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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
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The Too Big To Fail Banks Are Now Much Bigger And Much More Powerful Than Ever

Wall Street
© The Economic Collapse Blog
The Democrats, the Republicans and especially Barack Obama promised that something would be done about the too big to fail banks so that they would never again be a threat to destroy our financial system. Well, those promises have not been kept and the too big to fail banks are now much bigger and much more powerful than ever. The assets of the five biggest U.S. banks were equivalent to about 43 percent of U.S. GDP before the financial crisis. Today, the assets of the five biggest U.S. banks are equivalent to about 56 percent of U.S. GDP. So if those banks were "too big to fail" before, then what are they now? They continue to gobble up smaller banks at a brisk pace, and they continue to pile up debt and risky investments as if a day of reckoning will never come. But of course a day of reckoning is coming, and when it arrives they will be expecting more bailouts just like they got the last time.

The size of these monolithic financial institutions is truly difficult to comprehend. They completely dominate our financial system and everywhere you look they are constantly absorbing more wealth and more power. The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article....
Five banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.

Five years earlier, before the financial crisis, the largest banks' assets amounted to 43 percent of U.S. output. The Big Five today are about twice as large as they were a decade ago relative to the economy
Despite all of the talk from the politicians, they just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

So why isn't anything ever done?

Well, one reason is because these gigantic financial entities funnel huge quantities of cash into political campaigns.

For example, Barack Obama gives nice speeches about the dangers of the too big to fail banks, but he is also more than happy to take their campaign contributions. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup were all ranked among his top 10 donors during the 2008 campaign.

So do you really expect that Barack Obama is going to bite the hands that feed him?

Of course he is not going to do that.


With its deadly drones, the US is fighting a coward's war

© Daniel Pudles
As technology allows machines to make their own decisions, warfare will become bloodier - and less accountable

The ancient Greeks, unlike the Jews or the Christians, invested their gods with human failings. Divine judgment, they believed, was neither flawless nor dispassionate; it was warped by lust, vengeance and self-interest. In the hands of Zeus, the thunderbolt was both an instrument of justice and a weapon of jealousy and revenge.

Those now dispensing judgment from on high are not gods, though they must feel like it. The people striking mortals down with drones are doubtless as capable as anyone else of self-deception, denial and cognitive illusions. More so, perhaps, as the eminent fictions of the Bush years and the growing delusions of the current president suggest.

Barack Obama began last week's state of the union address by claiming that the troops who had fought the Iraq war had "made the United States safer and more respected around the world". Like Bush, like the gods, he has begun to create the world he wants to inhabit.


Organised system supporting the CIA's rendition programme were in place in several EU countries finds EU special committee

Secret detention centres and an organised system supporting the CIA's rendition programme were in place in several EU countries, according to the findings of European Parliament special committee.

A report investigating allegations of human rights violations claims arrangements existed in Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Denmark, Finland and Britain.

The European Parliament organised hearings with NGO's and human rights institutions to gather additional data about the alleged complicity of some EU member-states' governments in the CIA's rendition programme.

Bad Guys

The Quebec Students Strike

"But the most interesting resistance happening right now is going on in Quebec, Canada. There are, according to one representative report, over 165,000 students on strike from class out of a 495,000 student body.

Quebec is looking to increase their tuition 75% over the next several years; students responded by starting what is now the longest strike in the province's history. It's gone on even though the government has offered to make student loans a nicer, kinder form of debt, with income-contingent repayments while not budging on the tuition hikes...

The campus combines several issues into one - the privatization of public services, the dismembering of social insurance and its replacement with a regime of debt and risk-shifting, the dismantling of the primary means of social mobility with one designed to entrench inequality, which all builds towards a lack of freedom to fully develop ones talents and abilities and be full, productive citizens.

These students are right to fight this battle at the beginning, during the initials cuts. Privatization creates its own justification; the more public universities are defunded and reconceived as a private good, the less civic interest there is in defending them as a public good. And they are also fighting at the beginning of their lives, both for what kind of world they want to live in while resisting the constraints of indenture that we see when this process of privatization and debt reaches its ultimate conclusion - a path the United States is much further along."

The Quebec Students Strike - Rorty


Woman Sobs Over Sexual Violation By TSA Agent

A traveller's sobs were left ignored this weekend, as she was subjected to an invasive pat-down despite her cries - in another blow to the TSA.

A video posted to YouTube captures the weeping woman's ordeal during the security checkpoint at an airport in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jim Hoft, who runs the political blog Gateway Pundit, posted the video on the site, as well as YouTube yesterday.

Mr Hoft wrote: 'This morning at a Midwest airport I witnessed this poor woman suffering through this horrible sexual violation'.

It's the latest in a long line of disturbing behaviour during security checkpoints.

Loud sobs can be heard as the woman, wearing a pink sweater, is patted down by a female TSA agent.

The woman's hands are shaking as the agent moves her hands down the woman's legs. The woman is then left alone, and can be seen hunching over, her arms crossed across her body in humiliation.

Star of David

What Israel Does Part 2

Israeli army officer smashes Danish peace protester in face with his rifle.

Lieutenant-Colonel Shalom Eisner is seen ramming his M-16, with both hands, into Danish national Andreas Ias's face as activists took part in a bicycle rally in the occupied West Bank. The incident took place on Saturday 14th April 2012 in the Jordan Valley, near Jericho, where several dozen activists - Palestinian and international - had joined a protest bicycle ride.

They say their planned route was blocked by Israeli soldiers who told them to turn back for their own safety.

The video from Saturday's incident shows him falling to the ground and then being carried away by activists.

Penis Pump

Silvio Berlusconi Trial Hears of Women Dressed as Nuns Stripping

© Daniele Mascolo/EPA
Imane Fadil alleged in court that one of the women dressed as nun was Nicole Minetti, a former TV showgirl now regional councillor for Silvio Berlusconi's party.
A model testifying at Silvio Berlusconi's trial for paying an underage prostitute has given dramatic evidence of young women dressed as nuns and footballers stripping at the former prime minister's parties, and has claimed she was warned not to speak about what she had seen.

Moroccan Imane Fadil, 27, told the court she watched as two young women donned black habits and crucifixes to perform a pole dance before stripping to their underwear. At another party, a Brazilian model wearing a mask of the footballer Ronaldinho and an AC Milan shirt stripped to her G-string.

Fadil is one of at least three women who have come forward to deny Berlusconi's claims that his "bunga bunga" parties at his mansion outside Milan in 2010 were more than just "elegant dinners".

Shocked at what she saw at her first party, Fadil said Berlusconi took her into his office and handed her a watch, earrings and €2,000 (£1,650) in an envelope, stating: "Don't be offended, but I know you women are always in need."

Fadil said she declined to stay the night, and claimed the women who did were paid more for sex. "The girls complained they were afraid of diseases," she said. "But they all competed to stay because whoever stayed earned a lot more."

The nights, she said, were arranged by Nicole Minetti, a former TV showgirl now regional councillor for Berlusconi's party - who was one of those allegedly dressed as a nun - and Emilio Fede, a former newscaster on one of his TV channels.


10 Big Companies That Pay No Taxes (and Their Favorite Politicians)

Between 2008 and 2011, 26 major American corporations paid no net federal income taxes despite bringing in billions in profits, according to a new report (PDF) from the nonprofit research group Citizens for Tax Justice. CTJ calculates that if the companies had paid the full 35 percent corporate tax rate, they would have put more than $78 billion into government coffers.

Here's a look at the 10 most profitable tax evaders and the politicians their CEOs, employees, and PACs give the most money to,


War on Drugs 'Not Working,' Harper Says

Stephen Harper
© The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with the media during a news conference following the closing of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Sunday April 15, 2012.
News conferences with Canada's Prime Minister don't happen every day - which, of course, increases the likelihood that, when he does hold one, he'll make news.

But it's even rarer that you'll hear Stephen Harper concede that the war on drugs is a failure.

It happened, though, after two days of listening to Latin American leaders explaining just how costly, and bloody, the war is.

Harper met Canadian journalists and readily admitted differences over the exclusion of Cuba from the Latin summit. He admitted, too, to a disagreement over British rule in the Falkland Islands.

But he was not ready to agree that the division over drug policy is so clear-cut. Rather, he insisted that there is much agreement. Then came the most interesting quote of the day.

"What I think everybody believes," Harper said, "is that the current approach is not working. But it is not clear what we should do."

Eye 1

Spain plans 'draconian' new social networking laws in street protest clampdown

Spain has been accused of planning "draconian" new laws against street protests by curbing the use of social networking.
general strike, Madrid, Spain
© Reuters
Protesters shout slogans during a general strike in Madrid, Spain in March 2012
Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the Spanish interior minister announced in Congress on Wednesday that a reform of the penal code was planned to criminalise those involved in organising street protests that "seriously disturb the public peace".

Under the laws, a minimum jail term of two years could be imposed on those found guilty of instigating and carrying out violent acts of protest under a new package of measures unveiled on Wednesday.