Remember when Texas chose a criminal bank to provide unemployment debit cards?

From the 2007 investor.shareholder.com press release: “The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has selected JPMorgan Chase to provide debit cards for unemployment insurance benefits, replacing traditional paper checks.

“JPMorgan Chase will supply TWC with up to 290,000 debit cards a year. The TWC cards can be used like any other debit card – to purchase items from merchants or get cash from an ATM (automated teller machine).

‘JPMorgan Chase is an excellent partner for our unemployment insurance debit card program because the company has extensive experience and has a reputation for excellent customer service,’ said TWC Chair and Commissioner Representing the Public Diane Rath.

‘We are delighted to support the Texas Workforce Commission on this innovative program that will make it easier and safer for unemployment recipients to get benefits,’ said Neil Dugan, senior vice president, JPMorgan Chase.”

The bank was also delighted to charge a friend of mine $7.00 to “replace” a debit card that never came in the mail. Remember, this guy was on unemployment, which is why he needed the card in the first place, AND he never got it, so the bank may never have even sent it or sent it to the wrong address.

In case you don’t remember, since Texas contracted with Chase to handle these accounts, the bank has been involved with some pretty nefarious dealings, but don’t worry, their stock is as valuable as ever.

Here’s how the WSJ described it: “WASHINGTON—Five global banks agreed to pay more than $5 billion in combined penalties and plead guilty to criminal charges to resolve a long-running U.S. investigation into whether traders colluded to move foreign-currency rates for their own financial benefit.” (Emphasis mine) Chase was one of those banks.

Apparently, traders at these banks, including Chase, have embraced the scummy behavior behind the nickname “banksters” that they earned after the 2008 collapse that ruined many people’s standard of living, as seen in this excerpt from Bloomberg:

“Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc agreed to plead guilty to felony charges of conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros, according to settlements announced by the Justice Department in Washington Wednesday. . . They were accused of colluding to influence benchmark rates by aligning positions and pushing transactions through at the same time. Traders who described themselves as members of “The Cartel” used online chat rooms to discuss their positions before the rates were set and suppress competition in the market, the Justice Department said.” (Emphasis mine)

So maybe when TWC chose Chase to handle these accounts, they weren’t actually considered criminals, like they are now that they paid these criminal fines, but why is the state still working with them? It is so great to know that our state continues to contract with a bank the traders of which refer to themselves as “The Cartel.” Why don’t we just ask the guys from Sinaloa or the Zetas to handle our SNAP card accounts while we are at it? I am sure their buddies at HSBC would be glad to help them launder that money too.

http://investor.shareholder.com/jpmorganchase/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=248520

http://www.wsj.com/articles/global-banks-to-pay-5-6-billion-in-penalties-in-fx-libor-probe-1432130400

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-20/six-banks-pay-5-8-billion-five-plead-guilty-to-market-rigging

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/15/hsbc-has-form-mexico-laundered-drug-money

Advertisements

Remember when our congress signed us up for $303 trillion in derivatives?

I forgot to mention in my previous column on the Citi-drafted [Cr]Omnibus bill the estimated amount for which Americans may be on the hook this time around when the big banks’ gambling goes awry. These guys sure “know when to walk away and know when to run” to Congress for a corporate-socialism bailout at our expense!

According to the websites of Daily Kos and Zerohedge, the amount aforementioned is right around $303 trillion! Think of all the education and infrastructure that money could buy that will instead go to pay off the bad bets of bankers like the very tiny Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan and the orangutan-doppelgänger Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. I usually stay away from ad hominem attacks, but these guys are total pariahs.

I guess they deserve our help, though. After all, as Blankfein once said: They are “doing God’s work.” I wonder which god’s work is to make bad bets with taxpayers’ (or for the potential future bail-ins, depositors’) money. Either way, the American public does not seem to even notice, so these guys think that we are just fine with the imminent fleecing. I guess we are, or we would be hearing a lot more about it and maybe even seeing people taking their money out of these banks . . . or refusing to make any more payments to these criminal organizations.

As Zerohedge puts it: “At least we now know with certainty that to a clear majority in Congress – one consisting of republicans and democrats – the future viability of Wall Street is far more important than the well-being of their constituents. Which also, implicitly, was made clear when Hank Paulson was waving a three-page ‘blank check’ term sheet, and when Congress voted through the biggest bailout of banks in US history back in 2008.

“The only question is when the next multi-trillion (or perhaps quadrillion now that all global central banks are all in?) bailout takes place.”

Why worry about this? Here’s a bit of what Forbes has to say about the situation: “Another global financial crisis is on the way. Financial reform didn’t work. Banks today are bigger and more opaque than ever, and they continue to trade in derivatives in many of the same ways they did before the crash, but on a larger scale and with precisely the same unknown risks.”

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/12/1351389/-Congratulations-chumps-You-are-now-on-the-hook-for-303-Trillion-in-Derivatives

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-12/presenting-303-trillion-derivatives-us-taxpayers-are-now-hook

http://www.businessinsider.com/lloyd-blankfein-says-he-is-doing-gods-work-2009-11

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2013/01/08/five-years-after-the-financial-meltdown-the-water-is-still-full-of-big-sharks/

Remember when the FDIC and the Bank of England came up with the bail-in scheme?

Remember when FDIC and Bank of England drafted a paper explaining that the next bail out of the big banks would actually be a bail-in? So, according to Ellen Brown, author and public banking activist, the FDIC and Bank of England have co-authored a paper, which readers can see here: https://www.fdic.gov/about/srac/2012/gsifi.pdf that describes how Americans will once again, or rather still, be on the hook to pay for bankers’ gambling problems, which will now be depositors’ problems. Apparently, the public backlash over having to bail out the scum who coined the term IBGYBG (I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone—so let’s screw the public while we can!) was too much for the bankers’ fragile egos to bear, so now they plan on just taking depositors’ funds to pay for their stupid decisions.

This might be a good time for all of us to reconsider where we are banking. Of course, this is all documented in a public paper that is cryptic and hard to understand for normal people who are not total scamming scumbags like these bankers, which is how they get away with this crap.

How did good risk management become synonymous with “let’s just make the public or our customers pay for our party?” These bank CEOs are paid tens of millions of dollars or more (compensation for their ability to manage risk) for just deciding to pass their debts on to the rest of us by lying and telling us the economy will crash if we do not pay up (then of course the economy crashed anyway). Wow! I can hold a metaphorical gun to someone else’s head and make them pay for my debts? Give me millions of dollars then! This country seriously needs to re-think who deserves to be well compensated financially and for what reasons.

Brown does a pretty good job of deciphering the arcane paper for the rest of us in this Huffingtonpost.com article; here is an excerpt:

“Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few eurozone troika officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland; and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.

Few depositors realize that legally, the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs. But until now, the bank has been obligated to pay the money back as cash on demand. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into ‘bank equity.’  The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price?”

If you bank at one of the “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” that will be using this strategy in the future (read:  Too Big to Fail Banks), you might want to change banks.  Just saying.

Read the rest here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-brown/banks-confiscation_b_2957937.html

Remember when Citi drafted a bill for congress to eviscerate a key Dodd-Frank protection?

Remember when . . . last year our dear leaders passed a last-minute spending bill to keep the government running that included a section drafted by the pariah, taxpayer-bailed-out Citigroup? This may be old news but it still has the ability to affect each and every American citizen financially, which is why I like to remind everyone of it—shouldn’t we be a bit more concerned about giving our hard-earned money to bankers who make bad bets? Where is our self-respect as American citizens? To remind folks of what this does, it effectively strips a key protection of the Dodd-Frank Act, allowing the welfare queen banks, like Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and of course, JP Morgan Chase (Jamie Dimon was said to have lobbied hard for the repeal of the protection) to engage in (even more) high-risk trading with FDIC insured funds.

In plain English, the American taxpayers are (once again, or rather still) explicitly on the hook for these scummy bankers’ poor gambling decisions. These muppets (that is what they call those of us who bailed them out in 2008, so I like to return the favor when I can) somehow think that good “risk management” means pushing their debts onto others who had nothing to do with, and did not benefit at all from, their accrual. So glad these arrogant economic terrorists are running the country. Here is what Mother Jones reported on the issue last year:

“[T]he bill eviscerates a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act called the ‘push-out rule’: Banks hate the push-out rule…because this provision will forbid them from trading certain derivatives (which are complicated financial instruments with values derived from underlying variables, such as crop prices or interest rates). Under this rule, banks will have to move these risky trades into separate non-bank affiliates that aren’t insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and are less likely to receive government bailouts. The bill would smother the push-out rule in its crib by permitting banks to use government-insured deposits to bet on a wider range of these risky derivatives.

The Citi-drafted legislation will benefit five of the largest banks in the country—Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. These financial institutions control more than 90 percent of the $700 trillion derivatives market. If this measure becomes law, these banks will be able to use FDIC-insured money to bet on nearly anything they want. And if there’s another economic downturn, they can count on a taxpayer bailout of their derivatives trading business.”

Here is a link to the article with a sickening image of the two drafts, the Citi-written draft and the one that passed. If you ever doubted who actually runs our government, this should clear that up:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/spending-bill-992-derivatives-citigroup-lobbyists

Event: Foreign policy conference at TCU on Saturday

The Texas Millennial Institute is hosting a foreign policy conference Saturday, Oct. 10, on the Texas Christian University campus.

“Make Conversation, Not War” is a free day-long event that begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom. The speakers list includes Angela Keaton, Jacob Hornberger and Scott Horton. The schedule should be available later in the week.

Offical registration for the event is available here. Updates are available on the Facebook event page.

Parsing statement of the Hurst police shooting of James Dunaway

Following the deadly police shooting of a 51-year-old Hurst man, a Hurst police spokesperson addressed the incident with reporters.

It was revealed that James Dunaway, the domestic dispute suspect killed by officers after a foot pursuit, “did have a gun.” What the spokesperson didn’t clarify is whether Dunaway fired or pointed the gun at anyone. According to one witness, Dunaway was seen with a black object in his hands, and he was shot when he didn’t drop it. The witnesses didn’t say how much time passed between the time the officer gave the order and when the officer fired.

Haltom City mayor and police chief explain intent of panhandling ordinance

At the Sept. 28 regular session of the Haltom City council, Mayor David Averitt and Keith Lane, the chief of police, discussed the intent of a proposed panhandling ordinance and displaying signage to warn of the ordinance.

Despite their purported concern about reducing traffic and increasing public safety, the mayor stated “the hope [of posting signs about the ordinance] is that they [panhandlers] will move somewhere else.” Chief Lane agreed, “That’s right. It absolutely works that way.” Heavy enforcement “moves them,” he said. If they believe panhandler represent traffic and safety concerns, city leaders seem satisfied with shifting those concerns instead of solving them.

The ordinance passed its first reading.

The full video is at https://vimeo.com/140789913.

Haltom City council doesn’t object to using stereotypes, moves forward with panhandling ordinance

After a plea from organizer Ryan Murphy of Unite South Haltom to reconsider a proposed panhandling ordinance at the Sept. 28 regular session, council member Scott Garrett stated that “Stereotypes come about from truth a lot of times. I mean, that is why it is a stereotype. It is true a lot of times about a group of people. There are exceptions.”

No one on the council objected to using stereotypes to enforce policy, and the ordinance passed its first reading unanimously.

Murphy was responding to a presentation Keith Lane, chief of the Haltom City Police Department, gave to the council that provided a 2002 report stating the typical profile of a panhandler is that of an “unemployed, unmarried male in his 30s or 40s, with substance abuse problems, few family ties, a high school education, and laborer’s skills.”

The demographics were compiled from studies published from 1994 to 2000. One study from the Evanston, Illinois, Police Department scoffed at its city formerly proposed maximum “$500!” fine for panhandling, which drew nationwide embarrassment from talkshow host Jay Leno. The proposed Haltom City ordinance endorsed by Chief Lane also has a fine of up to $500.

In response to the ridicule, Evanston reduced panhandling using other methods after concluding “a legalistic approach was not practicable.” The Evanston report documents how the city enlisted support organizations to redirect donations by talking directly with givers and posting information signs at local businesses. Before implementation of the city’s program of asking that donations be redirected and providing more police visibility, police officers conducted voluntary interviews with panhandlers to identify the subset who were aggressive.

After implementation of the program, 55 percent of the city’s panhandlers had stopped, 63 percent of the aggressive panhandlers moved elsewhere, and 13.8 percent of aggressive panhandlers hadn’t changed their behavior. Local businesses were surveyed and three-quarters agreed that they were at least satisfied with the program and that aggressive panhandling had been reduced “significantly in the downtown area.”

When suggested during the public forum that the city could take alternative steps like enforcement of the existing laws against blocking traffic, harassment or trespassing, council member Trae Fowler said, “We looked at a lot of those things.” Chief Lane or the council did not offer detail on what, if any, steps have been tried.

The ordiance should be up for its final reading at the next regular session Oct. 12.

The full video of the Haltom City regular sessions is available at https://vimeo.com/140789913.

Haltom City council looks to approve 2016 budget and property tax rate

The Haltom City council is scheduled to finalize approval of the 2016 fiscal year budget and property tax rate at Monday’s upcoming meeting.

The final vote will be held in the council’s chamber during the meeting. The property tax rate is slated to remain unchanged at .69999 cents per $100 in accessed value, which is an effective increase of about 1.3 percent as property assessments have risen since last year.

The proposed budget totals $73,629,974, a decrease of $23,601 from the current budget. A total of 10 budget workshop meetings have been held since August, according the city’s website.

The meeting will be held at city hall at 5024 Broadway Ave. during the regular session that begins at 7 p.m. The formal agenda posted to the city’s website includes proposals for a panhandling and day laborer ordinance that was discussed at the council’s Sept. 14 workshop meeting.

Working-class media and resources for North Texas