Society's Child

Bizarro Earth

The unfolding European housing crisis

Property prices across almost all the 28 EU member states have increased and have grown faster than incomes. The price correction of the post 2008 era fizzled out due to zero interest rate policy by the global central banks. The price-income ratios are still not back in line, effectively creating another debt fuelled housing bubble.

The latest data available for poverty in the EU highlights that more than a third of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion in five EU Member States: Bulgaria (48.0 %), Romania (40.4 %), Greece (35.7 %), Latvia (35.1 %) and Hungary (33.5 %). At the other end of the scale, the lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in Sweden (16.4 %), Finland (16.0 %), the Netherlands (15.9 %) and the Czech Republic (14.6 %).

Housing is of course by far the most income consuming expenditure, followed largely by heating and food.

27.6% of children and 18.3% of pensioners in the EU now live in poverty. By contrast as Global Research mentioned in a report on Libya "In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa's wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands."


Get ready for a wallet biopsy: Negative interest rates, cashless societies and the $10 trillion bail-in

Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned "Let your money work for you"? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into "all manner of private enterprise," including "bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . ."?

That may still work if you're a Wall Street banker, but if you're an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks - the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden's Riksbank, and Denmark's Nationalbank - have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it's time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates).


UK MPs to interrogate Blair over relations with Gaddafi

UK Parliament: Blair has some explaining to do.
The UK parliament is set to question former Prime Minister Tony Blair on the nature of his relationship with Libya's ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Blair will face questions next month about his role in orchestrating British foreign policy towards Libya when he appears before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The British MPs say Blair is fully responsible for Britain's Libya policy.

"The policy construct inherited in 2011 was Blair's. He was the one who reset Libya - it was his signal achievement, he claimed, to disarm Colonel Gaddafi of his weapons, his WMDs," Committee chairman and Conservative MP Sir Crispin Blunt.

According to Blunt, Gaddafi was allowed to "buy himself out of the sanctions" even though he was "certainly a supporter of terrorists." Now the select committee is conducting an investigation into the controversial 2004 "deal in the desert" brokered by Blair, under which Libya relinquished attempts to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for allowing Gaddafi to stay in power and reopening diplomatic ties between Libya and the West.

The deal, signed just one year after the US-led invasion of Iraq, was heavily criiticized by observers, who resented the Gaddafi regime's support of terrorism. Tony Blair was revealed to have spoken to Gaddafi several times on the telephone in 2011 in an attempt to secure a peace deal during the uprising.

Documents discovered in abandoned Libyan government offices following the 2011 revolution revealed Blair's government colluded with Gaddafi to kidnap and fly Libyan dissidents to Tripoli from the UK.

Comment: Can't believe they are doing the "abandoned government offices" document find ploy. What are the chances these are real or accurate? Libya was a progressive and stable democratic country before the West got its mitts on it. (What country do you think, out of a mere 40, is "certainly" supporting terrorists now?)


Paris evacuates underground Republique metro station due to security measures

The Republique underground railway station in Paris was evacuated Tuesday for security reasons, the French state transport operator RATP said. "The Republique station was evacuated on the police's request," the RATP said.

According to the transport operator, the traffic on several lines of Paris metro was restricted due to "security measures."

The Republique station is situated in close proximity to the Bataclan concert hall, one of the venues of the November 13 series of suicide bombings and shootings, which claimed the lives of at least 130 people and injured over 360.


Camp fire kills 18 African migrants, Algeria

African migrants suffer losses as camp goes up in flames.
At least 18 people have been killed and 43 others injured in a fire incident at a camp for African migrants in Algeria.

Emergency services said on Tuesday that the blaze began before dawn at the camp housing about 600 migrants in Ouargla, 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Algeria's capital, Algiers.

According to the head of the Algerian Red Crescent, Saida Benhabiles, "a short circuit triggered the explosion of a heater and the fire." Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.

Algeria has been a top North African destination for sub-Saharans seeking a better life.

Benhabiles said that since 2014, Algeria has managed to send back more than 4,000 migrants from Niger, adding that 400 more migrants were due to be returned to Niger from Ouargla.

According to Benhabiles, the migrants "are constantly on the move. One day, there could be 2,000 (migrants) and the next they are 200."

Post-It Note

Court rules US targeted-killing memorandums to remain secret

A US military MQ-9 Reaper drone flies by during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, November 17, 2015
A federal court has withheld the release of memorandums that would shed light on the legal basis of the US targeted killings overseas.

In a 22-page ruling released Monday by the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of three judges denied a joint effort by the New York Times and The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to obtain the memos under the US Freedom of Information Act, according to Reuters. The ruling was issued on October 22, but was kept under temporary seal to provide time for appeal. The decision largely upheld the initial ruling by US District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan who rejected the plea on October 31, 2014.

The Times and the ACLU were prompted to legally seek the documents after a 2011 US military drone strike in Yemen killed a US citizen named Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki, a cleric who had reportedly joined the ranks of an al-Qaeda affiliate in the Arab country, was accused of directing several terrorist attacks.

The ACLU and the New York Times had initially sought the release of certain memos from the US Department of Justice's office of legal counsel on targeted killings but a district court order rejected their bid. ACLU attorneys and lawyers for the Times argued in their appeal request that the memos constituted "working law" that must be publicly released.

Jameel Jaffer, ACLU's deputy legal director, strongly opposed the ruling, saying that it allows three "crucial legal memos" to remain secret. "In a democracy, there should be no room for 'secret law,' and the courts should not play a role in perpetuating it," Jaffer said. "The government should not be using lethal force based on standards that are explained only vaguely and on facts that are never published or independently reviewed," he added.

Comment: Is there no end to the subterfuge that protects and insulates the actions of the US to keep it "consequence-free?" The truth is the US is in the remote-assassination business, without conscience or discrimination.


Strategy of Tension? Bomb explodes in central Athens outside business federation offices

© Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters
Forensic experts search for evidence on a street where a bomb exploded outside the entrance of the Hellenic Business Federation offices in Athens, Greece, November 24, 2015.
A bomb has exploded outside the Federation of Greek Industries' offices in Athens. The blast, thought to be the work of domestic groups, damaged nearby buildings but did not cause any casualties.

The explosive device had been placed in a backpack near the entrance of the Hellenic Business Federation's offices. It was triggered by a timer set for around 3:30m local time.


Deadly explosions at hotel hosting Egyptian election judges in Arish

© Google Maps
Two bombs have exploded near a hotel in Egypt's volatile Sinai region, where election judges were staying. At least three people have been killed, including a policeman, and 12 injured, security and medical sources said, as cited by Reuters.

The explosions in Arish come a day after the second round of a parliamentary election. The Army and police cordoned off the scene, while ambulances rushed there. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.

A suicide bomber detonated the bomb in front of the Swiss Inn hotel in the city, a security source told the Vetogate news portal. Reuters cited security sources who said the terrorist attempted to drive his bomb-laden vehicle into the hotel before security forces opened fire, causing the car to explode.


New Jersey cop sues over getting fired for blowing whistle on fellow officer for targeting minorities, perjury

A New Jersey police officer who complained about his department's misconduct is now fighting for his job. He says he is being punished for accusing colleagues of lying to a judge, targeting minorities and strip-searching a minor.

Kyle Pirog, a 16-year veteran at the Bedminster Township Police Department, has filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages, claiming that his department violated New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act by retaliating against him.

He was initially demoted after going to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office with his concerns after his superiors failed to act on them, the Newark Star-Ledger reported on Monday. Now his attorney, Claudia A. Reis, says that Pirog's department has escalated its retaliation. He has been suspended indefinitely without pay since August, with termination pending an internal affairs investigation.

"Police and police departments are entrusted to protect the well-being and safety of the public and most of them do it admirably," Reis said. "But every once in a while you have someone who steps out of that role and targets people. When that happens, you need people to step forward and out of the blue code of silence to report those instances. To then target those very people for retaliation undermines what police and police departments are entrusted to do."

The suit was filed in Morris County instead of the neighboring Somerset County, because Pirog claims that his former coworker lied to the judge who serves the Somerset County Superior Court. The Bedminster Township Police Department, however, says that they are undergoing procedures to terminate Pirog because he committed five rules violations at the department, not in retaliation for whistleblowing. These include running his radar for long periods of time without making stops, falsifying his daily blotter and idling for long periods of time without performing police functions.

Comment: It is sickening that good policing is not rewarded these days.

See also:


Terrorist threats causes US State Dept. to issue travel warning for Americans

© Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters
The US Department of State issued a Worldwide Travel Alert on Monday, warning travelers of the potential risks of terrorism by the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other unaffiliated individuals inspired by those groups.

The alert references past threats made against "large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services" and cites attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali during the past year, as well as the downed Russian airliner over Egypt.