November 1, 2011 archive

Nov 01

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Nov 01

St. Paul’s Dean Folds

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

A brief summary-

#OWS protests have spread internationally and one such location is London, in particular the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral in what is called ‘The City’ near the London Stock Exchange.

Last week the Dean of St. Paul’s, the Rt. Rev. Graeme Knowles, announced that the Church would sue protestors to seek their removal.  This was rapidly followed by the resignations of 2 prominent subordinates- Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, the Canon Chancellor, and part time chaplain, Rev. Fraser Dyer.

The struggle for St Paul’s

The anti-capitalist protest outside the gates of St Paul’s has sparked a moral battle inside the cathedral.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious and Media Affairs Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph

7:00AM GMT 30 Oct 2011

The split tearing apart the nation’s church was not just damaging its reputation, but leaving its staff exhausted.

Martin Fletcher, the clerk of the works, who had given the initial advice for the cathedral to close, had been rushed to hospital in an ambulance after collapsing from stress. He is still on sick leave.



One figure who is understood to have taken a particularly dim view of Canon Fraser’s outbursts is the cathedral’s registrar, Nicholas Cottam, a retired Major-General.

He has, so far, managed to keep a low profile, but he is described as “the power behind the throne”, and central to convincing the dean to support evicting the protesters.

Having served as a Commanding Officer in Northern Ireland in the early Nineties, he is said to have acted as an enforcer who didn’t like the clergy stepping out of line.

The Dean and his former Canon Chancellor only live a few houses apart, but they have been pulled in different directions, with Dean Knowles being leant on by senior political and ecclesiastical figures, in addition to his registrar.



Senior figures at the City of London Corporation had decided that the protesters must be evicted, and backing from the cathedral Chapter was the last touch needed to give it moral authority.

As the fallout from the Chapter’s poor handling of the row has descended into an embarrassing debacle, it has cast the Church in an unflattering light.

The canons have been accused of selling out to the wishes of politicians rather than carrying out their gospel duties to care for the poor and downtrodden.

Others are incredulous that a great symbol of London has been closed for the first time since the Blitz because of health and safety concerns posed by the camp.

The Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said that it was not just the public who were bemused by the closure.

“Cathedral deans I’ve spoken to are mystified as to why they would do it,” he said. “It’s made them look like idiots. Anyone who looks at the camp can see that it is complete nonsense to claim that it was done for health and safety.”

The health and safety report published on Monday listed “rope/guy-lines” and rodents among potential dangers posed by the presence of the camp.

Sources close to the Dean say that he was baffled as soon as he saw how weak the evidence was, and moved to have the building reopened as quickly as possible.

The cathedral charges £14.50 for entry and, with its restaurant and gift shop also shut, is estimated to have lost more than £100,000 in the week it was closed.

Today, the Dean has resigned.

Rowan Williams warns of ‘urgent issues’ raised by protests as third St Paul’s clergyman resigns

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that “urgent” issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s Cathedral must be properly addressed as the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, resigned.

By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph

2:55PM GMT 31 Oct 2011

Speaking publicly about the crisis for the first time, Dr. Williams added: “The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s remain very much on the table and we need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.”



Dean Knowles said today: “It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St. Paul’s was becoming untenable.

“In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St. Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised. I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the Chapter of this great cathedral.”

Yesterday, he addressed protesters at the camp, insisting that he was keen to listen and to answer their questions.

However, he looked distinctly uncomfortable on the podium and was heckled as he failed to answer why legal action had been sought.

He admitted that he found it “quite difficult” that the protesters assumed he did not share their views simply because he used different methods of expressing them. Just hours later, he advised the cathedral Chapter of his decision to step down.

Good.  He should be uncomfortable, the pompous hypocrite.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is technically the ‘second in command’ of The Church of England since it’s titular head is the British Sovereign.

Nov 01

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 46

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

OccupyWallStreet

The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

“We put more than a thousand elite bankers in jail”

Pedal Power

   Having lost their gas-powered generators, the protestors at Occupy Wall Street are turning to a more eco-friendly alternative: pedal power.

   Keegan Stephan, a bike mechanic and environmentalist at the Zuccotti Park site of the protest in New York, has been pedaling a stationary bronze Schwinn bicycle to provide energy for the protesters’ encampment….

   How does the contraption work? The bike is connected to a flywheel, which in turn connects to a dynamo, the Times explains. That dynamo creates energy, which flows through a motor and a one-way diode to charge a black battery.

   When fully charged–after about 6 hours of pedaling–the battery might provide power for around 100 hours, Stephan estimated. It’ll be used to power laptops, cellphones, and other devices being used by the protesters. ….

   Then Friday, police confiscated the gas-powered generators that the protesters–some of whom have slept in the park for more than a month–had been using. The Fire Department has said that storing large amounts of fuel in the park violates fire codes [and, pragmatically, they’re not wrong].

   That’s when Stephan’s contraption–joined since Saturday by three other bikes attached to motors that Occupy Boston protestors had shipped down to New York–suddenly came in handy.

Nov 01

Another Fraud Settlement Proposal And The Banks Skate

Cross posted fromThe Stars Hollow Gazette

The latest proposal to come from of the State Attorney Generals investigating mortgage and foreclosure fraud is just a another band-aid on a hemorrhage that lets the banks off and does nothing to help homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage or behind in their payments. It appears that this is just a ploy to bring the California Attorney General “back into the fold.” Diana Olick, CNBC Real Estate Reporter, has tis analysis:

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, the AG’s are proposing a refinance plan for underwater borrowers, trying to get banks to bring down interest rates on mortgages for those who owe far more than their homes are presently worth; that’s around 10.9 million borrowers, according to CoreLogic, but sources say it wouldn’t be all of them. It would, “target a finite number of borrowers who are current on their mortgages,” according to my source.

My source then went on to explain that this is a plan previously pushed by the California state attorney general, who has dropped out of the negotiations over issues surrounding banks’ release from future liability (the California AG did not comment in the WSJ article but claimed they had not seen said proposal). New York and Massachusetts have done the same. Apparently this could, “bring California back to the table,” says my source, because the California AG finds it, “intriguing.”

Ms. Olick also points out that this is the same plan that the Obama administration has proposed for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The plan will only affect about 20% of homeowners with bank mortgages. While it would give some, who can afford the loans, a little extra cash, it doesn’t “change the fact that these folks still have no hope of seeing their home equity again any time soon, and it doesn’t address the greater ills of today’s housing market that are keeping true recovery at bay.”

David Dayen at FDL expounds further:

But wait! This is supposed to be a penalty on the banks. Is it a penalty on the banks when an eligible borrower with a bank-owned loan refinances? No, that’s just an option that the borrower has. Extending that option is supposed to be a penalty for committing systemic fraud on state courts? I don’t necessarily mind the Fannie/Freddie plan as a source of potential stimulus. I don’t consider it a penalty. And when you’re talking about 20% of the market, tops (and not all of those loans are underwater, so this is smaller), the benefits are miniscule (sic).

They’re just grabbing at straws to try and get a flawed settlement across the line that the remaining AGs can hold a press conference about. And economic stimulus, not accountability, is the main goal. Keep in mind that anything that leads to a round of sped-up foreclosures will not aid the housing market. It will bring prices down, just as a function of supply and demand. This will bring borrowers more underwater. So the idea that there’s a tension between the rule of law and helping people presumes that the only thing standing between America and a recovery is Kamala Harris and Eric Schneiderman. That’s just not true. There are tools at the disposal of the relevant regulators right now to foster recoery (sic), they’re just not choosing to do it.

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden spoke with MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan about fight to investigate the banks.

The biggest problem that is the gorilla in the room is chain of title. In a detailed article that is well worth the read, Yves Smith at naked capitalism:

And as we anticipated, the inducement that had led the Miller camp to hope it might clinch a deal is a juicy release. From Reuters:

   Originally, the states were only considering immunity for shortcuts taken during mortgage servicing and foreclosures, including the so-called “robo-signing” of documents to evict people behind on their mortgages.

   In recent days, the state attorneys general agreed to release major banks from claims that they made legal errors when first originating the loans, such as approving loans for borrowers without verifying any income, according to two people familiar with the talks.

   In exchange, banks would agree to refinance mortgages for borrowers who are current on their payments but owe more than their homes are currently worth, the sources said.

This is very troubling. Investors should be up in arms. Any release the banks get here is worth multiples of what the banks will pay for this (note that because investors are conservative creatures and have ongoing relationships with banks, having attorneys general pave the way is particularly important for them).

The failure to verify income is the tip of the iceberg of origination abuses. The most serious is chain of title, where the banks promised to investors to take a series of steps to convey the mortgages properly to the securitization trusts within a stipulated time frame. For reasons we’ve explained in gory detail in earlier posts, retroactive fixes or waivers simply won’t work. That is why the banks have resorted to widespread forgeries and document fabrication.

 

Nov 01

Cartnoon

Hopalong Casualty

Nov 01

What’s the matter with democracy?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The same as it’s always been.  The landed gentry, the aristocrats, the capitalists and 1 tenth of 1 percenters are worried that the unwashed rabble, the sans culottes, the rest of us are going to take away their ill-gotten gains through the sheer power of numbers.

As well they might.

Markets Slide After Surprise Referendum Is Set by Greece

By NIKI KITSANTONIS and RACHEL DONADIO, The New York Times

Published: November 1, 2011

The proposed ballot will put Greek austerity measures – and potentially membership in the euro zone – to a popular vote for the first time, risking Mr. Papandreou’s political future and threatening even greater turmoil both among the countries that share the single currency and further afield.

His announcement sent tremors through Europe’s see-sawing markets on Tuesday, with bank stocks taking a particular hammering because of their exposure to Greek debt. At midday, the German DAX index was down by 5.3 per cent while the French CAC 40 had slipped by roughly 4.2 per cent. In Britain, which is not a member of the euro zone but trades heavily with continental Europe, the FTSE 100 index was down by around 3.2 percent.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is expected to speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone during the day on Tuesday to discuss the referendum, which took both leaders by surprise, Agence-France Presse reported. The French president was said to be “dismayed,” according to Le Monde, citing an unnamed confidant of Mr. Sarkozy.



Some analysts said the referendum was an invitation for instability. “When the debate is very passionate and things are tense, holding a referendum could be risky,” said Alexis Papahelas, the editor of the center-right daily Kathimerini.

If the referendum fails, he said, “we have a very big chance that the country would go into a disorderly default.”

A spokesman for the center-right New Democracy Party, Yiannis Michelakis, said a referendum was dangerous. Mr. Papandreou, he said, “has tossed Greece’s future in Europe in the air like a coin.”

“A nation is truly corrupt when, after having by degrees lost its character and liberty, it slides from democracy into aristocracy or monarchy; this is the death of the political body by decrepitude.”

Nov 01

On this Day In History November 1

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 1 is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 60 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1512, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, one of Italian artist Michelangelo’s finest works, is exhibited to the public for the first time.

Michelangelo Buonarroti was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to repaint the vault, or ceiling, of the Chapel. It was originally painted as golden stars on a blue sky. The work was completed between 1508 and 2 November 1512. He painted the Last Judgment over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, on commission from Pope Paul III Farnese.

Michelangelo was intimidated by the scale of the commission, and made it known from the outset of Julius II’s approach that he would prefer to decline. He felt he was more of a sculptor than a painter, and was suspicious that such a large-scale project was being offered to him by enemies as a set-up for an inevitable fall. For Michelangelo, the project was a distraction from the major marble sculpture that had preoccupied him for the previous few years.To be able to reach the ceiling, Michelangelo needed a support; the first idea was by Julius’ favoured architect Donato Bramante, who wanted to build for him a scaffold to be suspended in the air with ropes. However, Bramante did not successfully complete the task, and the structure he built was flawed. He had perforated the vault in order to lower strings to secure the scaffold. Michelangelo laughed when he saw the structure, and believed it would leave holes in the ceiling once the work was ended. He asked Bramante what was to happen when the painter reached the perforations, but the architect had no answer.

The matter was taken before the Pope, who ordered Michelangelo to build a scaffold of his own. Michelangelo created a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall, high up near the top of the windows. He stood on this scaffolding while he painted.

Michelangelo used bright colours, easily visible from the floor. On the lowest part of the ceiling he painted the ancestors of Christ. Above this he alternated male and female prophets, with Jonah over the altar. On the highest section, Michelangelo painted nine stories from the Book of Genesis. He was originally commissioned to paint only 12 figures, the Apostles. He turned down the commission because he saw himself as a sculptor, not a painter. The Pope offered to allow Michelangelo to paint biblical scenes of his own choice as a compromise. After the work was finished, there were more than 300. His figures showed the creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the Great Flood.

Nov 01

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



Eerie 1

Nov 01

Late Night Karaoke

Nov 01

House to affirm national motto: E pluribus Fuck U-num

In the midst of chronically high unemployment, multiple endless and unwinnable resource wars abroad, a massive financial crime wave sweeping the nation, endemic abuses of civil liberties, worldwide debt deflation, over-population, peak oil, and global environmental collapse, the US House of Representatives will affirm the 1956 law designating our national motto as, “In God We Trust.”

Sponsor Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Vagina) stated that, “This confirmation of pre-existing law will corroborate and sustain our endorsement of (a) the one law already on the books that we pretend to give a shit about, (b) our faith in God to fill the void left by our incompetence, ignorance, and papier mache gestures and emotional inducements covering a complete lack of rectitude, and (c) not only our abdication of legislative responsibility, but our utterly pointless if not harmful political demagoguery in legislative acts explicitly prohibited by the US Constitution.  Someone has to fend for God, dad gummit!”

Next week, the House will take up legislation to make it illegal to wiggle while dancing or to sink the Hawaiian islands.  Also, no throwing Mardi Gras beads from third story balconies, because “you can’t get a good look at their titties down on Bourbon St. from way up there.”  

Nov 01

House to affirm national motto: E pluribus Fuck U-num

In the midst of chronically high unemployment, multiple endless and unwinnable resource wars abroad, a massive financial crime wave sweeping the nation, endemic abuses of civil liberties, worldwide debt deflation, over-population, peak oil, and global environmental collapse, the US House of Representatives will affirm the 1956 law designating our national motto as, “In God We Trust.”

Sponsor Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Vagina) stated that, “This confirmation of pre-existing law will corroborate and sustain our endorsement of (a) the one law already on the books that we pretend to give a shit about, (b) our faith in God to fill the void left by our incompetence, ignorance, and papier mache gestures and emotional inducements covering a complete lack of rectitude, and (c) not only our abdication of legislative responsibility, but our utterly pointless if not harmful political demagoguery in legislative acts explicitly prohibited by the US Constitution.  Someone has to fend for God, dad gummit!”

Next week, the House will take up legislation to make it illegal to wiggle while dancing or to sink the Hawaiian islands.  Also, no throwing Mardi Gras beads from third story balconies, because “you can’t get a good look at their titties down on Bourbon St. from way up there.”  

Nov 01

House to affirm national motto: E pluribus Fuck U-num

In the midst of chronically high unemployment, multiple endless and unwinnable resource wars abroad, a massive financial crime wave sweeping the nation, endemic abuses of civil liberties, worldwide debt deflation, over-population, peak oil, and global environmental collapse, the US House of Representatives will affirm the 1956 law designating our national motto as, “In God We Trust.”

Sponsor Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Vagina) stated that, “This confirmation of pre-existing law will corroborate and sustain our endorsement of (a) the one law already on the books that we pretend to give a shit about, (b) our faith in God to fill the void left by our incompetence, ignorance, and papier mache gestures and emotional inducements covering a complete lack of rectitude, and (c) not only our abdication of legislative responsibility, but our utterly pointless if not harmful political demagoguery in legislative acts explicitly prohibited by the US Constitution.  Someone has to fend for God, dad gummit!”

Next week, the House will take up legislation to make it illegal to wiggle while dancing or to sink the Hawaiian islands.  Also, no throwing Mardi Gras beads from third story balconies, because “you can’t get a good look at their titties down on Bourbon St. from way up there.”  

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