Emphasis added. Because, holy crap.

I have not seen too many people comment on this; here’s one guy mentioning it last August. The punchline is that amongst other favors, private bankers have managed to use the financial crisis such that they now receive a stream of billions of dollars in income from the Federal Reserve. Moreover, this amount could rise substantially over the coming years.

The banks now receive “interest on reserves” from the Fed, a policy that was instituted back in October 2008. This means that when a bank keeps its reserves parked with the Fed, then it will be paid interest on them; this didn’t happen before October 2008. There are various ways to describe this policy, but one accurate way is to say at this point the Fed began paying banks to not make loans to their customers. The rate is currently a measly 25 basis points (0.25%), but it is expected to increase in the near future.

Specifically, the Fed has said that if and when it begins raising interest rates (probably later this year), it will not follow the textbook approach of selling off assets from its balance sheet, and thereby draining reserves from the system. On the contrary, the Fed will raise interest rates by increasing the amount the Fed itself pays to bankers, to keep their money parked at the Fed. For example, if the Fed wants the short-term rate (what’s called the “federal funds rate”) to rise to 1 percent, then the Fed will increase the amount it pays to banks for their reserves (perhaps to a bit less than 1 percent). If the banks can earn a guaranteed 1 percent from the Fed, then they would never lend their reserves to anybody else–even each other–for less than that.

One implication of this plan is that the Fed will be on the hook for funneling huge amounts directly to the banks. These wouldn’t be loans, these would be interest payments–direct income for the banks. Right now excess reserves are about $2.4 trillion. Assuming this is the ballpark for the next year or two, and that the Fed eventually raises its target rate to 3 percent, that would involve annual interest payments of $2.4 trillion x 3% = $72 billion.

Notice that this is effectively coming right from the taxpayers, in the sense that the Fed has been remitting its excess earnings to the Treasury, making the federal budget deficit lower than it otherwise would be. So, other things equal, if the Fed pays bankers $72 billion annually to not make loans to their customers, then that is effectively coming from the taxpayers.

I daresay before the crisis, if any banker had proposed such a scheme, that it would not have met with the public’s approval.

This is just so unbelievably insane. The incredible gall it takes to erect this edifice of lies and depravity and then convince people that not only is it necessary, but that it is itself the solution to all the calamity it has caused. At this point, you have to be willfully ignorant to ignore the inherent corruption of the federal reserve.

OK, so it’s a—the largest-ever international economic treaty that has ever been negotiated, very considerably larger than NAFTA. It is mostly not about trade. Only five of the 29 chapters are about traditional trade. The others are about regulating the Internet and what Internet—Internet service providers have to collect information. They have to hand it over to companies under certain circumstances. It’s about regulating labor, what labor conditions can be applied, regulating, whether you can favor local industry, regulating the hospital healthcare system, privatization of hospitals. So, essentially, every aspect of the modern economy, even banking services, are in the TPP. And so, that is erecting and embedding new, ultramodern neoliberal structure in U.S. law and in the laws of the other countries that are participating, and is putting it in a treaty form. And by putting it in a treaty form, that means—with 14 countries involved, means it’s very, very hard to overturn. So if there’s a desire, democratic desire, in the United States to go down a different path—for example, to introduce more public transport—then you can’t easily change the TPP treaty, because you have to go back and get agreement of the other nations involved.

Baltimore Sun

Baltimore officials, trying to collect some $40 million in long-unpaid water bills, have shut off service to more than 1,600 customers in the past six weeks. But records reviewed by The Baltimore Sun show the city’s enforcement has been starkly uneven.

While large commercial properties owe the biggest amounts, not one has been shut off. All of the service cuts so far have been to homes.

And while the majority of homes with unpaid bills are in the city, nearly 90 percent of shut-offs have been in Baltimore County. Dundalk and Gwynn Oak have each had more service cuts than all of Baltimore.

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell, a Republican who represents Dundalk, said he found it “odd” that his community, with a population of less than 64,000, saw more enforcement than a city more than 10 times that size. He has asked officials to verify the accuracy of their data.

“There have been a lot of billing errors and mistakes,” he said…

More

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In 1949, some of the country’s top advertising executives launched a national marketing campaign. They weren’t selling a physical product. They were selling religion. Before long, the Religion in American Life campaign was placing close to 10,000 newspaper ads per year, coordinating national radio marketing, and putting up thousands of billboards, all intended “to accent the importance of all religious institutions as the basis of American life.” Major corporations bankrolled the effort.

We think of One Nation Under God as a phrase dating back to our founding. The real history is newer – and scarier

MALL OF AMERICA SECURITY CATFISHED BLACK LIVES MATTER ACTIVISTS, DOCUMENTS SHOW

(by Lee Fang || @lhfang)

Documents obtained by The Intercept indicate that security staff at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to monitor local Black Lives Matter organizers, befriend them, and obtain their personal information and photographs without their knowledge.

Evidence of the fake Facebook account was found in a cache of files provided by the Mall of America to Bloomington officials after a large Black Lives Matter event at the mall on December 20 protesting police brutality. The files included briefs on individual organizers, with screenshots that suggest that much of the information was captured using a Facebook account for a person named “Nikki Larson.”

Metadata from some of the documents lists the software that created them as belonging to “Sam Root” at the “Mall of America.” A Facebook account for a Sam Root lists his profession as “Intelligence Analyst at Mall of America.”

The fake Larson account featured a profile photo that a Google reverse image search shows is identical to a photo associated with a woman who is Facebook friends with Root.

The account, previously found at this url, was deleted soon after The Intercept contacted the Mall of America for this story.

On December 11, as news of the planned Black Lives Matter protest began to spread, the “Nikki Larson” account was updated with a banner image of an (apocryphal) Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” At some point, the Larson account “liked” the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook group.

After the December 20 protest, the city charged 11 protesters with six different criminal misdemeanors. The city and mall are seeking over $65,000 in restitution for police and mall expenses.

Information collected from Facebook was used by the Mall of America security team to build dossiers on each activist. A document on Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the activists charged by the city, includes screen grabs of  her Facebook account. Levy-Pounds, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas, told The Intercept that the Larson account befriended her in December.

Another dossier profiling activist Lena Gardner contains pictures, a timeline listing where to spot her in videos from the protest taken by protestors and by Mall of America security, as well as information scraped from her social media accounts. Similar documents were created for at least eight other activists.

The Larson account appears to have been created in 2009, and had 817 friends, many of whose pages showed they were involved in Minnesota political activism. The account also “liked” Facebook groups associated with Ferguson activists, the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center, Occupy Minneapolis, SumOfUs, the SEIU Minnesota State Council, and Communities United Against Police Brutality, among others.

(Read the complete article via TheIntercept  ↳ here)

  • nature:*does like one million groundbreaking shit during the day that can be applied to aid humanity's survival and relationship with it*
  • corporations:i got it we'll smash the earth, contaminating it a bit to get some energy
  • corporations:heres something cool lets literally throw our compiled trash into the oceans
  • corporations:wow have you ever thought about going to another planet and living like this there too? what a time
  • nature:no like check me out, I can show you how to live right if you study m-
  • corporations:but when profit now?

Follow the money:

1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

The idea is that since the main goal of all private corporations is to make money, they’ll be much more willing than the government is to cut costs and eliminate waste. The result, conservatives and libertarians say, will be more efficient, responsible, and responsive services. That’s the theory, at least. In reality, privatization of public services has been a total disaster wherever it’s been tried. And, as a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy shows, it’s also created huge opportunities for fraud and corruption. The report, which was released today and is titled “Pay to Prey,” focuses on how Republican governors in states all across the country used the cover of privatization to enrich campaign donors and political cronies. The worst culprits include some the biggest names in Republican politics.