A Greek Tragedy

October 27, 2011

Like a snake biting it’s own tail the EU, particularly the island of Greece is stuck in a vicious cycle.

In the articles Battle for Britain and Anarchy in the UK I covered the British riots that took place back in August.  Much like the British Isles Greece has seen it’s fair share of austerity riots.  In fact the riots have been going on for years.  The level of violence in Greece has been steady as well.  People throwing petrol bombs at the police has become a common sight.

Greece is the canary in the coal mine for the EU, UK, and the US.  Every austerity measure proposed by the Greek government is swiftly met with demonstrations and in many cases riots.

The latest round of proposed budget cuts has provoked violence on a massive scale.  In the video below protesters and police clash in Thessaloniki the second largest city in Greece.

In order to secure more bail out-funds, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos wants to cut Greece’s 2012 budget.  This would involve rescinding pay raises for public employees and lay-offs for public employees that were hired in 2010 and 2011.  Such budget cuts could have an adverse effect on more than 20,000 people.

The IMF and the EU are trying to get blood from a stone.  After years of rioting it is obvious that the Greek people will not tolerate any further austerity measures.

Unfortunately dramatically cutting jobs and wages will make a bad situation worse.  Greece is already insolvent.  Try to imagine how bad the economy will be with less money in the hands of the consumer.  If the people don’t get paid then the taxes won’t get paid either.

I fear that if these budget cuts are approved the Greek recession will become a full blown depression.  On the other-hand if Greece does not approve an austere budget soon they will not receive any more bailouts.  This would lead to a national default.  If that happens we could see the end of the EU and ultimately the end of the American dream.

All of my American readers should be deeply concerned about this.  What happens in Europe will have a dramatic effect on the rest of us.  The US and the EU are inexplicably intertwined.  If one economy fails then they both do.


Government Sachs

October 18, 2011

I consider Goldman Sachs to be one of the most evil companies in America.  They were one of the main causes of the 2008 financial crisis.  They were also one of the main recipients of government bailout money.

Unfortunately they have been very busy since then.  In 2009 they opened up a new headquarters in the planned community Battery Park City.  As the financial world blazed around them, Goldman Sachs was busy building an opulent palace with tax payer money.

In addition to the billions of dollars that Goldman Sachs received during the financial bailouts, the government awarded them an additional one billion in tax free dollars for the construction of the building.  The total cost of construction was $2.1 billion dollars.

On his show Conspiracy Theory former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura had this to say about the new Goldman Sachs headquarters “You have to walk pretty far from Wall Street to find the Goldman Sachs headquarters, the New Goldman Sachs headquarters.  Around the same time the SEC charged the company with mortgage fraud, Goldman Sachs moved into a new 2.1 billion dollar building on New York Harbor.  You’d expect mobs outside picketing over all those executive bonuses if they could find the place.  $2.1 billion dollars and they didn’t even get a sign.”

Goldman Sachs has caused so much trouble that they need to “spin” their public image.  In an attempt to prevent fallout and backlash they are now meddling in the private lives of their employees.  Just like the plot to a John Grisham novel Goldman Sachs employees refer to the company as the Firm.

According to a CNBC report it’s the companies “officially unofficial” policy that employees are not to go to the Occupy Wall Street protests.  According to the report safety has been sighted as a concern, however others say that going to Zuccotti park could endanger your career.

The Firm has also forbade all Goldman Sachs employees from using Facebook.  Ironically the company has $450 million dollars invested in the popular social networking site.

The companies pathetic attempt at damage control does not stop there.  Goldman Sachs has banned employees from using profanity in their emails after Senator Carl Levin discussed an email where a Goldman Sachs employee referred to a deal as “shitty.”

Some of you may think that these PR efforts are par for the course and innocuous, however The Firm’s grasp extends beyond the internet presence of it’s employees.  After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident the company told Tokyo based employees not to leave the city.

Given the shady history of Goldman Sachs I find any attempt they make to silence employees suspect.  What are they hiding?  More importantly where is the SEC when you need them?  In the words of Zach Del La Rocha “We need  a tiny fire burning bright shedding light on the darkness of greed.”


Occupy Norfolk Day 5

October 11, 2011

The Occupation movement is alive and well in Norfolk, Va.  On Monday, October 10th about 50 protesters took to the streets.  This time their march was centered around Norfolk’s financial district.

I am happy to report that the Norfolk Police Department has been amicable.  Unlike the NYPD they recognize the people’s right to protest.  Not only did they not interfere with the demonstration, they escorted the march.  Several police Harleys flanked the demonstration.  The only thing louder than the motorcycles was the crowd’s enthusiasm.  When the march ended the crowd chanted “Thank you police!  Thank you police!  Thank you police!”

The NPD released a statement proclaiming “The City of Norfolk strongly supports the First Amendment Rights of all citizens to peaceably assemble and voice their grievances and will take the appropriate steps to insure those rights are upheld while insuring the safety of all persons and property.”  After Monday’s events I am taking them at their word.

To add to the good news, most of the people that the protesters have encountered are supportive of the Occupation Movement.  It’s not a question of partisanship, rather it’s the difference between the independently wealthy and the working poor.  It’s the difference between the 1% at the top and the 99% on the streets.  People are refusing to be divided by petty differences such as race, creed, age, or sex.

Protesters are beginning to camp out at the Commercial Park which is adjacent to the MacArthur Center.  According to http://occupynorfolk.com/

We have the go-ahead from the police to begin camping! Everyone come out to Commercial Park, bring a tent or a sleeping bag and get ready for the long haul!

The Occupation movement is growing exponentially.  People are Occupying the streets in over 1,000 cities.  I’ve seen the Occupy Norfolk Facebook group grow from a few 100 members to over 4,000 in the span of two weeks.

In the words of the protesters “All Day all week occupy the city streets.”  If you are tired of the way things are going with the economy now is your chance to make a difference.


A Run on the Bank

October 10, 2011

The Times They Are a-Changin‘.  No longer will the people stand by and take abuse from bankers.  The seeds of revolution have been sown and there is no turning back now.

Like they said in the film Pump up the Volume “The truth is a virus … “

The Occupy Wall Street protests are a match lighting a powder-keg.  What happened in NYC has inspired Occupy Norfolk.  In turn the Occupy Norfolk movement has inspired me to organize A Run on the Bank.

Recently Bank of America has come under fire for imposing a levy of new fees on it’s customers.  The bank will be imposing a $5.00 a month ATM fee.  BofA has received $45 billion in bailout funds and $5 billion from famous investor Warren Buffett.  Now they are nickeling and diming us to death.

Bank of America is the largest bank in the nation, and they are setting a dire precedent.  Other financial institutions are now following BofA’s lead.   CitiBank, Chase, and Wells Fargo also plan to impose new banking fees.

Big names are coming out on the side of the people.  Senator Dick Durbin had this to say regarding Bank of America’s new fees “It’s overt, unfair and I hope their customers have the final say.”  President Obama has said “people have been using financial regulation as an excuse to charge consumers more.”

Of course BofA is defending it’s position.  Their CEO Brian Moynihan defended the new fees stating “We have the right to make a profit.”  The bank may be able to impose new fees, however the American consumer has the right to take their business elsewhere.

BofA stands to make an extra $1 billion as a result of these new fees.  I encourage all of their account holders to immediately withdraw all of their funds.  The American people should not take this abuse lying down.

For more information please visit and RSVP my Facebook event A Run on the Bank


Occupy Norfolk Day One

October 8, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading like wildfire, and I am happy to report that it is alive and well in my home town.

On October 6th several dozen protesters had gathered at Harbor Park to air their grievances.  As they marched past the ruins of the old harbor I realized what they were protesting for.  They don’t want to end up like the derelict buildings along the Elizabeth River.

The lively group continued to march along the river until they reached the Dominion Tower.

The protesters continued to march downtown.  As they interacted with the denizens of the city it became obvious that the people supported the movement.  One random passerby remarked “That’s the problem now, greed.”

The march eventually reached the MacArthur Center.  At the shopping mall there was a silent clash between consumerism and anti consumerism.  The protesters proudly displayed their labels on their placards.  The shoppers at the mall displayed their labels on their clothing.

The Norfolk Police Department was making their presence known Downtown.  According to Fox 43 News they released this statement concerning the Occupy Norfolk Protest The Norfolk Police Department will be monitoring the “Occupy Norfolk” gathering throughout the duration of the event and responding as necessary. The Police Department will have additional resources available if the situation dictates the need for further police presence. Members of the Department and other City officials have met with and continue to communicate with the event organizers. The City of Norfolk strongly supports the First Amendment Rights of all citizens to peaceably assemble and voice their grievances and will take the appropriate steps to insure those rights are upheld while insuring the safety of all persons and property.”

Like the generation before us we have our own war to protest.  Aside from the conflicts in the Middle East we are faced with class warfare.  Big business and Washington have been waging war against the middle class for so long that there is no more middle class.  Most of us are a paycheck away from losing everything.  Most of us receive a pittance for a lifetime of work.

My parents have done the right thing their entire lives.  They have saved, scrounged, and worked hard.  They will never be able to retire.  My sister has worked hard and put herself through law school.  Her job prospects are grim and her student loan debt is high.  Unfortunately many other American families are in even worse financial distress.  An entire generation is being lost as another is being forgotten.

I encourage anyone who is fed up with Wall Street to Join or start a local Occupy movement.  More and more people are getting involved everyday.  As the momentum for change grows stronger the voice of the people grows louder.  If you want to help change things for the better now is your chance.



Who, When, and Where … Occupy Norfolk

October 5, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading across cities all over the U.S..  My home town Norfolk, Va is no exception.

People are tired of paying for Wall Street’s mistakes.  Even in a southern military town there is dissent.

Last week I was in attendance for a planning and logistics meeting for Occupy Norfolk.  Their de facto leader James McPherson has been doing a great job organizing protesters and spreading the message.

The following was taken directly from Occupy Norfolk’s Facebook page.

OCCUPY NORFOLK
First Assembly and Information Session
Towne Point Park
Thursday 9am Oct 6th
We will be maintaining a presence in downtown Norfolk from that point. 

Those who wish to aide in the planning of this event have one last chance to do so.

Occupy Norfolk
Planning/Logistics Meeting
ODU Library Wed Night Oct 5th 1030pm
Open to Everyone. Please come and participate.

I urge anyone who lives in the Tidewater area to attend.

There are those that say the Occupy Wall Street movement lacks a central message.  They are wrong.  People are protesting because they are tired of having their wallets squeezed when they buy gasoline or groceries.  The people are fed up with predatory lending practices and draconian bank fees.  The people have had it with being priced out of higher education.

These Wall Street fat cats have had their hands in our pockets for far too long.  It’s time to return the American Dream to the masses.  When our voices are not heard in the voting booth we must take it to the streets.


NYPD Public Enemy #1

October 5, 2011

It ‘s no secret that there is no love lost between the Police and myself.  In the articles Rampant Police Misconduct  Police gone wild and New York cops behaving badly I have explored how police brutality is becoming standard procedure for departments across the country.  The NYPD is no exception and may actually be the most Gestapo like department in the U.S..

Recently we have seen them brutally suppress the Occupy Wall Street protests.  In the articles I loved you in Wall Street and Fried Bologna I wrote extensively about Anthony Bologna the NYPDs criminal suppression of the protest.

The amount of surveillance in NYC is astounding.  A person could walk from one end of  City to the other and never be off camera.

According to the MSNBC report Day of Destruction Decade of War “Privacy guidelines don’t allow the cops to look into individual apartments, but with the technology they have it is possible.”  Personally I don’t trust the NYPD or any other police force with this kind of surveillance technology.  The NYPD can’t even be trusted with pepper spray let alone surveillance helicopters.  The report goes on to describe the NYPDs $100 million dollar command center that monitors over 1700 cameras. The Police supposedly erase data after 30 days according to privacy guidelines.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has described the NYPD this way “It is a para-military organization.  It is run like a para-military organization.  It’s not a democracy within that organization.  I am where democracy interacts with the para-military organization.”  When I hear words like this I am reminded of Judge Dredd’s mantra “I am the law!”

We are now seeing clashes between the NYPD and Occupy Wall Street protesters.  This is clearly the result of a para-military force being sent to suppress peaceful protesters.  New York City needs a regular municipal police force to keep the peace during these protests, not jack booted, goose stepping, gestapo thugs.

Unfortunately this is not the first time this year that American citizens were denied their right to protest.  The following is an expert from the article Battle for Britain

Last month authorities in San Fransisco shut down cell phones in an effort to quell a protest.  They weren’t trying to prevent violence or looting.  Bay Area Rapid Transit officials shut down cell phone service at several stations in order to quiet the voice of the people.  The post rampant police misconduct details how Officer Johannes Mehserle shot an unarmed Oscar Grant in the back.  This is what people were attempting to protest before their right to dissent was cut off by the police.

If we do not act soon we will be waking up from the American Dream and entering an Orwellian nightmare.  24 hour surveillance and suppression of dissent are not what our founding fathers had in mind.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”