More Chapters Opening in the Criminal Enterprise Called Banking

citibank.gi.topNew Orleans    You probably haven’t heard about this yet, but in many public high schools in the “red” states like those in the USA where I have long lived and worked, business has managed to force students to take a course or half-course in “free enterprise” in hopes of moving their young minds in the “right” direction as early as possible. A standard feature that is going to have to be mandatory at the insistence of mothers and fathers of such students everywhere is that in the same way they had to learn to “just say no” to drugs, part of this curriculum will counsel the youngsters to never, never ever join a criminal enterprise and become bankers.

Every day there are more reports of criminality or of things that should at the very least be considered criminal.

Citi cut its profit estimates because of new investigations that it was involved in currency manipulation. Deutsche Bank said it lost money on the quarter because of legal costs. Bank of America continues to be implicated in yet more mortgage mess. And on top of that, various attorney generals and the Justice Department are now saying they’re going to reopen some of the earlier settlements with banks and jack up the fines because the banks continued doing the same ol’ same ol’ even after they swore on a stack of millions of dollars that they would change their ways.

They just can’t do right. Period.

It’s getting so bad that a professor from NYU in an op-ed came out in favor of using check cashing and pay day lending outfits on the street corners, essentially because they steal from you to your face rather than having bank accounts where they sneak the money away from you at every turn with an average check bouncing charge of over $32 a pop now, excessive monthly service charges even on savings accounts where you are only be paid a quarter of one-percent for letting them invest your money, and generally nickel-and-dime you at every turn.

Yet somehow they were able to still muscle up on the Federal Home Finance folks in exchange for being willing to offer housing loans again and convince them that they would be OK lending some money for home purchase again, but only on the condition that they could pretty much off-load all of the mortgages to the government and others rather than keeping any of the risk on their books. Former Congressman Barney Frank of the Dodd-Frank so-called banking reforms said that “risk retention” was the key to making the Dodd-Frank overhaul work, and that’s now long gone, pecan, cher! More recently he has been quoted colorfully saying essentially that the bill is a dead letter now given the deal the banks have cut.

Seems when they are not engaged in predatory and criminal behavior at home and abroad, they are fast dealing and scamming the rest of us right and left.

So, American mothers have almost universally changed their minds and the words to the old Willie Nelson song, and have decided it’s ok for their boys to now be cowboys, as long as they never become bankers and lawyers and such.

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Retiring One Halloween Election Boogie Man: ACORN!

cover-boogeymanNew Orleans   With the election here, the voter registration period is pretty much over in most states, except for those favored few who have same day registration, so it’s safe to finally talk about it a bit more and make some notes about some of the things that make 2014’s midterms different from elections over the last half-dozen years.

One difference that has been huge is that the Republican Party’s voter suppression effort has been so successful in some many states that even the fire breathers at Fox News and what’s left of the Tea People and other far right zealots seem to have finally slacked off on their efforts to make ACORN the boogieman for this election.  Google Alerts on ACORN have finally calmed down to a low murmur, rather than the high pitched roar of recent years. Of course James O’Keefe, the video-scammer is still trying to get a free lunch from ACORN and announced that he had set up an election PAC this season, but it was quickly buried in a universal yawn that escaped from the now perpetual sneer which now seems to be the universal response from the American public to his perpetual shenanigans.

This season the big ACORN news from the Google team was the splash made by Ottawa ACORN on their candidates’ forum!  By the way did any of you even realize the Toronto mayor’s election happened and the Ford family finally lost?

Of course it’s not completely over.  Some old reliable sources still take their best shot, but it is more often now on local races.  The New York Post wanted to make sure their readers knew that the “re-branded ACORN” New York Communities for Change was active in setting up a campaign committee in conjunction with New York State unions to impact the election of friendly legislators to implement their programs.  An ACORN-fixated blogger took a stab at trying to link another rebranded ACORN affiliate in Missouri to the Ferguson controversies, but never got traction there either.

Part of this trend is something less than good news.  The progressive forces are now seen more aggressively in local and state campaigns and less on the national arena perhaps where ACORN was a factor, particularly with its massive voter registration efforts. Races like the campaign in Richmond, California where city councils and mayors are trying to forge new public policies and take on corporations, like Chevron, are increasingly important.  Interviewing Tom Butt, a 19-year city councilman and now candidate for Mayor on Wade’s World  on KABF, recently, it was easy to feel the excitement.  Seeing the role of the Working Families Party aligning itself with Mayor de Blasio and a number of progressives and labor unions to remake the state legislature is vital and exciting.  There are a number of state minimum wage campaigns which could play important roles in turnout though no one seems to be watching this as closely as they might.

There’s still a huge gap with the absence of ACORN in the United States, but seeing the action on some of these political struggles and the inability of the right to continue to scare organizers and others by simply calling up the ACORN boogieman this Halloween, gives all of us more hope for the future

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Please enjoy the Song of the Month from Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay, Si Kahn’s Mount Polley

Si Kahn’s Mount Polley – On August 4, 2014, the containment dam at Mount Polley Mine, British Columbia breached sending 2.64 billion gallons of wastewater and 1.36 billion gallons of solid tailings with a smorgasbord of toxins into local waterways. The facility that failed was designed by the same firm that is working on Pebble’ Mine’s tailings dam. The Mount Polley environmental catastrophe serves as a direct warning to us.

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