The OB Media Rundown for 6/10/12

UN: Austerity measures threaten global economy

Austerity measures implemented by European countries to contain a roiling debt crisis will likely drag them deeper into recession, unsettling global financial markets and presenting the biggest current threat to the world economy, according to UN report issued yesterday. The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects 2012 midyear update said most developed countries have yet to recover from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and the fiscal austerity measures deployed in response have been backfiring. “The severe fiscal austerity programmes implemented in many European countries, combined with mildly contractionary policies in others, such as Germany and France, carry the risk of creating a vicious downward spiral with enormous economic and social costs,” the report states.

Obama Foreclosure Program Blasted For Protecting Banks Over People

Former Wall Street bailout watchdog Neil Barofsky blasted the banking industry on Friday for inflicting a litany of abuses on American homeowners, and issued a withering critique of the Obama administration for protecting those same banks at the expense of homeowners.

“Our entire housing system is built on a foundation of fraud,” said Barofsky, who served as special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program from 2008 into 2011.

Barofsky’s comments came at a special panel on foreclosure fraud at this year’s Netroots Nation conference — an annual gathering of progressive bloggers and activists. Barofsky and white-collar crime investigator Lynn Szymoniak, Massachusetts foreclosure activist Malcolm Chu, and moderator David Dayen recounted foreclosure horror stories in which bank documentation is in such disarray that homeowners who have not even missed mortgage payments find themselves facing foreclosure. In thousands of other cases, the panelists emphasized, homeowners who do find themselves in financial trouble are unable to obtain any kind of relief from banks, even when aid would be less costly for investors than evictions. Meanwhile, in other cases, the banks rely on an entire cottage industry of forged signatures and fabricated documents to push through evictions.

Letter to the editor: Democracy depends on learning the facts

It is hard to believe, but some people still do not understand why we ‘occupy the boardwalk” every Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. While I want to thank those who honk in support as they pass by, this letter is for those who angrily shake their fists instead.

We stand in all weather to remind people that democracy depends on learning the facts of why the American middle class is suffering while the wealthy take the lion’s share of the wealth produced by our labor. We are speaking out and getting involved in the effort to ensure justice for the 99 percent of us who do not benefit from this system.

Albany march calls for equity among neighborhoods

Neighborhood activists and members of the Occupy Albany movement joined together Saturday to call for an end to inequality in community assistance.

Some 100 people gathered at Albany’s Washington Park after marching from three neighborhoods: the South End, Arbor Hill and Delaware Avenue. Then they marched up Madison Avenue to the Pine Hills neighborhood, where more activists joined them.

They held aloft a banner reading “A Tale of 2 Cities,” the theme of the day’s march. They carried signs that read “Rebuild All of Albany” and “Include All in Albany.”

 Occupy Providence demonstrates outside Netroots convention

Dozens of members of Occupy Providence demonstrated Saturday afternoon outside the Rhode Island Convention Center, site of Netroots Nation, a three-day gathering of progressive activists, bloggers and politicians that has drawn more than 1,000 from around the country.

 Occupy LA protestors rally at Calderon’s Montebello office, urge homeowners bill of rights

Occupy LA members, housing rights advocates and local homeowners on Friday rallied outside the district office of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, to urge him to support legislation enacting the California Homeowners’ Bill of Rights.

The legislation is a set of proposals expected to provide a slew of protections to homeowners. It would prevent foreclosures while homeowners go through the loan modification process with their lenders.

It also calls for homeowners to have a single point of contact with their lenders, instead of being shuffled around. And it strengthens due process for homeowners, allowing them to sue their lenders if their homes are fraudulently foreclosed on under the proposed legislation.

Dejected Greeks make painful return to rural roots for decent living

Thirteen years after abandoning rural Greece for a career in graphic design, Spiridoula Lakka finds herself in the last place she expected to end up – watering a patch of lettuce and herbs in her sleepy village.

As Greece sank into its worst economic crisis since World War II, Lakka had given up her dream of becoming a web designer. Even waitressing seemed impossible. She faced a simple choice: be stranded without money in Athens, or return to the village where she grew up plotting to escape.

At age 32, Lakka, an office clerk who also juggled odd jobs, joined a growing number of Greeks returning to the countryside in the hope of living off the land. It’s a reversal of the journey their parents and grandparents made in the 1960s and ’70s.

. . .

In the northern city of Thessaloniki, a school for farmers says applications for its high school programme have tripled this year. Cheese-making and bee-keeping have also filled quickly at the American Farm School, founded in 1904 by an American missionary who was keen to teach practical skills. Its courses run from pre-school to adult level.

Spaniards resigned to bleak future as austerity bites

With the rescue money in Spain’s “bailout lite” looking likely to go straight to former savings banks, the roots of its banking problem lie fully exposed. A decade-long housing boom, fuelled by cheap credit thanks to low interest rates needed by Germany, has left the banks stuffed with toxic real estate.

Spaniards must pay for this, but they are not to blame. They largely continue to pay their mortgages, relying on family when unemployment and wage cuts make it impossible to meet their bills.

The hole has been created instead by property developers and land speculators, together with the senior bank staff who made the loans. And it has been left to fester for the past four years, ever since the property bubble burst. “They kicked the can down the road,” admits a government minister in private.

 Internet without borders: Anonymous protests Indian web censorship

Hundreds gathered in several Indian cities to rally against “growing government censorship of the internet.” The events were held under the banner of Anonymous, the global hacktivist group that earlier downed India’s largest Internet provider.

Hundreds of Indians in the Guy Fawkes masks associated with the Anonymous and Occupy movements staged rallies in New Delhi and 15 other major cities, including Mumbai and Bangalore.

The call for demonstrations by the Indian branch of the group follows a March 29 court order issued in the southern city of Chennai, demanding 15 Indian Internet providers block access to file-sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay and video sharing sites such as Vimeo and Dailymotion.

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