Monthly Archives: April 2013
Aamer has been cleared for release twice, but is still behind bars after 11 years. He has never been charged or faced trial but the US refuses to allow him to return to the UK, despite official protests by the British government.
A 40-strong medical back-up team has arrived at Guantánamo Bay, as the number of inmates taking part in a hunger strike continues to rise, the US military has confirmed. By Monday, 100 detainees were refusing food, with 21 having been approved for force-feeding.
Authorities said that the “influx” of medical reinforcements had been weeks in the planning. But the news will fuel speculation that the condition of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is deteriorating. Shaker Aamer, the last British resident being kept at the centre, told his lawyer earlier this month that authorities will soon see fatalities as a result of the current action.
“I cannot give you numbers and names, but people are dying here,” said Aamer, who is refusing food.
The action is a protest against conditions at the centre, as well as the indefinite nature of the remaining prisoners’ confinement. Aamer has been cleared for release twice, but is still behind bars after 11 years. He has never been charged or faced trial but the US refuses to allow him to return to the UK, despite official protests by the British government.
Of the 166 detainees left at Guantánamo, almost two-thirds are on hunger-strike. Five of those approved by guards to be subjected to force-feeding are in hospital.
Increased media attention to the plight of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay has led to renewed calls for President Barack Obama to close the camp. In the face of pressure from Congress, Obama dropped a 2008 campaign pledge to close the camp.
The current hunger strike is believed to have begun on 6 February and initially involved a minority of detainees. But the number taking part has steadily increased. Two weeks ago, guards attempted to break the resolve of those refusing food by moving detainees from communal areas and placing them in single cells, where they could be monitored more closely. That action led to violent clashes in which US troops fired four “less-than-lethal” rounds on inmates.
US authorities said on Monday that the decision to bring in a back-up medical team was made as increasing numbers of inmates began to refuse food. “We will not allow a detainee to stave themselves to death and we will continue to treat each person humanely,” a Guantánamo Bay spokesman, Lt Col Samuel House, said.
He added: “Detainees have the right to peacefully protest, but we have the responsibility to ensure that they conduct their protest safely and humanely.”
Illustration Mice Hell
The 19th-century term Gom’beenism, the practice of borrowing or lending at usury, is increasingly referenced in relation to Ireland’s domestic economic practices. Conor McCabe takes a look at the history of the Irish middleman and argues that they haven’t went away.
On Tuesday 3 January 1882 the nobility and landed gentry of Ireland met in Dublin to discuss the future of the island. Among those present was R.J. Mahony, a landowner from Kerry. He stood and said that the recently-passed land act would be the ruin not only of the landlords but of the small farmer as well. He explained that as soon as the landlord class was put out of the way, another would come along to take their place.‘The merchant, the trader, the usurer, the gombeen man,’ said Mahony, were ‘the future rulers of the land.’ Mr. Mahony called these the middlemen, and although he may have had his reasons for defending landlordism, his warnings were not without foundation. Forty years later the middleman were in the ascendancy and set about carving the newly-independent free state in their image – and we’ve been living with the consequences of that ever since.
Just who were these middlemen? In an article published in 1982 Michael D. Higgins wrote that the mainstream image of the period – and the one taught at secondary level – was one of poor small farmers fighting against perfidious, foreign landlords. However, what was glossed over in such a black and white analysis was that there was another struggle – a class struggle – going on, one that involved small farmers and the rancher/grazier families. These large rancher farmers fattened cattle for export, and occasionally they were the local shopkeepers, the arbiters of credit in the community, and the dispensers of loans. It gave them significant societal influence and power. Not all shopkeepers were graziers, of course, but neither one was the friend of the smallholder. The social relations which underpinned Irish rural society were not only framed by land, but by credit: those who needed it, and those who profited from it. And in the north and west of Ireland, it was the Irish entrepreneurial spirit of the middleman and his gombeen cousin that held sway over credit.
Today the middleman is concerned with the tax avoidance, commercial property and resource licences. In the nineteenth century it was the sub-letting of land. The link between the centuries is the practice of positioning oneself between foreign capital and the resources of the island. In an article for the London Times on 7 October 1845 the newspaper’s Irish correspondent explained the ‘middleman’ system to his English readers. Large tracts of land, including waste-land, were let by landlords to a class of businessman known as middlemen. ‘The middleman of 100 acres is no farmer as in England, who invests his capital and skill and industry in the land, and looks for a fair profit,’ write the journalist. The middleman’s ‘laziness makes him prefer doing nothing, his greediness and necessities make him resort to subletting at exorbitant rents to poor tenants, whilst he lives an idle, useless extortioner on the profit rent.’ The poor tenants, in turn, become themselves rent-seekers. ‘He lets out an acre out of his farm of six acres in conacre to some wretched labourer’ wrote the correspondent, ‘who for the potatoes grown on this land is perhaps compelled to work for the farmer the whole year.’
This is not to say that the middleman and gombeen man always got their own way. In the early 1850s the sin of usury and profiteering was punished in the North-West of Ireland by local secret societies such as the Ribbonmen or Molloy Maguires. In one particular case in 1852, recounted by an ex-policeman 50 years later in the Irish Times, three men ‘known as gombeen men purchased agricultural produce in the harvest time and sold out seed in the spring time to needy farmers… touching heavy interest on their three or six months’ bills.’ Their business acumen brought them to the attention of the Ribbonmen. The ex-policeman explained what happened next:
When a gombeen man infringed the rules of the Ribbonmen he was put on trial, and if found guilty, the sentence was carding. His house was visited by a select party of these legislators, generally between midnight and 2am, and he was taken out of bed naked, and placed on a chair in the room, and a pair of wool cards were used with vigour on his chest and back until the blood flowed freely. He was then solemnly cautioned to obey their orders in the future or worse would follow….. The parish priest denounced [the Ribbonmen] from the altar, and a message was conveyed to him to mind his own business.
By the end of the nineteenth century the middleman had expanded their business model into the cities. The decline of Dublin in the decades after the Act of Union and the retreat of the landed gentry from the city opened up the Georgian squares and grand houses to the speculator and rank-renter. In his evidence to the 1884-85 Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes, the chief medical officer of Dublin, Sir Charles Cameron, was scathing in his criticism of this urban class of middlemen. In the word of his biographer, Lydia Carroll, this class ‘rented houses from absentee landlords, to re-let at exorbitant rents to the poor.’ Cameron in his evidence stated that they ‘live by screwing the largest amount of rent they can out of the tenants. The disproportion between the rents which the actual owner of the house gets and the rents these house jobbers get out of the tenants is sometimes as one to three.’
In 1924, when the dust had settled on the Civil War, and with the industrial north ensconced in its own mini-state, the grazier, shop-keeper, rank-renter and gombeen man set about the task of carving the Irish State in their image. And what a sight it is to behold.
Since the 1920s the gombeen has become a shorthand for all the ills and evils of the Irish business class. The sins of the middleman, the rank rents and money lending, have concertinaed into a Pat Shortt bumbling character of cloth cap and Guinness stains proportions. And throughout the history of the state, although the type of business has changed, the underlying principles have not. The Irish entrepreneur is still a rentier-class, still acting as middleman between foreign capital and the resources of the State – but whereas before it was the Georgian houses that marked their lives, now it’s the IFSC and the law and accountancy firms that make billions by handling the tax-avoidance millions of others. The resource for sale today is the right of a nation-state to set its own tax laws, and to have those tax laws recognised internationally. That is a tradable commodity, one that provides a comfortable living for those engaged in it. The business suit has replaced the cloth cap, but the gombeenism and criminal self-interest remain.
Recently, CEO of Nestle Peter Brabeck declared in an interview that he believes it is an ‘extreme view’ to regard access to water as a Human Right, and that we should instead hand our water supplies over to private companies. It’s quite hard for me, if I’m honest, to find a suitable expression for this level of sociopathic stupidity.
Only the most utterly ignorant, greedy shithusk of a being would think that something like this is a good idea. I exclude the word ‘human’ from that sentence, because presumably you aren’t one if you want to control a substance that is absolutely essential for our survival to make bigger numbers on a computer screen. Being human requires some degree of empathy, and apparently Pete has none.
However, anyone familiar with Nestles’ ‘antics’, if I can use so light a word to describe them, may not be entirely surprised. We are talking about a company who has no fear of causing death and suffering on huge scales for their sacred profit margins. You might remember the baby formula scandal from the late 1970’s for example, which still runs on to this day to some degree, and their use of palm oil contractors who destroy rainforests, drive people off their lands, and kill off endangered species as a result.
But back to the issue at hand. I’d now like to explain why water is obviously a Human Right, and why Mr Brabeck is such a prick. Actually, it’s so simple that I’m sure a 3 year old would grasp the concept without question. Here is the definition of Human Rights from the American Heritage Dictionary:
‘The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.’
There are lots of definitions, some more verbose, some more specific, but they all imply the same thing. I chose this one because it highlights a key point – ‘the right to life’. Perhaps Mr Brabeck, while staring intently at his computer monitor and masturbating over this months sales figures, is not aware of the fact that all human beings (even him – if he is one) are composed of around 70% water.
If we don’t have access to food or water, it’s dehydration that will kill us first, so it’s fairly obvious to anyone with even a modicum of a brain that this must therefore qualify as part of our ‘right to life’, thus being a key component of.. wait for it.. HUMAN RIGHTS. You simply cannot argue that the right to water is not a human right.
As much fun as it is to throw insults at Mr Brabeck and call him stupid, the unsettling truth, and in a way the real issue, is that actually all he is doing is following a preset precedent. Food is already privatised, medical care is privatised (although not entirely, yet, depending where you live), elements of education are privatised.
The problem is that we have already accepted many elements of our Human Rights being controlled by single minded corporations. For these people, the next step is water, because it’s a potential market. If you accept the above argument about water though, then you have to start applying the same argument to all the basic elements of Human Rights, in my mind.
Denying people the right to eat, or the right to shelter, or medical care is really equally as idiotic as what Petey is suggesting, so while he is certainly a valid target for those of us with a brain, we shouldn’t forget the bigger picture. He is, unfortunately, not alone.
Rather than solving Europe’s crisis, EU institutions are allowing corporate elites to further enrich themselves through a fire sale of state assets.
The text and infographics below are excerpted from a new working paper, Privatising Europe: Using the Crisis to Entrench Neoliberalism, which was just released by the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam:
The European Union is currently undergoing the biggest economic crisis since its foundation 20 years ago. Economic growth is collapsing: the eurozone economy contracted by 0.6% in the fourth quarter last year and this slump is set to continue. The euro crisis was incorrectly blamed on government spending, and the subsequent imposition of cuts and increased borrowing has resulted in growing national debts and rising unemployment. Government debts in crisis countries have predictably soared: the highest ratios of debt to GDP in the third quarter of 2012 were recorded in Greece (153%), Italy (127%), Portugal (120%) and Ireland (117%).
Europe’s member states have responded by implementing severe austerity programmes, making harsh cuts to crucial public services and welfare benefits. The measures mirror the controversial structural adjustment policies forced onto developing countries during the 1980s and 1990s, which discredited the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The results, like their antecedents in the South, have punished the poorest the hardest, while the richest Europeans – including the banking elite that caused the financial crisis – have emerged unscathed or even richer than before.
Behind the immoral and adverse effects of unnecessary cuts though lies a much more systematic attempt by the European Commission and Central Bank (backed by the IMF) to deepen deregulation of Europe’s economy and privatise public assets. The dark irony is that an economic crisis that many proclaimed as the ‘death of neoliberalism’ has instead been used to entrench neoliberalism. This has been particularly evident in the EU’s crisis countries such as Greece and Portugal, but is true of all EU countries and is even embedded in the latest measures adopted by the European Commission and European Central Bank.
This working paper gives a broad and still incomplete overview of what can best be described as a great ‘fire sale’ of public services and national assets across Europe. Coupled with deregulation and austerity measures, it is proving a disaster for citizens. Nevertheless, there have been clear winners from these policies. Private companies have been able to scoop up public assets in a crisis at low prices and banks involved in reckless lending have been paid back at citizens’ expense.
Encouragingly though, there have been victories in the battle to protect and improve Europe’s public services which serve as beacons of hope. There is even a counter-trend of remunicipalisation taking place in Europe as people have become aware of the cost and downsides of privatising public services, particularly water. As public awareness grows that the European Commission far from solving the crisis is using it to entrench the same failed neoliberal policies, these counter-movements and growing popular resistance can work together to halt the corporate takeover of Europe.
Did you see the latest indictment of Monsanto making the rounds? It’s a “peer-reviewed” paper in the journal Entropy, co-authored by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, blaming glyphosate, the compound in the herbicide Roundup, for virtually all the ills that can befall us.
But here’s the thing — they made it up. Or, all but. They say, “We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is a ‘textbook example’ of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.” Exogenous semiotic entropy! That sounds serious. Google it, though, and you find that those three words occur together in only place. This paper. They made it up. At first, I thought the whole thing was one of those jargon-laden academic hoaxes but, alas, it isn’t.
Slog through their argument (and, please, if you take this seriously, read the paper!), and you find it boils down to two things. Glyphosate, they claim, 1) inhibits CYP enzymes, which are active in lots of metabolic processes, and 2) disrupts gut bacteria, which are susceptible to its mechanism (disrupting the shikimate pathway), even though humans are not. Therefore, any condition that involves metabolic processes or gut bacteria must be affected by glyphosate exposure. QED!
Here’s the list of ills they blame, at least in part, on Roundup: inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, autism, anorexia, dementia, depression, Parkinson’s, reproductive issues, liver diseases and cancer.
The evidence for these mechanisms, and their impact on human health, is all but nonexistent. The authors base their claim about CYP enzymes on two studies, one of liver cells and one of placental cells, which report endocrine disruptions when those cells are exposed to glyphosate. Neither study is CYP-specific (The effect of pesticides on CYP enzymes, by contrast, has been studied specifically.) As for the gut bacteria, there appears to be no research at all on glyphosate’s effect on them.
Samsel and Seneff didn’t conduct any studies. They don’t seem interested in the levels at which humans are actually exposed to glyphosate. They simply speculated that, if anyone, anywhere, found that glyphosate could do anything in any organism, that thing must also be happening in humans everywhere. I’d like to meet the “peers” who “reviewed” this.
After reading the paper, I had to wonder — who are Samsel and Seneff? Seneff is a Senior Research Scientist in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. Her advanced degrees are in electrical engineering. She describes herself as having “recently become interested in the effect of drugs and diet on health and nutrition.” Samsel describes himself as an “Independent Scientist and Consultant,” and, for the last 37 years, has run Anthony Samsel Environmental and Public Health Services, which does “Charitable community investigations of industrial polluters.” I think it’s fair to say they probably went into this with a point of view.
There’s real danger in bad science like this. Industrial agriculture has created a lot of environmental problems. We have to find ways to reform our food system, but shoddy research only helps Monsanto. If we base our objections on papers like this one, we won’t — and we shouldn’t — be taken seriously.
“The first thing he said when shown the papal apartments at the Vatican was ‘There is room for three hundred people here’ – next thing we knew the place was packed with raving clergymen!” says Cardinal Hugo Strangler, describing the changes being wrought in the Vatican by the recently-elected Pope Francis. “The rave went on all night, with His Holiness himself on the decks, spinning us some wicked mixes of Pat Boone and Cliff Richard! The younger priests were putting away the communion wine and wafers like the world was about to end!” According to Cardinal Strangler, who participated in the conclave which elected Pope Francis, the impromptu rave is typical of the new Pontiff’s interest in using popular culture as a vehicle for disseminating the word of God. “He’s really down with the kids,” explains Strangler. “He’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture – even his Papal name reflects this.” Contrary to popular belief, the Cardinal claims, the new Pope isn’t named for St Francis of Assisi, but rather for Francis Rossi of Status Quo. “By honouring this titan of modern pop music, His Holiness is hoping to demonstrate to the youth of the world that the church still has relevance,” he says. “He’s planning to get down with the kids soon – bringing his Stratocaster out onto the balcony at St Peter’s Square and thrashing out a few classic Quo covers.”
The Pope’s guitar has allegedly already had at least one outing in aid of interdenominational harmony, with Rome rife with rumours of an impromptu jam session involving Pope Francis on lead guitar, his Coptic equivalent on bass and the Dalai Lama on drums. “It is said to have happened in a basement bar near the Vatican, the day after the Holy Father was appointed,” says the Cardinal. “He’d apparently gone to settle his hotel bill, then bumped into the other two spiritual leaders outside the bar and one thing led to another. It is said that they thrashed out a number of old Jimi Hendrix numbers, including Voodoo Child and Purple Haze.” Indeed, stories about the unconventional new Pope’s populist antics are rife throughout the Italian capital, including the claim that the evening after his official inauguration, Pope Francis attended a karaoke night at a local bar, belting out a number of popular hymns and Gregorian chants, to the delight of the rest of the audience. “He is clearly a Pope of the people – in touch with the common man,” comments Strangler. “He understands that we must start preaching the gospel in terms that modern ordinary people can understand, if the church is to survive.”
However, Pope Francis’ pop culture approach to the Catholic faith and, in particular, his calls for it to become the church of the poor, have not met with universal approval in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. “All this ‘Pope a Go Go’ business is all very well, but he’s riskin’ making us a laughin’ stock,” declares Brendan O’Fugh, Bishop of Skibbereen. “At a time when we need to be reassertin’ our moral authority, in the wake of all these kiddie fiddlin’ allegations and the like, the last thing we need is the Pope jitterbuggin’ round the Basilica and singin’ duets with Justin Beiber!” O’Fugh is also suspicious of Pope Francis’ commitment to use the wealth of the church to help the world’s poor. “Look, the poor are poor because it is all part of God’s feckin’ plan, alright? Who are we to question His scheme of things?” says the exasperated cleric. “He creates us all equal, doesn’t He? If some lazy bastards can’t be bothered to get off their arses and make somethin’ of themselves, that’s their problem. The Almighty gave us free will, for feck’s sake, didn’t he? It’s their choice! If we bale ‘em out we’re just goin’ against God’s will!” O’Fugh is worried at the form that Pope Francis’ attempts to help the poor might take. “If we’re not careful, he’ll be holdin’ a feckin’ car boot sale in St Peter’s Square, floggin’ off all of our art treasures at bargain basement prices and givin’ the proceeds to some feckin’ beggars or gyppos!” he declares. “Next thing, he’ll be turning our bloody cathedrals and churches into doss houses! Look, if he really wanted to help the poor, he’d start advocatin’ contraception, wouldn’t he? But that’s not goin’ to happen, is it?”
O’Fugh had favoured a more conservative candidate for the Papacy, following Pope Benedict’s resignation, most specifically Cardinal Franco Hatchet. “He’s the sort of fellah we need to bring some dignity and respect back to the church,” enthuses the bishop. “I know people are always sayin’ he’s some kind of knee-jerk reactionary, but he has some pretty progressive ideas.” O’Fugh has been particularly impressed by Hatchet’s recent theological papers in which he has attempted to show that suicide might not be a mortal sin under certain circumstances – if committed in the name of God, for instance. “There’s no doubt that it opens up some fascinatin’ possibilities,” he muses. “Like the idea of Catholic suicide bombers who could instil real fear into the infidels and sinners. I mean, it’s worked wonders for the Muslims – nobody messes with them, do they? Not that I’m actually advocatin’ sendin’ out our parishioners to blow up abortion clinics – though that would make the bitches think twice about murderin’ their babies – I’m just sayin’ that you don’t see anyone takin’ the piss out of the Muslims now, do you? You don’t get any feckin’ comedians or gobshites on the web crackin’ jokes about Imams buggerin’ kiddies, do you?”
Most leading theologians agree that Hatchet’s already slim chances of becoming Pope were dashed completely by his recent intervention in the child abuse scandals which had threatened to engulf Benedict XVI’s papacy. “All he said was that we were lookin’ at it from the wrong perspective,” says Bishop O’Fugh. “Those kiddies weren’t victims – they were blessed! The so-called abuse they suffered at the hands of priests were actually a test from God – the Bible’s full of that sort of thing: just look at the Book of Job! It was a brilliant bit of scholarship on Hatchet’s part – an attempt to reconcile this alleged abuse with the fact that its alleged perpetrators were supposedly agents of the Almighty!” Controversially, O’Fugh is convinced that the election of Pope Francis was a mistake and is calling for a re-run of the ballot. “I have it on good authority that the white smoke billowin’ out of the chimney was a mistake – they hadn’t actually elected a new Pope at that point,” he confides. “As I understand it, the Cardinals had found a stash of kiddie porn in the room – probably planted by bloody protestants or atheists – and, in order to avoid another scandal, burned the filth in the stove, inadvertently causin’ the white smoke. When they realised what had happened, they panicked and picked a new Pope by drawin’ lots! I mean, they felt that had no choice, the media were clamourin’ for a name and those bloody marchin’ bands were already stampin’ around the square!”
We are led to believe that the world is in recession but these bailed out bankers are still able to make huge profits and pay themselves vast sums of money.
You know a long time ago well maybe not so long the old Imperial powers looted their colonies without showing a drop of remorse.
Today the Imperial powers are dormant and have been overhauled by the financial institutions. These dragons of fiscal matters are today’s new colonists. These people care not a whit for countries or international borders they will rob and plunder wherever the treasure lies.
Goldman Sachs’s Jon Corzine –8th April
Corzine’s spokesman prefers to blame everyone else except the guy in charge. Meanwhile, the wreckage of the economy and the bad faith in justice continues apace.
THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2013
Goldman Sachs paid its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, $21m last year – and granted him a further $5m in bonus shares in January.
The Wall Street bank handed Blankfein $13.3m (£8.7m) in restricted shares and a $5.7m cash bonus on top of his $2m annual salary last year.
His total 2012 pay was $9m more than in 2011, and the highest since the $68m he received in 2007, before the financial crisis struck.
On top of his annual pay Goldman granted him long-term incentive plan (LTIP) shares worth an additional $5m at today’s share price. But he will have to meet performance targets in order to collect the full amount, and the value of the shares could go up or down.
Blankfein’s top four lieutenants collected a total of $72m in annual pay, bonuses and share options last year.
More Preferential Treatment for Goldman Sachs
Posted: 12 Apr 2013 09:20 AM PDT
When Goldman Sachs became a commercial bank in 2008 (in order to save itself from insolvency), it apparently came under commercial bank regulations. However, in 2010 Goldman bought warehouses of aluminum products as an investment even though “[u]nder US banking regulations, banks are barred from owning the physical commodity assets that they operate.”
But, of course, the Federal Reserve gave Goldman 5 years of grace (until autumn 2013) while it decides if Goldman is exempt from the rules. This is another instance of the two-tier system of justice in the US–one for banks and the other for the rest of us.
Goldman Sachs bankers to reward themselves a staggering £8.3billion in bonuses- jan 2013
The bank will be first to unveil its rewards – an average of £250,000 a person
Increase, up from £230,000 last year, comes as families are struggling to make ends meet
Calls for restraint by politicians, who used taxpayers’ money to bail banks out, have fallen on deaf ears
Goldman Sachs paid its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, $21m last year – and granted him a further $5m in bonus shares in January. -April 2013
The Wall Street bank handed Blankfein $13.3m (£8.7m) in restricted shares and a $5.7m cash bonus on top of his $2m annual salary last year.
His total 2012 pay was $9m more than in 2011, and the highest since the $68m he received in 2007, before the financial crisis struck.
Cash bonanza anticipated for Goldmans workers as firm sets aside £2.75bn pay and bonus pot- April 3013
Bankers at Goldman Sachs – including its 6,000 London staff – are in line for another bumper year as results this week are forecast to show average pay packets of £85,000 for the first quarter alone.
Goldman Sachs is Caught In Its Own Web of Deceit 18 Apr 2013
A federal judge, District Judge Susan Wigenton, has upheld Prudential’s $270 million lawsuit against Goldman for fraudulent RMBS it sold to them.
A little bit of justice goes a long way when complete justice is denied.
What Is Goldman Sachs Really Like?
19 Apr 2013
First, Goldman Sachs has paid its latest fine for RMBS fraud to Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP and according to the Bloomberg’s article:
“ABP sued New York-based Goldman Sachs in New York State Supreme Court in January 2012. The company alleged that it purchased certain mortgage-backed securities in reliance on false and misleading statements and that the securities were riskier than had been represented, backed by mortgage loansworth significantly less than had been represented.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Second, Professor Jeffrey Sachs calls the banks what they really are in an audio/video recoding posted at Market-Ticker. He is talking by telephone to a conference of academics discussing ending the fractional reserve lending system in order to repair the financial system by taking liquidity away from bankers who treat their banks as casinos for gambling. He calls the bankers cynical and full of conflicts of interest. Here is a partial transcript of what he thinks the banking system is:
“Prima facie, [it is] criminal behavior. It’s financial fraud on a very large [scale]; there’s a tremendous amount of insider trading…. [John] “Paulson worked together with Goldman Sachs to defraud massively many European banks which bought the toxic mortgages that Paulson had put together…. Goldman ended up paying a small fine and the chair of Goldman, of course, continued in his position and continued [to attend] White house State dinners.”
Other descriptors that Sachs uses for bankers and banking include:
“lawlessness,” “collapse of decency,” “a lot of them are crooks,” “nefarious behavior,”
Goldman Sachs should not be a commercial banking unit. That [it is] is sad.
The banking system is dysfunctional; there is a crisis of values that is extremely deep. Legal structures and regulators need reform. “I regard the moral environment of Wall Street people as pathological.” They bear no responsibility to others; they are tough, greedy, aggressive and out of control and have “gamed the system.” Regulators and the White House remain docile. Politics is corrupt to the core.
According to the Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition fraud can be defined as: “deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage”. In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent “discoveries”, e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain
*As defined in Wikipedia
Generally, this man only opens his mouth to change the foot he has wedged in there. When the two feet are not at home, he comes out with gems that do not inspire confidence… “There must be assistance for small businesses that are creating unemployment throughout the country”(Dáil speech).
Rest assured this man will do nothing concrete to stimulate the retail sector where approx 40,000 jobs have been lost in the past five years. Regretfully due to Government policies, many more localized jobs are uncertain due to the inactivity of this no-getter. Even so, then again, what can you expect from a man who cannot even get around to fixing the local potholes?
John the Promise in another open-mouthed gesture guaranteed the restoration of Breast cancer services to Sligo General hospital within 100 days of Government. During a live interview with Ocean FM concerning the return of cancer services to the North West of Ireland. Perry hung up the phone when questioned on his failure to deliver on his promise. He claimed that the presenter had an agenda against him. What a cringing cop out, what paucity of thought. Perhaps a taste of things to come – A true-blue arrogant fascist to the end.
I have just done this man a slight disservice for I understand he is a high flier when it comes to claiming the few bob.
For expenses in his first twelve months, this man topped the bill. Among his colleagues, he is known as the King of uncertified reimbursement.
In conclusion, what can one say about Perry? Maybe he is a bit like the invisible man. Could you pick him out from a line-up of expense villains? That folk is the story of Perry the obscure, invisible before the election and unseen after it just waiting for his Bisto pension.
Shell exploration manager Roland Spuij – deluded or ignorant?
Printed below is a deluded article written by a Shell exploration manager – Roland Spuij (person on the right) – who apparently is totally ignorant of Shell’s track record of giving a higher priority to production and profits than to the safety of its offshore workers. Either that, or he is trying to deliberate mislead New Zealanders? Same applies to his comments about Shell’s conduct in Nigeria. Has he forgotten that in 2009 Shell paid $15.5 million (£9.7m) as an out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria. 17 pages of correspondence between Shell and the Nigerian Police – authentic exhibits from the litigation – prove Shell supplied arms and ammunition to the Nigerian police force (part of a corrupt murderous regime)
Otago Daily Times
Shell proud of its safety record
It’s good to see Rosemary Penwarden outlining her concerns and for Shell to have the right to respond, something we were unable to do in our recent meeting in Dunedin brought to a halt by other protesters.
Shell welcomes any discussion, including on climate change, so long as it has a chance to present its views. Whether there is oil or natural gas present in any basin is not determined by us or any opponents, but by nature. We have strong scientific evidence, including information from wells previously drilled in the Great South Basin, that we can expect to find gas there, with some associated liquid gas ”condensate”; the chance of finding oil is very low. The first step is to prove the presence of hydrocarbons as part of the exploration phase. It is too early to talk about options for future development concepts, assuming the presence of hydrocarbons is proven.
Shell did not leave anything off the table with our Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment.
At the earliest opportunity we were presenting some of the preliminary findings in order to get feedback. Rafting birds were indeed identified as potentially being affected in the very unlikely case of an uncontrolled release of gas and condensate. Much research was included on the feeding and migratory patterns of rafting birds, including albatross and shearwaters.
Shell operates under detailed processes, using the latest equipment and technology to minimise any credible risk a drilling spill could have on birds and marine life, particularly whales and dolphins. If we proceed to drilling, we will have a complete range of responses to deal with the consequences of any spill, however unlikely.
The video footage acquired by Niwa’s research vessel Tangaroa under contract to Shell does indeed indicate there is little marine life apparent on the surface seabed at the potential drilling site. Shell received the video footage only a few days before the meeting and chose to share it. Our preliminary conclusion is that drilling a single exploratory well over a month would have very limited impacts. We are open to further input.
Shell does not take lightly its often stated commitment to environmental and personal safety. We are a major player worldwide and publish our performance on environmental metrics on an annual basis. The number and volume of operational spills has steadily reduced over recent years but we continue to learn from all our incidents to improve our performance further in the future.
For the record, we were not involved in the 2010 Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, or the Elgin platform gas leak in the North Sea. We agree that the health and safety record for New Zealand is poor across all industries compared with Britain and other countries. The head of Shell New Zealand, Rob Jager, is at present chairing the Government’s Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety.
As for Nigeria, as recently as last week, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a case attempting to link Shell with claims of human rights abuses in the Niger Delta – claims that Shell has always strongly denied. Shell remains firmly committed to supporting fundamental human rights, including those of peaceful protest. Shell acknowledges improvements can be made to our operations there and has made significant progress in reducing spills and gas flaring in recent years. It is important to note that the vast majority of spilt oil in Nigeria is caused by rampant criminality – oil theft and illegal refining. This leads to widespread environmental damage and is the real tragedy of the Niger Delta.
Shell shares concerns about climate change and we see gas as a clean and affordable energy source. Wind, solar and bio fuels are some 1% of the energy mix today and they will have an important role to play beyond 2030. Over the past five years, we have spent US$2.2 billion on developing alternative energies, carbon capture and storage, and other CO2-related R&D.
But industry will need to see more technology development to make renewables cost-competitive with hydrocarbons and less reliant on subsidy; we are working on that for the long term. We do not have coal reserves. Our 2012 total production was split almost equally between oil and gas. Given that natural gas has around half the carbon emissions of coal and about a third that of diesel, this should provide some common ground for discussions on how we address climate change in a world with ever-increasing energy demands. We remain committed to debating all these issues and urge anyone with an interest in New Zealand’s energy future to engage constructively with us.
– Roland Spuij, Shell’s New Zealand exploration manager.
“With Big Brother having ended, we see this as the perfect replacement,” says TV executive Kevin Frooker, introducing his latest format – Celebrity Messiah – to the press. “It’s got everything – the reality TV aspect, celebrities humiliating themselves, interaction with the public, and religion!” The proposed TV series would see a group of celebrities charged with creating their own religion. Each week, the celebrity with the least followers would be kicked off the show – quite literally dragged out of the Celebrity Messiah church by devils, and cast into a fiery pit. “Obviously, the devils are actually production assistants, and the ‘fiery pit’ is an arena full of the baying followers of their rivals,” explains the producer. “But the ‘devils’ will be allowed to poke the evictees with their tridents, and the crowd will be encouraged to throw things and spit on them, just to make the experience as humiliating as possible.”
Frooker admits that the original concept of having evictees burned at the stake as heretics, was rejected after taking legal advice, as were the initial proposals for the eventual winner. “We originally wanted the new ‘Messiah’ to be carried to ‘heaven’ – a luxury penthouse suite packed with booze, drugs and prostitutes – by angels,” he says. “Instead, we’ve settled for them being whisked away in a limousine to the eponymous gay night club.” The celebrities involved would be given considerable leeway in how they go about attracting followers. “They can try and persuade people any way they like, short of beating them up or paying them, obviously, to convert,” enthuses Frooker. “Each week they’ll be set a task – performing a miracle of some sort usually, like feeding five thousand homeless derelicts with only a tin of sardines, or healing cancer patients with the laying on of hands. Of course, we wouldn’t expect them to perform real miracles, just convince people that they had. Some weeks we might skip the miracle, get them to do something humiliating like washing their disciples’ feet, or even better, wiping their arses. Just imagine the likes of Danny Dyer having to wipe the shitty backsides of a couple of dozen tramps. That’d be great television!”
According to Frooker, the participating celebrities will be free to devise any theology they choose to be the basis of their religions – barring those based on race hate, misogyny or child abuse. “We want them to be creative in their religions,” he says. “The more bizarre the belief system involved, the better the entertainment! You’d be surprised the kind of weird shit people can be persuaded to believe in!” Indeed, during the pilot shot for the proposed series, self-styled impressionist and comedian Bobby Davro succeeded in converting over two hundred people to his Church of Latter Day Naturists, which offered salvation through nudity. “Mind you, creating a religion is far more difficult than most people realise,” warns Frooker. “For every L Ron Hubbard, there are a thousand David Shaylers – sad deluded self-publicists confusing cross-dressing with spiritual epiphany.” He points to the fact that in the pilot one-time pop star Kerry Katona found it impossible to attract more than six followers to her cult devoted to the worship of the holy trinity of Father Smirnoff, Junior Cocaine and the divine Iceland giant prawn platter. “It left her an emotional wreck,” says Frooker. “Although I can’t help but feel that rather undermined her cause by continually consuming the entire trinity, leaving nothing for her acolytes.”
Similarly, after an initial surge of enthusiasm, top heavy model Jordan’s breast-worshipping mother cult quickly lost popularity. “I think her disciples were a bit disappointed that it was a huge stone effigy of her knockers they had to jerk off over as their act of worship, rather than the real thing,” the TV executive muses. He warns that the object of the show isn’t for celebrities to actually create their own religions for real. “We don’t want a repeat of Jim Davidson’s attempted Jihad against benefit cheats, illegal immigrants, feminists and lefties,” Frooker says. “That led to an instant disqualification. Really, this isn’t an exercise in egotism, just cheap entertainment.” Nevertheless, as the producer points out, Davidson’s participation in Celebrity Messiah has still boosted his career. “He’s now playing to packed houses of brainwashed acolytes,” he says. “They’re the most receptive audience for his dubious material he’s had since the National Front disbanded – they laugh and applaud all his ‘amusing’ comedy black person voices and misogynistic ‘jokes’.”
Frooker is keen to emphasise that, despite the number of apparent failures on the part of celebrities to create viable religions in the pilot for Celebrity Messiah, there were some notable successes. “Take Darren Day, for instance, who would have thought that he’d be able to persuade so many people to worship his penis,” he muses. “I mean, it isn’t the biggest, or even the most appealing looking, member that anyone’s ever seen, but nonetheless, at one point he had a queue of people over a mile long, lining up to kiss it in order to cure their mouth ulcers and cold sores – not all of them women.” Frooker believes that former gameshow host Day’s success lies in the one- time singer’s instinctive understanding of the appeal of real religions. “It’s all about promising your followers the impossible,” he opines. “With Christianity it’s the promise of salvation and eternal life, with Darren it is the promise that they too can share the power of his penis and enjoy everlasting shagging.”
So successful was the cult of Day’s penis, that he made the final of the pilot version of Celebrity Messiah, facing off against celebrity nutritionist Gillian McKeith and her church of excrement. “The final was where they faced the ultimate test – to be ‘crucified’ in a manner appropriate to their religion,” says Frooker. “Obviously, only a true Messiah would be able to rise again after such an ordeal.” However disaster nearly struck when McKeith narrowly avoided being drowned after being flushed down a giant toilet. “The idea was that she would naturally float back to the surface like a huge turd. Sadly, she got stuck in the U-bend, and had to be freed by divers,” Frooker reveals. “Thankfully, Darren Day fared better, managing to rise again, despite having been forced to masturbate continuously for twelve hours.” Despite the potential humiliations involved, Frooker is confident that there will be no shortage of minor celebrities prepared to appear on Celebrity Messiah, should it be commissioned as a series. “It’s offering them what every celebrity wants: the blind adulation of masses of unquestioning fanatics,” he says. “Just think of the merchandising they could shift with thousands of obedient followers prepared to obey their every edict?”