Welcome! "What's Happenin'?" is a casual community diary (a daily series, 8:30 AM Eastern on weekdays, 10 AM on weekends and holidays) where we hang out and talk about the goings on here and everywhere.
We welcome links to your writings here on dkos or elsewhere, posts of pictures, music, news, etc.
Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here. This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.
Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.
Butterfly at Longwood Gardens. (Photo by joanneleon. October 1, 2012)
“It appears - because it has been the case for twenty years - that every problem is solvable...that no matter how badly the world economy slumps there is a pain-free way out of it. Once the realization dawns that there is not, and that the pain will be severe, the question is posed that has not really been posed for twenty years: who should feel it?”
― Paul Mason, Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed
|Bruce Springsteen The Seeger Sessions Band - Pay me my money down
day or night
to say hello.
News and Opinion
Obama: Giving Away Social Security
The president's position on retirement benefits is indeed almost identical to Romney's—and that's no good thing.
He’s got a similar position to Mitt Romney’s? On Social Security? Does this man just want to hand the presidency to Romney on a platter?
Ever since he appointed the Bowles-Simpson Commission, Obama has been far too inclined to the premise that Social Security will need to be cut back as part of some grand bargain to cut the deficit. In the budget negotiations of 2011 (which will trigger the sequester mechanism if Congress fails to agree on massive cuts), Obama offered House Speaker Boehner Social Security cuts in exchange for tax increases; the president was saved from himself only by Republicans' refusal to consider tax increases on even the wealthiest Americans.
Romney was all too clear about what he would do. Under the former Massachusetts governor's plan, Social Security is retained in current form for those in or near retirement—with the unmistakable message that younger and middle-aged adults (who face gawd-awful economic prospects) can expect cuts in their Social Security benefits.
Obama ought to be whacking Romney on this threat. Instead, the White House is softening up public opinion to accept very similar cuts.
Praise and shock: EU Nobel Peace Prize reactionBritish Tories: Full steam ahead! American magnificent bipartisans: Full steam ahead! but wait until after my election... in the lame duck session please.) It must be done! Social Security sky is falling (decades from now and it's not really true but don't mind that right now while I pretend to save it! ) IMF Chief: Full steam ahead! (do the cuts but do it slower please)
“We must never forget that, at its origins, the European Union brought together nations emerging from the ruins of the devastating Second World War and united them in a project for peace ... The Nobel peace prize council, and in fact the international community, are now sending a very important message to Europe — that the European Union is something very precious, that we should cherish it.” — European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
“Nobel prize for the EU. At a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy?” — Dutch euroskeptic lawmaker Geert Wilders, referring to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
“If they want to give the prize for preserving the peace in Europe, they should divide it between NATO and the EU. Until the end of the Cold War, it was NATO more than anyone else that kept the peace.” — former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind.
“The Nobel committee is a little late for an April fools joke. Twenty years ago this prize would have been sycophantic but maybe more justified. Today it is downright out of touch.” — Martin Callanan, Leader Of The Eurosceptic Conservatives And Reformists Party In The European Parliament
UK's Cameron won't ease austerity after IMF downgrade
"What we need in Britain is not 'Plan B', which is more borrowing. How can you borrow your way out of a debt crisis?" Cameron told Sky News, speaking from the Conservative Party's annual conference in the central English city of Birmingham.
"What we need is what I call 'Plan A+', we need to keep our plans, difficult though they are to cut public spending and deal with the deficit, but we need to add to that every measure that business has been asking for. And that's what we're doing."
Fight brewing over time for Greek austerity
Tokyo (CNN) -- A fight over the future of the Greek bailout is brewing between two key factions overseeing Europe's debt crisis, as officials publicly disagreed with the International Monetary Fund chief's call to give Athens more time to adhere to tough austerity measures.
Olli Rehn, vice president of the European Commission, told CNN on the sidelines of the IMF meetings in Tokyo, "even the IMF can be open to criticism. It is not the final word."
His comments follow German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's rebuke of IMF chief Christine Lagarde's call to give Greece two more years to make stringent austerity measures as required for the international bailout of the country.
Aw, isn't that nice? The authorities might be able to prove that all of this was hidden from the JP Morgan execs in New York.
With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss
Federal authorities are using taped phone conversations to build criminal cases related to the multibillion-dollar trading loss at JPMorgan Chase, focusing on calls in which employees openly discussed how to value the troubled bets in a favorable way. Investigators are looking into the actions of four people who previously worked for the team based in London responsible for the $6 billion loss, according to officials briefed on the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation could make some arrests in the next several months, said one person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry was ongoing.
Authorities are examining how some traders in the chief investment office influenced market prices as their bets began to sour. Investigators are also looking into whether records were falsified to hide the problems from executives in New York. Based on those records, JPMorgan submitted inaccurate financial statements to regulators, another area of focus for investigators.
Warren’s Success: A Politician Actually Fighting for Jobs
You may not remember the American Jobs Act, but it was the policy prescriptions to jump-start the economy that President Obama proposed in September 2011. He’s basically orphaned it; the purpose was to “get caught trying,” to promote a stimulative jobs bill that had no chance of passing a Republican House. But you can hardly get caught trying if you stop trying, and the AJA plays no role for Obama on the stump or in his last debate. This is despite the fact that the number one priority for Americans is jobs, and the AJA would plausibly create them, perhaps 1-2 million according to estimates.
In fact, Obama, along with the rest of the political class in Washington, plans to allow the only significant piece of the AJA that passed – the payroll tax cut – to expire, tightening fiscal policy amid high unemployment and in all likelihood reducing GDP by 1% next year.
But Warren has not allowed the AJA to vanish. In every debate, she has brought up the trio of votes the Senate held on elements of the AJA, noting that Scott Brown voted against those bills each time. Brown then mumbles something about taxes. But only one of the two is seen as fighting for jobs, with an actual plan in writing to create them.
JPMorgan Finance Chief Is Expected to Step Down The chief financial officer at JPMorgan Chase is expected to step down by the end of the year in the latest round of executive reshuffling after the bank’s multibillion-dollar trading loss in May. Douglas Braunstein, who has been chief financial officer since 2010, will give up his post, but is expected to remain at the bank, according to two senior bank officials. Mr. Braunstein’s move follows on the heels of two departures last week. Irene Tse — who headed up the North American arm of the chief investment office, the powerful but previously little-known unit at the center of the trading mishap — is leaving to start her own hedge fund. Barry Zubrow, who runs the bank’s regulatory affairs, announced his resignation last week and will cede his position by the end of the year.
But Goldman's shitty deals were A-Okay, according to Obama's Dept. of Justice.
J.P. Morgan Ordered to Pay $18 Million to Oil Heiress’s Trust
Trust accounts require advisers to be even more diligent in putting the interests of clients ahead of the banks’. This week, an Oklahoma judge found that JPMorgan Chase had been “grossly negligent and reckless” in its administration of one client’s trust account and ordered the bank to pay $18 million.
The misconduct in the case, the judge added, showed a serious disregard for customers of the bank, which was aware “or recklessly failed to be aware” of the conduct at issue. “The court finds that beyond simply restoring the trust in the position in which it should have been maintained, it is appropriate to assess punitive damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the bank for its conduct,” Judge Morrissey wrote.
Report: ExxonMobil Majority Owner of Tar Sands Pipeline Project to Cross New England
Unbeknownst to most of the public, a major portion of the proposed tar sands pipeline that would cut across the Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec and New England to Portland, Maine, is actually owned by oil giants ExxonMobil, Imperial Oil, and Suncor Energy – all of whom have a deep stake in tar sands extraction. Knowing who the major players really are and whose interests are being served is crucial as citizens weigh the risks of a tar sands pipeline going through our backyards.
Canada’s tar sands region is one of the fastest-growing industrial enterprises in the world but, lacking major coastal access, the oil produced there has been predominantly confined to North American markets. In recent years the oil industry has sought cross-continental pipeline routes that would allow it to ship its product overseas, which would spur a dramatic expansion of tar sands extraction in Alberta’s boreal forest. As proposed tar sands pipelines like TransCanada’s Keystone XL (from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast) and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway (from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast) have become front page news, the companies involved have come under heavy scrutiny. Awareness of the risks of tar sands pipelines is on the rise, but many people are unaware of the Big Oil power behind the proposal to send tar sands from Canada to Portland, Maine. This project—and the companies behind it—must be put under the same magnifying glass as the others.
With regionally-anchored names like “Montreal Pipe Line Limited” and “Portland Pipe Line Corporation,” it’s easy to see why people might be in the dark about who is really driving the tar sands pipeline proposal often referred to as the “Trailbreaker” project. But with public safety, health and the environment at risk, citizens and local governments need to know that some of the biggest names in oil, and the largest developers of the Alberta tar sands – companies like ExxonMobil, Enbridge and Suncor – are the real players looking to move tar sands oil toward East Coast ports in hopes of reaping even bigger profits.
Report: EPA struggling to keep pace with ‘fracking’ boom
Congressional auditors conclude in new reports that the Environmental Protection Agency faces big hurdles overseeing a U.S. oil-and-gas drilling boom that’s creating “unknown” long-term health risks. ...
“Officials at EPA reported that conducting inspection and enforcement activities for oil and gas development from unconventional reservoirs is challenging due to limited information, as well as the dispersed nature of the industry and the rapid pace of development,” the report states. ...
“Oil and gas development, whether conventional or shale oil and gas, pose inherent environmental and public health risks, but the extent of these risks associated with shale oil and gas development is unknown, in part, because the studies GAO reviewed do not generally take into account the potential long-term, cumulative effects,” the report states.
Kucinich: Stop overthrowing governments to end attacks on U.S. embassies “It is easy to blame someone else — like a civil servant at the State Department,” Kucinich said. “We all know the game. It is harder to acknowledge that decades of American foreign policy have directly contributed to regional instability and to the rise of armed militias around the world.” “It is even harder to acknowledge Congress’ role in the failure to stop the war in Libya, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Pakistan, the war in Yemen, the war in Somalia and who knows where else. It is harder to recognize Congress’ role in the failure to stop the drone attacks that are still killing innocent civilians and strengthening radical elements abroad. We want to stop the attacks on embassies? Let’s stop trying to overthrow governments.”
Chief of US Security at Embassy in Yemen Assassinated The Yemeni chief of security at the US embassy in Sanaa has been assassinated, officials there have said. Qassem Aqlani, fifty-five, was on his way to work Thursday when he was gunned down, according to reports, by a masked gunman on a motorcycle who then fled the scene. The seemingly targeted attack on Aqlani—who has worked at the embassy for nearly twenty years—comes as the US military, in collusion with the Yemeni government, wages an ongoing drone war of assassinations against Al Qaeda-affiliated factions in Yemen. The US drone attacks have killed many innocent civilians, spawning nationwide anger and protest.
AFTER THE UPRISING
Can protesters find a path between dictatorship and anarchy?
The White House says that Brennan’s statement was not intended to grant Saleh permission to attack the protesters. But, since the unrest began, the Saleh regime has received unusually strong support from the Obama Administration. The White House has made clear it believes that in Yemen abrupt change must be avoided, even at the cost of Yemeni lives. Brennan, a former C.I.A. station chief in the Middle East, maintains a close relationship with Saleh, and has visited Sanaa four times since taking the counterterrorism post, in 2009. After the lurid speech blaming Israel and the United States for the protests, Saleh called Brennan to apologize. The Obama Administration scolded Saleh after the attack on the Sanaa University protesters, but it didn’t urge him to step down. A senior American military officer explained why: “If Saleh goes, the two likeliest outcomes are anarchy or a government that is not as friendly.
Third anarchist jailed for refusing to testify before secret grand jury
A third self-described anarchist from the Pacific Northwest has been jailed by federal officials for refusing to speak before a secretive grand jury that the accused have called a politically-motivated modern-day witch-hunt.
Leah-Lynn Plante, a mid-20s activist from Seattle, Washington, was ushered out of court by authorities on Wednesday after refusing for a third time to answer questions forced on her by a grand jury — a panel of prosecutors convened to determine if an indictment can be issued for a federal crime.
Plante was one of a handful of people targeted in a series of raids administered by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force on July 25 of this year which the feds say were in conjunction with an investigation into acts of vandalism that occurred during May Day protests in Seattle nearly two months prior. As part of their probe, search warrants were issued at multiple residences of activists in the area, including Plante’s, demanding that dwellers provide agents with “anti-government or anarchist literature” in their homes and any flags, flag-making material, cell phones, hard drives, address books, and black clothing.
“As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as ‘evidence’ as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day,” Plante recalls in a post published this week to her Tumblr page.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
The Evening Blues - 10-11-12
'The Raiders of Your Lost Retirement' #2 -- Saving Dems from a Social Security Austerity Disaster
The Missing Debate Within the Debate
US supreme court finalizes gift of immunity to the telecom giants
Ex-CIA Agent John Kiriakou, Accused of Leaks, Has Subpoenaed Journalists: Who Are They?
How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times As These (Live For The BBC)
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky