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stockholmer

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Lidingö
Home country: Sweden
Member since: Mon Dec 27, 2010, 06:09 PM
Number of posts: 3,751

Journal Archives

36,000 Quebec Students Strike Over Tuition Hikes

http://www.inthesetimes.com/uprising/entry/12774/36000_quebec_students_strike_over_tuition_hikes/

An estimated 36,000 post-secondary students in Quebec http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/02/20/student-strike-grows.html have left their classrooms for strikes planned in response to proposed tuition-fee hikes. The Charest government plans to almost double tuition (the current $2,200 fee will rise to $3,800 over the next five years).

Montreal police arrested 37 people last week after the protesters occupied a downtown college, and it appears as though the police are escalating actions against the students. CBC posted a photo http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/02/20/student-strike-grows.html of police using pepper spray to disperse a crowd blocking the Delta hotel during a demonstration on Thursday. Riot police were brought in to suppress a group of people responsible for smashing furniture and windows and spraying graffiti.

While the striking students represent less than 10 percent of all Quebec students, their numbers have dramatically grown in the past few days. http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2012/02/20120220-200933.html "In just one week, the strike has more than tripled," said Jeanne Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the CLASSE coalition. "The (government) now has no choice but to take our strike seriously. If it does not (act) quickly, the Quebec education system will paralyzed even more." Thus far, Charest has shown no sign of budging. http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/94841/


He called his government's policy "fair" and well-thought-out, following consultations held over a number of years. Charest added that bursaries and loans would increase in order to guarantee student access, as part of a broader series of measures to increase funding for Quebec universities. Of course, as in the United States, loan interest rates could crush Quebec students who use them, and Charest's "solution" will surely be a bitter pill to swallow for any student who imagined they might complete their university years loan-free.

snip



Police use pepper spray to disperse a crowd blocking the Delta hotel during a demonstration against higher tuition fees Thursday, February 16, in Montreal.

Iceland, which demanded its leaders & bankers answer for their crimes, is now reaping the benefits

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-20/icelandic-anger-brings-record-debt-relief-in-best-crisis-recovery-story.html

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. http://www.sff.is/

“You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.” The island’s steps to resurrect itself since 2008, when its banks defaulted on $85 billion, are proving effective. Iceland’s economy will this year outgrow the euro area and the developed world on average, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates. It costs about the same to insure against an Icelandic default as it does to guard against a credit event in Belgium. Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year.

The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses. “The lesson to be learned from Iceland’s crisis is that if other countries think it’s necessary to write down debts, they should look at how successful the 110 percent agreement was here,” said Thorolfur Matthiasson, an economics professor at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, in an interview. “It’s the broadest agreement that’s been undertaken.”

Without the relief, homeowners would have buckled under the weight of their loans after the ratio of debt to incomes surged to 240 percent in 2008, Matthiasson said. Iceland’s $13 billion economy, which shrank 6.7 percent in 2009, grew 2.9 percent last year and will expand 2.4 percent this year and next, the Paris-based OECD estimates. The euro area will grow 0.2 percent this year and the OECD area will expand 1.6 percent, according to November estimates. Housing, measured as a subcomponent in the consumer price index, is now only about 3 percent below values in September 2008, just before the collapse. Fitch Ratings last week raised Iceland to investment grade, with a stable outlook, and said the island’s “unorthodox crisis policy response has succeeded.”


snip

Greek Tragedy turns Comedy: Leaked Troika Document Uncovers Greek debt-deal Charade



Greece has a bailout agreement, but does the country have a chance at growing it's way out of debt as the Troika and Greek politicians continue to claim? A look at a debt sustainability assessment document leaked to the Financial Times from inside these negotiations shows that even the best-case projections used to justify the bailout don't even meet the minimum threshold publicly demanded by the IMF. The baseline scenarios, which are so rosy that it's hard not to laugh when looking at the numbers, have Greece returning to positive economic growth within two years, and an end to the recession by next year. Who is making these projection, and what basis is there in reality for them? Lauren speaks to Capital Account producer Demetri Kofinas, who says that the numbers are a total farce, and that no one has any clue what the Greek economy will look like in a year, let alone over the next two decades, which is what this document attempts to asses.

And the US state department hosts the first global business conference. Looks like even Hilary Clinton is a job recruiter these days. At the same time Barack Obama is strolling around the country touting his big jobs initiatives, picking Boeing as the perfect example of what's right with US manufacturing and job creation. Well, not to rain on your parade Mr. Obama, but if Boeing is such a great example of manufacturing, why on earth is the "air capital of the world," Wichita Kansas, losing jobs from...you guest it, Boeing? Lucky for us, we have labour journalist extraordinaire Mike Elk in studio to give us the answers. He just got back from Wichita with a full report.

And one of the most recognizable works of art in western society, "The Scream" goes on sale and is expected to fetch 80 million dollars. An apocalyptic depiction of raw human anxiety and anguish amidst bloody sky -- this this a reflection of social mood? Well, on a day that the dow broke 13,000 it may be hard to tell.

Follow @

http://twitter.com/laurenlyster

http://twitter.com/coveringdelta

Social Europe Journal: Greece: There will be Blood

http://www.social-europe.eu/2012/02/greece-there-will-be-blood/

The almost nightly dose of television horror about Greece is hard to watch, and must be nearly unbearable for Greeks themselves — but it is going to get even worse. Even if the current ‘bailout’ package is approved by the troika (EU/ECB/IMF), Greece is headed towards serious conflict and possibly even a military coup.

First, let’s be clear that the ‘bailout’ is not really a bailout of Greece, but rather of the mainly German and French banks. Why? Over the past decade, Germany kept domestic wages flat, helping it to run a massive trade surplus with Greece and other peripheral Eurozone (EZ) countries. These surpluses have been recycled by private banks lending to the periphery (pdf1 http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/media/reports/eurocrisis/fullreport.pdf and pdf2 http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/media/reports/RMF-Eurozone-Austerity-and-Default.pdf ), much in the same way as the 1973/79 oil surpluses were recycled largely through London in the form of highly profitable loans to Latin America. And just as Latin America (and other peripheral countries) suffered a debt crisis in the 1980s, while IMF-imposed austerity designed to repay the debt led to riots and trade union resistance, so we are witnessing much the same thing in the EZ. Nowhere more than Greece has troika-imposed austerity brought such pain, the country’s GDP having fallen by 15 per cent since early 2009 and unemployment affecting nearly half of all youth.

Now that EU banks have cut their exposure http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/media/reports/RMF-Eurozone-Austerity-and-Default.pdf to Greek debt, Germany and others are having second thoughts http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/world/europe/doubting-greeks-resolve-euro-zone-may-hold-back-full-bailout.html about Greece staying in the euro. http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/02/21/888981/get-greece-out/ Whether it happens in the coming weeks or months, a decision by the troika that Greece is in breach of its loan obligations could lead to the ECB halting its weekly refinancing operations with the Central Bank of Greece thereby forcing an immediate Greek default. It is generally agreed that if default leads to contagion in the EZ, the economic consequences for the EU could be disastrous. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/12/grexit-greek-default-catastrophic-consequences

Less satisfactorily examined are the internal political consequences http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/16/what-europe-loses-if-greece-forced-out of a Greek default. Greece is a relatively weak state, having been run since 1974 alternately by the two populist parties which retained power largely through patronage and corrupt practices: the centre-right New Democrats under the Karamanlis family and the centre-left PASOK under the Papandreou succession. The general election in April will almost certainly show these mainstream parties to be thoroughly discredited as a result of ‘austerity’, while in the wings await the Greek Communist Party (KKE) on the left and LOAS (Popular Orthodox Rally), the right-wing headed by the ultra-nationalist Georgios Karatzaferis. Each party has pledged to leave the euro.

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Keiser Report: Hang-a-Banker-a-Week! (E252)



In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss London bars and cafes introducing Facewatch for criminals on the lower ladder of crime while Mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, proposes an all together different solution to end the banking crime wave higher up the ladder. They also discuss Greek heists and tweets from Syntagma Square. In the second half of the show, Max talks to Zeus Yiamouyiannis about Greek tragedies and Greek solutions.

KR on FB: http://www.facebook.com/KeiserReport

Gallup survey shows 'sharp deterioration in job market' in Feburary, unemployment rate rises to 9.0%

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/211817-gallup-survey-shows-sharp-deterioration-in-job-market-in-feburary

Unemployment could rise back to 9 percent of the U.S. population in Feburary, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday, painting a grim picture for the Obama administration, which had been temporarily buoyed by promising jobs figures at the end of January.

Gallup's mid-month reading, which traditionally previews the government report issued at the end of the month, shows a rise of seven-tenths of a percentage from the 8.3 percent unemployment rate at the end of January. That would be the worst unemployment figure since September of last year.

The survey firm said seasonal factors — including job loss by seasonal workers hired over the holidays — could be responsible for the dip. "Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup's unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January," the firm said in a statement accompanying the release of the data.

Gallup also found that 10 percent of American workers have part-time positions despite wanting full-time work. "The mid-February reading means the percentage of Americans who can only find part-time work remains close to its high since Gallup began measuring employment status in January 2010," the polling firm said.

snip
---------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.gallup.com/poll/152753/Unemployment-Increases-Mid-February.aspx



The War on Women + State-Sanctioned Rape: Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Laws in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/20/the-war-on-women/

A nation’s progress should be measured as much by its advancement of human rights as by its accumulation and equitable distribution of wealth. Though conditioned on gender, race and property, we were the first nation on earth to embrace the fundamental principle of democracy. Had we remained as we were at our founding we would likely have dissolved as a nation but we changed. We progressed. We answered the challenges of human evolution.

With the adoption of a constitution replacing the Articles of Confederation, we announced to the world that we were one nation, united in principle and purpose. We became a union with a strong federal government that could defend our borders and guarantee the rights of our citizens enumerated in the Bill of Rights. We reformed our democracy by empowering the people to elect not only our representatives in the lower house but also our senators in the upper chamber of congress. We expanded our franchise by eliminating property as a condition of voting. We survived a bloody civil war, abolishing slavery and eventually welcoming all races to the full rights of citizenship. We enfranchised women.

Last among all our major advancements toward a more perfect democratic union and a more civilized society, we gave women the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965), as well as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), went a long way toward assuring that the rights promised to racial minorities would be delivered by force of law. The Civil Rights Act was expanded at the last moment to include women but the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have banned all forms of sexual discrimination, failed. Now a majority of our citizenry, women were last to receive the vote and have never been granted full equality under the law of the land.

It is against this backdrop of neglect and abuse that the full-throttle assault on women’s rights must be viewed. When the birth control pill was approved for use in 1957, the liberating effect it had on women cannot be understated. Until then sexually active women who did not want to become pregnant had to convince male partners to wear a condom or relied on the notoriously ineffective rhythm method. As a result, women commonly experienced unwanted pregnancies. Until Roe v. Wade (1973) those women had no legal recourse in a majority of states but to give birth to an unwanted child. Many chose illegal and unsafe options, backroom abortions, rusty coat hangers in seedy hotels. Many died and many were permanently scarred.


snip

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http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/15/government-sanctioned-rape-in-state-virginia-and-texas

State-Sanctioned Rape: Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Laws in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa

Virginia is poised to send two of the most abhorrent anti-choice bills to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign. The governor, eyes trained on a vice presidential bid, has indicated he will sign at least one if not both of the bills. The first is a bill requiring the use of trans-vaginal ultrasound prior to a woman obtaining an abortion, the other is an egg-as-person bill. Like other failed "personhood" bills, the Virginia provision would outlaw not only abortion but also forms of hormonal birth control. Although the Governor has said he will consider the personhood bill he has been clear he would sign the forced ultrasound bill. But let's start calling this what it really is: state sanctioned rape.

In Virginia, rape is defined http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-61 as the following:


§ 18.2-61. Rape.

A. If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness's will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.


I called and emailed McDonnell’s press secretary Jeff Caldwell http://www.governor.virginia.gov/Contact.cfm asking if the forced vaginal ultrasound bill would in-fact overturn the rape statute. Caldwell did not return my call or email by the time of publication.

During the debate Republican State Del. Todd Gilbert said:

“the vast majority of these cases are matters of lifestyle convenience.” And, 

“We think in matters of lifestyle convenience and in other matters that it is right and proper for a woman to be fully informed about what she is doing.”

snip

The War on Women + State-Sanctioned Rape: Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Laws in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/20/the-war-on-women/

A nation’s progress should be measured as much by its advancement of human rights as by its accumulation and equitable distribution of wealth. Though conditioned on gender, race and property, we were the first nation on earth to embrace the fundamental principle of democracy. Had we remained as we were at our founding we would likely have dissolved as a nation but we changed. We progressed. We answered the challenges of human evolution.

With the adoption of a constitution replacing the Articles of Confederation, we announced to the world that we were one nation, united in principle and purpose. We became a union with a strong federal government that could defend our borders and guarantee the rights of our citizens enumerated in the Bill of Rights. We reformed our democracy by empowering the people to elect not only our representatives in the lower house but also our senators in the upper chamber of congress. We expanded our franchise by eliminating property as a condition of voting. We survived a bloody civil war, abolishing slavery and eventually welcoming all races to the full rights of citizenship. We enfranchised women.

Last among all our major advancements toward a more perfect democratic union and a more civilized society, we gave women the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965), as well as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), went a long way toward assuring that the rights promised to racial minorities would be delivered by force of law. The Civil Rights Act was expanded at the last moment to include women but the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have banned all forms of sexual discrimination, failed. Now a majority of our citizenry, women were last to receive the vote and have never been granted full equality under the law of the land.

It is against this backdrop of neglect and abuse that the full-throttle assault on women’s rights must be viewed. When the birth control pill was approved for use in 1957, the liberating effect it had on women cannot be understated. Until then sexually active women who did not want to become pregnant had to convince male partners to wear a condom or relied on the notoriously ineffective rhythm method. As a result, women commonly experienced unwanted pregnancies. Until Roe v. Wade (1973) those women had no legal recourse in a majority of states but to give birth to an unwanted child. Many chose illegal and unsafe options, backroom abortions, rusty coat hangers in seedy hotels. Many died and many were permanently scarred.


snip

------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/15/government-sanctioned-rape-in-state-virginia-and-texas

State-Sanctioned Rape: Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Laws in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa

Virginia is poised to send two of the most abhorrent anti-choice bills to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign. The governor, eyes trained on a vice presidential bid, has indicated he will sign at least one if not both of the bills. The first is a bill requiring the use of trans-vaginal ultrasound prior to a woman obtaining an abortion, the other is an egg-as-person bill. Like other failed "personhood" bills, the Virginia provision would outlaw not only abortion but also forms of hormonal birth control. Although the Governor has said he will consider the personhood bill he has been clear he would sign the forced ultrasound bill. But let's start calling this what it really is: state sanctioned rape.

In Virginia, rape is defined http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-61 as the following:


§ 18.2-61. Rape.

A. If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness's will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.


I called and emailed McDonnell’s press secretary Jeff Caldwell http://www.governor.virginia.gov/Contact.cfm asking if the forced vaginal ultrasound bill would in-fact overturn the rape statute. Caldwell did not return my call or email by the time of publication.

During the debate Republican State Del. Todd Gilbert said:

“the vast majority of these cases are matters of lifestyle convenience.” And, 

“We think in matters of lifestyle convenience and in other matters that it is right and proper for a woman to be fully informed about what she is doing.”

snip

David Koch: 'No stopping union power' if labor wins Walker recall

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/02/david-koch-no-stopping-union-power-if-labor-wins-walker-114964.html

The Palm Beach Post has a good read http://www.palmbeachpost.com/money/david-koch-intends-to-cure-cancer-in-his-2185046.html on David Koch, the billionaire who, along with his brother, have helped "channel" the tea party movement, as the piece puts it, and is involved in funding the pro-Scott Walker side of the recall effort in Wisconsin:

"What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He's an impressive guy and he's very courageous," Koch says after a benefit dinner of salmon and white wine. "If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power."

Asked about union comments, Koch's spokeswoman is quick to moderate them.

"Koch companies support voluntary associations, and where they so choose, we recognize employees' rights to be represented and bargain collectively," Nicholas says in emailed remarks.

"We think the best workplace relationships are fostered when the employer works directly with its employees. It is a mischaracterization of our principles to say this means we oppose unions or want to dismantle all unions."

snip

-------------------------------------------------

POS

Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street



Quants are the math wizards and computer programmers in the engine room of our global financial system who designed the financial products that almost crashed Wall st. The credit crunch has shown how the global financial system has become increasingly dependent on mathematical models trying to quantify human (economic) behaviour. Now the quants are at the heart of yet another technological revolution in finance: trading at the speed of light.

What are the risks of treating the economy and its markets as a complex machine? Will we be able to keep control of this model-based financial system, or have we created a monster?

A story about greed, fear and randomness from the insides of Wall Street.


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Quant trading: How mathematicians rule the markets

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14631547

Trading floors were once the preserve of adrenalin-fuelled dealers aggressively executing the orders of brokers who relied on research, experience and gut instinct to decide where best to invest. Long ago computers made dealers redundant, yet brokers and their ilk have remained the masters of the investment universe, free to buy and sell wherever they see fit. But the last bastion of the old order is now under threat.

Investment decisions are no longer being made by financiers, but increasingly by PhD mathematicians and the immensely complex computer programs they devise. Fundamental research and intuition are being usurped by algorithmic formulae. Quant trading is taking over the world's financial capitals.

New paradigm

Mathematicians have long played a vital role in risk management at financial institutions, but their skill set is increasingly being used to make money, not just to stop losing it. Firms are now employing gifted academic statisticians to track patterns or trends in trading behaviour and create formulae to predict future market movements. These formulae are then fed into powerful computers that buy and sell automatically according to triggers generated by the algorithms.

These so-called quantitative trading programs underpin all quickfire trades - known as high-frequency trading (HFT) - in which stocks can be held for just a matter of seconds. They are also used in more traditional trading, where the holding period can be days, weeks or months. Some are fully automated, but most require human oversight to ensure nothing goes too drastically wrong. Scott Patterson, a Wall Street Journal reporter and author of The Quants, uses the analogy of a plane on autopilot, which can fly itself but where a specially-trained pilot can step in at any moment.


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