Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

Archive for March, 2013

American Friends Statement on Korea Tensions

Posted by randyshannon on March 31, 2013

 

Statement in Response to U.S. Simulated Nuclear Attacks

on North Korea and Cyber Attacks in North and South Korea

 

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has long opposed military actions on the Korean peninsula that serve to deepen and prolong a conflict that has persisted since the Korean War.  This month another round of military actions and escalations by all parties are now underway in the region, including repeated simulated U.S. nuclear attacks against North Korea by B-2 and B-52 bombers in the midst of ongoing U.S.-South Korean war games.  We call once again for an end to such provocative actions and a concerted effort to de-escalate and resolve the longstanding regional conflict that has taken a deep, generations-long toll on the region.

Such simulations and the history of U.S. nuclear threats during past Korean crises contributed to the development of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and its recent nuclear test, threatening to ignite a regional nuclear arms race.  Military threats made routinely by North and South Korea as well as recent and possibly related cyber-attacks against North Korean media outlets and against South Korean broadcasters and banks further escalate the conflict.

Provocations of this sort – routine or otherwise – can too easily lead to miscalculations, and generate fears and passions that make it difficult for political leaders to respond with necessary caution. We are sobered by the memory of how such miscalculations have triggered cataclysmic wars in the past and even brought nuclear powers to the brink of all-out war.

The escalation of tensions and confrontations needs to be halted:

  • AFSC urges all parties to step back from further provocations.
  • AFSC further calls for the suspension of war games and military exercises on all sides. In particular, the U.S. should halt its provocative simulated nuclear attacks which are more likely to reinforce the DPRK’s commitment to its incipient nuclear arsenal, rather than to open a constructive dialogue.

To set relations on a better course:

  • AFSC urges renewed diplomatic engagement and negotiations between the North and South Korean Governments.
  • Echoing the views of former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg, AFSC reminds the U.S. government that sanctions and military threats will not succeed in ending decades of militarized tensions. The Obama Administration should reach out to North Korea with the goal of negotiating a peace agreement to finally end the Korean War.

Philadelphia, PA  – March 30, 2013                                                        Contact:  Alexis Moore (215-241-7060)

 

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

 

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US Plans to Seize FDIC Insured Bank Deposits in Next Crisis

Posted by randyshannon on March 28, 2013

Ellen Brown

Ellen Brown

The Confiscation Scheme Planned for U.S. and U.K. Depositors

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_confiscation_scheme_planned_for_us_and_uk_depositors_20130328/

Posted on Mar 28, 2013

By Ellen Brown, chairman of the Public Banking Institute

This article first appeared at Web of Debt.

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.

New Zealand has a similar directive, discussed in my last article here, indicating that this isn’t just an emergency measure for troubled Eurozone countries. New Zealand’s Voxy reported on March 19th:

The National Government [is] pushing a Cyprus-style solution to bank failure in New Zealand which will see small depositors lose some of their savings to fund big bank bailouts . . . .

Open Bank Resolution (OBR) is Finance Minister Bill English’s favoured option dealing with a major bank failure. If a bank fails under OBR, all depositors will have their savings reduced overnight to fund the bank’s bail out.

Can They Do That?

Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.”  The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.

The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.”  It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state:

An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector would be provided by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt from the original creditors of the failed company [meaning the depositors] into equity [or stock]. In the U.S., the new equity would become capital in one or more newly formed operating entities. In the U.K., the same approach could be used, or the equity could be used to recapitalize the failing financial company itself—thus, the highest layer of surviving bailed-in creditors would become the owners of the resolved firm. In either country, the new equity holders would take on the corresponding risk of being shareholders in a financial institution.

No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. The FDIC is an insurance company funded by premiums paid by private banks. The directive is called a “resolution process,” defined elsewhere as a plan that “would be triggered in the event of the failure of an insurer . . . .” The only mention of “insured deposits” is in connection with existing UK legislation, which the FDIC-BOE directive goes on to say is inadequate, implying that it needs to be modified or overridden.

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USW President: Bank on Being Bilked

Posted by randyshannon on March 26, 2013

Leo W. Gerard

International President, United Steelworkers

Bank on Being Bilked

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-w-gerard/bank-on-being-bilked_b_2944357.html

It’s hard to believe considering what happened in 2008 on Wall Street and in Washington, but banking is built on trust.

A worker hands his hard-earned dollars to a teller and trusts the money will be deposited and available for withdrawal when needed. Despite the crash on Wall Street, workers still trust bankers to safeguard deposits from robbers and reckless investments.

Granting banks a little less credulity might be wise. Just consider what happened in the past two weeks. A U.S. Senate investigation revealed that the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking reforms utterly failed in the case of the $6.2 billion “London Whale” gambling loss at JPMorgan Chase. Then a U.S. House committee passed seven measures to weaken Dodd-Frank. And there was the European Union’s demand that Cyprus expropriate money from depositors to prevent that nation’s big banks from failing. That means no depositor can trust that a government won’t dip its hands into savers’ accounts to bail too-big-to-fail banks. The trust is gone, baby.

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What Has Capitalism Done for Us Lately?

Posted by carldavidson on March 25, 2013

Full Show on Bill Moyers…

 

Sheila Bair, the longtime Republican who served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the fiscal meltdown five years ago, joins Bill to talk about American banks’ continuing risky and manipulative practices, their seeming immunity from prosecution, and growing anger from Congress and the public.

Also on the show, Richard Wolff, whose smart, blunt talk about the crisis of capitalism on his first Moyers & Company appearance was so compelling and provocative, we asked him to return. This time, the economics expert answers questions sent in by our viewers, diving further into economic inequality, the limitations of industry regulation, and the widening gap between a booming stock market and a population that increasingly lives in poverty.

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Philly Worst Big City for People in Deep Poverty, with Pittsburgh Not Far Behind

Posted by carldavidson on March 19, 2013

Labor Day protest for minimum wage hike. Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. The annual salary for a single person at half the poverty line is around $5,700; for a family of four, it’s around $11,700. Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.9 percent, or around 200,000 people.

By Alfred Lubrano
Philadelphia Inquirer

March 19, 2013 – Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities.

The annual salary for a single person at half the poverty line is around $5,700; for a family of four, it’s around $11,700.

Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.9 percent, or around 200,000 people.

Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas are the nearest to Philadelphia, with deep-poverty rates of more than 10 percent.

The numbers come from an examination of the 2009 through 2011 three-year estimate of the U.S. Census American Community Survey by The Inquirer and Temple University sociologist David Elesh.

Of the 4,300,000 people living in the area around Philadelphia, there are nearly 160,000 in deep poverty – a rate of 3.6 percent – in Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Salem, Gloucester, Burlington, and Camden Counties as well as New Castle County, Del., and Cecil County, Md., Elesh’s analysis showed.

Nationwide, more than 20 million people live in deep poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

These deep-poverty numbers don’t include noncash benefits such as food stamps, which help families survive, experts said.

The Philadelphia deep-poverty figure wasn’t a complete surprise for antipoverty advocates, since the city already has the highest poverty rate – 28.4 percent – of any of America’s biggest cities.

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Posted in budget crisis, Debt, Poverty, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

Iraq: 10 Years After, Have We Learned a Thing?

Posted by carldavidson on March 19, 2013

By Michael S Lofgren
Beaver County Peace Links via Huffington Post

March 18, 2013 – On the decennial of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the persons responsible have shown remarkably little guilt over launching an unprovoked war of aggression, even when the lamentable results might be expected to give one pause to rethink the enterprise. Marveling at the complacency about Iraq of America’s foreign policy elite as they are fawningly interviewed on the Sunday talk shows, columnist Alex Pareene says that "[p]eople who were integral in the decision to wage that war sat there and opined on what the United States should do about Iran and China and North Korea and no one laughed them out of the room. It was disgusting." Disgusting, but hardly surprising here in the United States of Amnesia.

Are there any lessons to be drawn from the debacle? Here are three tentative conclusions:

American Exceptionalism is a more pernicious drug than crack cocaine.  Almost 50 years ago, J. William Fulbright described American Exceptionalism extremely well in his book The Arrogance of Power:

The causes of the malady are not entirely clear but its recurrence is one of the uniformities of history: power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.

Whatever grubby calculations of realpolitik our political classes harbor — access to cheap oil, strategic military advantage, appeasement of political lobbies — they invariably mask them in the doctrines of American Exceptionalism, the idea that a war has a higher moral purpose when the United States is involved in it. The invasion of Iraq was a marquee example of this deception, because the aggression was so naked. What looked like an ordinary cynical land-grab was actually (according to American Exceptionalism) a selfless duty, rather like Rudyard Kipling’s white man’s burden.

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Posted in antiwar, Iraq, Militarism | Leave a Comment »

The Budget Wars Are Engaged!

Posted by carldavidson on March 16, 2013

Rachel Maddow & Bill Maher: Proposed Ryan Budget is ‘Laughable’

Click Photo and Scroll Down to Watch Video

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Progressive ‘Back to Work’ Budget Wins Praise for Anti-Austerity Approach

Posted by carldavidson on March 14, 2013

‘A reminder that we don’t need to cut teachers and school lunches when we can eliminate wasteful giveaways to fossil fuel corporations.’  Watch Rep. Keith Ellison introduce the budget here:

By Jon Queally 
Beaver County Blue via CommonDreams.org

March 14, 2013 – In the midst of ongoing hysteria about a ‘non-existent deficit crisis’ in Washington, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday unveiled an alternative approach to destructive austerity economics by releasing their ‘Back to Work Budget’ plan for 2014.

Pushing back specifically on the dominant talking point of inside-the-Beltway elites, the budget challenges the idea that cutting programs, reducing corporate tax rates, and slashing investments is a pathway to economic prosperity. Its proponents argue the US does not have "a deficit crisis"—as those pushing for steep cuts suggest—but rather, "a jobs crisis."

Presented by CPC co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison and backed by members of the caucus’ Budget Task force—Reps. Jim McDermott, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan—the plan describes how smart investments, not deep cuts to key programs, would create almost 7 million jobs over the first year of its implementation.

“Americans face a choice,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “We can either cut Medicare benefits to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or we can close outdated tax loopholes and invest in jobs. We choose investment.”

They continue:

    The Back to Work Budget invests in America’s future because the best way to reduce our long-term deficit is to put America back to work. In the first year alone, we create nearly 7 million American jobs and increase GDP by 5.7%. We reduce unemployment to near 5% in three years with a jobs plan that includes repairing our nation’s roads and bridges, and putting the teachers, cops and firefighters who have borne the brunt of our economic downturn back to work. We reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion by closing tax loopholes and asking the wealthy to pay a fair share. We repeal the arbitrary sequester and the Budget Control Act that are damaging the economy, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, which provide high quality, low-cost medical coverage to millions of Americans when they need it most. This is what the country voted for in November. It’s time we side with America’s middle class and invest in their future.

Received as a breath of fresh air of economic sanity, the plan was praised by a variety of individuals and groups.

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Posted in budget crisis, Democrats, Economy, GOP, Infrastructure, Tax Policy, Wall Street | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Why We Need More Unions and Higher Wages

Posted by carldavidson on March 13, 2013

Typical Pennsylvania Wage is too Little to Pay the Average Rent

By Tim Grant
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

March 13, 2013 – When a basic two-bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania costs an average $895 a month, renters must earn at least $17.21 an hour — 2.4 times the state minimum wage — to afford a decent roof over their heads.

Although the cost of renting a two-bedroom unit in the Pittsburgh region is lower at $772 a month, Pittsburgh households still must earn about $14.85 an hour to afford the apartment, which amounts to more than twice the state minimum wage and 117 percent of what the average city renter earns.

An estimated 56 percent of Pittsburgh-area renters cannot afford to meet the expenses for a two-bedroom apartment.

"The [typical] renter’s hourly wage in Pittsburgh is $12.70. That means the most they could afford to pay is $660 a month in rent," said Liz Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. Her estimate is based on renters paying no more than one-third of their income on rent and utilities.

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Posted in Economy, Poverty, trade unions | Leave a Comment »

Drive-by Shooting at Frack Site in Western PA

Posted by randyshannon on March 12, 2013

Homes burned from gas line explosion

Homes burned from gas line explosion

Shots Fired at W. Pa. Gas Drilling Site

Posted: Mar 12, 2013 10:02 AM EDT Updated: Mar 12, 2013 10:02 AM EDT

 HARRISVILLE, Pa. (AP) – Police say there are no injuries after an apparent drive-by shooting at a Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling site in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The Butler Eagle (http://bit.ly/hMQZ9u ) reports that on Saturday a suspect in a pickup truck pointed a small-caliber rifle in the direction of a drilling rig and fired two rounds.

State police report that the occupants of the vehicle were shouting profanities at the drilling site as they fled the scene.

Authorities say there’s no known motive for the shooting, nor were there any previous threats directed at the operators of the site or its employees.

Shell Exploration & Production Co., a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, owns the drilling site.

Authorities are searching for leads in the case.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” candidate Barack Obama April 2008

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