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Archive for June 16th, 2010

Carney warns of ‘age of austerity’, global outlook ‘getting worse’

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

It’s an overnight sensation! Austerity! – all the cool central bank heads and heads of state are pushing it, from Greece’s finance minister (ex-Goldman Sachs, like Mark Carney) to Angela Merkel’s advisors. Get on the bandwagon, President Obama, PM Harper, it’s the wave of the future, tax us into serfdom. Less is more, y’all, unless of course you happen to be one of the creditors. If you’re a reader of this journal, all we can suggest – and this is strictly non-professional advice, so take it with a large grain of salt and a slug of free thought – is that you move into secure commodities (gold, silver, copper, oil if you can stomach it or find an ethical exploration company) to avoid future currency fluctuations and protect what value you may presently hold. The major gold advocates can still see a doubling in value over current levels. Protect yourself, as far as you’re able, from the state’s funny money.

Related: Europe embraces the cult of austerity — but at what cost? | British face big spending cuts as coalition shows unity on austerity

CBC News
June 16, 2010

The world is entering an “age of austerity” that could take about $7 trillion US out of global output by 2015 and restrain economic growth, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said Wednesday.

In a noon-hour speech to a business audience in Charlottetown, Carney said Canada will lead the Group of Seven industrialized economies over the next two years, but that may not be saying much.

He said Canada’s economy has recovered nicely from recession, but growth is slowing, and the global outlook is getting worse.

Carney left open how the Bank of Canada will approach future monetary policy after raising interest rates by a quarter point on June 1.

“Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outlook, any further reduction of monetary stimulus would have to be weighed carefully against domestic and global developments,” he said.


More Than 90 US Banks Miss TARP Payments

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Related: Soros Sees ‘Act II’ of Financial Crisis, Blames ‘Market Fundamentalism’ Again | Double-dip recession ‘practically inevitable’: UBS | US money supply plunges at 1930s pace as Obama eyes fresh stimulus | Obama celebrates banking bill’s passage in Senate | The Obama Banking Regulation: Big Banks Are Too Politically Connected to Fail | Citibank Controversy Puts Dubious FDIC Guarantee Back In The Spotlight | 702 U.S. banks in danger: FDIC | Global Bank Insurance Levy Wins Support over Transaction Tax at Davos | More US Bank Failures and The Coming Deposit Insurance Bailout | 10 U.S. banks fail stress test, but regulators confident | Barclays, Lloyd’s, RBS join Goldman-Sachs in the black | Goldman-Sachs to repay TARP loan, resume private operations, bonuses, at “earliest time” possible | Which Banks Will Rule? | Geithner Said to Have Prevailed on the Bailout | Analyst: One Third Of Banks Could Collapse or Merge In 2009 | Morgan Chase Exec Brags Bailout Is for Takeovers, Restructuring, Not Lending | Behind the panic: Financial warfare over the future of global bank power

June 16, 2010

More than 90 U.S. banks and thrifts missed making a May 17 payment to the U.S. government under its main bank bailout program, signaling a rising number of lenders are struggling to meet their obligations.

The statistics, compiled by SNL Financial from U.S. Treasury data, showed 91 banks and thrifts skipped the May dividend payment under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. It was the first missed payment for 23 of the banks; for the others, it was at least their second miss.

The number of banks missing their TARP payments rose for the third straight quarter. In February, 74 banks deferred their payments; 55 deferred last November.

SNL Financial’s analysis found 20 banks have missed four or more payments since the program began in 2008, while eight banks have missed five payments.


Russian police seize 100,000 anti-Vladimir Putin books

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Related: Russian police crush anti-government protests | Kremlin shocked as Kaliningrad stages huge anti-government protest | Protests against Putin sweep Russia as factories go broke | Thousands protest in Russia over financial crisis | Russian police beat auto tariff protesters | Stalin’s mass murders were ‘entirely rational’ says new Russian textbook praising tyrant | ‘Our People’ stand up for Putin | Vladimir Putin sets up nationalist Russian Youth brigade

The Telegraph
June 16, 2010

Russian police seized 100,000 copies of a book critical of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that activists planned to hand out at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum

Copies of ‘Putin. The Results. 10 Years on’, written by opposition politicians Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov were “intended for participants of the forum”, starting Thursday, according to Olga Kurnosova, head of the city’s branch of the opposition United Civic Front, said.

The reasons for the seizure “are not very clear”, she said.

The book, which has a total print-run of one million copies, aims to “tell the truth about the real results of the leadership of Putin and the tandem”, Mr Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, wrote in his blog on Monday.

Mr Putin served two terms as president from 2000 onwards before being elected as prime minister. He is still viewed as Russia’s strongest political figure in a power tandem with his ally President Dmitry Medvedev.

Earlier this month, Mr Putin said that he supported opposition protests as long as they were within the law.

“Without a normal democratic development this country will have no future,” he said at a televised meeting with prominent arts figures.


Scan of Arctic ice dispels melting gloom, scientist says

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Oh no! If there’s too much ice, where will the polar bears swim?


One little item that may have been lost in the news shuffle is that ‘global cooling’ actually made it onto the agenda of a little meeting called the Bilderberg Group this year, according to their official site. We can only wonder how that discussion went…

Related: The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider | Scientist says Arctic getting colder | Climate sceptic wins landmark data victory ‘for price of a stamp’ | Climategate whitewash: Climate-change partisans find mere sins of omission | Climategate Investigation A Monumental Whitewash | New chief Climategate investigator failed to declare eco directorship | A perfect storm is brewing for the IPCC | UK: University at center of Climategate accused of misleading MPs, deleting information | Global warming panel to get independent review | Climate scientists withdraw journal claims of rising sea levels | Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995 | Leaked climate change emails scientist ‘hid’ data flaws | Canadian scientist says UN’s global warming panel ‘crossing the line’ | Manufactured ‘Science’: Another IPCC Scientist Reveals How UN Scientists talked about ‘trying to make IPCC report so dramatic that US would just have to sign Kyoto Protocol’ | Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified | UN wrongly linked global warming to natural disasters | The IPCC glacier meltdown: More global warming fraud exposed | Taxpayers’ millions paid to Indian institute run by UN IPCC climate chief | Climategate: A 2,000-page epic of science and skepticism – Part 2 | Climategate: Al Gore lies | Climategate: A 2,000-page epic of science and skepticism – Part 1 | If Climategate Is No Big Deal, Why Are Questions About It Met With An Armed Response? | Climategate: Investigations into climate fraud fixed | ‘Independent’ United Nations panel to examine Climategate evidence | Bombshell UN Climate Documents Reveal Planned “End Run” Around National Sovereignty | Climategate: Global Warming scientists placed under investigation | Latest Climategate revelation: Climate change data dumped | Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation | Obama’s ‘Science Czar’ John Holdren Friend of Climate Deception Lab | “Climategate”: Peer-Review System Was Hijacked By Warming Alarmists | Top Climatology Lab Hacked, E-Mails Reveal Biased Science | E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming | Polar bear expert barred from conference by global warming advocates | Top Japanese Scientists: Warming Is Not Caused By Human Activity | IPCC caught with false figures, doubt cast on accuracy of global temperature record

Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service
June 16, 2010

An electromagnetic “bird” dispatched to the Arctic for the most detailed look yet at the thickness of the ice has turned up a reassuring picture.

The meltdown has not been as dire as some would suggest, said geophysicist Christian Haas of the University of Alberta. His international team flew across the top of the planet last year for the 2,412-kilometre survey.

They found large expanses of ice four to five metres thick, despite the record retreat in 2007.

“This is a nice demonstration that there is still hope for the ice,” said Haas.


Iceland Unanimously Approves ‘Wikileaks Bill’ To Establish Free Speech Press Haven

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Techdirt explains the issues: “Basically, the law is designed to protect operations like Wikileaks, and encourage more and more protections for speech. While it’s a great step forward for those who believe in protecting free expression, some have pointed out that that it probably won’t have that much of an actual impact, because of the way most countries interpret jurisdictional issues. That is, outside of Iceland, those press freedoms may be effectively meaningless. I hope that’s not actually true, but given the way some recent rulings have gone, I wouldn’t be surprised. Still, from the standpoint of catalyzing important discussions about free expression and protection of journalistic activities, hopefully it gets other countries thinking about ways to fix their laws, rather than relying on outdated regulations.”

And why is this important? Because free speech is under sustained attack:

Related: Pentagon hunts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in bid to gag website | Michigan Considers Law to License Journalists for ‘Moral Character’ | Obama Czar Wants Mandatory Government Propaganda On Political Websites | Media can’t shield sources all the time, court rules | Press For Truth Arrested While Reporting On The G20 Summit | Secret Document Calls Wikileaks ‘Threat’ to U.S. Army | North Korean worker executed for passing on news | The Toronto 18 Publication Ban: Silence affects the core of justice | Obama Information Czar Outlined Plan For Government To Infiltrate ‘Conspiracy Groups’ | Obama Information Czar Calls For Banning Free Speech | Canadian Supreme Court expands freedoms for media | Border guards are now Olympic thought police — Amy Goodman detained | Cuban blogger claims she was roughed up by state agents | Globe appeal to protect adscam sources before court | Obama: We Need To Bailout Newspapers To Stop New Media Taking Over | Canadian media watched closely in Afghanistan | It’s a great day for freedom of speech: ‘Hate Speech’ laws found to violate Charter Rights | Associated Press Tries To DRM The News | Murdoch CEO Labels Bloggers “Political Extremists” | Should linking be illegal? | Top court to hear ‘Adscam’ media gag order challenge | Top court reserves decision in reporter confidentiality case | Don’t let media shield ‘criminals’, hearing told | Supreme Court to rule on ‘tidal-wave’ of press freedom cases | Fredericton police arrest well-known N.B. blogger on legislature grounds | Barclays bank gags Guardian newspaper over tax avoidance leaks | Chinese Learn Limits of Online Freedom as the Filter Tightens | UK Terror Law To Make Photographing Police Illegal | Publication ban law too broad, top Ontario court rules | Public access vs. government secrecy the issue in Supreme Court of Canada case | UK MPs seek to censor the media | Italian Judge: Blogs are Illegal | RCMP lays no charges in Maher Arar ‘terrorist’ leaks, declares case closed | Human rights body to consider Internet speech regulation | Blogger arrests hit record high

Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard
June 16, 2010

The Icelandic parliament has voted unanimously to create what are intended to be the strongest media freedom laws in the world. And Iceland intends these measures to have international impact, by creating a safe haven for publishers worldwide – and their servers.

The proposal, known as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, requires changes to Icelandic law to strengthen journalistic source protection, freedom of speech, and government transparency.

“The Prime Minister voted for it, and the Minister of Finance, and everybody present,” says Icelandic Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who has been the proposal’s chief sponsor. Her point is that Iceland is serious about this. The country is in the mood for openness after a small group of bankers saddled it with crippling debt, and the proposal ties neatly into the country’s strategy to be prime server real-estate.

But although the legislative package sounds very encouraging from a freedom of expression point of view, it’s not clear what the practical benefits will be to organizations outside Iceland. In his analysis of the proposal, Arthur Bright of the Citizen Media Law Project has noted that, in one major test case of cross-border online libel law, “publication” was deemed to occur at the point of download – meaning that serving a controversial page from Iceland won’t keep you from getting sued in other countries. But if nothing else, it would probably prevent your servers from being forcibly shut down.

There might be other benefits too. Wikileaks says that it routes all submissions through Sweden, where investigations into the identity of an anonymous source are illegal. Wikileaks was heavily involved in drafting and promoting the Icelandic package, and whatever your opinion of their current controversies, they’ve proven remarkably immune to legal prosecution in their short history. Conceivably, other journalism organizations could gain some measure of legal protection for anonymous sources if all communications were routed through Iceland.


Ontario’s First Nations to be HST exempt

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

A promise kept, a contract honoured, for once.

Related: First Nations protest against HST | Anti-HST protest at Ontario legislature spills onto Toronto streets

Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star
June 16, 2010

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy attends the 100th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 5 in Sandy Lake, 600 km northwest of Thunder Bay. After a century, First Nations leaders say the Canadian government has failed to live up to its treaty promises.

Ontario status Indians are to be exempt from the harmonized sales tax when they shop under a looming agreement with the federal and provincial governments.

With the 13 per cent HST coming into force on July 1, First Nations groups had expressed concern that their long-standing exemption from the provincial sales tax would not be maintained, violating their treaty rights.

The HST blends the 5 per cent federal GST with the 8 per cent PST. But federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is poised to agree to the Ontario government’s request that the PST portion of the levy not be charged to natives at points of sale.

“Ontario’s government has decided in principle to maintain the provincial exemption for status Indians. We respect tax decisions taken by provincial legislatures and assemblies,” an aide to Flaherty said Wednesday.

In Quebec City, Premier Dalton McGuinty said a deal is “pretty close” and that the federal and provincial governments have worked well together and with First Nations leadership.

“All we want to do is maintain an arrangement that has been in place for over 30 years under a number of different provincial governments of different political stripes, and I think we’re pretty close to landing what we need to land,” he said after a meeting with Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

“I’m told on principle an understanding has been reached,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy in an interview from Thunder Bay. “Our people and technicians are working on the wording.”


Privacy czar raises alarm on smart meter data

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Smart meters – a taxation and control trojan horse without peer. First it’s on a volunteer basis that you have the kill switch for your air conditioner installed. Then, once uptake passes a certain point, it’s mandatory. And the new carbon taxes are based on your minute-to-minute energy consumption, and the state energy company knows when your toaster is on and how many showers you have. It’s disgusting.

Related: Privacy commissioner outlines concerns surrounding Ontario’s Smart Grid plan | UK energy smart meter roll-out is outlined | Google PowerMeter to track home energy usage in Toronto test drive | ‘Smart meters’ set to boost prices, track your power consumption by time of day in Toronto | Google to enter market for energy use tracking

John Spears, Toronto Star
June 16, 2010

Utilities given standards to keep private information from leaking out in unauthorized ways

Picture this:

You sign up for an energy conservation scheme that lets your local utility shut down your air conditioner temporarily if the power grid is overloaded. Shortly afterward, you get a marketing call from an air conditioning company.

Or this:

You buy an electric car that you charge up every Sunday night, but never on Mondays because you always do an overnight trip. One Monday night, your home is burgled.

In fact, this doesn’t happen right now. Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian wants to keep it that way.

The electricity system is gearing up to gather more and more information about customers and their habits through smart meters and smart appliances, she says.


Activists plan walkout and tent city to protest G8/G20 summits

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

That’s actually a pretty cool symbol, something like what happens 4 minutes in the REM video for ‘Everybody Hurts’. Let’s do it, Toronto, regardless of whether we agree with all the organizer’s demands or not. Let the G20 know we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. We’re human beings, goddamnit! Our lives have value! Like Peter Finch said in his Oscar-winning speech in the classic 1976 film Network,

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

We all know things are bad — worse than bad — they’re crazy.

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”

This script is evergreen. And of course this can’t just be about populist rage, which on its own is dangerous. But if we’re going to implement change in the world, if we’re going to light the spark that gets us out of our chairs and off of our couches and out of the Matrix – the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth, as Morpheus says – if we’re to begin engaging in the dialogue the elitists have reserved for themselves, hoping to keep you off the field by providing all necessities, tranquilizing all anxieties, amusing all boredoms and keeping you like cattle – well, first you’ve got to get mad.

For more, see the G20 Coverage page feature.

Kenyon Wallace, The National Post
June 16, 2010

G8 and G20 demonstrators, including community organizations and student unions, are urging people to ‘walk out’ of their homes, schools and places of work on June 25, the first day of the G8 meeting in Hunstville, Ont. Those who participate are being asked to converge on Allan Gardens for a “block party” and the establishment of a “tent city.”

“We expect thousands of people to walk out of work, students to walk out of schools, families from different neighbourhoods to take to the Streets,” said Mohan Mishra, a member of the organizing committee and the group, No One Is Illegal-Toronto.

“Working people will join homeless folks, migrants and labor activists in a women and trans-people led march that will disrupt and confront the G8/G20 Meetings.”

Organizers say the demonstration is supported by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, No One Is Illegal-Toronto, LIFEMovement, Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization, the Ryerson Students Union, and the International Federation of Iranian Refugees in Canada, among others.

Among the demands the various groups will be making at the June 25 event: housing for all, free and accessible transit, an end to the privatization of city property, a boycott of Chilean fruit and wine for the freedom of Mapuche political prisoners, and affordable and accessible post-secondary education.


WikiLeaks to release video of deadly US airstrike in Garani

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Julian Assange is a giant in the counter-propaganda movement. Stay safe, Julian. Here’s StatismWatch’s prior coverage of the specific incident being referred to:

Related: Afghan Airstrike Video Goes Down the Memory Hole | New Afghan mission commander vows to protect civilians | US air strikes kill dozens of Afghan civilians | NATO denies air strike killed Afghan civilians

Chris McGreal, The Guardian
June 16, 2010

Whistleblowing website says it is still working to prepare the film of the bombing of the Afghan village of Garani in May 2009

An injured Afghan child at the hospital in Farah province. May, 2009. Photograph: Abdul Malek/AP

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks says it plans to release a secret military video of one of the deadliest US air strikes in Afghanistan in which scores of children are believed to have been killed.

WikiLeaks announced the move in an email to supporters. It said it fears it is under attack after the US authorities said they were searching for the site’s founder, Julian Assange, following the arrest of a US soldier accused of leaking the Afghanistan video and another of a US attack in Baghdad in which civilians were killed.

WikiLeaks released the Baghdad video in April, prompting considerable criticism of the US military. It says it is still working to prepare the film of the bombing of the Afghan village of Garani in May 2009.

The Afghan government said about 140 civilians were killed in Garani, including 92 children. The US military initially said that up to 95 people died, of which about 65 were insurgents. However, American officials have since wavered on that claim and a subsequent investigation admitted mistakes were made during the attack.

The video could prove to be extremely embarrassing to the US military and risks weakening Afghan support. The US said it was targeting Taliban positions when it used weapons that create casualties over a wide area, including one-tonne bombs and others that burst in the air. But two US military officials told a newspaper last year that no one checked to see whether there were women and children in the buildings.


G20 centre for protesters set to open

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

You can read about the “G8/G20 Community Mobilization Convergence Centre” opening on their website right here. They seem like nice enough folks, and they’re having a party tonight.

Related: Banks to close 36 branches for Toronto G20 | Rights group files for injunction against G20 ‘sound cannon’ | Huntsville G8 will host 10 more countries, says PM | NGOs meet with G20 sherpas, press for ‘green economy’ and inclusive IMF | Toronto G20 weekend: Private security fast-tracked, traffic jams, heavy police presence, but no sonic weapons | G20 activists accuse CSIS of intimidation | G8/G20: Cell phones to be jammed as motorcades move through Huntsville, Toronto | G20: Eastern Avenue Protest Jail | G20 Security unbridled: Cops bring out artillery as civil rights observers preach vigilance | Construction begins on Toronto G20 security barrier | G20 media centre with fake lake to cost $1.9M | Toronto police show off G20 summit security | Mounties shun ‘sound cannons’ in urban settings ahead of G20 | 1,100 private security guards to work G8-G20 summits | Police detail G20 security zone | Toronto Police to take up to $100-million of G20 security funds | Toronto police buy four ’sound cannons’ for G20 | Toronto and Muskoka G8/20 Summit security costs hit $1.1B | The Toronto G20 Police State Crackdown | Toronto police agree to erase security zone pass info after G20 | Toronto banks review G20 security after Ottawa RBC fire | Condo behind security fence during G20 summit | Anarchists plan ‘militant’ protests at Toronto G20 | Toronto streets get 77 more surveillance cameras for G20 | Toronto G20 should address climate issues: Nicholas Stern, UN | Toronto labour, native protesters ready for G20 demonstrations | Toronto G20 protest area moved to Queens Park | Fighter jets buzz Toronto, Muskoka in G20 test runs | Downtown Toronto To Be Transformed Into Locked-Down Police State This Summer | All Toronto G20 protests will be directed to Trinity Bellwoods Park | Police State Canada 2010 and the G20 Summit | Protesters and police get ready to square off at G20 summit | Militarized police integrate with private security for G20 Toronto concourse drill | Small army to protect Toronto during G20 summit | Toronto braces for G20 logistics crunch | Hundreds of Toronto G20 delegates granted diplomatic immunity | Toronto G20 summit security to be ‘massive’ | RCMP needs 5,500 rooms during G20 summit | G20 ’sherpas’ meet with IMF, World Bank on Ottawa | Downtown Toronto to become a fortress for G20 summit | G8/G20: Gearing up for the biggest security event in Canadian history | Toronto braces for G20 disruption, Ottawa to pick up security tab | Convention centre confirmed as location for Toronto G20 summit | G20 security could strangle downtown | G20’s Metro Convention Centre location to bump baseball, pride activities | Harper confirms June G20 summit in Toronto | Is G20 more than Toronto can handle? | With only seven months to go, G20 site may be moved to Toronto | Top Mountie says Huntsville too small for G20 | For more, see the G20 Coverage page feature

CBC News
June 16, 2010

A support centre for G20 protesters is preparing to open on Thursday in Toronto’s west end leading up to the global gathering of world leaders later this month.

The centre will give protesters advice on speaking to the media and interacting with the police, including if they are arrested, Leah Henderson, one of the centre’s organizers, told CBC News.

“We have a legal office set,” Henderson said.

The centre, on Queen Street West in Parkdale, is about six kilometres from the G20 summit at the downtown Metro Convention Centre that runs June 26 and 27.

The creation of a centre for protesters has become standard practice at international summits, Sid Lacombe of the Canadian Peace Alliance told CBC News.

“In most every one of the summits, there’s been some sort of local convergence space for people to come by and get oriented,” he said.

As well, social media, including Twitter and text messages, will play a bigger role for organizers, Lacombe said.