Dissatisfied with the country’s worsening economic troubles and displeased with proposed austerity measures, thousands of demonstrators clashed with police in Madrid Tuesday. The protesters formed a human chain around the parliament building while police fired bullets at and beat the most violent in the crowd with truncheons. At least 22 people were arrested while 32 were injured, including four policeman. The protest was timed to the new 2013 budget, which will be announced by the government Thursday and includes cuts in inflation-linked pensions, taxes on stock transactions, the implantation of green taxes, and the elimination of several tax breaks. The region of Catalonia, which is responsible for 20 percent of the national output, called for an early election on Nov. 25 that could lead to a referendum on secession.
The job of bankers is to assess risk. They are supposed to look at all the factors, and price a loan accordingly. If you have a credit card with very high risk, you might pay in the 20% range! This way the banks can lend out the money, and even if a large percentage of the borrowers default, they still do OK. They are expecting a certain default rate, they price accordingly, they do OK on the loan portfolio.
Same for when they lend to countries. They price loans according to the default risk, and over the lifetime of the loans they are supposed to get their money back plus some return, even with the expected defaults. If the banks screwed up and didn't price their loans correctly, this doesn't make the people of Greece lazy, etc. it makes the bankers incompetent.
OR the bankers did price correctly, and over the lifetimes of all of their loans they are getting their money back and a return, AND they are also taking advantage of the situation to get more, make a killing, force privatization, force wages down, get rid of that pesky democracy that has been in the way, etc.
So here we are again, with the elites in the position of being either stupid (incompetent) or evil. And with the people in misery as a result, while the elites do just fine for themselves. With the added bonus for the elites that the experiment of wresting control from the elites and to the people -- democracy -- ending.
The Guardian: Occupy Wall Street: the story behind seven months of protest:
In September last year, anti-corporate activists descended on a small park in lower Manhattan and Occupy Wall Street was born. As protesters ready for a spring resurgence, film-maker Kat Keene Hogue looks back at more than six months of Occupy, a movement that spread from Zuccotti Park to over 100 cities around the world
Statistics are the smoke and fog in the war on women. Sunday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner struck out against Mitt Romney’s repeated claims that women made up more than 92 percent of jobs lost under President Obama’s watch. “It’s just a political moment,” Geithner said on CBS News’ Face the Nation, arguing that there was more job loss among men at the beginning of the recession and that Obama inherited economic decline that began under the previous White House. Romney’s campaign isn’t budging, though. “The President should stop making excuses for his failures,” spokesperson Andrea Saul said in an email to reporters. “He is entitled to his own spin but not his own facts.” Too bad Geithner didn't have any facts to back up his idiotic running off at the mouth.
Via Think Progress: Bank of America Forecloses On Homeowner With Disabled Daughter After Offering Her A Modification:
Rodriguez took out a loan to retrofit her house for her special-needs daughter. After she fell behind on her payments, the Bank of America lowered her monthly obligation, but then sold the house at a foreclosure auction last September. The new owner, a house flipper from El Segundo called West Ridge Rentals, moved to evict the family. [...]
Yet still nearly 7,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters have been arrested to day. Bankers arrested? Zero.
There were only around 40 protesters last night who chose to unfurl their sleeping bags and ground pads on the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street in "sleepful protest" last night. But unlike the vibrant, if somewhat insulated atmosphere of Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street's newest encampment is positioned at the nexus of a neighborhood, and residents and passersby seemed eager to engage the demonstrators on the well-lit corner a few yards away from the New York Stock Exchange.
An impeccably dressed, if somewhat intoxicated man began speaking with protesters and eventually sat down, legs crossed, deep in dialogue. His expensive watch peeked out of the cuff of his starched shirt as he made motions with his hands. His wife had left him and he stressed that he had problems, too.
Another man wearing a blue Oxford and carrying his dinner—a frozen chicken dish from Duane Reade—began speaking to a group after he asked one protester, "Tell me again why you're here?" What followed was a conversation that lasted over an hour, ranging from cutting the cost of higher education ("We gotta stop subsidizing four-year colleges,") to the tax rate on capital gains, to solutions to house the homeless.
Also from Think Progress, if Mitt Romney could relate at all to the general population, wouldn't he support paid sick days for workers?
Forty percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of low-wage workers do not have a single, paid sick day to recover from a short-term illness or to provide care for their loved ones. This leads to impossible choices for moms in the sandwich generation who are often working while serving as the main caregiver for an aging parent or school-age children. Missing just three days of work to care for a kid with chicken pox would mean losing the entire month’s healthcare budget for the average two worker, two child family without access to paid sick days.
Paid sick days legislation would enable workers to accrue paid sick leave and provide for provisions to help employers manage. It also makes economic sense as it costs businesses more in lost worker productivity to have sick employees come in, than it would cost to offer paid time off in the first place.
President Obama has come out in favor of such legislation. Mitt Romney, who claims to understand the plight of working people, has been silent.
See how much more effective actual facts are, Mr. Geithner?
Occupy Ninjas, coming to a bank near you soon.
Occupy Detroit is celebrating their 6 month anniversary all weekend:
A general assembly will be held at noon at Eastern Market. The group also will hold an open house from 4-10 p.m. Saturday at its new home at 5900 Michigan Ave. Events will include an ox roast and musical jam session around a bonfire.
HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.
As TeacherKen notes, there is so much more work that needs to be done before military suicide can be effectively prevented.
Buffet Rule Vote on Monday
On Monday, April 16, the U.S. Senate will debate and vote on the "Buffett Rule," which guarantees that millionaires will no longer pay a lower share of taxes than working people.
Join SEIU and Daily Kos by sending an email (super easy, just click the link) to your senators, telling them to vote in favor of the Buffett Rule. No matter whether your senators are Democrats or Republicans, they all need to know there is big support for making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.
Community activist Sheila Tyson of Birmingham says that those hit hardest - the poor - by a county sewer rate hike in Jefferson County are near a breaking point."These people are going to end up rioting about this," she says. "If they let this stuff happen they are going to get the biggest riot the South has ever seen. Over this sewer business. I can see it coming."
In one of the poorest districts of Jefferson County's largest city, Birmingham, a father of four who asked to remain anonymous, is now one of many in the area whose home has a portable toilet next to it.Residents are saving money by purchasing drums of water from nearby gas stations, and then paying a sanitation company $14 a month for waste removal.
"Most people who live here are on social security," he said.
"They can't spend this kind of money on sewerage. It's just outrageous. It's too high.
"I pay my sewerage bill, then I'm going to slack on my groceries. Then what am I going to eat?"
Sewerage rates and water rates, which are levied on drinkable water, vary widely across the United States.
But they are generally rising faster than inflation as cities are forced by federal government to replace worn-out sewerage facilities.
The two rates have been combined into a single bill in Jefferson County, which has increased by 329% over the past 15 years, making it among the highest in America, as the county has struggled to service the mountain of debt it took on to pay for a new sewer system.
The sewage system was supposed to cost $300 million. However, since the project began in 1996, costs have risen to $3.1 billion after various problems and a series of bond and derivatives deals fell through in 2008.
And don't be stunned, but corrupt Wall Street bankers and politicians were involved. JP Morgan Securities along with two of its former directors have been fined (Not arrested, just fined.) for attempting to bribe county employees and politicians in an effort to win business financing for the sewer project.
JP Morgan Securities and two of its former directors have been fined for trying to bribe to Jefferson County employees and politicians in a bid to win business financing for the sewer project. Six former Jefferson County commissioners have been found guilty of accepting bribes, along with 15 other state officials.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas B. Bennett has decided to withhold his decision until after Christmas, although he said "he was inclined to allow the case to go forward to allow a faster route for appeals, which are certain to come no matter which way he decides."
While this is held up in court appeals by greedy bankers, people in Alabama are using bottled water for bathing and cooking, and using outdoor portable toilets rather than the too-expensive-to-flush models inside their own homes.
Chief executive pay is way up, with top bosses enjoying payroll hikes of between 27 and 40% last year, according to the largest survey of U.S. CEO pay. The dramatic bounceback comes as the latest government figures show wages for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.
One CEO, John Hammergren at McKesson, took home $145M. "Bosses won in every area, with dramatic increases in pensions, payoffs, and perks, as well as salary.
Even CEOs who were fired had a good year, with golden parachutes to insure that even when unemployed, life is still good.