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Dozens of Police Evict Georgia Family at Gunpoint at 3am

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© unknown
The eviction might have been another anonymous descent into poverty were it not for Occupy Atlanta activists who tried to help the family stay.


Four generations of a Georgia family were evicted at gunpoint by dozens of sheriffs and deputies at 3am last week in an Atlanta suburb. The eyebrow-raising eviction, a foreclosure action, might have been another anonymous descent into poverty were it not for Occupy Atlanta activists who tried to help the family stay in Christine Frazer's home of 18 years.

The eviction came as Frazer, 63, who lost her husband and then job in 2009, had been challenging the foreclosure in county and federal courts by seeking to restructure the terms of a delinquent mortgage. However, the latest holder of her loan, Investors One Corporation - the fourth company that bought her mortgage in an eight-month period - allowed the eviction to proceed even thought it was "negotiating" new loan terms with her attorney one day before the police raid.

DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown told an Atlanta talk radio show a day after the raid that a dozen squad cars and dozens of deputies were needed for the dead-of-night raid because Occupy Atlanta had set up tents on Frazer's property, and his perception of the Occupy activists in other cities led him to believe they could be armed. He also said he timed the eviction to avoid media coverage.

Ambulance

Up to half of all Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strike, 10 transferred to Israeli hospitals

Palestinian protesters
© Noam Moskowitz/Flash90
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a demonstration on Friday at Qalandiya checkpoint in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

A senior Hamas official warned Israel on Friday of dire consequences if any Palestinian prisoners die as a result of an ongoing hunger strike.

Two imprisoned Palestinians, Bilal Diab, 34, and Thaer Halahla, 27, have refused food for 66 days, and over 1,550 Palestinian security detainees have joined their strike since April 17.

Diab made matters worse on Saturday by refusing medical treatment.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said that Diab and Halahla are suffering from "life-threatening conditions, including severe weight loss, nerve damage, dehydration, decreased muscle tone and low blood pressure."

They were reportedly transferred to an Israeli hospital on Friday. In total, 10 Palestinian prisoners were transferred to Israeli hospitals as a result of the hunger strike, according to Mansour.

The 10 men are among 1,500 to 2,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to demand better conditions and an end to detention without trial.

Light Sabers

Hollande and the Banksters: New French President Vows to 'Fight Austerity'

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© Getty
French President-Elect Francois Hollande celebrates victory in the place de la Cathedrale on May 6, 2012 in Tulle, France.
Francois Hollande, who defeated French President Nicolas Sarkozy to become the first Socialist in 17 years to control Europe's second-biggest economy, pledged to push for less austerity and more growth in the region.

"Europe is watching us," he told supporters in Tulle, France, last night after he won about 52 percent of the vote. "Austerity isn't inevitable. My mission now is to give European construction a growth dimension."

Hollande inherits an economy that is barely growing, with jobless claims at their highest in 12 years and a rising debt load that makes France vulnerable to the financial crisis that has rocked the euro region the past two years. Sarkozy became the ninth euro leader to fall in that time and the first French president in more than 30 years to fail to win re-election.

Hollande's comments were echoed in Greece, where voters flocked to anti-bailout groups, leaving the two main parties, New Democracy and Pasok, a seat short of a majority if they govern together, an Interior Ministry projection showed. His victory may sharpen tensions with key allies with Hollande advocating a more aggressive European Central Bank role in spurring growth -- a measure opposed by Germany.

Attention

Americans: Too Broke to go Bankrupt

Broke
© The Burning Platform
This year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to be too broke to file for bankruptcy.

The average cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the most common form of consumer bankruptcy, is more than $1,500, according to recent research submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

As a result, anywhere between 200,000 and one million consumers are estimated to be unable to afford that steep cost this year.

The research, conducted by a group of professors from Columbia University, the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, examined how bankruptcy filings spiked after people received their tax rebates in previous years. They estimate that another 200,000 consumers, who would otherwise not have enough money to file, will use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy this year.

"For lots of people, bankruptcy has been taken off the table as an option because of the severe fees involved," said Jialan Wang, co-author of the report.

Among those fees is a charge of about $300 just for filing the paperwork with the federal court, while the rest typically goes to bankruptcy lawyers, said Wang.

And there are other expenses on top of that, including fees for mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and a pre-discharge debtor education course. These average about $85 altogether, according to a recent study sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

That means many of the Americans who have seen their debt snowball out of control due to events like job loss, foreclosure or a medical emergency during the economic downturn are now left without their last financial lifeline, she said.

"It becomes harder and harder to pay off the debt as interest payments get higher, so your debt grows larger and larger," she said.

Stop

South Korea Targets Smuggled Capsules of Human Flesh

Pills
© Psychonaught via Wikimedia
Unmarked Pills. No telling what's in there.
South Korea is saying this morning that its customs officials are stepping up their inspections targeting smuggled capsules that contain the powdered flesh of dead human babies.

How's that for something to wash down with your third cup of coffee this morning?

The capsules originate in northeastern China, probably in Jilin province, which shares a border with North Korea.

Since August, South Korean authorities have thwarted 35 smuggling attempts accounting for 17,450 capsules containing the powdered flesh of human babies whose bodies were "chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder," the Associated Press reports.

It's uncertain where exactly the babies are coming from or who is making the capsules, but it is known that some people consider such pills to be a panacea for a range of physical ailments.

Real science tells us that they are actually chock full of potentially harmful bacteria. Plus, they are made from human babies. We can't stress that enough.

Camera

Tourist mauled by cheetahs as she protects children from attack at game reserve in South Africa, Husband stands by to take photos

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© Archibald D'Mello
The photos taken by a tourist from Scotland show his wife on the ground, hair flying, blood on her neck, with two cheetahs nearby.

The Port Elizabeth Herald reported Friday that Violet D'Mello of Aberdeen, Scotland, was attacked by cheetahs on April 28 while in a petting pen with the animals at a game reserve near Port Elizabeth in southeastern South Africa.

It says she was attacked while trying to protect young children from another group that was in the enclosure at the same time. Her husband took photos of the attack, which were published by the local newspaper and others.

One of the photos taken by Archie D'Mello shows Violet D'Mello smiling and posing with a cheetah raised by humans in the enclosure, before, as she told the Herald, "it became serious very quickly."

Wall Street

Argentine Economic Expansion Led by Domestic Consumption and Investment, Not a Magic Soybean!

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© Diego Giudice/Getty Images
Soybeans sit in a field before being harvested in Ines Indart, Argentina.
Argentina's record levels of employment and massive reductions in poverty have little to do with exports

One of the great myths about the Argentine economy that is repeated nearly every day is that the rapid growth of the Argentine economy during the past decade has been a "commodity export boom". For example, the New York Times reported last week:

"Riding an export boom for commodities like soybeans, Argentina's economy grew at an average rate of 7.7% from 2004 to 2010, almost twice the average annual growth of 4.3% in Chile, a country often cited as a model for economic policies, over the same period."

Michael Shifter, the president of the inter-American dialogue and probably the most quoted source on Latin America in the US press, wrote in a disparaging article about Argentina this week that "If the sales and price of soybean, Argentina's principal export (mainly to China), remain high, then the country may be able to continue its path of economic growth."

I haven't seen any economists make the claim that Argentina's remarkable economic growth over the past nine years - which has brought record levels of employment and a two-thirds reduction in poverty - has been driven by soybeans or a commodities export boom. Maybe that is because it is not true.

Magic Wand

People Power! Thousands March in Japan Against Nuclear Power as Final Reactor Switches Off

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© Itsuo Inouye / AP
Participants raise banners with a slogan, "Good bye, nuclear power station", at a rally protesting against the usage of nuclear energy in Tokyo Saturday, May 5, 2012. Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the last of this nation's 50 nuclear reactors switching off Saturday, shaking banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.
Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the switching off of the last of their nation's 50 nuclear reactors Saturday, waving banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.

Japan was without electricity from nuclear power for the first time in four decades when the reactor at Tomari nuclear plant on the northern island of Hokkaido went offline for mandatory routine maintenance.

After last year's March 11 quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, no reactor halted for checkups has been restarted amid public worries about the safety of nuclear technology.

"Today is a historic day," Masashi Ishikawa shouted to a crowd gathered at a Tokyo park, some holding traditional "koinobori" carp-shaped banners for Children's Day that have become a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement.

Chart Pie

Plutocracy: Extreme Income Inequality the Major Reason for the Great Recession

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© epi.org
Before the Great Recession, I would sometimes give public lectures in which I would talk about rising inequality, making the point that the concentration of income at the top had reached levels not seen since 1929. Often, someone in the audience would ask whether this meant that another depression was imminent.

Well, whaddya know?

Did the rise of the 1 percent (or, better yet, the 0.01 percent) cause the Lesser Depression we're now living through? It probably contributed. But the more important point is that inequality is a major reason the economy is still so depressed and unemployment so high. For we have responded to crisis with a mix of paralysis and confusion - both of which have a lot to do with the distorting effects of great wealth on our society.

Put it this way: If something like the financial crisis of 2008 had occurred in, say, 1971 - the year Richard Nixon declared that "I am now a Keynesian in economic policy" - Washington would probably have responded fairly effectively. There would have been a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of strong action, and there would also have been wide agreement about what kind of action was needed.

But that was then. Today, Washington is marked by a combination of bitter partisanship and intellectual confusion - and both are, I would argue, largely the result of extreme income inequality.

Comment: Our entire political and economic system has been taken over by pathologicals. To really understand this, read Political Ponerology: A Science of Evil Applied for Political Purposes


Book

Pathological Liar? New Biography of Lillian Hellman Shows Her True Character

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© en.wikipedia.org
Lillian Hellman
Respected historian Alice Kessler-Harris recently published a biography of Lillian Hellman entitled "A Difficult Woman" -- which book critic Maureen Corrigan describes as the most tactful adjective one can use to describe Hellman. Hellman was likely the most successful American woman playwright of the 20th century -- one who also drank heavily, chain-smoked, and lived a sexually liberated life, while also having a 30-year open relationship with fellow writer Dashiell Hammett.

Hellman's success as a playwright began with her 1934 play "The Children's Hour," telling the story of a two teachers at a girls' school falsely accused of lesbianism -- a subject so explosive at the time that when the play was adapted into the movie "These Three" in 1936 the accusation had to be changed to a conventional affair with a man. Over the years, Hellman achieved financial success with other plays like "The Little Foxes," "Watch on the Rhine," and "Toys in the Attic."

Hellman lived a controversial life -- besides her unconventional personal life, she was an avid supporter of the Soviet Union even after Stalin's crimes became well-known, and refused to "name names" before Congress during the early 1950s; yet, she escaped punishment and became something of a hero for refusing to testify. After giving up play-writing, she wrote three best-selling memoirs.

And there her reputation might have rested were it not for an incident in 1979 when Dick Cavett interviewed writer Mary McCarthy.