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Demeter's Journal
Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Dec 10th 2011, 09:48 AM
http://rt.com/news/euro-doomed-global-curr... /

Efforts by European leaders to shoe-horn a range of diverse countries into a rigid financial cage are doomed to fail. But that’s all part of a long-term plan for a global super-currency which can only bring more hardship to ordinary working people...In Greek mythology, Procrustes was the son of Poseidon, God of the deep blue seas. He built an iron bed of a size that suited him, and then forced everybody who passed by his abode to lie on it. If the passerby was shorter than his bed, then Procrustes would stretch him, breaking bones, tendons and sinews until the victim fitted; if he was taller, then Procrustes would chop off feet and limbs until the victim was the “right” size…This ancient story of “one size fits all” seems to have made its 21st Century comeback when Europeans were coaxed into imposing upon themselves an oxymoron; a blatant and conceptual contradiction they call “the euro”. This common supranational currency invented by the French and Germans, boycotted by the UK, ignored by the Swiss, managed by the Germans and accepted by the rest of Europe in blissful ignorance, has finally dropped its mask to reveal its ugly face: an impossible mechanism that only serves the elite bankers but not the working people. It masked gross contradictions as large, far-reaching and varied as the relative sizes, strengths, profiles, styles, histories, econometrics, labor policies, pension plans, industries, and human and natural resources of the 17 eurozone nations, ranging from Germany and France at one end of the scale, to Greece, Portugal and Ireland at the other.

...the euro carries an expiry date; perhaps the eurocrats who were its midwives a decade ago expected that it would live a little longer, maybe even come of age… But they certainly knew that, sooner or later, the euro would die; that it was meant to die. Because the euro is not an end in itself, but rather a transition, a bridge, an experiment in supranational currency earmarked for replacement by a far more ambitious and powerful global currency issued by a global central bank, controlled by a cabal of global private bankers, obeying a New World Order blueprint emanating from a private Global Power Elite.

In fact, today’s euro-troubles are nothing more than one of many variations of sovereignty-troubles. Because when a country’s leaders irresponsibly cede a part or all of its sovereignty – whether monetary, political, financial, economic, judicial or military – it had better take a really good look at what it is doing and what the implications are for the medium and long term...Ceding national sovereignty means that somebody else, somewhere else, will be taking decisions based on other people’s interests. Now, as long as everyone’s interests coincide, then we are OK. But as soon as the different parties’ interests diverge, then you are confronted with a power struggle. And power struggles have one simple thing in common: the more powerful win; the weaker lose.

Now, we have a huge power struggle inside the eurozone. Who do you think will win? Who will impose new policies – Germany or Greece? France or Portugal? Britain or Spain? Germany or Italy? And that is just on the public scene. You also need to look at the more subtle, less media-highlighted private scene, which is where the real global power decisions are made. Will the new Italian PM, Mario Monti, cater for the needs of the Italian people or for the mega-bankers’ lodge sitting on the powerful Trilateral Commission of which he himself is European chairman? The same question goes for Greek president Lucas Papademos, also a Trilateral member. The same question goes for all the governments of the EU member states where the real power brokers are the major bankers, industrialists and media moguls sitting on the Trilateral, Bilderberg, World Economic Forum and Chatham House think-tanks and private lobbies. Global elites will do everything to keep the euro on its transitional path towards a global currency that will eventually replace both the euro and the US dollar. This entails engineering the controlled collapse of both currencies, whilst preparing the yellow brick road for a “Global Dollar” or some such new oxymoron...MORE

*******************************

­Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina. www.asalbuchi.com.ar

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Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Dec 10th 2011, 09:37 AM
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/a...

The idiot of the headline is me in the sense that I am not an economist and have never had any formal association with study of the theory and practise of economics, but… I began to understand why what is today called Western capitalism was bound to crash way back in the early 1970′s when I was researching and producing an epic documentary on the everyday reality of global poverty and its implications for all...When I reflected on what I had witnessed and learned while researching in 120 countries (as well as at the World Bank and many UN agencies) and filming in 69 of them, I let commonsense be my guide. It led me to the conclusion that capitalism was not of itself the problem. It was the short-sighted and stupid way Western capitalism was managed...

By the early 1970′s truly informed development experts were drawing attention to the fact that our one small planet was divided into two worlds – the Rich World containing about 20% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the North), and the Poor World containing about 80% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the South).

In the Poor World an estimated 15 million children under five were dying each year from malnutrition and related and easily preventable diseases such as diahorrea, measles and whooping cough – in a word poverty, abject poverty. And an estimated 300 million more were born brain damaged because of malnutrition in the wombs of their mothers. But those statistics told only a part of the story. The majority of the human inhabitants of Planet Earth were living on the margins of life, without some and in many cases all of the basic necessities for life – shelter, adequate nutrition, clean water, health care, education and work/job opportunities. On each and every continent I asked the poorest parents what was the one thing they most wanted. This was before the age of the mobile telephone and I expected many of them to say a television or some such gadget. What they all said in their various ways echoed one of the poorest Indian women. Her answer was, “Education for my children so they don’t have to live like animals as we do.”

The rich nations were creating their wealth by selling goods and services. It followed that if this wealth creating process was to have a sustainable future and Rich World citizens were to enjoy ever rising material standards of living as promised by their politicians, the global market place needed more and more consumers with the purchasing power to buy what the Rich World nations had to sell...If the managers of Western capitalism (corporate chiefs, bankers and politicians) had not been short-sighted and stupid, they would have said to themselves something like the following. “If we don’t now invest in the development of the poor of the world and bring them progressively into the market place with purchasing power, we are going to run out customers in the numbers needed to buy what we have to sell in order to sustain our system.”

MORE AT LINK...A PIECE TO BOOKMARK AND QUOTE!
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Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Dec 09th 2011, 11:15 PM
So what is the topic to distract us from the sordid reality of global economic and political conditions, you ask. Is it the Olympics? Is it Motown Oldies?

No, today, December 9th is a very special day for us to consider...it is the 190th anniversary of the birth of the man who founded....The Vampire Squid!

"Marcus Goldman, who worked as a peddler with a horse-drawn cart upon arriving in America, and went on to found Goldman Sachs, was born in Germany on this date in 1821. He created an eponymous financial firm in 1869 and took in his son-law, Samuel Sachs, in 1882. Goldman Sachs pioneered the use of commercial paper (IOUs) for business capital and also helped to establish the initial public offering market. The company, now headed by Lloyd Blankfein, paid nearly 1,000 of its executives more than $1 million each after receiving bail-out funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in 2008. Goldman Sachs ranks #1 among financial firms in annual net income, earning close to $10 billion per year. Among the assets it owns seems to be the U.S. government.

“They bundled toxic mortgages into complex financial instruments, got the credit ratings agencies to label them as AAA securities, and sold them to investors, magnifying and spreading risk throughout the financial system, and all too often betting against the instruments they sold and profiting at the expense of their clients.” —Senator Carl Levin http://jewishcurrents.org/december-9-from-...

Marcus Goldman, Entrepreneur

Marcus Goldman was a German immigrant from the Bavarian town of Fürth. He left Germany in 1848 for the United States.

Goldman founded his investment business in 1869, a time when loans and credits were rare and expensive. He bought debt obligation certificates from his clients and sold them to banks in New York, making him a pioneer in the commercial paper business. In 1869 Goldman opened an office located in Pine Street in New York's banking and financial districts. When his son-in-law, Samuel Sachs, joined the business, the company was renamed “Goldman Sachs,” which would become one of the most well-known investment banks in the United States and around the world. The business was listed at the stock exchange in 1896. One of the oldest clients are the companies “Sears” and “Roebuck and Co.”

The first international office was opened in London in 1970, followed by Tokio and Zurich in 1974. Since 1999 the company’s stocks with the ticker abbreviation "GS" are traded at the New York Stock Exchange. http://germanoriginality.com/heritage/peop...




Goldman founded the firm in a one-room office on Pine Street. Goldman bought promissory notes from tobacco and diamond dealers that had been issued by their customers and then sold the notes to banks for a small profit, according to Time magazine. Son-in-law Samuel Sachs joined in 1882 and the firm became Goldman Sachs in 1885...SEE BUSINESS SLIDE SHOW AT LINK

http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/...

Yes, it all started in Germany. Doesn't everything?

Goldman came from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, the son of Ella and Wolf Goldmann, a former schoolteacher and cattle dealer. He immigrated to the United States from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1848 during the first great wave of Jewish immigration to America, resulting from the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states.

Upon arriving in America, he worked as a peddler with a horse-drawn cart and later as a shopkeeper in Philadelphia. There, Goldman met and married eighteen year old Bertha Goldman (no relation), who had also emigrated from Germany in 1848.

In 1869, with his wife and five children, Goldman relocated to New York City and hung out a shingle on Pine Street in lower Manhattan, with the legend Marcus Goldman & Co., setting himself up as a broker of IOUs.

From his earliest days of his business, Goldman was able to singlehandedly transact as much as $5 million worth of commercial paper a year. Successful though he was, Goldman's business was insignificant compared to that of the other Jewish-German bankers of the day. Concerns like J. & W. Seligman & Co., with working capital of $6 million in 1869, were already modern-day investment bankers immersed in underwriting and trading railroad bonds.

Goldman's youngest daughter, Louisa, married Samuel Sachs, the son of close friends and fellow Lower Franconia, Bavaria immigrants. Louisa's older sister and Sam's older brother had already married.

In 1882, Marcus Goldman invited his son-in-law Samuel to join him in the business and changed the firm's name to M. Goldman and Sachs. Business boomed—by 1880 the new firm was turning over $30 million worth of paper a year—and the firm's capital was now $100,000, all of it the senior partner's.

For almost fifty years after its inception, all of Goldman Sachs's partners were members of intermarried families. In 1885, Goldman took his own son Henry and his son-in-law Ludwig Dreyfuss into the business as junior partners and the firm adopted its present name, Goldman Sachs & Co. In 1894, Henry Sachs entered the firm, and in 1896, the firm joined the New York Stock Exchange.

When Marcus Goldman retired, he left the firm in the hands of his son Henry Goldman and his son-in-law Samuel Sachs. In 1904, two of Sam Sachs's sons, Arthur and Paul, joined the firm straight out of Harvard University.

In the summer of 1904, Marcus Goldman died. From humble beginnings, the institution he left behind would soon become a full-service investment bank. With the advent of underwriting, coupled with the extensive lending, foreign exchange, and trading operations, the structure of Goldman Sachs was in place. Although much smaller and less sophisticated, it was already recognizable as the firm it would become.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Goldma...
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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Tue Dec 06th 2011, 08:57 AM
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/a...


September 26, 2011 "TomDispatch" -- More than 10 years ago, before 9/11, Goldman Sachs was predicting that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) would make the world economy’s top ten -- but not until 2040. Skip a decade and the Chinese economy already has the number two spot all to itself, Brazil is number seven, India 10, and even Russia is creeping closer. In purchasing power parity, or PPP, things look even better. There, China is in second place, India is now fourth, Russia sixth, and Brazil seventh. No wonder Jim O’Neill, who coined the neologism BRIC and is now chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has been stressing that “the world is no longer dependent on the leadership of the U.S. and Europe.” After all, since 2007, China’s economy has grown by 45%, the American economy by less than 1% -- figures startling enough to make anyone take back their predictions. American anxiety and puzzlement reached new heights when the latest International Monetary Fund projections indicated that, at least by certain measurements, the Chinese economy would overtake the U.S. by 2016. (Until recently, Goldman Sachs was pointing towards 2050 for that first-place exchange.)

Within the next 30 years, the top five will, according to Goldman Sachs, likely be China, the U.S., India, Brazil, and Mexico. Western Europe? Bye-bye!

Increasing numbers of experts agree that Asia is now leading the way for the world, even as it lays bare glaring gaps in the West’s narrative of civilization. Yet to talk about “the decline of the West” is a dangerous proposition. A key historical reference is Oswald Spengler’s 1918 essay with that title. Spengler, a man of his times, thought that humanity functioned through unique cultural systems, and that Western ideas would not be pertinent for, or transferable to, other regions of the planet. (Tell that howler to the young Egyptians in Tahrir Square.) Spengler, of course, captured the Western-dominated zeitgeist of another century. He saw cultures as living and dying organisms, each with a unique soul. The East or Orient was “magical,” while the West was “Faustian.” A reactionary misanthrope, he was convinced that the West had already reached the supreme status available to a democratic civilization -- and so was destined to experience the “decline” of his title. If you’re thinking that this sounds like an avant-la-lettre Huntingtonesque “clash of civilizations,” you can be excused, because that’s exactly what it was. (Speaking of civilizational clashes, did anyone notice that “maybe” in a recent TIME cover story picking up on Spenglerian themes and headlined “The Decline and Fall of Europe (and Maybe the West)”? In our post-Spenglerian moment, the “West” is surely the United States, and how could that magazine get it so wrong? Maybe? After all, a Europe now in deep financial crisis will be “in decline” as long as it remains inextricably intertwined with and continues to defer to “the West” -- that is, Washington -- even as it witnesses the simultaneous economic ascent of what’s sometimes derisively referred to as “the South.”)

Think of the present global capitalist moment not as a "clash," but a “cash of civilizations.”

If Washington is now stunned and operating on autopilot, that’s in part because, historically speaking, its moment as the globe’s “sole superpower” or even “hyperpower” barely outlasted Andy Warhol’s notorious 15 minutes of fame -- from the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union to 9/11 and the Bush doctrine. The new American century was swiftly throttled in three hubris-filled stages: 9/11 (blowback); the invasion of Iraq (preemptive war); and the 2008 Wall Street meltdown (casino capitalism).

.............................................

It’s worth remembering that capitalism was “civilized” thanks to the unrelenting pressure of gritty working-class movements and the ever-present threat of strikes and even revolutions. The existence of the Soviet bloc, an alternate model of economic development (however warped), also helped. To counteract the USSR, Washington’s and Europe’s ruling groups had to buy the support of their masses in defending what no one blushed about calling “the Western way of life.” A complex social contract was forged, and it involved capital making concessions. No more. Not in Washington, that’s obvious. And increasingly, not in Europe either. That system started breaking down as soon as -- talk about total ideological triumph! -- neoliberalism became the only show in town. There was a single superhighway from there and it swept the most fragile strands of the middle class directly into a new post-industrial proletariat, or simply into unemployable status. If neoliberalism is the victor for now, it’s because no realist, alternative developmental model exists, and yet what it has won is ever more in question. Meanwhile, except in the Middle East, progressives the world over are paralyzed, as if expecting the old order to dissolve by itself. Unfortunately, history teaches us that, at similar crossroads in the past, you are as likely to find the grapes of wrath, right-wing populist-style, as anything else -- or worse yet, outright fascism. “The West against the rest” is a simplistic formula that doesn’t begin to describe such a world. Imagine instead, a planet in which “the rest” are trying to step beyond the West in a variety of ways, but also have absorbed that West in ways too deep to describe. Here’s the irony, then: Yes, the West will “decline,” Washington included, and still it will leave itself behind everywhere...

MUCH MORE AT LINK

*****************************************************************

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and a TomDispatch.com regular. His latest book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Escobar reflects on the fate of the global economy click here, or download it to your iPod here. He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.
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Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Dec 02nd 2011, 07:19 PM
For those unfamiliar with the term:

ad·vent/ˈadˌvent/ Noun:


  1. The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

  2. The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.


Synonyms: coming - arrival - appearance

We can look at both definitions this weekend. First, the liturgical one:


An Advent Wreath

"The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. The Advent Wreath is traditionally a Lutheran practice, albeit it has spread to many other Christian denominations.<1><2><3>

It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles and often, a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Some Advent wreaths include a fifth, "Christ" candle which can be lit at Christmas. The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services.

The ring or wheel of the Advent wreath of evergreens decorated with candles was a symbol in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity. The circle symbolized the eternal cycle of the seasons while the evergreens and lighted candles signified the persistence of life in the midst of winter. Some sources suggest the wreath—now reinterpreted as a Christian symbol—was in common use in the Middle Ages, others that it was established in Germany as a Christian custom only in the 16th century.

Other evidence suggests that the Advent wreath was not invented until the 19th century.<4> Research by Prof. Haemig of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, points to Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath. During Advent, children at the mission school Rauhes Haus, founded by Wichern in Hamburg, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 19 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit. The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four or five candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920s, and in the 1930s it spread to North America.<5> Professor Haemig's research also indicates that the custom did not reach the United States until the 1930s, even among German Lutheran immigrants.

In Medieval times advent was a fast during which people's thoughts were directed to the expected second coming of Christ; but in modern times it has been seen as the lead up to Christmas, and in that context Advent Wreath serves as a reminder of the approach of the feast.

More recently, some Eastern Orthodox families have adopted an Advent wreath with six candles symbolizing the longer Christmas fast in Orthodox tradition, which corresponds to Advent in Western Christianity..." Wikipedia



This variation is a Lucia Crown, part of the festival celebrated in Northern Europe...on December 13th. Again, it is most likely a borrowing from medieval times of a pagan tradition.

So, we await the Darkness, and the Light that is to come after, and a Savior, or Redeemer....and since Barack Obama has most impolitely refused the honor, despite considerable coaxing, as the rabbi and Motel said in "Fiddler on the Roof":

Motel: Rabbi, we've been waiting all our lives for the Messiah. Wouldn't now be a good time for Him to come?

Rabbi: We'll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let's start packing.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Enya

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPHh3nMMu-I

We'll be featuring Enya as our Artist, this weekend. She has a certain following...

Birth Name
Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin

Nickname
The Silver Lady

Height
5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Biography

Eithne, the fourth youngest of nine children, comes from the small village of Dore (Dobhar in Irish) in the Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) region of County Donegal in the northwest of the Republic of Ireland. She now lives in Killiney, a coastal district on the southern outskirts of Dublin The family is very musical and her parents played in a family dance band before settling down. Her father owns a local pub - Leo's tavern in Meenalech (min na Leice) - and her mother Baba taught music in the local school. In 1968, elder brothers Ciaran & Pol, and uncles Padraigh & Noel O Dugain, formed the band "An Clan As Dobhar" to perform traditional Irish music at festivals etc. Changing their name to Clannad, and recruiting sister Maire Brennan in 1973, the band have gone on to international success performing both their own and traditional material. They have recorded a number of albums. Enya joined Clannad in 1980 and, credited under her real name, provided keyboards and (mostly) backing vocals. She appears on their 1982 album "Fuaim". It is often said that she also appeared on their 1980 album "Crann Ull" although she is not listed in the credits. In 1982, Clannad split with their long time manager and producer Nicky Ryan. Eithne, apparently frustrated with being left in the background, left at the same time and, in Ryan's belief that she had talent in her own right, moved to live with him and his wife Roma Ryan and develop her own musical career. In 1985, film producer David Puttnam commissioned Eithne to write music for his film The Frog Prince (1986/II) which was released in 1985. The Titles on The Frog Prince (1986/II) credit music to Enya Ni Bhraonain and the transition of Eithne to Enya had begun. In 1986, BBC-TV began work on a six part documentary series charting the history and continuing cultural influence of the Celts. Enya was signed to write and perform music for the series. "The Celts" (1987) was first shown in 1987 and a selection of its music released under the title "Enya", giving the artist her first album, largely unnoticed at the time. Her 'big break' began in 1987 when she was signed by Rob Dickins, head of WEA Music UK, after he had heard and been entranced by the "Enya" album. WEA's backing made the recording of "Watermark" possible and the album was released in 1988. Although no singles were originally planned, it was the release "Orinoco Flow" (Sail Away) that brought Enya to public attention and resulted in an unexpected chart number one in several countries. She continued the success with her next albums "shepherd Moons" and "The Celts"...Often sings in a mix of Latin and Irish Gaelic.

She adopted the spelling "Enya" in order to avoid having to continually explain how to pronounce her true first name, "Eithne."...Comes from a region in the West of Ireland where the Gaelic language is still spoken. Although Enya can speak fluent English, her first language is Gaelic.

She creates her signature sound by layering as many as eighty tracks of her own voice...The late Pope John Paul II was reportedly a big fan of her music. She was even invited to the Vatican to sing for him.





Enya's house on Killiney Hill Road in Dalkey, Ireland.


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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Thu Dec 01st 2011, 09:03 AM
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1112/S000...

Poverty rates in Latin America have dropped to their lowest levels in 20 years, according to a new United Nations report which highlights public spending levels as one of the key factors that has allowed the continent to continue to grow despite the global economic crisis...Between 1990 and 2010, the poverty rate decreased from 48.4 per cent to 31.4 per cent, while the rate of indigence – or extreme poverty – fell from 22.6 per cent to 12.3 per cent.

The decline in both rates is mainly due to an increase in wages, according to the latest report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Public money transfers were also a contributing factor, but to a much lesser extent.

The report, presented yesterday in Santiago, Chile, predicts that the region will close this year with 174 million people living in poverty compared to 177 million in 2010. “Poverty and inequality continue to decline in the region, which is good news, particularly in the midst of an international economic crisis,” said ECLAC’s Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena. The report also forecasts that the poverty rate will continue to drop in the next year. However, it states that the indigence rate may have slightly increased (up to 12.8 per cent) because of the rise in food prices.

The report reveals that public spending, and in particular social expenditure, received a significant boost in most countries over the past 20 years. “In response to the global economic crisis, the countries opted to temporarily expand public spending rather than to shrink it, which was the action traditionally taken. Although, the emphasis is not always placed on society, expansion still prevented the rise in unemployment and social vulnerability,” the report reads. The report spotlights countries that had substantial drops in poverty in the past year, including Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia...The report also discusses fertility in the continent, observing that over the past 50 years, the fertility rate dropped rapidly, compared with a moderate drop in adolescent fertility. In addition, a chapter on the Caribbean has been included for the first time, which warns of the high level of unemployment and incidence of HIV/AIDS among young people.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news


AUSTERITY IS FOR SLAVERY!
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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Mon Nov 28th 2011, 09:14 AM
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/s...

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret...The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.

‘Change Their Votes’

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.”

NEAT INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC AT LINK SHOWS WHO GOT HOW MUCH
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Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Sun Nov 27th 2011, 03:42 PM
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Goldman-S...

...Strange, isn't it. Italy, the largest EU country that requires a bailout of its debt, can still sell its bonds, but Germany, which requires no bailout and which is expected to bear a disproportionate cost of Italy's, Greece's and Spain's bailout, could not sell its bonds.

In my opinion, the failed German bond auction was orchestrated by the US Treasury, by the European Central Bank and EU authorities, and by the private banks that own the troubled sovereign debt.

My opinion is based on the following facts. Goldman Sachs and US banks have guaranteed perhaps one trillion dollars or more of European sovereign debt by selling swaps or insurance against which they have not reserved. The fees the US banks received for guaranteeing the values of European sovereign debt instruments simply went into profits and executive bonuses. This, of course, is what ruined the American insurance giant, AIG, leading to the TARP bailout at US taxpayer expense and Goldman Sachs' enormous profits.

If any of the European sovereign debt fails, US financial institutions that issued swaps or unfunded guarantees against the debt are on the hook for large sums that they do not have. The reputation of the US financial system probably could not survive its default on the swaps it has issued. Therefore, the failure of European sovereign debt would renew the financial crisis in the US, requiring a new round of bailouts and/or a new round of Federal Reserve "quantitative easing," that is, the printing of money in order to make good on irresponsible financial instruments, the issue of which enriched a tiny number of executives...
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Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Nov 24th 2011, 10:59 AM
Happy Thanksgiving Day to all our tribe: posters, lurkers, and the bemused who wandered in unknowing....

Since I cannot go a day without studying the political economy (my inbox would explode), here is the holiday version of WEE. I may just continue this thread throughout the weekend, or not, depending on how long it gets and how much happens (and don't think for a moment TPTB won't try to pull something off while we are in the throes of typtophan overdose).

So, we are talking turkey...Now Turkey the nation has been keeping a rather low profile of late. The two trends there have been being shown off as the IMF's greatest achievement, and fighting Kurdish separatists...



http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/interna...


Turkey is a vibrant, competitive democracy of 79 million people with a thriving economy whose influence in its region has grown as it has moved away from its secular roots under an Islamic-leaning government.

The government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party received a strong mandate in parliamentary elections in June 2011. Supporters credit Mr. Erdogan with elevating Turkey’s profile in the Middle East, turning the country into an increasingly assertive regional player at a time when several of its neighbors are locked in sometimes violent struggles for democracy...

Support of the Insurgency in Syria

Once one of Syria’s closest allies, Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, providing shelter to the commander and dozens of members of the group, the Free Syrian Army, and allowing them to orchestrate attacks across the border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military.

In response, in early November 2011, pro-Assad demonstrators in Syria attacked Turkish diplomatic missions in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia, burning Turkish flags and shattering windows.

On Nov. 21, unidentified gunmen in Syria, described by some witnesses as wearing the uniforms of Syrian soldiers, attacked a convoy of buses carrying Turkish pilgrims home from Mecca, and two of the pilgrims were wounded. They were the first Turkish civilian victims of the mayhem in Syria.

On Nov. 22, 2011, Mr. Erdogan expressed his most blunt criticism yet of Syria’s political repression, when for the first time he urged President Assad to resign. The criticism was not totally unexpected, given Mr. Erdogan’s increasing exasperation with Mr. Assad’s intransigence over the political uprising against him. But Mr. Erdogan’s comments were notable for their explicit language; he likened Mr. Assad to the self-delusional dictators of history who have met violent and messy ends, most recently Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya.

Mr. Erdogan has also moved the country further up the road, although sometimes a bumpy one, to European Union membership. His party has brought the country strong economic growth of 8.9 percent, though unemployment remains stubbornly high at nearly 12 percent and income distribution remains uneven.

Turkey still faces a challenge from Kurdish separatist rebels. In October 2011, after months of increasing violence, Kurdish militants killed at least 24 Turkish soldiers and Turkey’s military responded by sending 10,000 troops backed by warplanes into northern Iraq.

The attack came as the country was drafting a new Constitution with greater rights for ethnic minorities, an effort widely perceived as designed to end Kurdish separatist violence that has claimed more than 40,000 lives since the 1980s....



Mr. Erdogan



I have always wondered how the turkey got its name. The turkey is native to the New World, after all...

tur·key noun, plural -keys, ( especially collectively ) -key.

1.a large, gallinaceous bird of the family Meleagrididae, especially Meleagris gallopavo, of America, that typically has green, reddish-brown, and yellowish-brown plumage of a metallic luster and that is domesticated in most parts of the world. So called because it was formerly erroneously believed that it came originally from Turkey from confusion with the guinea fowl, supposed to be imported from Turkish territory. First Known Use: 1555

Any large American gallinaceous bird belonging to the genus Meleagris, especially the North American wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and the domestic turkey, which was probably derived from the Mexican wild turkey, but had been domesticated by the Indians long before the discovery of
America. (1913 Webster)

Note: The Mexican wild turkey is now considered a variety of the northern species (var. Mexicana). Its tail feathers and coverts are tipped with white instead of brownish chestnut, and its flesh is white. The Central American, or ocellated, turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is more elegantly colored than the common species. The Australian, or native, turkey is a bustard (Choriotis australis). (1913 Webster)

2.the flesh of this bird, used as food.

3.ocellated turkey.

4.Slang .

a. a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser.
b. a naive, stupid, or inept person.
c. a poor and unsuccessful theatrical production; flop.
5. Bowling . three strikes in succession.

Idiom
6.talk turkey, Informal . to talk frankly; mean business.

Just think: if the Internet had been around in 1555, the turkey might have had a more accurate name...And if the full power of the Internet had been around earlier, we might not have been in the fix we are in now...Post what you've got--this is a potluck feast, after all...

pot·luck/ˈpätˈlək/ Noun:


  1. Used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good or acceptable.

  2. A meal to which each guest contributes food: "a potluck supper".






I won't post any pictures of human turkeys ( definitions 4a and 4b), as I wouldn't want to spoil any appetites...

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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Wed Nov 23rd 2011, 11:17 AM
http://www.alternet.org/story/153169/five_...

1. Billionaires replace one person, one vote.

2. The stock market exercises an instant veto.

3. Governments are not permitted to create full employment economies.

4. Hedge fund speculative raids replace elected leaders with technocrats.

5. Financial markets are vetoing Social Security.

DETAILS AT LINK
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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Wed Nov 23rd 2011, 11:12 AM
http://blogs.reuters.com/david-cay-johnsto... /

A superb example of a sound rule in law and economics that needs reviving, because it can halt the rampant speculation in derivatives, is the ancient legal principle that gambling debts are not enforceable through court action. Not so long ago — before casinos, currency and commodities speculation, and credit default swaps became big business — U.S. courts would not enforce gambling debts. Restoring this principle offers a simple way to shrink the rampant speculation in derivatives that was central to the 2008 meltdown on Wall Street.

Professor Lynn Stout, a deeply principled Republican capitalist who teaches corporate law at the University of California, Los Angeles, raised this issue at a conference where we both spoke about the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

“Derivatives are gambling,” she said, referring to credit default swaps, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City law school conference on the financial crisis. “They are a zero-sum game in which one side loses the bet and one side wins,”Stout said. Actually they are worse than that, since the hefty fees Wall Street pockets for arranging the bets result in a less-than-zero-sum game.

As Wall Street fights meaningful financial regulations, and draft regulations remind us how complex and unfathomable regulations can be, this is a good time to remember the basic principles that served society so well until Chicago School theorists, and casino corporations, together with commodities and currency traders convinced us we were too modern to need them.

TODAY'S MUST READ AND BOOKMARK
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Posted by Demeter in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Nov 18th 2011, 06:37 PM
As we face the end of all things worth having, let us consider Argentina, or the Argentine Republic, as it is officially known.



The country itself is named for its silver...it is the second largest South American nation, after Brazil, and the 8th largest country in the world.

"A recognised middle power, Argentina is Latin America's third-largest economy, with a very high rating on the Human development index. Within Latin America, Argentina has the fifth highest nominal GDP per capita and the highest in purchasing power terms. Analysts have argued that the country has a "foundation for future growth due to its market size, levels of foreign direct investment, and percentage of high-tech exports as share of total manufactured goods", and it is classed by investors as an emerging economy. Argentina is a founding member of the United Nations, Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organization, and is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies."

---http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentina

"Modern history

Argentina increased in prosperity and prominence between 1880 and 1929 and emerged as one of the ten richest countries in the world, benefiting from an agricultural export-led economy as well as British and French investment. Driven by immigration and decreasing mortality the Argentine population grew fivefold and the economy 15-fold. Conservative élites dominated Argentine politics through nominally democratic means until 1912, when President Roque Sáenz Peña enacted universal male suffrage and the secret ballot. This allowed their traditional rivals, the centrist Radical Civic Union, to win the country's first free elections in 1916. President Hipólito Yrigoyen enacted social and economic reforms and extended assistance to family farmers and small business. Yrigoyen was overthrown by a coup in 1930, however, which led to another decade of Conservative rule. The Concordance regime strengthened ties with the British Empire and their electoral policy was one of "patriotic fraud". The country was neutral during World War I and most of World War II, becoming an important source of foodstuffs for the Allied Nations.

In 1946, General Juan Perón was elected president, creating a populist movement referred to as "Peronism". His wife Eva was popular and played a central political role until her death in 1952, mostly through the Eva Perón Foundation and the Female Peronist Party, as women's suffrage was granted in 1947. During Perón's tenure, wages and working conditions improved appreciably, unionization was fostered, strategic industries and services were nationalized, as well as import substitution industrialization and urban development being prioritized in the agrarian sector.

Formerly stable prices and exchange rates were disrupted however: the peso lost around 70% of its value from 1948 to 1950, and inflation reached 50% in 1951. Foreign policy became more isolationist, straining US-Argentine relations. Perón intensified censorship as well as repression: 110 publications were shuttered, and numerous opposition figures were imprisoned and tortured. Advancing a personality cult, Perón rid himself of many important and capable advisers while promoting patronage. A bombing of Plaza de Mayo was followed some months later by a violent coup which deposed him in 1955. He fled into exile, eventually residing in Spain.

Following an attempt to purge the Peronist influence and the banning of Peronists from political life, elections in 1958 brought Arturo Frondizi to office. Frondizi enjoyed some support from Perón's followers, and his policies encouraged investment to make the country self-sufficient in energy and industry, helping reverse a chronic trade deficit for Argentina. The military frequently interfered on behalf of conservative, agrarian interests however, and the results were mixed. Frondizi was forced to resign in 1962. Arturo Illia was elected in 1963 and enacted expansionist policies but, despite prosperity, his attempts to include Peronists in the political process resulted in the armed forces retaking power in a quiet 1966 coup.

Though repressive, this new regime continued to encourage domestic development and invested record amounts into public works. The economy grew strongly and income poverty declined to 7% by 1975. Partly because of their repressiveness, however, political violence began to escalate and Perón, still in exile, skilfully co-opted student and labor protests which eventually resulted in the military regime's call for free elections in 1973, and Perón's return from Spain.

Taking office that year, Perón died in July 1974 leaving his third wife Isabel, the Vice President, to succeed him in office. Mrs. Perón had been chosen as a compromise among feuding Peronist factions who could agree on no other running mate; secretly though, she was beholden to Perón's most fascist advisers. The resulting conflict, between left and right-wing extremists, led to mayhem, financial chaos and a coup d'état in March 1976 which removed her from office.

The self-styled National Reorganization Process intensified measures against armed groups on the far left, such as People's Revolutionary Army and the Montoneros who had kidnapped and murdered people almost weekly since 1970. Repression was quickly extended to the opposition in general and, during the "Dirty War", thousands of dissidents "disappeared". These abuses were aided and abetted by the CIA in Operation Condor, with many of the military leaders that took part in abuses trained in the School of the Americas.

The new dictatorship brought some stability at first, and built numerous important public works, but frequent wage freezes and deregulation of finance led to a sharp fall in living standards and record foreign debt. Deindustrialization, the peso's collapse, and crushing real interest rates, as well as unprecedented corruption, public revulsion over the Dirty War, and finally the 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War, discredited the military regime and led to free elections in 1983.

Contemporary history

Raúl Alfonsín's government took steps to account for the disappeared, established civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. The previous regime's foreign debt, however, left the Argentine economy saddled by the conditions imposed on it by both its private creditors and the International Monetary Fund, and priority was given to servicing the foreign debt at the expense of public works and domestic credit. Alfonsín's failure to resolve worsening economic problems caused him to lose public confidence. Following a 1989 currency crisis that resulted in a sudden and ruinous 15-fold jump in prices, he left office five months early.

Newly elected President Carlos Menem began pursuing privatizations and, after a second bout of hyperinflation in 1990, reached out to economist Domingo Cavallo, who imposed a peso-US$ fixed exchange rate in 1991 and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations, while accelerating privatizations. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s; but the peso's fixed value could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars, resulting in a renewed increase in the foreign debt. Towards 1998, moreover, a series of international financial crises and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. The sense of stability and well being which had prevailed during the 1990s eroded quickly, and by the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and reports of corruption had made Menem unpopular.

President Fernando de la Rúa inherited diminished competitiveness in exports, as well as chronic fiscal deficits. The governing coalition developed rifts, and his returning Cavallo to the Economy Ministry was interpreted as a crisis move by speculators. The decision backfired and Cavallo was eventually forced to take measures to halt a wave of capital flight and to stem the imminent debt crisis (culminating in the freezing of bank accounts). A climate of popular discontent ensued, and on 20 December 2001, Argentina dove into its worst institutional and economic crisis since the 1890 Barings financial debacle. There were violent street protests, which clashed with police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amid riots accompanied by cries that "they should all go", finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Rúa.

Three presidents followed in quick succession over two weeks, culminating in the appointment of interim President Eduardo Duhalde by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt, and the peso's 11 year-old tie to the U.S. dollar was rescinded, causing a major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation. Duhalde, a Peronist with a centre-left economic position, had to cope with a financial and socio-economic crisis, with unemployment as high as 25% by mid 2002, and the lowest real wages in sixty years. The crisis accentuated the people's mistrust in politicians and institutions. Following a year racked by protest, the economy began to stabilize in late 2002, and restrictions on bank withdrawals were lifted in December.

Benefiting from a devalued exchange rate the government implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. Governor Néstor Kirchner, a left-wing Peronist, was elected president in May 2003. During his administration, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Kirchner and his economists, notably Roberto Lavagna, also pursued a vigorous incomes policy and public works investment.

Argentina has since been enjoying economic growth, though with high inflation. Néstor Kirchner forfeited the 2007 campaign, in favor of his wife Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who became the first woman to be elected President of Argentina. She saw controversial plans for higher agricultural export taxes defeated by Vice President Julio Cobos' surprise tie-breaking vote against them in July 2008, following massive agrarian protests and lockouts from March to July. The global financial crisis has since prompted Mrs. Kirchner to step up her husband's policy of state intervention in troubled sectors of the economy. On 15 July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America and the second country in the Southern Hemisphere to legalize same-sex marriage.

I'M GLAD THEY MENTIONED EVITA---

WE'LL BE FEATURING MUSICAL SELECTIONS FROM "EVITA" a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iojc22VxeOI...

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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Wed Nov 16th 2011, 02:05 PM
DUH, GEE...I DUNNO...WHAT DO YOU THINK, GUYS?

The voice of the people isn't something the markets seem to want to hear these days. First there was Greece, the cradle of democracy itself, where early this month, the merest mention of a referendum offering its citizens a say in a series of severe austerity measures was enough to send the markets into a tailspin. The ultimate result: the collapse of Prime Minister George Papandreou's ruling coalition, the rejection of any notion of bringing the proposal before the people, and the installation of a caretaker government under the leadership of Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank and, until earlier this week, a visiting professor at Harvard. ...Then came Italy. As Athens threatened to go under, Rome found itself under pressure not so much for its level of debt — which though high is generally considered within the limits of sustainability — as much as for the erratic behavior of its flamboyant prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. On Monday, investors seemed to make the collective decision that he could no longer be trusted at the helm of the euro zone's third largest economy and sent Italy's cost of borrowing up towards crisis levels. By the end of the week, not only was Berlusconi finished, so was the very idea of holding a vote to replace him. The markets had spoken, and they didn't like the idea of going to the electorate. "The country needs reforms, not elections," said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council on a visit to Rome Friday.

Indeed both Papandreou and Berlusconi had been respectively berated and belittled by Angela Merkel of Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy of France. It is almost as if Franco-German displeasure combined with the disapproval of the markets was enough to bring about regime-change. As in Athens, the plan in Rome is to replace the outgoing prime minister with somebody from outside the political class. Mario Monti, a neo-liberal economist and former EU commissioner who seems designed with the idea of calming the markets in mind, is expected to take over from Berlusconi after he resigns Saturday. For many in the two battle-scarred capitals, the fact that Papademos and Monti aren't directly accountable to the public isn't a problem. It's the reason they're being called in. Both countries have been tasked by the EU to attempt to restore confidence through deep cuts, sharp tax hikes and painful restructurings of the economy. The two technocrats have been tapped to lead because no politicians wants to face the electorate after doing what the markets have decreed needs to be done. "Democracy has very serious limitations." says Roberto D'Alimonte, a professor of political science at Rome's LUISS University. "It has the ability to kill itself, to self-destruct. {Bringing in a technocratic government} is not good or bad. It's necessary."

In Greece, the political class lost its credibility with the blowout over the referendum, says George Pagoulatos, a professor of European politics and economy at the Athens University of Economics and Business. Though the vast majority of the public is not eager to undergo the unpopular austerity measures, the probable consequence of not passing them — abandonment by the EU and a chaotic exit from the euro — is seen with even more distaste. Papademos, a respected economist untainted by the political slugfest, is thought to have the credibility and legitimacy to see the program through, allowing the two main political parties that have agreed to support him to renounce responsibility when the reforms start to pinch. "Theoretically, he has the capacity to apply policies that are politically costly," says Pagoulatos....In essence, what a technocratic head of government allows a country's elected officials to do is disperse the cost of passing unpopular legislation. By carefully hewing to the middle of their country's political spectrums, and pulling together packages of cuts that spreads the pain as evenly as possible among all sectors of society, Papademos and Monti, neither of whom would likely ever stand for election, have a chance to pass reforms that would otherwise be impossible. "The key in Greece and Italy and everywhere else is fairness," says D'Alimonte. "And that can only be done by a government that is not responsive to a single electoral base."

Of course, neither economist will be able to push anything through if there isn't a consensus that something must be done. And the lack of direct voter buy-in heightens the risk of populist dissent down the road. But, until now, the motivation has been provided by the threat of a market meltdown and a subsequent economic collapse. In Italy, Mario Monti was greeted with applause in the Senate Friday, a day in which the country's stock exchange gained 3.68% as stability seemed to be at hand. Yet, until the moment he's sworn in, Monti's ascension is far from a done deal, and it didn't take long after the markets had closed for the weekend for it to start to come under fire. Though Monti, a former advisor to Goldman Sachs, is heavily championed by the country's respected president, many in parliament have spent the week whispering that Berlusconi's ouster amounts to a "banker's coup." "Yesterday, in the chamber of deputies we were bitterly joking that we were going to get a Goldman Sachs government," says a parliamentarian from Berlusconi's government, who asked to remain anonymous citing political sensitivity. With less than 24 hours until Berlusconi's expected resignation, other names, closer to the outgoing prime minister, were beginning to be floated. If the markets object, the world will find out as soon as the opening bells ring on Monday.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8...
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Posted by Demeter in Latest Breaking News
Wed Nov 16th 2011, 08:42 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...

As early progress in Iceland shows since the banking collapse, the 21st century will be the century of the common people, of us...The Dutch minister of internal affairs said at a speech during free press day this year: "Law-making is like a sausage, no one really wants to know what is put in it." He was referring to how expensive the Freedom of Information Act is, and was suggesting that journalists shouldn't really be asking for so much governmental information. His words exposed one of the core problems in our democracies: too many people don't care what goes into the sausage, not even the so-called law-makers, the parliamentarians...If the 99% want to reclaim our power, our societies, we have to start somewhere. An important first step is to sever the ties between the corporations and the state by making the process of lawmaking more transparent and accessible for everyone who cares to know or contribute. We have to know what is in that law sausage; the monopoly of the corporate lobbyist has to end – especially when it comes to laws regulating banking and the internet...The Icelandic nation only consists 311,000 souls, so we have a relatively small bureaucratic body and can move quicker then in most countries. Many have seen Iceland as the ideal country for experimentation for new solutions in an era of transformation. I agree.

We had the first revolution after the financial troubles in 2008. Due to a lack of transparency, corruption and nepotism, Iceland had the third largest financial meltdown in human history, and it shook us profoundly. The Icelandic people realised that everything we had put our trust in had failed us. One of the demands during the protests that followed – and that resulted in getting rid of the government, the central bank manager and the head of the financial authority – was that we would get to rewrite our constitution. "We" meaning the 99%, not the politicians who had failed us. Another demand was that we should have real democratic tools, such as being able to call directly for a national referendum and dissolve parliament...As an activist, web developer and poet, I never dreamt of being a politician and nor have I ever wanted to be a part of a political party. That was bound to change during these exceptional times. I helped create a political movement from the various grassroots movements in the wake of the crisis. We were officially created eight weeks prior to the election, and based our structure on horizontalism and consensus. We had no leaders, but rotating spokespeople; we did not define ourselves as left or right but around an agenda based on democratic reform, transparency and bailing out the people, not the banks. We vowed that no one should remain in parliament longer then eight years and our movement would dissolve if our goals had not been achieved within eight years. We had no money, no experts; we were just ordinary people who'd had enough and who needed to have power both within the system and outside it. We got 7% of the vote and four of us entered the belly of the beast.

Many great things have occurred in Iceland since our days of shock in 2008. Our constitution has been rewritten by the people for the people. A constitution is such an important measure of what sort of society people want to live in. It is the social agreement. Once it is passed, our new constitution will bring more power to the people and give us proper tools to restrain those in power. The foundation for the constitution was created by 1,000 people randomly selected from the national registry. We elected 25 people to put that vision into words. The new constitution is now in the parliament. It will be up to the 99% to call for a national vote on it so that we inside the parliament know exactly what the nation wants and will have to follow suit. If the constitution passes, we will have almost achieved everything we set out to do. Our agenda was written on various open platforms; direct democracy is the high north of our political compass in everything we do...Having the tools for direct democracy is not enough though. We have to find ways to inspire the public to participate in co-creating the reality they want to live in. This can only be done by making direct democracy more local. Then people will feel the direct impact of their input. We don't need bigger systems, we need to downsize them so they can truly serve us and so we can truly shape them...The capital city of Reykjavík has launched a direct democracy platform, where everyone can put in a suggestion in a community forum about things they want to be done in the city. The city council has to take the top five suggestions and process them every month. Next step is to have a similar system for the parliament, and the logical step after that is to have the same system for the ministries.

From conversations I have had with people from Occupy London it is obvious we are all thinking along the same lines. All systems are down: banking, education, health, social, political – the most logical thing would be to start a fresh system based on values other than consumerism, which maximises profit and self-destruction. We are strong, the power is ours: we are many, they are few. We are living in times of crisis. Let's embrace this time for it is the only time real changes are possible by the masses.
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