Parliamentary Question reveals Minster for Finance paid 6.2 million to bond traders Rothschild for advice on banking crisis
In a statement today Richard Boyd Barrett TD has expressed disbelief and outrage on receipt of an answer to a parliamentary question relating to outsourcing in government departments and the public sector generally.
An answer to a parliamentary questions revealed that in 2010 the NTMA paid put €6.2 million to bond traders and wealth managers Rothschild for advice to the Minister for Finance on how to deal with the banking crisis.
Deputy Boyd Barrett pointed out that this means that on the absolutely most important issue facing Ireland in terms of an unprecedented economic crisis and whether or not to pay off senior bondholders, the Irish government actually paid bondholders to advise them on what to do.
It is hardly surprising the representatives of bondholders advised the government to prioritise bondholders with devastating consequences for the country and for Ireland’s economic future.
This raises the question of how long have we been taking advice from these private corporate interests and are we still.
It also raises questions about conflicts of interest when the state is taking advice from private interests with a stake in government decisions.
Were we, for example, taking advice from the Rothschild Group or other similar companies at the beginning of the crisis in 2008 and at the time the blanket bank guarantee was established?
It opens the door to corruption in public decision making when senior public officials are taking decisions that affect the public interest on advice from private sector golden circles. These senior public officials often end up working for these same private interests when they leave office.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Parliamentary Question reveals Minster for Finance paid 6.2 million to bond traders Rothschild for advice on banking crisis
Italy has found itself in a severe economic crisis, with the country's debt reaching over two trillion euros. But at a time when Italians want to cut costs and create jobs, the government has another plan in the works, which critics say, is nothing more than 'economic suicide.'
If there was ever such thing as a country ran by Grinches, North Korea would be that country. Why? Well, according to the BBC, North Korea has warned neighboring South Korea of "unexpected consequences" if South Korea decides to light up Christmas trees near their border.
North Korea's biggest beef with the Christmas lights is that they feel that South Korea is using those lights to "spread the Christian message" to North Korean citizens. Paranoid, much? Yes! The "unexpected consequences" would have to do with some sort of "psychological warfare" on South Korea. What does that even mean?
SIDED is a short documentary on the occupy movement focused more on Occupy LA and Students Occupy LA. This documentary was the production of four 16 year olds and shows the perspective from the students occupy movement members and a teacher who is mainly against the movements.
Here’s one of those small news items that gives you an idea of how the crisis is making our society shipwrecking on the rocky coast of the troika’s island. Yesterday’s Eleftheros Tipos newspaper published a story according to which there is an increase of people applying for a job with Greek porn industry leader Sirina Productions (owned by Dimitris Sirinakis).
During the past year, around 2.500 CVs have been sent to the company by candidates who wish to participate in their movies, due to the crisis. They are people who have been unemployed for a long period of time and among them one can find public servants, students and even people who have created their own families.
According to the company, most of the applicants explain in the application form that the reason they applied for the job is their great need for cash. A representative for Sirina Productions told Eleftheros Typos that about 80%-90% of the applicants are now Greek while, before 2010, the majority were foreigners.More...
I've had friends who have been saying we've been in a Depression since the last year of Bush's disastrous term. But they don't have Nobel Prizes in economics. NY Times columnist/Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman is a Nobel laureate and he's managed to not call it a depression-- until this week. And not just a depression, but one that is already starting to inspire a fascist reaction, the way the Great Depression of the 1930s did in much of the world. He points out that the euro crisis "is killing the European dream. The shared currency, which was supposed to bind nations together, has instead created an atmosphere of bitter acrimony." Spain just elected a far right government. Italy and Greece had far right governments imposed on them by banksters backed by Germany.
Officials in New York have returned to Iraqi diplomats dinnerware once belonging to Saddam Hussein and the family of King Faisal II that was looted, then illegally imported to the United States and sold on eBay.
Nineteen dinner and salad plates, some which contained the official seal of Iraq, were being used at the Park Avenue Autumn restaurant as part of an art exhibit. The plates, officials say, were returned to Iraqi representatives at the United Nations on Tuesday.
"Our next action will be to reverse-engineer the aircraft," Parviz Sorouri said.
"In the near future, we will be able to mass produce it. Iranian engineers will soon build an aircraft superior to the American [drone] using reverse engineering."
Iran says it captured the sophisticated US drone, a bat-winged RQ 170 Sentinel, on December 4 as it was flying in its airspace. It claimed a Revolutionary Guards cyber-warfare unit hacked the aircraft's flight controls.
US officials, who reportedly said the drone was flying a CIA mission over Iran, have expressed scepticism that Iran has the technology to perform such a feat. They said it was more likely the drone suffered a malfunction.
The dismal state of the economy has prompted more Americans to choose cremation over traditional burial services to save money, reports the New York Times. Cremations have been steadily rising in popularity since 1985 (41% now vs. 15% then) but the spike has been more pronounced in the last decade. A study last year found that one-third picked cremation mainly to save money, up from 19% in 1990.
Former Prime Minister John Howard has launched a controversial book teaching students to be climate change sceptics.
Climate change sceptic Ian Plimer's book "How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters" arms children with 101 questions to challenge their teachers.
It has been billed as an "anti-warmist manual for the younger reader".
Mr Howard attacked the one-sided teaching of climate change in schools.
"People ought to be worried about what their children are being taught at school," he said.
"It's a matter of real concern".
Prof Plimer said said he had a lot of parents write to him about this topic.
"They were saying that their kids are being fed environmental activism at school, rather than the basics of science, which gives them the ability to analyse activist arguments," he said.
The 250-page book includes a list of questions intended to embarrass poorly prepared teachers.
Viruses and bacteria are manipulating the chemicals inside the human body and, by programming them to send the right agents into the brain, the bio-programmer potentially can take control over the victim’s behavior.
We are seeing the opening stages of the synthetic biology industry. Some basic tasks like decoding, insertion and excision of parts of the DNA, and relatively successful attempts of cloning is pretty much everything that modern science can carry through.
But in the ’80s, computer science technology was actually at the same level of maturity. At that time no one could really believe that 20 years later any person would have a greater power over the computer – and not only the one that belongs to him – than the best present-day programmers.
Cells are living computers and DNA is a programming language that can be used to control and influence life forms, believes Andrew Hessel of Singularity University, on NASA's research campus.
Lawrence Lifschultz’s findings about assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are being published in Dhaka’s Daily Star and Prothom Alo newspapers.
An American journalist’s disclosure that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was involved in the 1975 military coup and the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh’s founding father, has added a new dimension to the shameful episode that many here recall with dismay, disgust and hatred.
Lawrence Lifschultz, who was present here during the coup, as a correspondent for Hong Kong’s Far Eastern Economic Review, has investigated the events for the last 30 years. Dhaka’s Daily Star and Prothom Alo newspapers are serialising his findings.
“What (the) USA started during the Liberation War in 1971 with attempt to split the Awami League using Khandaker Moshtaque and his accomplices continued after the independence following a direct US instigation, resulting in the carnage on August 15, 1975,” the Daily Star writes in an introductory note to Lifschultz’s pieces.
An impression was given to the people that the coup and the murders were the result of a conspiracy by a few hostile leaders within the Awami League party who joined hands with disgruntled military officers. Some believed that there was a foreign hand involved. None was sure about the role of any country in particular.
“In India, Indira Gandhi, speaking of the tragedy of Mujib’s death, spoke of the sure hand of foreign involvement,” Lifschultz writes. “As usual, Mrs Gandhi was graphically lacking in details or specifics. However, the pro-Moscow Communist party of India (CPI) were more explicit: “the CIA,” said the CPI, “was behind the coup.”
Is a coup a possibility? A report by the Albert Einstein Institute identified the circumstances under which a coup becomes more likely. First, there is dissatisfaction with the performance of the government. In Greece, this has gone so far as striking and widespread rioting, which has been met by tear gas.
Next, there is no confidence in democratic procedures. George Papandreou’s replacement as Prime Minister of Greece, Lucas Papademos, had never previously held public office. While Papademos received support upon taking office, the urgency of the situation in Greece dictates that the honeymoon will be brief. Anti-austerity campaigners, headed by ever more vocal trade unionists and other leftists, condemned him, saying his appointment was the fruit of the “logic of banks and markets.”
The Albert Einstein Institute said that a coup is more likely if there is a lack of diversification. This is true of Greece, one fifth of whose GDP comes from tourism. A coup benefits from low participation in politics by the citizenry. The government of Greece has acknowledged that the level of political participation is low. For a coup to be successful, soldiers must be more loyal to their officers than to the government. Defense minister Panos Beglitis said that the military was like a “state within a state” and accused its representatives of acting anti-democratically.
On the plus side, a coup is more likely to succeed if non-state institutions are weak, and Greek trades unions are very strong. The Greek Orthodox Church, however, was severely weakened by sex and corruption scandals in 2005. There were photographs of a 91 year-old bishop nekkid and abed with a young lady. One churchman, Archmandrite Iakovos Giosakis, was suspended after being charged with the smuggling of antiquities after valuable icons disappeared from his former diocese. Thanos Dokas, a political scientist, said, “What all of this has confirmed is that corruption is not limited to the public sector.” Homosexuality is rife among senior clerics sworn to chastity, despite the Church describing it as an “abomination.” Greek national identity is inextricably linked to the Church, as it kept Hellenism alive during 400 years of Ottoman rule. 97 percent of people in Greece are Orthodox.
A CIA report warning that the dire situation in Greece could result in a coup was first detailed by the German tabloid, Das Bild. People say the only things in this newspaper which are true are the cover price, the weather, and the sport results, however the report was mentioned by more respectable sources, such as the Turkish newspaper, Daily News & Economic Review, and the website, Business Insider.
In a shock announcement, Defense minister Beglitis, one of Papandreou’s closest allies, announced the dismissal of the chiefs of the Greek National Defense General Staff, army, air force, and navy. Military chiefs are usually replaced every couple of years on the basis of party loyalty, but changes rarely affect the entire military. The British newspaper of the ruling class, the Daily Telegraph, was one of many to speculate that the Papandreou regime replaced its top military leaders with more sympathetic people to prevent the possibility of a coup.
A City hedge-fund owner lavished £71,000 on booze at a Christmas party for just nine members of staff, it has emerged.
The recession-busting bill included a £10,000 tip for the serving waitress Margaux, which is not a real name.
Other items included a £7,956 service charge and £7,200 on six magnums of Dom Perignon.
Most of the cash was splurged on 24 six-litre bottles of Prince Harry's favourite drink Ciroc Ultra Premium vodka, which came to a total of £44,400.
The drink is served from a futuristic pouring unit called 'Le Halo' and each bottle costs an eye-watering £1,850.
[ ... ]
At one point he threw £50 notes in the air like confetti and watched as 'pretty girls' scrambled on the floor to pick up as many as they could.
A spokesman for the basement club said: 'I suppose generous doesn't quite cover it.
Unilever has been accused of playing Scrooge after the Marmite maker withdrew festive staff hampers and pulled the plug on office parties before its first-ever British strike on Friday.
It means more than 2,000 Unilever employees will not have the comfort of free Pot Noodles and Knorr soup on chilly picket lines as they stage a 24-hour walkout over pensions changes at the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods firm. Staff parties scheduled for Friday will also be cancelled.
Unilever said it would not provide the traditional food hamper or £15 gift in vouchers to staff at sites where industrial action was taking place, which includes factories in Purfleet, Essex, Trafford Park in Greater Manchester and Port Sunlight on Merseyside.
Production of a host of British food staples will be affected, from PG Tips to Hellman's mayonnaise. "We felt it would be inappropriate to provide Christmas hampers or gift vouchers to our employees at the sites where industrial action is taking place," said Unilever. It will donate the gifts to charity.
Unilever has also blocked holiday bookings for next year. In a memo to staff, a Unilever manager at one site said holiday requests for next year would be refused because further strike action was possible. "The unions have advised there may be more action in the new year. Therefore no holidays can be booked for next year," said the manager, adding that no sick pay would be paid to employees absent between 2 and 9 December.
Unite's national officer, Jennie Formby, warned that Unilever was tarnishing a history of treating its workers well, which included the introduction of staff pensions in the late 19th century.
Armstrong is a devotee of "Buy Nothing Christmas," one of several online movements that have shined a spotlight on people who -- for philosophical, economic or religious reasons -- are doing something radical this holiday season: saying no to gift buying.
Many of these non-shoppers are replacing the annual buying spree with rituals that they believe more aptly reflect the meaning of the holiday, such as sharing time with loved ones, offering up a homemade gift or donating to a favorite charity.
"The idea that we express how we love through buying consumer items is so outdated," Aiden Enns, founder of Buy Nothing Christmas, tells DailyFinance.
The group, started by Canadian Mennonites, rejects what it deems the over-consumptive shopping patterns of North Americans, urging people to spread the message of non-shopping at home, work, in their communities and places of worship. It's grown from a group of about seven Mennonites in 2001 into a national movement with 36,000 web visitors in November, Enns says.
Buy Nothing Christmas is on a mission to recast the holidays so that they're "richer in meaning, smaller in impact upon the earth and greater in giving to people less privileged," according to BuyNothingChristmas.org. It also aims to expose the downside of an economy largely reliant on consumer purchases.
Other, similar sites have sprouted, such as The Christmas Resistance Movement and OccupyXmas.
The crusade against holiday shopping has assumed a new resonance this year amid the rise of Occupy Wall Street, which, like the anti-holiday buying crusades, rally in part against corporate greed.
Occupy Wall Street broadcaster Tim Pool’s protest coverage, shot entirely on smartphones, has received more attention than most mainstream media. The reporter — who doesn’t identify with the term citizen journalist — is now devising ways mobile technology can provide unprecedented news coverage.
Pool rose to fame after his 21-hour live Ustream broadcast of the Nov. 15 raid on Zuccotti Park went viral on Twitter. His stream provided what large camera crews could not — an unfiltered take on the action as it unfolded. His footage was featured on Al Jazeera English, MSNBC and Time.com.
Live broadcasts, Pool points out, are advantageous in situations of media crackdowns, because police reportedly confiscated several computers, wiped memory cards and destroyed equipment. Since the protests began Sep. 17, almost 40 members of the mainstream media have been arrested.
But Pool isn’t stopping with his heavily trafficked live broadcast. In the works are new ways of covering protests around the world, such as his “Occucopter,” which will be capable of shooting and live-streaming aerial footage of protests. Airspace can sometimes be closed during police raids, preventing media helicopters from capturing the action or estimating crowd size — not that Pool has access to a helicopter. The Occucopters will fly below 400 feet in the air, where FAA airspace begins, and therefore cannot be banned. (Check out the video above to learn more about them.)
In addition to providing aerial footage, Pool’s working on an Occumentary, aggregating the best clips from the dozen Occupy protests he’s attended across the country. He also has plans of creating a Ustream superchannel, which will map out different live broadcasts of protests occurring simultaneously.
Pool spoke with Mashable about how he’s innovating with technology to provide incomparable angles of the Occupy movement.
One of the popular conceits of the post-war era in the West is that fascism died with Hitler. I would disagree, and so would my homeboy Umberto Eco. This piece pretty much reads like a history of post-9/11 America, and there’s one part in particular that I’m going to focus on. In Eternal Fascism, Eco says this:
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.
Over the past month a wave of brutal police attacks has descended on Occupy protesters and encampments across the nation, including surprise nighttime raids, unrelenting pepper spray and baton beatings and hundreds of arrests. Two days after riot police dismantled the Zuccotti Park encampment, during a November 17 "Day of Action" the NYPD left protesters bloodied and beaten and detained over 200, among them leaders of the large Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a city councilman and at least 26 journalists. Billionaire New York mayor Bloomberg unleashed the cops en masse and then praised them for their "restraint." We demand all the charges against Occupy protesters be dropped immediately!
Crackdowns on encampments in Oakland, Portland, Denver and other cities—launched under the pretext of supposed health and safety hazards—were carried out overwhelmingly by Democratic mayors in a coordinated effort to shut down these popular protests. So-called "progressive" Democrat Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, admitted to participating in a conference call with officials from other cities nationwide to discuss how to disperse the encampments. Providing a grotesque justification for the Oakland sweep, Quan singled out "anarchist groups who have been looking for a confrontation with the police."
Amid skyrocketing tuition costs and school budget cuts, Occupy protests have also spread to the universities and come up against the administration and its campus cop thugs. When students at UC Berkeley were attempting to set up an encampment on November 9, police moved in with nightsticks, brutally clubbing protesters who were chanting "Stop beating students!" Graphic video taken on November 18, after cops dismantled the encampment at UC Davis, shows students seated with linked arms being pepper-sprayed directly in the face by police, resulting in several hospitalizations. In an open letter that same day to the chancellor, one faculty member noted: "When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats."
The FBI and Homeland Security are reported to have assisted the local cops, with the Feds spotted staking out Occupy sites. Last week, federal immigration agents took custody of one protester who had been arrested by local police (while meditating!) during the November 14 raid on Occupy Oakland. A native of Mexico, Francisco Ramos Stierle faces the threat of being deported, as hundreds of thousands already have been, under Obama's "Secure Communities" program. No deportation of Francisco Ramos Stierle!
Demonstrators across the country have been hit with charges ranging from disorderly conduct and resisting arrest to inciting a riot and assaulting police officers. Such charges are meant to intimidate anyone who would oppose the violence, poverty and exploitation that are endemic to the rule of capital. Despite the brutality against Occupy protesters, many still hold to the illusion that the cops are allies. In fact, it is the job description of the police to protect the profit system through organized violence.
These recurrent, naked displays of capitalist state repression against liberal but defiant protesters, students and veterans have generated widespread anger with the "powers that be." Suffering the unmitigated effects of the economic crisis—i.e., the closure of schools, high unemployment and the slashing of social programs—many are expressing solidarity with a movement that at least appears to be doing something to protest such ravages. However, the Occupy protests do not in any way fundamentally challenge the workings of the capitalist order, which is the root cause of misery and inequality. Notwithstanding the movement's insistence on having no demands at all, the program embodied in the protests is simple liberal reform. http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/991/occupy.html
It is understood that Armed Forces planners are looking at the possibility that a new global financial crash could undermine the defence forces of key British allies.
The head of the Armed Forces warned that economic issues pose a “strategic risk” to Britain.
Senior British commanders and officials are concerned that US plans to cut defence spending will be followed by other allies in Europe and elsewhere.
Reductions in allied military capabilities could put a greater burden on Britain’s stretched forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere, it is feared.
The military planning work has come to light after The Daily Telegraph disclosed last month that British embassies in the eurozone have been told to prepare emergency plans for the demise of the euro and the possible civil disorder that could follow.
Sometimes we have no choice, we work till dawn. When you work all night you become dizzy and your eyes hurt because you can't take any breaks. SANTA'S WORKSHOP takes you to the real world of China's toy factories. Workers tell us about long working hours, low wages, and dangerous work places. Those who protest or try to organize trade unions risk imprisonment. Low labor costs attract more and more companies to China. Today more than 75% of our toys are made in China. But this industry takes its toll on the workers and on the environment.
The European (and American) buyers blame bad conditions on the Chinese suppliers. But they say that increasingly hard competition gives them no option. Who should we believe? And what can you do to bring about a fairer and more humane toy trade?
With President Obama read to sign away the freedoms of Americans by inking his name to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, opponents are already going after the lawmakers that made the legislation possible.
The act, abbreviated as NDAA FY2012, managed to make its way through Congress with overwhelming support in recent days, despite legislation that allows for Americans to be detained indefinitely and tortured by authorities for the mere suspicion of committing “a belligerent act." The Obama administration originally decreed that they would veto the bill, only for the White House to announce a change of heart on Wednesday this week.
With the passing of the act almost certain at this point, hackers aligned to the massive collective Anonymous are taking a stab at staking out the politicians that helped put the bill in the president’s hands.
On Wednesday, Internet hacktivists gathered on the Web to find a way to take on the lawmakers, who have allowed for this detrimental legislation to make it all the way to the Oval Office desk. Upon discussion of routes to take to show their opposition to the overwhelming number of politicians who voted in favor of NDAA, Anonymous members agreed to begin with Senator Robert J Portman, a Republican lawmaker from the state of Ohio.
By Thursday morning, an Anonymous operative released personal information pertaining to the lawmaker, and revealed that not only was Sen. Portman among the politicians to vote “aye” on the legislation, but it has also been revealed that the senator had good reason to do so.
According to a OpenCongress.org, Sen. Portman received $272,853 from special interest groups that have shown support for NDAA.
Iceland's decision two years ago to force bondholders to pay for the banking system's collapse appeared to pay off after official figures showed the country exited recession in the third quarter.
The Icelandic economy, which contracted for seven consecutive quarters until the summer, grew by 1.2% in the three months to the end of September.
Iceland famously agreed in a referendum to reject a scheme to repay most of its debts that were once worth 11 times its total national income.
In contrast to Ireland, Iceland's taxpayers refused to foot the bill for the debts accumulated by the banking sector. Bondholders were told to accept dramatic reductions in the value of repayments on bank debt after the sector borrowed beyond its means to fund ambitious investments abroad.
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