Welcome to Sott.net
Mon, 04 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters

Star of David

Jewish groups worried by Vatican gesture

Bishop Williamson
© Reuters
Bishop Williamson. 'Promoting anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism'
More than 40 years of progress in Catholic-Jewish relations may be called into question by attempt to reach out to group of breakaway traditionalist Catholics, including Holocaust-denying bishop.

Some Jewish groups voiced concern Friday that the Vatican might be calling into question more than 40 years of progress in Catholic-Jewish relations by reaching out to a group of breakaway traditionalist Catholics that includes a Holocaust-denying bishop. The Vatican has been working for years to bring the breakaway Society of St. Pius X back into its fold, and this week told its members they must accept some core church teachings if they want to be fully reintegrated into the church.

But the Holy See said some expressions contained in documents from the Second Vatican Council could be left open for "legitimate discussion."

The 1962-65 Vatican II meetings brought modernizing reforms to the Catholic Church, including outreach to Jews and introduction of the Mass in the vernacular rather than Latin. The Swiss-based Society of St. Pius X was formed in 1969, opposed to many of Vatican II's reforms. The Vatican refused to say which core teachings the society must accept to be reintegrated, and which elements of Vatican II documents could be left open for discussion. A key Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate, revolutionized the Catholic Church's relations with Jews by declaring that Christ's death couldn't be attributed to Jews as a whole. Other Vatican II teachings to which the society objects concern religious freedom and ecumenical relations.

Card - VISA

BA Faces €50m Bill for Carbon Emissions

BA tail
© Bloomberg
British Airways faces a bill of nearly €50m, the highest of any airline, when carriers around the world are brought into the European Union's carbon emissions trading scheme next year, a new study estimates.

But BA and other large European carriers will face a relatively smaller burden than their rivals in the US and China, because they should get an average of 81 per cent of the carbon allowances needed under the scheme for free. The Chinese and American carriers will only get an average of up to 64 per cent, says the report by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, the energy research firm.

Bad Guys

The Future of Greece Rests on a Phone Call

Greek protest
© Orestis Panagiotou/EPA
Further Greek austerity measures could lead to a repeat of the civil unrest of summer 2011.
'Make-or-break' conversation between finance minister, EU and IMF will determine next measures to prevent default

Europe's debt crisis has intensified after Greece's embattled government said the country's financial future would rest on a make-or-break conference call with EU and IMF officials on Monday.

Signalling that the 20-month saga had reached crunch point, Athens' finance minister prepared the austerity-weary nation for further belt-tightening, saying the time had come for "decisive" action to avoid a Greek default.

"There is great volatility in the markets," Evangelos Venizelos said after emerging from crisis cabinet talks. "If we want to avoid default, to stabilise the situation, to remain in the eurozone ... we must take big strategic decisions.

Arrow Down

Europe Digs Ever Deeper Debt Hole

Greek protest
A protester sets fire to copies of Euro banknotes outside the Bank of Greece headquarters during a global day of action 'against the dictatorship of markets' in Athens
Europe is digging an ever-deeper hole as it vows to resolve the eurozone crisis, experts said on Sunday as Greece readies for a pivotal week of international debt diplomacy.

"The otherwise fractious European Union leaders have united in their criticism of the markets, the IMF and now (US Treasury Secretary) Tim Geithner -- for being honest about the scale of problems facing the eurozone," Sony Kapoor, head of the Re-define think tank, told AFP.

En route to New York and a frantic week at International Monetary Fund, World Bank and G20 gatherings, he said "kill the messenger seems to be the new strategy" for an EU "plagued by parochialism, pettiness and procrastination."

Bad Guys

The Dangerously Deranged Ethics of Biotech Agriculture

© layogamagazine.com
My unease about genetically engineered crops and animals dates back to the beginning. I had immediate concerns in the late 1980s and early 90s as I began to learn about the technology and associated marketplace machinations. Over the following decades as more and more facts emerged my concerns deepened.

Then just a couple of weeks ago my misgivings were rudely provoked to the forefront when I read an op-ed column by Nina Federoff, published in The New York Times. Her column amounted to a fact-deficient apologia for the GMO industry, and an exhortation to charge heedlessly forward with genetically engineered food. For me, and for millions of other people, this is a massively deranged and dangerous proposition.

So many factors are coming to a head now. Widespread famine, a global land grab, soaring food prices, a horde of profit-mad speculators, drought on the scale of the Dust Bowl, a host of other wildly wobbling environmental events, and a huge, well-organized, well-funded propaganda push by corporate industrial agriculture to claim that the only sensible way forward is with genetic engineering and its allied cauldron of petrochemical-based herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. But it's not the only way forward. It is, instead, a profoundly perilous pathway encouraged by what I regard as dangerously deranged ethics.

Eye 2

US: Obama to seek a new tax rate for wealthy

obama tax rich
© Larry Downing/Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out part of his budget plan Monday, which includes more taxes on the wealthy.
President Barack Obama is expected to seek a new base tax rate for the wealthy to ensure that millionaires pay at least at the same percentage as middle income taxpayers.

A White House official said the proposal would be included in the president's proposal for long term deficit reduction that he will announce Monday. The official spoke anonymously because the plan has not been officially announced.

Obama is going to call it the "Buffett Rule" for Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained that rich people like him pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than middle-class taxpayers.

Comment: Don't hold your breath. Whatever legislation might get passed, you can bet there will be plenty of loopholes in the fine print.

Bad Guys

Obama's Economic Quagmire

© Alex Wong/Getty Images
Frank Rich and Adam Moss Talk About What's Really in Ron Suskind's Revealing New Book About the White House

Adam: Hi, Frank. So there's a little commotion about this new book Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, which is being published on Tuesday. And as it happens, you and I have actually read it! So let's talk about that this week. To give readers a super-fast overview, it's a book, essentially, about Obama's economic team during his first two years in office. The news of the book, according to some reports, is that Tim Geithner was insubordinate to the president, pursuing his own pro-banker agenda. Or, according to other reports, that Larry Summers was insubordinate to the president, pursuing his own - well, monomaniacal agenda. I'd add that it's also about Rahm Emanuel being insubordinate to the president, just because. Basically, it's about the presidency being hijacked by these three guys. And the guys thing is important because they're pretty awful to women. Anyway, they're the villains. Paul Volcker, Christina Romer, and Elizabeth Warren are the heroes. Bankers win, America loses. Did I get that right?

Frank: Hi, Adam, and yes, you did! I would point out that among the other heroes are more women (Sheila Bair, Brooksley Born, Maria Cantwell) and at least one man, the Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who also seems to be a serious Suskind source and who has now returned to the White House to succeed Austan Goolsbee and Romer as head of the Council of Economic Advisers. Not that that will do any good. I think the portrait of Geithner is devastating - his countermanding of the president's wishes to make a Wall Street object lesson of Citigroup, his nasty "Elizabeth Warren strategy" to silence and neuter the administration's rare genuine reformer. And yet Geithner is the only member of the original economic team still standing in the White House, poised to countermand any other rare independent voice that might yet speak up, like Krueger's.


Geithner Ignored Obama Order to Plan for Citigroup Wind Down

Timothy Geithner

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner ignored an order in 2009 from President Barack Obama to prepare a plan to "wind down" Citigroup Inc., once the biggest bank in the world, according to a book to be released next week.

Geithner didn't proceed with Obama's order to develop a plan to dissolve New York-based Citigroup in March 2009, several months after the bank had received a $45 billion taxpayer bailout, according to Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Bloomberg News obtained a copy of the book's manuscript. The book, published by New York-based HarperCollins, is to be released Sept. 20.

Citigroup, led by Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, posted $29.3 billion in combined losses for 2008 and 2009, much of them tied to subprime mortgages. U.S. taxpayers also guaranteed more than $300 billion of the lender's riskiest assets to prop up the company as it neared collapse. Obama wanted to consider restructuring the bank while Geithner would also proceed with stress tests of the country's lenders, according to the book.

Bad Guys

Europe Rejects US Rebuke Over Debt

geithner hypocrisy
European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet says the financial position of the 17-member euro zone is better than that of other major economies.

Trichet spoke Saturday at the end of a two-day meeting of European Union finance ministers in Wroclaw, Poland. He described the medium-term prospects for euro zone countries as "quite encouraging."

His remarks follow comments Friday by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who urged the EU to take quick action on its financial crisis. Geithner also said political wrangling in Europe is making the situation worse.

Geithner's appearance at the Poland meeting signaled growing American concern that Europe's financial crisis may threaten the U.S. economic recovery.

Bad Guys

US: 30,000 Children Face Destitution from Welfare Cut in Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder.

Governor Rick Snyder.
On September 6, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a new lifetime limit of 48 months for receiving cash welfare benefits in the state of Michigan.

It is estimated that 12,600 families, including 11,188 adults and 29,707 children, will be affected immediately. These families will lose an average of $515 a month beginning October 1.

"Since cash assistance is the source of income for some families and is how they pay for rent, they will have to find a different place to live," Judy Putnam, communications director for the Michigan League for Human Services, told the media. "We're very fearful that many families will be left homeless."