'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march

'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march
Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the 'Women's March on Washington' on January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide
Thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of scienceThousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of science

Bernie Sanders and the Movement Where the People Found Their Voice

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick
'Grandpa Wong' is a regular sight at Hong Kong's street battles (AFP Photo/VIVEK PRAKASH)
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel Platini after being re-elected following a vote in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Michael Buholzer)
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018
The " Fearless Girl " statue on Wall Street is seen by many as a defiant symbol of women's rights under the new administration of President Donald Trump (AFP Photo/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“… The Fall of Many - Seen It Yet?

You are going to see more and more personal secrets being revealed about persons in high places of popularity or government. It will seem like an epidemic of non-integrity! But what is happening is exactly what we have been teaching. The new energy has light that will expose the darkness of things that are not commensurate with integrity. They have always been there, and they were kept from being seen by many who keep secrets in the dark. Seen the change yet?

In order to get to a more stable future, you will have to go through gyrations of dark and light. What this means is that the dark is going to be revealed and push back at you. It will eventually lose. We told you this. That's what you're here for is to help those around you who don't see an escape from the past. They didn't get their nuclear war, but everything else is going into the dumper anyway. … “

Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Silvio Berlusconi ousted from Italian parliament after tax fraud conviction

Senate votes to strip former prime minister of seat despite his claims that new evidence will exonerate him

theguardian.comLizzy Davies in Rome, Wednesday 27 November 2013

Silvio Berlusconi makes a speech in Rome on the day the Senate voted
to expel him. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Silvio Berlusconi suffered arguably the heaviest blow of his political career on Wednesday when the upper house of parliament voted to oust him following a conviction for tax fraud.

A hostile front of the centre-left and anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) voted against the former prime minister, who pulled his Forza Italia party from Enrico Letta's governing coalition and into opposition on Tuesday.

Berlusconi was not present for the Senate vote. But shortly before the chamber approved his expulsion he gave a defiant address to supporters outside his residence in central Rome, declaring a "day of mourning for democracy" and promising that he would remain on the political scene.

"Today they are toasting because they can take an adversary, they say a friend, in front of the executioner's squad," Berlusconi said. "It is the day they have been waiting for for 20 years."

He pledged to continue his role as a political leader, citing other figures not in Parliament, namely the founder of the M5S, Beppe Grillo, and Matteo Renzi of the Democratic Party, tipped by many as a future premier candidate.

"Also, from outside the Parliament, we can continue to fight for our liberty," he said.

Berlusconi, who resigned as PM in late 2011 amid concerns over Italy's growing financial instability, received his first definitive conviction in 20 years of legal battles on 1 August. He was sentenced to four years in prison, commuted to one year of community service.

The debate over the parliamentary ramifications of the conviction has dominated the national political scene for the past four months. The 77-year-old media magnate has issued alternate pleas and threats in an attempt to avoid being stripped of his seat under a law passed last year – with the support of his then party, the Freedom People – which stipulates that MPs convicted of serious criminal offences must be ineligible for parliament.

Berlusconi kept up the battle until the last minute, claiming on Monday to have new evidence that he said would exonerate him, and begging his fellow senators to put off the vote until the documents had been examined.

He insists the conviction is another sign of his continuing persecution by leftwing judges. He has indicated that Giorgio Napolitano, the Italian president, should pardon him without him having to ask – an idea that drew a terse response from the former communist head of state.

He is expected to begin serving his sentence next year for the tax fraud conviction, which related to a complex system of illegally inflated invoices at his Mediaset television empire. But this is not the end of his legal woes. Among other matters, he has been ordered to stand trial on charges of bribing a senator in an attempt to bring down Romano Prodi's government, and is appealing against a first-grade conviction handed down in June for having sex with an underage girl and abusing his office to cover it up. He denies the allegations in both cases.

Despite his expulsion, Berlusconi will by no means disappear from the political scene. His future role has been compared to that of Beppe Grillo, the M5S's figurehead who himself has not been elected.

The expulsion vote will heighten the tensions that have plagued the Letta government from its inception this year, even if, with a breakaway centre-right group that remains loyal to the coalition, it has a reasonably secure if small majority.

With their leader kicked out of the senate, Forza Italia MPs could prove highly disruptive in opposition and could stymie the kind of institutional reforms Letta says he wants to pass.

Coalition takes on bankers' bonuses, limits them to 20% of salary

DutchNews.nl, Tuesday 26 November 2013

Minister of Finance Dijsselbloem
after consultation (NOS/ANP)
Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Tuesday presented his plans for financial sector pay to parliament, including a 20% ceiling on bankers' bonuses in the Netherlands.

The minister aims to bring to an end the 'perverse stimuli' of enormous bonuses, Dijsselbloem said in an interview with tv broadcaster RTL Z.

Tuesday's draft bill is based on the coalition agreement between Dijsselbloem's party Labour and government partners the liberal VVD. That agreement says financial sector bonuses should be no higher than 20% of the annual salary.

'The maximum of 20% applies to everyone who works in the Dutch financial sector,' Dijsselbloem told RTL Z.


However, there are exceptions. For instance, people working for Dutch institutions in other European countries will have a bonus ceiling of 100% and for those working outside Europe the ceiling is 200%, RTL Z says.

The finance minister says this is essential to provide 'a level international playing field' and to make Dutch companies attractive to work for in a highly competitive sector.

The new rules will apply from January 1 2015 providing the legislation is passed by both houses of parliament.

Dijsselbloem's plans go further than the bonus limits being discussed at a European level and are also opposed by the Dutch banking association.


Just 2% of the 90,000 bank workers in the Netherlands receive performance related pay of at least 20% of their salary,' the association told Nos television.

Dutch banks are already working hard to improve the financial sector culture, with, for example, the introduction of an oath. 'Separate rules for Dutch banks will disadvantage them within Europe,' the organisation said.

Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan says he spied for Israel

BBC News, 26 November 2013

Arnon Milchan, shown in a September 2008 file photo, said he had
 long had to beat back Hollywood rumours he was an arms dealer

A Hollywood producer behind hit films such as Pretty Woman and Fight Club has said he spied for Israel in support of its nuclear programme.

Arnon Milchan, who was born in what is now Israel, gave an account to Israeli investigative programme Uvda.

Mr Milchan said he performed dozens of clandestine missions on behalf of Israel after he was recruited by Shimon Peres, now Israel's president.

"I did it for my country and I'm proud of it," he said.

'Risked my life'

Mr Milchan, 68, said he was recruited to Israel's Bureau of Scientific Relations, a secretive organisation founded to supply the nation's nuclear programme, in the 1960s by Mr Peres.

Then the owner of a successful fertiliser company, Mr Milchan said he aided the bureau in obtaining scientific and technical information for confidential defence programmes.

At one point, Uvda alleges, Mr Milchan was operating 30 companies in 17 countries on behalf of Israel.

His activities continued after he became a high-profile Hollywood producer, rising to chairman of film company New Regency.

He produced such hits as Mr and Mrs Smith and LA Confidential, and worked with famed directors including Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski and Oliver Stone.

During the interview, which aired on Monday, Mr Milchan also said Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack helped in covert acquisitions of sensitive military equipment.

Pollack died in 2008.

Mr Milchan told Uvda that rumours of his own involvement with Israel had swirled around Hollywood for years and he wished he had addressed them head on.

"In Hollywood, they don't like working with an arms dealer, ideologically... with someone who lives off selling machine guns and killing," he said. "Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I'm not an arms dealer.

"I'm not an arms dealer, I don't sell guns, I don't sell rockets," he added. "If people knew how many times I risked my life, back and forth, again and again, for my country."

Bulgarian students lead wave of protest

Young people occupying institutions all over the country amid growing anger over corruption and unemployment

The Guardian, Kit Gillet in Sofia, Tuesday 26 November 2013

Student protests outside Bulgarian parliament

Opinion polls suggest that around two-thirds of Bulgaria’s 7.3 ­million people support the student protests. Photograph: Rex Features

Just after 1am inside Sofia University, a handful of young people are spray painting protest banners in a dimly lit corridor. Upstairs in a lecture hall, and dotted around nearby classrooms, fellow students are curled up on the floor asleep. Volunteers in yellow jackets are standing guard at the university gates.

It is the fourth week of an occupation. Hundreds of students in a dozen institutions across Bulgaria have taken over all or parts of their universities, padlocking the gates and adding a new dimension to a movement that has rapidly escalated into the biggest rolling wave of demonstrations since the collapse of communism 24 years ago.

Something has snapped in Bulgaria this year. Fury at corruption and nepotism, youth unemployment at 28.7%, low wages and limited job opportunities that force qualified Bulgarians to find work overseas, and a sense that those in power have for too long put their own interests above those of the country, have coalesced this year into one long pulse of anger.

Public opinion polls suggest that around two-thirds of Bulgaria's 7.3 million people support the movement. "We have to try to get morals back into our political system," said Mina Hristova, a 23-year-old cultural anthropology student. "We are here because we need to show our politicians that there are consequences to their actions."

The state has resorted to bussing in supporters to confront the semi-permanent street demonstrations that have choked Sofia this year. "We've gone through difficult times in the last 23 years, but we've always found a solution," the foreign minister, Kristian Vigenin, told the Guardian on a recent march.

The fury spilled out on to the streets in June when tens of thousands marched through the capital in outrage over the appointment of Delyan Peevski, a well-connected media mogul, as head of the State Agency for National Security. Peevski had lost an earlier position as deputy minister of disaster management after allegations of corruption.

For many in Bulgaria this was painful proof of the nepotistic nature of their political system, which, according to Transparency International, is the second most corrupt among the 28 EU member states, beaten only by Greece.

Peevski's resignation less than 24 hours after his appointment did nothing to quell the anger. Instead, protesters demanded the resignation of the centre-left government of the prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, which had been in office for just six weeks.

Oresharski told the people that it was too soon to judge him, but every day since, protesters have gathered outside parliament to shout slogans and demand real political change. In late July, protesters clashed with riot police after a crowd of 2,000 trapped government officials inside the parliament building for eight hours. It was one of the few nights that saw bloodshed in an otherwise peaceful protest movement.

After five months of protesting, in recent weeks it has been Bulgarian students who have taken the lead, occupying their universities and organising the daily protests outside parliament.

"Every one of us had the feeling that something was wrong from when we were children," said Ivaylo Dinev, a 24-year-old history student and the informal leader of the student protests. "We've seen the influence of the mafia in politics all of our lives, no matter which party is in power. What we need is real change. Before I was 18, I was a rebel without a cause. Now I have a cause."

Inside Sofia University, handmade banners and signs ask students to "talk big" and imagine what they would do if they were in political office. Sleeping bags hang from nearby coat pegs.On a raised platform at the front of the lecture hall, protest leaders discuss plans and strategies.

According to Borislav Gavrilov, a professor of modern history at Sofia University, members of the former communist secret police remain in positions of power across Bulgarian society, wielding unfair influence and stunting the development of the nation. "They are all through the government, the economy, the media – especially the media," he explained. "People are sick and tired of fake change. We had protests in 1997, 2009 – hopefully this is third time lucky."

"Trust in the government has now eroded to an unprecedented degree," said Daniel Smilov, a professor of political science at Sofia University, adding that protesters have lost their faith in all the political parties. "The government complains that the protesters don't want dialogue, but it is unclear what the dialogue should be about, since the protesters' main demand is new elections and the government refuse to consider that," he said.

Last Tuesday, students clashed with riot police as they tried to form human chains around the exits from parliament. Twenty-three protesters were arrested, and the following day a further 25 were rounded up in their homes in an early-morning operation. "We were just sitting on the ground in front of the police singing protest songs when they tried to pull us apart," said Nona Keranova, a 20-year-old law student, who was with some of the group who were arrested.

Keranova was not arrested, but she says she was dragged along the ground by a policeman and pushed up against a wall. It was unknown people later in the evening, she added, and not the students, who clashed with the police and threw bottles at them. "We are trying to change things peacefully," she said.

Not all the students are happy with the occupation, which has shut down many of the university's faculties, including law and languages. Every evening the students gather in one of the lecture halls to discuss the day's activities and vote on important measures.

Students who are not part of the occupation are invited to come to talk and debate. "We try to explain why this occupation is needed, that it is up to us to keep these protests going," said 19-year-old Teodora Shalvardjieva, who began her studies in international relations weeks before the occupation began. "We can't stop this until the government resigns."

Some are persuaded, but many others just want to get back to their studies, fearful that the whole academic year will be forfeit if the occupation continues for much longer. On Monday it was announced that classes would resume shortly, but that the student occupation would remain in place.

Rise of the far right

Almost 10,000 refugees have arrived in Bulgaria this year, most of them Syrians fleeing the civil war. The surge has fuelled xenophobic tensions and concerns over violent attacks and the growth of rightwing parties.

Last week the new Nationalist party was formed, combining football hooligans, ultranationalists and skinheads, while another faction announced the creation of vigilante groups.

Bulgaria is the poorest member of the EU and many say it cannot support a wave of refugees. In a recent poll, 15% said they approved of violence against foreigners, while 20% wanted the border with Turkey closed.

November has seen a spate of attacks and protests against asylum seekers, and Amnesty has warned that "recent government statements risk inflaming the situation".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tycoon seeks Swiss bail, France demands his extradition

Google – AFP, Jonathan Fowler (AFP), 26 November 2013

A file picture taken on November 16, 2005 shows Arkady Gaydamak
preparing for a TV interview in Jerusalem (AFP/File, Pedro Ugarte)

Geneva — French-Israeli tycoon Arkady Gaydamak has requested bail in Switzerland after being arrested for alleged non-payment of fees to a football boss, as France sought his extradition over the "Angolagate" scandal.

Gaydamak, 61, is wanted in France for his role in the 1990s "Angolagate" affair, involving illegal arms sales to the African nation during its civil war.

The Russian resident was detained last week in Switzerland's financial hub Zurich in what Swiss public television said is a separate case.

Geneva prosecutor Dario Zani told AFP Tuesday that Gaydamak had asked the Swiss justice authorities to grant him bail and that they would rule on the request "over coming days".

Soviet-born Gaydamak has been involved in a string of highly complex legal affairs, and was in Switzerland to discuss with lawyers a case related to the controversial sale of a phosphates factory in Kazakhstan.

But it was an entirely different case that led to his arrest on November 19, on a warrant issued four days earlier by Geneva justice authorities.

Gaydamak stands accused of breach of trust linked to the Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem, which he once owned.

According to Swiss public television channel RTS, Gaydamak allegedly did not pay 400,000 euros ($542,000) owed to Luis Fernandez, a former French footballing international and ex-manager of Paris Saint Germain, who coached Beitar from November 2005 to June 2006.

Fernandez, who also coached Israel's national team in 2010-2011, now devotes his time to football punditry in the French media.

Swiss prosecutors got involved because the money reportedly was meant to be paid via Geneva, but Fernandez allegedly never received it.

Gaydamak's Swiss lawyer Marc Bonnant told RTS that his client had paid the money and said he hoped the arrest would not give rise to "extradition requests" from France.

But in Paris Tuesday, prosecutors told AFP the French had filed an extradition request.

France issued a warrant for Gaydamak last December, after having failed repeatedly to bring him to court.

Zani said that Swiss officials had informed Gaydamak that France was seeking his handover.

"Angolagate" implicated members of the French political elite including former interior minister Charles Pasqua and ex-president Francois Mitterrand's son, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand.

Pasqua was accused of receiving illegal payments in return for lobbying for a $790 million sale of arms to Angola in the 1990s.

The payments came from two intermediaries, businessmen Gaydamak and Pierre Falcone, for sales including warships, helicopters, tanks and munitions.

Falcone, who holds French, Canadian and Angolan citizenship, was named Angola's ambassador to the United Nations Paris-based cultural organisation UNESCO in 2003 and attempted to claim diplomatic immunity.

Zani said that Gaydamak had also sought to play the diplomatic card -- he reportedly holds Angolan citizenship awarded for services to the country.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and other senior Angolan figures were also accused of receiving kickbacks from the deal.

The resource-rich African nation was locked in conflict for four decades, first fighting colonial ruler Portugal and then, after independence, sliding into civil war in 1975.

Angola was a Cold War battleground, with Soviet and Cuban forces backing left-leaning forces and South Africa lending manpower to their adversaries.

Angola was fertile ground for arms dealers -- peace only came in 2002, a decade after the Cold War ended.

In October 2009, a French court convicted Gaydamak, who had gone on the run, in absentia for his role in the case and sentenced him to six years in prison.

Pasqua received a one-year jail term, while Falcone was sentenced to six years in jail over illegal arms sales and paying bribes.

But in April 2011 a Paris appeals court reduced Gaydamak's sentence to three years, for money laundering and tax fraud. Gaydamak's appeal was rejected earlier this year.

Pasqua had his conviction overturned in 2011, while Falcone had his sentence reduced to 30 months.

The trouble-courting Gaydamak emigrated to Israel in the 1970s when the Soviet Union finally granted exit permits to so-called "refusenik" Jews who had long wanted to cross the Iron Curtain.

In 2012, he locked horns with a former business partner, Israeli jewel billionaire Lev Leviev.

Leviev fought Gaydamak in a London court over Gaydamak's claim that he was owed $1 billion on commissions for Angolan diamond deals. Leviev won the case, with costs.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Swiss vote against cap on executive pay: TV

Google – AFP, Jonathan Fowler (AFP), 24 November 2013

Members of the youth organization JUSO of the Swiss Social Democrats (SP) 
take part in a demonstration in favour of their imitative "1:12" to limit the amount of 
money companies pay their managers, in Zurich, on November 2, 2013 (AFP/File,
Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva — Two-thirds of Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a referendum to cap executive pay at 12 times the wage of a firm's lowest earner, according to provisional results aired on local television.

The measure had been expected to fail, but the debate has tapped into a vein of discontent among Swiss voters who in March backed rules to rein in golden handshakes, in the wake of high-profile exit payments to top bosses.

Dubbed the "1:12" initiative after the legally-binding ratio it would set between the top and bottom salaries in a firm, the plan met with stiff opposition from Switzerland's business community and political right.

Members of the youth organization JUSO
 of the Swiss Social Democrats (SP) take
 part in a demonstration in front of a 
branch of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, in
 Zurich, on November 2, 2013 (AFP/File,
Fabrice Coffrini)
Ahead of the vote, its critics issued stark warnings that inscribing salary restrictions into the law would make the wealthy Alpine nation less competitive and break with a Swiss tradition of limited official meddling in business.

"There's a climate of mistrust towards those who make money," Jean-Claude Biver, boss of high-end watchmaker Hublot, told the Swiss daily Le Temps.

Christoph Darbellay, head of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, told AFP he could understand disquiet over "undeserved salaries".

But voting Yes would be tantamount to "shooting ourselves in the foot", he insisted.

Switzerland's cross-party government had urged a No vote, saying a 1:12 law would dent tax revenues and scare off foreign firms.

Switzerland, which has long boasted a business-friendly climate coupled with one of the highest average salaries in the world, has largely avoided the economic crisis dogging the European Union, of which it is a staunch non-member.

The referendum campaign was spearheaded by the Socialist Party, plus the Greens and trade unions.

They rejected the criticism, arguing that it was time to clip the wings of the vastly overpaid, and underlining that an informal ratio of around 1:12 was the norm as late as 1998, before things went awry.

Under the direct democracy which is the core of the Swiss political system, the campaigners were able to put the issue to a plebiscite by collecting more than 100,000 signatures.

Members of the youth organization JUSO of
 the Swiss Social Democrats (SP) take part
 in a demonstration in favour of their initative
 "1:12" to limit the amount of money
companies pay their managers, in Zurich, on
November 2, 2013 (AFP/File, Fabrice Coffrini)
The debate led to intense scrutiny of bosses' pay packets, which the 1:12 proponents said were an average 43 times higher in 2011 than those on the bottom of the ladder.

According to 2012 figures published by the campaigners, the then boss of pharmaceutical giant Novartis made 219 times the lowest salary.

At banking group UBS, the lowest-paid employee would have had to work 194 years to make the same amount the head of its investment bank raked in 12 months.

The chief executive of rival bank Credit Suisse enjoyed a ratio of 1:191.

And at insurer Swiss Life -- whose chief is also treasurer of the Economie Suisse trade and industry lobby -- it was 1:60.

To hammer their message home, the campaigners plastered Switzerland with posters showing a single hamburger next to a towering stack of a dozen, reading: "12 times more salary, that's enough".

Related Article:

Rupert Murdoch in rift with Tony Blair over claims of 'multiple' encounters with ex-wife Wendi Deng

Sources say friendship has ended after claims of 'multiple' encounters between former Prime Minister and News Corporation chairman

The Telegraph, Ben Bryant, 24 Nov 2013

Rupert Murdoch met Wendi Deng, a Yale business school graduate, in 1997
Photo: Reuters

A 'terminal' rift has severed relations between Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair over reports of Mr Blair's friendship with the entrepreneur's ex-wife Wendi Deng, it is claimed.

Blair has always stated that his relationship with Deng is platonic and there is no suggestion of any impropriety by Blair or Deng.

Despite efforts by Blair to contact Murdoch, the media mogul has refused to speak to him since he filed for divorce from Deng in June, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Sources close to Murdoch in London claim that Blair, 60, and Deng, 44, had 'multiple encounters' without 82-year-old Murdoch's knowledge.

Tony Blair is godfather to the Murdochs' daughter Grace (Reuters)

Related Articles

They are said to have stayed overnight at Murdoch's £12m California home on weekends in October 2012 and April 2013, and spent a weekend at Murdoch's LA home and meetings in London and New York.

Murdoch and Deng's divorce was finalised by a US court last week after the couple reached an "amicable" divorce settlement to end their 14-year marriage.

On Saturday night a feud erupted between allies of Blair and Murdoch, whose stable of newspapers includes The Sun and The Times.

A close friend of Blair told the Daily Mail: "Rupert Murdoch is putting out ridiculous stories about Wendi and Tony which are not true. It is the ravings of a sad old man."

A friend of Murdoch told the newspaper: "Rupert Murdoch will have nothing more to do with Tony Blair. Not ever."

Murdoch and Blair were close allies for many years and Murdoch's support is widely considered to have been a crucial factor in Labour's three consecutive election victories from 1997 onwards.

Blair and Murdoch were good friends, and Blair even became godfather to the Murdochs' daughter Grace in 2010.

Allies of Murdoch told the Daily Mail that he is said to have been "shocked" to learn that Wendi had met Mr Blair without his knowledge. He is said to have asked her for an explanation.

Speculation of an affair between Blair and Deng first emerged in June after a tweet from BBC journalist Robert Peston who said: "Am told that undisclosed reasons for Murdoch divorcing Deng are jaw-dropping and hate myself for wanting to know what they are."

At the time a spokesperson for Blair denied an affair with Deng.

Murdoch met Deng, a Yale business school graduate, in 1997 on a business trip to Shanghai when he sought to hire a translator and guide.

Spokespeople for Blair, Murdoch and Deng did not respond to requests for comment.

Related Articles:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New momentum for anti-capitalism protests?

Deutsche Welle, 23 November 2013

Decentralized protests instead of large rallies - this is Blockupy's modus operandi. At a meeting in Frankfurt, the critics of capitalism are planning new demonstrations against the EU's strict austerity measures.

Measuring just under 200 meters (about 656 feet), the twin towers of the European Central Bank's (ECB) new headquarters in Frankfurt can be seen from the city limits. From these lofty heights, Europe's financial experts will watch over the EU's common currency when the building is completed a year from now.

Together with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), they will oversee the efforts of Southern Europe's crisis-battered states to stick with their austerity schemes.

And for that reason, the towers in the city's east end are also expected to become the new center of a storm of protest. The first demonstration is already scheduled for the day of the official opening, and on Sunday (24.11.2013), representatives of the Blockupy movement will plan for that event.

The alliance has influence among capitalism critics and globalization opponents who want to disrupt the work of the ECB. Earlier this year, protests in the spring saw about 10,000 demonstrators march through Frankfurt, many of them previous participants in the protest camps that sprung up around the ECB's headquarters in recent years.

Attac's Roland Süss is forging
action plans for a decentralized
protest movement
Fear of the future adds momentum

In recent months, though, the movement has grown quiet. With their meeting in Frankfurt on Sunday, the 300 participants from Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain want to give the movement new energy, to protest against Europe's fiscal policy in the wake of the debt crisis.

"We're planning decentralized days of protest across Europe," said Roland Süss of Germany's anti-globalization pressure group, Attac, in addition to the main demonstration at the ECB. As a preventative measure, the Frankfurt police have proposed to meet with the organizers and their associated groups and start a dialogue. They want to avoid scenes like those in the spring, when there were violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

In addition to Attac, various leftist groups and unemployment groups from several European countries are also part of the Blockupy movement. The more people fear for the future, the more they join the protests in Spain, Greece, Portugal or France - to Blockupy's benefit.

But the core of the protest alliance is still found in economically strong Germany, partly because the ECB is based in Frankfurt, according to Oliver Nachtwey, of the economic sociology department at the University of Trier. In addition, he said, economically strong Germany has backed strict austerity policies and made the struggling Southern European countries into victims, a move also criticized by many Germans. Southern Europe's own protest movements, such as the Indignados (the "Indignant") in Spain, have risen in response.

Upon completion in the fall of 2014, the new ECB headquarters will be the
protest movement's target of choice

Pan-European protests

Blockupy's weekend conference is an attempt to bring all these individual protest movements together and forge a common front. Nachtwey, however, does not expect an immediate success, partly due to the language barrier which has made common decisions difficult. A lack of funds is also a factor. Transporting thousands of protest participants from several European countries to a common demonstration in Frankfurt is unrealistic, he said.

"I think that the future lies in simultaneous, decentralized protests," said Nachtwey, adding that Blockupy has successfully used this strategy in the past year, organizing synchronized protests in about 70 European cities.

This increase in pan-European protests is new and remarkable, said Nachtwey. "They have reached an intimacy and synchronicity that hasn't been seen since World War II." Even more astonishing is the fact that Blockupy has achieved this without a central leadership. The principles of one or a few leaders cannot be enforced on a higher level, said Nachtwey, adding that these groups have reservations when someone tries to be the star.

Search for a common path 

Oliver Nachtwey Nachtwey:
 Movements like Blockupy are
slow but perhaps sustainable
A decentralized management makes it difficult, however, to form a sharp consensus on specific topics, and in a society heavily oriented around the media, a group like Blockupy needs someone to publically articulate its views. However, this procedure can also have its advantages, as Nachtwey brings up the leftist movements of the 1970s, where a departure from the doctrine was seen as a betrayal. Many of these groups had a falling out and ultimately disintegrated due to inner conflict.

Attac's Süss, on the other hand, sees no problem in working with radical groups such as the Interventionistischen Linken (the "interventionist left") - as long as people can agree on a lowest common denominator. And that commonality is the criticism of the capitalist system. "We will find ways to deal with each other and accept each other, in spite of our different ideas," he said.

Nachtwey sees many advantages with Blockupy's unusual method. Although Blockupy may disappear from time to time from the public consciousness, it's never gone for long. "These movements are slower, but they may also be more sustainable," he said.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JP Morgan in record $13bn settlement with US regulators

BBC News, 19 November 2013

The settlement is the largest ever between a corporation and the US government

Related Stories

US bank JP Morgan has agreed to a record $13bn (£8bn) settlement with US regulators for misleading investors during the housing crisis.

It is the largest settlement ever between the US government and a corporation.

About $4bn of the settlement is to go to homeowners hurt by JP Morgan's practices.

As part of the settlement, the bank acknowledged it made "serious misrepresentations to the public".

"The conduct uncovered in this investigation helped sow the seeds of the mortgage meltdown," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

After the relief given to homeowners, $9bn will be paid to settle federal and state civil claims relating to misleading mortgage securities sold by the bank.

Some of that will be given to investors who lost money.

Faulty mortgages

JP Morgan has worked hard to put the mortgage crisis of 2006-2007 behind it.

The bank has been under investigation for selling low-quality mortgage-backed securities to investors who were unaware that the securities often contained faulty mortgages.

New York Attorney Eric Schneiderman
 tweeted a picture of him signing the
According to the statement from the Department of Justice: "JPMorgan employees knew that the loans in question did not comply with those guidelines and were not otherwise appropriate for securitization, but they allowed the loans to be securitized - and those securities to be sold - without disclosing this information to investors."

A large portion of the mortgages under investigation by authorities were bought by JP Morgan when it acquired banks Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual at the height of the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

It is hoped that this fine will settle all of the civil penalties arising from those faulty sales, although criminal charges could still remain.

Sharp fall

The fine represents a sharp fall for JP Morgan, known for its "fortress balance sheet" and traditionally sterling reputation on Wall Street.

Boss Jamie Dimon was also a favourite with politicians in Washington, and seemed to help steer the bank through the worst of the financial crisis and its aftermath.

But that all seems to have changed in recent months.

This record fine follows an announcement a few weeks ago that a separate regulator, the Federal Housing and Finance Authority, had reached a $5.1bn settlement with the bank.

Last month, the bank agreed to pay more than $1bn to help it end various investigations into its 2012 "London whale" trading debacle, which cost the bank more than $6bn and raised questions about its oversight procedures.

The firm also reported a rare loss last quarter, having set aside an additional $9bn to help it deal with its mounting legal troubles.

In total, JP Morgan has had to set aside a total of $23bn to help it work through its many investigations by regulators in the US and abroad.

Worst behind them

Nonetheless, investors seem to continue to think that the bank will emerge relatively unscathed from the fines.

"The share price is bumping up against a ten year high," Duff McDonald, author of a book on JP Morgan, told the BBC.

"While no one likes a fine especially of this magnitude, I think shareholders are responding positively to it because it's resolving some uncertainty around the company."

While the settlement with the US Justice Department does mean that the bank has put the worst of its expected fines behind it, nonetheless, there are still nine ongoing investigations by regulators into practices at the bank.

These investigations include that bank's hiring practices in China as well as accusations that bankers at JP Morgan manipulated the Libor benchmark interest rate.

Related Article:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Libor scandal claims second executive at Rabobank

DutchNews.nl, Monday 18 November 2013

The head office of Rabobank
in Utrecht (NOS/ANP)
The Rabobank executive in charge of the department where bankers were embroiled in an interest rate fixing scandal has resigned.

Sipko Schat is stepping down because ‘it has recently become apparent that there is insufficient support from the local member banks for him to stay’, the bank said in a statement.

There was widespread criticism of the fact that Schat remained in his post, after the US, British and Dutch regulators fined Rabobank €774m for its role in the Libor scandal.

Chief executive Piet Moerland has already resigned but was due to retire in 2014. Fourteen bank workers have faced disciplinary measures such as the loss of bonuses and five were sacked for their role in the scandal.

It is not clear if Schat will leave with a golden handshake. ‘Rabobank will consult an independent third party to make a decision on the conditions,’ the bank statement said, referring to ‘sensitivities around compensation’.

Related Articles: