Occupy Purchasing and Forgiving Homeowner Debt

This is beginning to get serious. In a good way.

The Rolling Jubilee, a project of Strike Debt, itself an arm of Occupy Wall Street, has been raising money from supporters to buy debt discounted by the original lenders to as little as two cents on the dollars—the kind of debt that’s typically sold to collection agencies. Having bought the debt, Rolling Jubilee will then forgive it. It is, in Occupy parlance, “a bailout of the ninety-nine per-cent by the ninety-nine per-cent.”

Occupy Returns, With a New Idea @ The New Yorker

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‘Genius’ and the MacArthur Grants

Quote

“When people are doing something that’s really innovative, it’s not recognised for a long time,” says former fellow Richard A Muller, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. “Most people think you’re just wasting your time.” (BBC, “Is ‘genius’ a dirty word?“)

More on the Bullshit Bailout: A Growing Number of Economists Agree

This morning Congress has received a letter signed by (at my last count) about 240 economists and growing. It briefly lays out 3 “major pitfalls” of the proposed treasury bailout plan (don’t let them get away with calling it a “rescue plan”) and urges care and caution in coming up with a plan that actually makes sense.

I wonder if any of these economists will show up on the 24-hour news cycles now to expand upon their disagreements.  Somehow I doubt it.  DemocracyNow! will probably pick that one up.

This Bailout is Bullshit: Selected News

I’ve been trying to figure out what the deal is with this “bailout,” and it has become increasingly clear that it is another huge swindle on the part of the pirates in the executive branch and their buddies on Wall Street. Don’t expect anything good from our elected politicians, and don’t expect any useful news and reporting from the 24-hour propaganda machine, who continue to speak non-stop about the most tedious “developments” of the presidential campaign while keeping silent or inadequately skirting over the many, many crazy things going on right now at home and across the globe. It’s time to start seeking out more desperately those alternative sources of news that the internet provides us.

First, let’s begin with this report from CNBC, whose anarchic coverage of this crisis does match the general mood and occasional strikes a right cord: “Bailouts Will Push US into Depression.”

Second, Ralph Nader and Arun Gupta criticize the bailout and call for action on the part of taxpayers and citizens. DemocracyNow!, September 25, 2008. (Link will not work until tomorrow, 9/26 – go to front page until then.)

Third, Ralph Nader’s call for Congress to show some “backbone” and prevent yet another action on the part of this administration for the billionaires and against the rest of the American people: “Who Will Show Some Backbone Against the Bailout?”

Fourth, the e-mail sent out by Arun Gupta (given its own wordpress blog) to call a protest on Wall Street at 4PM of 9/25.

Fifth, an international perspective on the bailout and the future of US global dominance. It highlights comments made by world leaders at the UN General Assembly currently being held in NYC. “A Bailout and a New World.”

Sixth, Michael Hudson on CounterPunch calling the bailout “a giveaway”: “The Insanity of the $700 Billion Giveaway.”

Seventh, the tagline to David Sarota’s “The $700 Billion Questions”: “Using the shock doctrine, Wall Street and Washington’s wrecking crew aim to get the most expensive free lunch in American history.”

Fannie and Freddie Bailout: Counterpunch Interview w/ Michael Hudson

I’m back, at last, from my blogging break, so here’s some more finacial crisis commentary.

This interview by MIke Whitney, “The Worsening Debt Crisis: Who Got Us into This Mess and What are the Real Political Options?,” puts the whole nationalization of the housing sector issue into a better context, one that deals with a lot of the international and military complexities that NPR and CNN et. al. continue to brush aside.

Hopefully I’ll post about something else sometime, mix things up a bit, you know?

With All of the Bad News Out There Today . . .

It’s good to see some hope, however small and fragile it may be.

So, for as long as there is still freedom of access and expression on the internet, there is this site, Wikileaks, to help expose the crimes and lies of governments, corporations, universities, and other institutions in bad need of increased scrutiny.

Thank you Ryan Singel of Wired.com (read his article) for reminding me that this site is still going strong. With all the crap out ther on the internet, it nice for a site like Wikileaks to demonstrate how, at this historical moment (and I’m not referring to the Obama thing), the internet is one of the greatest hopes we have for a better world.

Article: Hedges, “What it Means when the US Goes to War”

This is how Chris Hedges recent article “What it Means when the US Goes to War” from the Asia Times begins:

Troops, when they battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in “atrocity producing situations”. Being surrounded by a hostile population makes simple acts, such as going to a store to buy a can of soda, dangerous. The fear and stress push troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed, over time, to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents.

Civilians and combatants, in the eyes of the beleaguered troops, merge into one entity. These civilians, who rarely interact with soldiers or marines, are to most of the occupation troops in Iraq nameless, faceless and easily turned into abstractions of hate. They are dismissed as less than human. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral leap. It is a leap from killing – the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm – to murder – the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you.

The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. [emphasis added] There is very little killing. The savagery and brutality of the occupation is tearing apart those who have been deployed to Iraq. As news reports have just informed us, 115 American soldiers committed suicide in 2007. This is a 13% increase in suicides over 2006. And the suicides, as they did in the Vietnam War years, will only rise as distraught veterans come home, unwrap the self-protective layers of cotton wool that keep them from feeling, and face the awful reality of what they did to innocents in Iraq.

It continues from there to give some quite disturbing information about what goes on in Iraq told by US veterans of the war themselves.  The article is adapted from Hedges new book, co-written with Laila al-Arian, entitled Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians.

These stories are nothing new to me; I heard similar things from a classmate of mine who was sent to Iraq in the Illinois National Guard in 2003/4 and after only a year or so back home committed suicide.  There are too many stories like this now.  The atrocity of this war is bad on all sides, except for the contracting firms and the Administration-Crony-Good-Ol’-Boys that insist on continuing it until there is nothing left for them to feed on.  Fucking vampires, all of them.

U.S. Depression is Here

I’m assuming this isn’t a controversial statement to make by this point, unless you’ve successful kept your head up your ass for the last year or so.  Denial is a popular position to take in this country right now, after all.  But a perusal of the US economy page at The Guardian should leave anyone with a pretty bleak feeling.

And as if there isn’t bad news on the economy daily, here’s some more to worry about:

State and city governments have yet to shrink the economy; indeed, they have even managed to prop it up. They have quietly maintained their spending at pre-crisis levels even as they warn of numerous cutbacks forced on them by declining tax revenues. The cutbacks, however, are written into budgets for a fiscal year that begins on July 1, a month away….

[T]he states and municipalities have increased their spending in recent quarters, bolstering the nation’s meager economic growth. Over the past year, they have added $40 billion to their outlays, even allowing for scattered spending freezes and a few cutbacks in advance of July 1. Total employment has also risen. But when the current fiscal year ends in 30 days (or in the fall for many municipalities), state and city spending will fall, along with employment — slowly at first and then quite noticeably after the next president takes office. (NY Times)

Maybe this is a good time for us to stop worrying so much about this election, which promises to change nothing important for the country’s ruling rich, and start focusing on what can be done now to improve our lives.  November is not only too far off, it’s also the same empty promise that it’s been for decades.

Iraq Body Count

We all know about the American soldiers dying for no good reason in Iraq.  There are reasons they have been sent over there, yes, just not virtuous ones.  But what about the Iraqis being murdered each day?  Here’s the description on the Iraq Body Count website:

Iraq Body Count is an ongoing human security project which maintains and updates the world’s largest public database of violent civilian deaths during and since the 2003 invasion. The count encompasses non-combatants killed by military or paramilitary action and the breakdown in civil security following the invasion.

You can download the complete database with news source citations.

This is terrible and gets worse everyday.  What’s next for the Global War on Terror if people don’t get up and demand that it end now?