Greek journalist arrested over exposing politicians’ alleged tax evasion

from RT

Greek police have arrested one of the country’s top journalists, after his publication Hot Doc released the so-called ‘Lagarde list,’ containing the names of some 2,000 Greeks with funds hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

The police arrested Kostas Vaxevanis, the owner and editor of Hot Doc, during a live radio interview on Sunday. “They’re entering my house with the prosecutor right now. They are arresting me. Spread the word,” Vaxevanis tweeted.

He is due to appear in court on Monday to answer charges of privacy violations from publishing the list of names, which dates to 2007. “Instead of arresting the tax evaders and the ministers who had the list in their hands, they are trying to arrest the truth and free journalism,” Vaxevanis said in an interview.

[read the rest, here]

The Obama Justice Department vs Big Five Banks Settlement is Actually a Payoff for Services Rendered

by Scott Creighton

Keep this information in mind as you read the following article: The largest banks made a combined 13 billion dollars in profits from 7.77 trillion dollars of undisclosed emergency loans from the Federal Reserve bank over and above the 780 billion dollar banker bailouts. The loans and the bailouts were a direct reaction to the crisis caused by the criminal and fraudulent behavior of these same banks which the Obama administration now says will cost them roughly 1 billion a piece. 13 billion in profits for criminal activities (that we know of) and 5 billion in penalties (spread out over the course of a few years) while it is left to investors to foot the bill for the rest of the 26 billion dollar “settlement” deal. No further criminal prosecution, no further investigation required.

From Bloomberg News Nov. 2011 -

  • The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed… JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley
  • Bank of America and New York-based Citigroup each received $45 billion from TARP.
  • Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.
  • Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data.
  • Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch & Co. at the urging of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson after buying the biggest U.S. home lender, Countrywide Financial Corp.
  • Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank by deposits before the 2008 acquisition.
  • JPMorgan absorbed the country’s largest savings and loan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. The New York Fed, then headed by Timothy F. Geithner, who’s now Treasury secretary, helped JPMorgan complete the Bear Stearns deal by providing $29 billion of financing, which was disclosed at the time.

original article below

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The Obama administration finalized their latest and most heinous betrayals of their 3 year history yesterday when they announced their settlement between the big five banks and state and federal governments on their “investigation” into the massive systemic mortgage fraud conspiracy. There will be no investigation. We will never know the full extent of the criminal conspiracy to decimate the economy of the United States of America because Barack Obama’s “Justice” Department has struck a deal. The economic hit-men who are running this country won out as Left Cover Obama sold us out. Again.

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Sept 17th Occupy Wall Street Protest News

by Scott Creighton

This is what it takes to protect the criminal elites from the people. This is America in a nutshell…

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Fed Report Finds No Wrongful Foreclosures By Banks, Consumer Advocates Slam Methodology

from Huffington Post

A months-long investigation into abusive mortgage practices by the Federal Reserve found no wrongful foreclosures, members of the Fed’s Consumer Advisory Council said Thursday.

During a public meeting attended by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and other regulators, consumer advocates on the panel criticized federal bank regulators for narrowly defining what constitutes a “wrongful foreclosure.” At least one member of the panel voiced concerns that the public would not take the Fed’s findings of improper practices seriously, since the wide-ranging review did not find a single homeowner who was wrongfully foreclosed upon.

[read the rest, here]

Wrong Matt Taibbi. Wrong Cenk Uygur: They Aren’t Prosecuting the Banksters Because the Banksters Were Doing What They Were Told To Do

by Scott Creighton

Cenk Uygur interviews Matt Taibbi about his new article in Rolling Stone magazine which looks at how few (one) of these criminal bankers and financial CEOs have been prosecuted for their blatant criminality over the past 12 years or so. In the end, Taibbi finally suggests that the reason no one got prosecuted as they should have was because of  the “revolving door” in Washington regulatory circles. Bullshit.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.. (and for that international flair…) bullshito

The revolving door, where people leave regulatory positions to go to work for the people and the institutions they failed to regulate, is a PERK… it is not the problem itself.  It certainly should be against the law, but the revolving door as the answer to what happened is a sickening oversimplification of the situation and it fails to bring the larger problem to light.

These people were doing what they were told to do.

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Obama Pulls a Clinton

by Robert Sheer, Truthdig

Here we go again. When Bill Clinton suffered an electoral reversal after his first two years in office, he abruptly embraced the corporate money guys who had financed his congressional opposition in an effort to purchase a second term. On Tuesday in his Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece, Barack Obama veered sharply down that same course, trumpeting his executive order “ … to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. …”

He employed the same “creating a 21st-century regulatory system” rationalization used by Clinton when he signed off on the sweeping deregulation legislation that unleashed the Wall Street greed that ended up being the biggest job-killer since the Great Depression. “Over the (past) seven years, we have tried to modernize the economy,” Clinton enthused as he signed the Financial Services Modernization Act that repealed key New Deal legislation, adding, “And today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority.” Modernizing was the propaganda constant, as in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that Clinton signed, thus shielding financial derivatives from any government regulation.

[read the rest, here]

Hey Michelle, Read My Book

by Robert Sheer, Truthdig

On Tuesday, I received yet another deceptively personal e-mail addressed to “Robert” from Michelle Obama asking me once again to contribute to the “amazing journey” toward “progress” that her husband has led.

“Fool me once,” I muttered, regretful of my previous contribution and even embarrassed to wear the artist-designed Obama for President T-shirt that I got in return. I was particularly annoyed by the first lady’s assurance that “You’re the reason we reined in Wall Street banks that were out of control,” since I have written a book and numerous articles asserting just the opposite. 

I envy her blind spousal loyalty—my own mate is a bit less forgiving—but how in the world can she, or the hacks that ginned out this e-mail to millions on her behalf, make such an assertion without sensing the absurd? Surely she knows that this administration has thrown trillions at the banks in the wan hope that they would respond with increased liquidity and mortgage relief to improve the lot of struggling homeowners and the unemployed, who have received nothing in return…

[read the rest, here]

Obama reassures Wall Street on bank regulation bill

by Barry Grey, WSWS

President Barack Obama went to lower Manhattan Thursday to deliver a message to Wall Street: Your profits and bonuses will not be disturbed by the regulatory overhaul making its way through Congress.

In a deferential speech pitched to top bankers in the Cooper Union audience, Obama urged what he called the “titans of industry” to call off their lobbyists and “join us” in passing his so-called reform. The subtext was that the White House and congressional Democrats had already removed most of the provisions to which the bankers objected, and were prepared to go even further in accommodating them.

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Obama vs. Obama

by Michael Brenner, Huffington Post

The enigma that is Barack Obama grows day by day. Contradiction after contradiction, abrupt gear shifts, perpetual motion that never reaches a destination. ‘Obscene’ Wall Street bonuses suddenly transmute into well earned rewards for a good guy golfing buddy; the imperative to act boldly on the jobs crisis means placing it the callous hands of Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley of health care fame; the plotting of exit strategies from Afghanistan by 2011 becomes a ‘long as we have to’ occupation. All these contrapuntal reversals against a sound track of non-stop exhortation and a restless shuttling from one photo-op to another. Who is this guy, anyway?

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Exposed: Bernanke’s “Skimming Operation”

(So what the banks did in a sense was, they carefully removed restrictions on housing loans and created what the industry called “liar loans”, loans that they knew would default when they were making them. They got their co-conspirator at the credit rating agencies to slap “AAA” ratings on them.  They got their money up front and then packaged them up and sold them as bundles, making even more money on the toxic assets that only they knew were toxic. They sold them to various 401 ks, state and local governments, other nations. Then, as they started to default and the massive bubble began to burst, they rushed to congress, with the same people who helped create this scam, namely Bernanke and Paulson and Geithner, to blackmail congress into pumping nearly a trillion dollars of liquidity into their banks so they could then buy up all the other institutions that they had sold the bad debts to. They got paid on the front end, in the middle, and on the back end.)

by Mike Whitney, Information Clearing House

The reappointment of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke means that the opportunity for change has passed and the reform movement is dead. It means that and that derivatives trading, off-balance sheet operations, securitization, dark pools and high frequency trading will go on much as they have before. It means that the public will continue to be gouged so that a handful of Wall Street sharpies can rake in obscene profits using complex “financial innovations” and over-leveraged debt instruments. It means that the entire system will continue to be put at risk to protect the interests of investment banks and hedge funds. It means that the subsidies, the preferential treatment, and the bailouts will continue to fuel populist rage and exacerbate deepening divisions in society. It means that the status quo has been preserved and that it’s “business as usual”.

  No reform movement will succeed as long as Bernanke is at the Fed.  He’s an agent of the big banks and a Wall Street loyalist. He’s also the author of “Too Big To Fail”, the controversial theory which provides unlimited state support for financial institutions that are deemed too large or interconnected to fail. TBTF means that capitalism’s vital market-clearing function can avoided if one is rich or powerful enough. Bernanke repealed capitalism to save his friends.

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What a Sad Week for Democracy

by Scott Creighton

***UPDATE*** (Five. I stand corrected. There are now 5 events from this past week that I should have mentioned. Please see the last one reported on by Glenn Greenwald at the end of this article.)

What a week it was for our democratic freakshow. How many more shocks can our fragile egos take before the entire illusion of American exceptionalism crumbles from under our feet? What happens when it does? This past week, four events played out that should by all rights shake the people of this nation out of their self-induced comas. I’m not holding my breath.

1. Obama Plays the Populist Card

This week President Obama and his script writers did what they could to help shore up the decaying illusions of our democratic foundations. They announced some new rules, the Volcker rules, supposedly to reign in the Wall Street bankers. The hasty press conference Obama and his DLC/New Dems staff put together couldn’t have looked more like a sophomoric propaganda pep-rally session if George Bush and his pathetically unsophisticated writing staff had done it themselves. They might as well have shipped in some homeless, jobless, ex-middle-class Americans and piled them up on the floor so that Obama could stand on top of them with a bullhorn to deliver the speech.

I hear they are already planning for President Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” celebration to be held in a soup kitchen in Detroit next week (figured they would get a photo-op session in before the banks shut it down).

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Emails implicate Treasury Secretary Geithner in cover-up of AIG deal to bail out the banks

by Barry Grey, WSWS

A financial scandal has erupted that implicates Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in efforts to conceal the funneling of $62 billion in taxpayer funds to 16 large banks as part of the government bailout of the insurance giant American International Group (AIG).

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Wall Street Pay Cuts? White House Plan Has Loopholes

by Rich Blake, ABC News

The details of the Obama administration’s efforts to curb excessive compensation on Wall Street emerged Thursday, with dual announcements from pay czar Kenneth Feinberg and the Federal Reserve Board. And while the potential loopholes do not appear large enough to drive the proverbial armored truck through, the securities industry is already set on finding ways to continue to pay traders and investment bankers exceptionally well, by any measure.

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US bankers cash in despite phony pay restraint

by Patrick Martin, WSWS

The executive pay regulations announced Thursday by the Obama administration’s “pay czar” and the Federal Reserve represent a cynical attempt to placate public outrage over Wall Street bonuses while allowing the financial speculators to continue awarding themselves multi-million-dollar compensation packages.

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