“As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example.”
Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors. But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt. In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro. At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.
[The] foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures. The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.
Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros. […]
What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.
Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country. As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF. The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North. But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.”
In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt. The IMF immediately froze its loan. But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis. Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.
But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money. (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)
To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.
This morning, ThinkProgess published a story about a top staffer to Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) who helped the congressman draft a letter to bank regulators, asking them to back off new rules for banks like Goldman Sachs. As we reported, the staffer is a former Goldman Sachs vice president with a history of spinning through the revolving door. (The staffer also had worked for a lobbying firm and for the Securities and Exchange Commission in the last 10 years.) The staffer’s background had not been noticed by the press for months because, as we found, he changed his name from Peter Simonyi to Peter Haller after working for Goldman Sachs.
Haller and Issa’s office did not respond to our requests for comment, but they both provided a statement to TalkingPointsMemo. Haller says he changed his name in 2008 to honor a last request of his grandfather, a Transylvanian who passed away in 1944 and had worked for Miklós Horthy. He further states that his name change was publicly identified on the website of his law firm employer, Brickfield Burchette Ritts & Stone.
ThinkProgress never ascribed any motivation for why Haller changed his name, and we accept his explanation. The basic fact remains, however, that his name change made it difficult to identify him as a former Goldman Sachs VP. So while he worked for Chairman Issa on issues directly assisting a top Goldman Sachs lobbying goal — namely, to weaken new Dodd-Frank regulations — the public was unaware that he previously worked in the compliance division of Goldman. That was the key point of our original post, and it remains unchallenged.
Meanwhile, the Issa public relations machine is firing up, trying to obfuscate the key points of our story. ThinkProgress has learned that Issa communications staffers are furiously contacting reporters asking them to either “retract” our story or not cover it at all.
And while driving home this afternoon I heard that since 9/11 the FBIs white collar division has gone from 500 to 125 (or about that) agents which means they simply cannot investigate big crimes. For a scale comparison it took 120 agents to investigate Enron. So they can’t even watch what the folks at Goldman Sachs etc are up to.
On March 28, 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Troy Davis’ appeals and set the stage for him to possibly face a fourth execution date.
The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.
Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.
One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.
Latest: Troy Davis is at risk of getting a September execution date. No executions will be scheduled in the month of August in Georgia given the state Supreme Court recess.
While chatting with a bud the other week, we started chatting about JS best practices. Normal conversation, you know. I explained that one of the best things you can do is to wrap everything, if using jQuery, in a $(). “But for why?” my friend questioned. The answer is a little complicated and…
I’m very excited to announce the launch of “Endless Summer,” a month-long partnership between blip.tv and the Capital One Journey Card. The promotion features new, daily episodes of some of the very best content on blip.tv along with four interviews with important content creators in the digital video space. Very cool. I hope you can take some time to catch a video!
“Look at Google’s financial results. They reported $8.5 billion in net income this year, and $6.5 billion last year. That’s for all of Google. They’re offering $12.5 billion for Motorola. So Google just spent almost two years of its profits to buy a second-rate phone maker that itself is unprofitable,1 almost went bankrupt, and is arguably only the third-best maker of Android devices, behind HTC and Samsung.”—
Daring Fireball is pretty adamant that this is a bad decision for Google (what else would you expect from Daring Fireball?). I think it’s the opposite, and not necessarily for the typical reasons.
Yes, they are increasing their patent portfolio holdings by over 400%. But, knowing Google, they probably will not use these as a hostile measure, like Motorola was threatening to do. They might have even done this to prevent Motorola from adding even more uncertainty to the mobile market - even Verizon is saying that this move will stabilize the market.
Yes, Motorola has some of the highest revenues in set-top boxes. These boxes are usually terrible, so as poorly as GoogleTV was received by the public, if they get on these boxes it will be a boon in both access and ad revenue for Google. So it may be a long-term plan for them, but who knows.
Yes, Motorola has some of the worst Android phones. Some think Google will prefer them for their clean-room implementations, but I don’t buy it.
Yes, Motorola has huge operating losses - $79m last year. How much of that do you think Google will slice away with downsizing? How many employees, and how much infrastructure, is going to be made redundant by joining the Google family? I’m willing to bet quite a bit. Google’s pretty good at being efficient.
The biggest thing - and this was brought up by a friend - is that this is the reverse IBM move, along with the boon of a patent shield.
If you’ll recall, at first IBM PCs were IBM PCs. Not many others out there. Then came the clones. Then came the standardized form factors, BIOS and so forth, which lead to an explosion of IBM PC-Compatibles, then just PCs.
This is going the opposite direction: Google created a standardized OS API and opened it up. They even branded a few of them. But they didn’t build any of them - HTC and Samsung did. They have a chance to guide Android development in a very positive direction. And because the more manufacturers who build Android, the more people use the web, and the more people use search and see their ads… they will be no stranger to competition. They know that competition - not monopoly - leads to the best innovations. They aren’t going to strangle HTC and Samsung over this; they just see an opportunity to take an underdog and show them how it’s done.
Then again, maybe it is all about the patents: Motorola Mobility holds patents relating to antennas, cryptographic protection of data streaming, digital speech encoding, packetizing… all of which are huge.
Or I could just jump off the bridge into River Crazy, and predict that Google is planning on launching its own WiBro||WiMax GoogleVoice (see: cryptographic protection of streaming data) mobile network, bypassing 4G and the boondoggle that is the US cellular carrier system altogether. Keep in mind that for $44 in South Korea, you can get an unlimited bandwidth 18mbit WiBro connection. Who’s to say Google couldn’t do the same thing?
Based on international and Pakistani news reports and research on the ground, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has issued a new study on civilians killed by American drones, concluding that at least 385 civilians have been killed in the past seven years, including at least 168 children…
An Obama administration official told ABC that these numbers are “way off the mark” — but, tellingly, did so on the condition of anonymity, meaning he or she will be protected from any accountability.
It might be a good time for Obama to hit the road on a Midwestern bus-tour campaign: on Sunday, his approval rating dipped to an all-time low of 39 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. The result marks the first time that the president’s approval has fallen below the 40 percent threshold since arriving in office. As you can see from the chart below (interactive version here), the president’s early May boost after bin Laden’s death has evaporated. RealClearPolitics’ David Paul Kuhn put the numbers in gloomy context: “The poll bookends a historically bad week….There is the mercurial stock market, trending more down than up. Last week, consumer sentiment hit its lowest point since the dusk of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.”
He doesn’t need to go on a bus tour.
He needs to put Congress in their place and get shit done.