This week we were hoping to talk about awards for the best journalism of the past year, it turned out to be the strangest interview on Double Standards so far. As the European economic catastrophe continues, austerity in Greece seems to have turned the clock back thousands of years.
Also the President of the UK's Foreign Press Association tells us about his institution's award and much more. Source
Submitted by Tyler Durden Now that the rehypothecation bogeyman has been let loose, and the question of just how many paper (and apparently physical) assets have been double, triple, and n-counted (where n can be a number up to "infinity") by the infinitely daisy-chained modern global financial system in which one's liability is someone else's asset....apparently up to infinity times, the next logical step was for the firms named in the original Reuters article to step up and begin denials they had anything to do with anything. Sure enough, below is the first (of many) such response, by Interactive Brokers, claiming it has been greatly misunderstood and unlike MF Global, it has done nothing wrong at all. Of note is that IB was simply one of many brokers mentioned in the Reuters piece, where we read that "Engaging in hyper-hypothecation have been Goldman Sachs ($28.17 billion re-hypothecated in 2011), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (re-pledged $72 billion in client assets), Royal Bank of Canada (re-pledged $53.8 billion of $126.7 billion available for re-pledging), Oppenheimer Holdings ($15.3 million), Credit Suisse (CHF 332 billion), Knight Capital Group ($1.17 billion),Interactive Brokers ($14.5 billion), Wells Fargo ($19.6 billion), JP Morgan($546.2 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($410 billion)." Sure enough, we predicted a firm would have to promptly step up and "deny all charges." To wit: "Oh Jefferies, Jefferies, Jefferies. Barely did you manage to escape the gauntlet of accusation of untenable gross (if not net) sovereign exposure, that you will soon, potentially as early as tomorrow, have to defend your zany rehypothecation practices." As it turns out Jefferies, and all the other mentioned banks tried to avoid this festering can of worms by completely ignoring the topic... until Interactive Brokers' response now demands that every single named bank has to do the same and come out with an outright explanation of why it has billions in hyper-hypothecation, or else not journalists and bloggers, but the market itself will suddenly start asking questions. Something tells us it will not be nearly as easy enough for the others to deny all charges... Incidentally, if this indeed becomes "the next big thing", what the potential collapse of (re) hypothection means is that PBs will be unable to lend out shares anymore, in effect collapsing stock shorting as there is one giant short stock recall/forced buy in. Ironicaly the unwind of the biggest market fraud could result in the entire market pulling one last "Volkswagen"style hurrah, before all hell breaks loose. Source/full story
While some Russian activists were denied official permission to hold a rally on Saturday, others went ahead, not needing permission at all... Because they are just toys.
Activists in the northern Russian town of Apatity, failing to gain permission for a rally against the parliamentary vote results, decided on a flashmob instead. “Toys from Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs will represent demonstrators,” read the activist group's page on social networking site Vkontakte. The mixed and matched group of toys “will exactly depict our society,” the activists claimed. And as toys are not banned from gathering, they said, they will not be dispersed.
Organisers called on people to provide the Kinder toys, which have long been popular with Russian kids, with slogans fit for a protest. “We advise sticking the slogans on toothpicks,” the group's web page reads. The event, judging by the photos and Internet links, proved to be a success. “I’m for honesty,” a robot proclaims with his poster, while an elf's placard reads, “We are for fair elections.”
While the ‘nano-rally’ – as organizers labeled it – could not boast marching crowds, the one thing it certainly got was public attention. Source
In addition to turning America into a warzone and allowing indefinite torture and detainment for US citizens, Congress this week decided that women raped while serving their country won’t be provided coverage for abortions.
The military, it turns out, is pro-life.
Despite one-in-three women in the military saying they’ve been sexually assaulted while serving their country, the Senate decided to skip over voting for an amendment which would have allowed rape victims coverage for abortion. While civilians employed by the US government are given such protection, coverage is not granted in the US military. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hoped to change that with an amendment tacked on to the National Defense Authorization Bill, but on Wednesday the Senate decided to move pass the legislation without bringing it up for vote.
Congress did, however, agree to make some changes while voting for the act for Fiscal Year 2012. Should President Barack Obama approve the National Defense Act, sodomy and bestiality in the armed forces will be legalized and Americans can be detained and tortured indefinitely for suspected terrorism crimes without ever being charged.
Sen. Shaheen’s amendment would have lifted the ban on military insurance coverage for victims of rape and incest that sought abortions. Past legislation had granted such coverage, but it was dropped back in 1984. The current law, enacted in 1996, keeps DoD medical personnel from performing abortions and another provision keeps Pentagon funds from covering the procedure except in cases where it threatens the life of the mother.
“This policy is fundamentally unfair to the more than 200,000 women serving in our military," Shaheen said this week.
"They are fighting to protect our rights, and they should have the same rights to reproductive health care as our civilian employees."
"I'm very disappointed that we will not have a chance this week to debate this critical issue," Shaheen tells Huffington Post,"but we'll keep fighting for it as long as we have to."
As Shaheen and other activists continue that fight, thousands of women are sexually assaulted annually in the military. The Department of Defense reveals that in Fiscal Year 2010, 3,000 sexual assaults were reported within the ranks of the armed forces, a quarter of which it lists as rape. Coincidentally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation voted this week to alter their current definition of what constitutes rape, broadening it to include sexual assaults involving penetration not currently contained within the text.
The DoD adds that while the number of reported rapes are substantial, close to 90 percent of rapes are unreported. Compared with civilian life, rape within the military is nearly double. Source
‘Tis the season for psychological warfare? While Christmas trees around the world symbolize peace on earth and good will toward men, Seoul’s plan to hang lights near the most militarized border in the world has North Korea vowing to retaliate.
Seoul has decided to allow a church group to hang lights on a Christmas tree-shaped tower some two miles from the tense border.
When illuminated, the 100-foot tall structure, which is located on the military-controlled Aegibong Hill, can easily be seen from the North Korean city of Kaesong.
However, North Korea’s official Uriminzokkiri news website said plans by South Korea to spread Christmas cheer amounted to “psychological warfare”, and that Pyongyang would retaliate immediately if Seoul went ahead with its plans, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
“The enemy warmongers… should be aware that they should be held responsible entirely for any unexpected consequences that may be caused by their scheme,” it said.
“This issue… is not something to be ignored quietly,” AFP cited the website as saying.
Pyongyang has in the past accused its southern neighbor of using the Christmas lights to spread Christianity within the closed Communist state.
But in 2004, the two Koreas reached a deal to halt border propaganda operations, which included the South’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony
However, in 2010, the tree was illuminated for the first time in seven years after the South accused the North of carrying out two deadly attacks.
After relations chilled that year, the South took to regularly dropping propaganda leaflets from airplanes and using large electronic panels to shine its messages across the border.
Private citizens have also use “balloon diplomacy” to deliver both provisions and messages via large helium balloons.
Perhaps more bizarrely, Seoul decided to reinstall 14 massive speakers on the border. The speakers, which regularly air a radio program called “The Voice of Freedom”, proclaims the greatness of living in the South to everyone within earshot.
One of the messages aimed at the North Koreans – who are frequently dependent on food aid from the outside world – conveys the news that food is available in such abundance south of the border that obesity has become a problem as people simply have too much to eat. Source
Western diplomacy regards the Syrian president as a lost cause, so since he has close ties with Iran, toppling Assad would be a major blow to Tehran, argues UK journalist and author Jonathan Steele. Source
The Arab Spring will not bring democracy, former Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League Adnan Omran warns. He tells RT that slogans brandished before elections are no guarantee that the winner is actually going to practice democracy. Source
With the financial markets still in turmoil and banks, currencies, even countries struggling to return to normal, the free market is in trouble.
Viable options are scarce, sparking global protests against the rich 1%.
Jeffrey Sachs, an academic 'superstar' known for his controversial work on shock therapy, a theory that was applied and tested in dramatic fashion with the privatisation of state resources in South America and Russia.
How can the global financial crisis be solved? What went wrong, and what are the stakes? One of the most controversial economists of our time talks to Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan about the debt crisis, what caused it and how to fix it. Source
Bank directors could be forced to prove their innocence in the event that a major lender collapses, the City regulator will say next week.
Insight into the conclusions of the Financial Services Authority's (FSA's) two-and-a-half year inquiry into the failure of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which will be published on Monday.
The report will say that regulators should also be given greater powers to block hostile bank takeovers in order to avoid a future crisis like the one that forced RBS into a £45bn taxpayer bailout in 2008.
The FSA's conclusions, which include a coruscating account of its own supervision of RBS, amount to the first full inquiry into the near-collapse of one of Britain's big banks. Source
Central banks in eurozone countries are making contingency plans for the possible collapse of the euro.Demand for money-printing services is expected to soar as old national currencies prepare for a come-back.
The Central Bank of Ireland is doing an evaluation of its need for additional printing capacity in case it has to go back to producing Irish pound notes, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The bank is one of several in the eurozone with printing capabilities of its own, currently used to churn out new euro bills. Last year, Ireland printed 127.5 million 10-euro notes.
However, the bank’s printing capacities may not meet demand should the country need to come up with a hasty replacement for the euro. Officials are discussing reactivating old printers or enlisting a private contractor to do the job, a knowledgeable source told the newspaper.
A possible return to the drachma is widely anticipated in debt-stricken Greece, the country regarded one of the most likely to leave the eurozone. Images of fake “future” drachmas featuring then-Prime Minister George Papandreou were circulating on the Internet.
Greece’s central bank has its own printing press too, but unlike Ireland’s, it is not seeking additional capacity – yet.
Among private companies contracted to print money for Europeans is De La Rue PLC located in the English city of Gateshead. It produces euros for several eurozone countries and also serves as a backup facility for the Bank of England’s printing needs.
The latter, a source told WSJ, is concerned that if the eurozone unravels, the plant would be overwhelmed with orders and would not be able to print pounds. Britain is reportedly considering steps to ensure that such contingency would not cause damage to the UK’s own interests.
Other countries outside the imperiled currency bloc are also sketching out post-euro plans. Switzerland, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Latvia all have their national currencies pegged to the euro to ensure stability. They are now casting around for a new reference point – probably the German mark – should the eurozone fall. Source
The Euro is crashing. Oscar Turner tells us what it's all about. He sees it as an opportunity to re-think everything....which is logical given that what we have done is create a totally inappropriate economic situation, ill conceived by daydreaming politicians who have somehow inhabited a planet that is somewhere else. Source