Contributed by Don Quijones: Italy has Beppe Grillo. But with European governments reeling from self-inflicted crises, and the euro debacle descending into a tragi-comic farce, one wonders who the real clowns are – especially here in Spain, where ministers gorge themselves on the public purse, leaving behind a trail of evidence so obvious that even the mainstream media can’t ignore it.
Contributed by Chriss Street. The SEC determined that Illinois violated Federal Securities Laws by misstating the financial condition of its depleted pension funds when it sold $2.2 billion in bonds from 2005-2009. After a historical failure to fund the pension systems, it exposed the State to an $83 billion unfunded liability. Former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was unable to comment. He was in prison.
Senator Warren set him up brutally. HSBC had admitted “to laundering $881 billion that we know of from Mexican and Colombian drug cartels,” she said. David Cohen, the Treasury’s point man, twitched on her skewer. Why were megabanks and their bankers able to dodge serious punishment for crimes they’d been committing for years? They’re officially too-big-too-jail. And a deeper problem: regulators have been taken over by the banks.
“Preventing future acts of terrorism” is the most critical foreign-policy goal for Americans. Next: proliferation of nuclear weapons, energy supply, trade policies, etc. Fighting off Soviet tanks rumbling towards Frankfurt didn’t make the list. Yet Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is still pushing weapons designed to do just that, whether the Pentagon wants them or not.
Spain just can’t catch a break—a horrid economy with dizzying unemployment, a prime minister and ruling party tarred by corruption, collapsing banks…. Now a political espionage scandal blew up, scattering debris and money laundering allegations far and wide.
Russia’s booming underground economy with its dizzying flows of illicit oil money is at the core of an 84-page report by Global Financial Integrity. It advises the Russian government on how to tackle this problem. But buried deep inside is a gem: the flows and amounts of Russian “black money” into and out of Cyprus.
It should have been an exciting event for Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy: a tête-à-tête with German Chancellor Merkel. Afterwards, he’d stand next to her, illuminated by her glory. He’d brag about implementing structural reforms, cleaning up banks, and moving Spain forward. She’d endorse him with her benevolent smile. Instead, it was a slugfest about corruption.
Congress excels at enriching corporate welfare programs—in this case, Medicare. Ironically, it happened while Congress is struggling to rein in Medicare’s gargantuan deficits with belt-tightening measures that would hit people who paid into the system throughout their working years. This time, the prime beneficiary was Big Pharma, particularly one company….
On Friday, the mayor of Futaba, a ghost town of once upon a time 7,000 souls near Fukushima No. 1, told his staff that evacuees might not be able to return for 30 years. Or never, for the older generation. He spoke in Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, where the town’s government has settled. It was the first estimate of a timeframe. But it all depends on successful decontamination. And that has turned into a vicious corruption scandal.
Transparency International just published the results of its National Survey on Corruption in Greece, which tried to sort out the kind of bribery and petty corruption that households had to deal with in their daily lives. The results were sobering, as they tend to be with corruption surveys—but in an unexpected way: for those asking for bribes, an outright depression has commenced.