.”

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BANKSTER ACTION ALERT: NATIONAL CALL IN DAY ON FRAUDCLOSURE, TUESDAY MARCH 29TH

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BANKSTER USA  

March 29, 2011
CONTACT: Mary Bottari at (608)-260-9713 or mary@prwatch.org

BANKSTER ACTION ALERT: NATIONAL CALL IN DAY ON FRAUDCLOSURE, TUESDAY MARCH 29TH

The first draft of a proposed settlement from the 50 state Attorneys General against the big banks for their rampant mortgage fraud went public a few weeks ago.

Starting with a middle-of-the-road proposal full of loopholes is not a good way to start negotiation. The big banks and their supporters have already started crying foul, trying to slip out of any real enforcement, punishment and restitution for the millions of homeowners they owe. This means that it’s time to kick into high gear our push for a “settlement that fits the crime.”

The state Attorneys General are expected to meet with the big banks this week. That’s why our friends at National People’s Action, PICO National Network and others working to stop the foreclosure madness are making today Nationwide Call-In Day to all 50 state Attorneys General.

TAKE ACTION! Call your state Attorney General today at 1-866-200-6444 and tell him/her that crime should not pay! Tell your AG to come out in support a settlement that provides justice for the homeowners who have been wrongfully foreclosed upon and for millions facing foreclosure, and a settlement that holds the big banks accountable for their crimes. Nothing less is acceptable.

BANKSTER WONK ROOM: Read more about problems with the settlement negotiations so far:

Gretchen Morgensen, New York Times “A Swift Deal May Not Be a Sound One”.

Jesse Eisinger, New York Times “In Proposed Mortgage Fraud Settlement, a Gift to Big Banks.”

And thank you for everything you do to fight the Banskters!

Follow BanksterUSA on FaceBook and Twitter!

ABOUT US

BanksterUSA is a project of the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). CMD was founded in 1993 as an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, public interest group focusing on exposing corporate spin and government propaganda.

520 University Avenue, Suite 260
Madison, Wisconsin 53703-4929
Phone: 608-260-9713 | Fax: 608-260-9714
E-mail: info@banksterusa.org 

 

Some recent stories on increasing legal and economic pressures being put on struggling homeowners.

Security Implications and the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing

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Globalization, multi-national corporations, off-shore tax havens and governments willing to support them have created a global criminal enterprise designed to pillage nations and peoples for the profit of a very few.  De-industrialization of the United States was orchestrated for this purpose by the “enemies foreign and domestic” that we were warned about. Their plot has now become our national policy, and Congressional concerns will not be made public. – Claudia

Intelligence and the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing

March 28th, 2011           by Steven Aftergood FAS Secrecy News

The U.S. intelligence community will prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the implications of the continuing decline in U.S. manufacturing capacity, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) citing recent news reports.

“Last month Forbes reported that the continued erosion of the U.S. manufacturing base has gotten so serious that the Director of National Intelligence has begun preparation of a National Intelligence Estimate… to assess the security implications of the decline of American manufacturing,” said Rep. Schakowsky, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

“Our growing reliance on imports and lack of industrial infrastructure has become a national security concern,” said Rep. Schakowsky.  She spoke at a March 16 news conference (at 28:10) in opposition to the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

The Forbes report referenced by Rep. Schakowsky was “Intelligence Community Fears U.S. Manufacturing Decline,” by Loren Thompson, February 14. The decision to prepare an intelligence estimate was first reported by Richard McCormack in “Intelligence Director Will Look at National Security Implications of U.S. Manufacturing Decline,” Manufacturing & Technology News, February 3.

Rep. Schakowsky told the newsletter Inside U.S. Trade (March 25) that she hopes a “declassified portion” of the NIE will be publicly released.

But according to the Congressional Research Service, that may be unlikely. “There seems to be an emerging consensus that publicly releasing NIEs, or even unclassified summaries, has limitations. Some of the nuances of classified intelligence judgments are lost and there are concerns that public release of an unclassified summary of a complicated situation does not effectively serve the legislative process.” See “Intelligence Estimates: How Useful to Congress?” (pdf), January 6, 2011.

“With 14 million Americans out of a job we should not be considering a trade deal that will ship additional jobs overseas,” said Rep. Schakowsky, referring to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

“Instead, we need to work to rebuild the American manufacturing sector, creating jobs at home. And instead of approving FTAs (free trade agreements) that will offshore more American jobs, we need to establish a trade policy that benefits American workers and the entire American economy,” she said.

The CRS (pdf) cited a study which concluded that overall changes in aggregate U.S. employment attributable to the US-Korea agreement “would be negligible given the much larger size of the U.S. economy compared to the South Korean economy. However, while some sectors, such as livestock producers, would experience increases in employment, others such as textile, wearing apparel, and electronic equipment manufacturers would be expected to experience declines in employment.” Accordingly, the “U.S. beef sector” supports the agreement, while some labor unions oppose it.

See “The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications,” Congressional Research Service, March 1, 2011.  See also “Free Trade Agreements: Impact on U.S. Trade and Implications for U.S. Trade Policy,” January 6, 2011.

***

For an in-depth look at how Globalization really works see:

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson

Amazon link and

What “Free Trade” Has Cost The World- globalization makes peons of us all

Joe Bageant, 1946-2011 Exceptional “redneck socialist”

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March 28, 2011

Bageant Moves On

We don’t last, and there’s no warranty

Joefred2 Joe Bageant and Fred Reed in Ajijic, Mexico, 2008

By Fred Reed
www.fredoneverything.net

Jocotepec, Mexico — Joe lived awhile down the lake. We would visit him of an afternoon, Vi and I, and find him, a bear of a man, bearded mountain Buddha, writing on the porch of his one-room place in Ajijic. Always he wore his old fishing vest, in which I suspect he was born, and sometimes he carried a small laptop in one of its pockets. Usually we adjourned to the living room, which was also the bedroom, dining room, and salon. He would fetch bottles of local red, or make the jalapeño martinis he invented — there was a bit of mad chemist in him — and we would talk for hours of art, music, the news, politics, and people. Especially people. Sometimes he grabbed one of the guitars from the wall and sang blues, at which he was good. I guess growing up dirt poor in West Virginia puts that kind of music in you.

Joe could fool you. He talked slow and Southern, lacked pretensions, and you could talk to him for weeks without realizing how very damned smart he was.
 One day we dropped in and he said he had just found that he had cancer. It went fast. He died Saturday.

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Written by laudyms

March 28, 2011 at 8:29 am

Going Public- to see that justice is served

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March 26, 2011

A news discussion on CNN  yesterday revealed the Army’s reversal of charges of dereliction of duty by superior officers  Army accused of covering up mistakes in Afghan battle evidently in the hallowed tradition of “protecting the institution” and blaming the dead……

I noted another article in The Scientist which discusses the same inclination in scientific circles:

Sometimes going public with an accusation is the only way to bring the truth to light……..the local commission investigating the case might delay, play down or even suppress incriminating evidence, perhaps going public was the only way to see that justice was served.

A South Carolina news item Ideology trumps health reports:

Dr. David Cull, a prominent vascular surgeon in Greenville, had invented a small valve system that, if it works, could spare 300,000 dialysis patients across the country enormous suffering and save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

But Cull’s hometown senator, Jim DeMint, would not write a letter supporting the surgeon’s application for a federal grant under the landmark health care bill that President Barack Obama signed into law a year ago today….

DeMint vowed in 2009 to make health care Obama’s “Waterloo” and is leading Republican efforts in Congress to repeal or deny funding to the law.

All our institutions are prone to cover their butts, choose ideology over the public good and discard those who seek justice.

In effect this delays institutional ability to learn from mistakes, and it used to go on for generations. New technology and recognition of the value of “transparency” (in word if not in action) are game changers.  Recent comments by Fouad Ajami about WikiLeaks in Foreign Policy magazine  included observations that nothing particularly new was revealed, just confirmation of what people already knew but was not officially acknowledged.

The powers-that-be are certain to push back in order to censor or punish those who reveal painful truths.  But those with the courage to go public today are challenging traditions of smirking hypocrisy, institutionalized corruption, and blaming the victim. I applaud them!

–Claudia

see also: Despite Reforms, Whistleblowers at Development Banks Face Retaliation
By Charles Davis

The traveling salesman (of death)

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by Charles Davis March 20, 2011           false dichotomy

The United States is the world’s biggest arms dealer — guns and bombs are the only thing America really makes anymore — and Barack Obama is the national-salesman-in-chief, jetting across the globe to sell foreign governments on how, with no down payment and low APR financing, they can be the proud owners of a U.S.-made weapon of mass murder. He’ll even throw in a free undercoating.

While those who fetishize political power and the cult of the presidency would like us all to believe the American head of state meets with his counterparts abroad to engage in weighty, high-minded discussions about John Rawls and the burden of maintaining the social contract, the reality is Obama — like Bush, like Clinton, like Reagan — is little more than a well-dressed shill for the military-industrial complex. But don’t take my word for it.

“President Barack Obama made a strong pitch for the Boeing F-18 jet fighter in a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff,” the White House announced on Sunday, according to Reuters.

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