G-20 Pushes New Banking Rule That Could Confiscate Deposits and Pensions in Future Financial Crisis
Posted Jan. 7, 2015
In March 2013, a historically significant banking crisis occurred in Cyprus, a divided island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus had a banking industry over five times larger than the nation’s annual GDP, which attracted billions of euros from overseas, especially from wealthy Russian oligarchs, due to its low tax rates. But because both the government and banking system had accumulated mountains of debt, the Cypriot economy was in free fall.
As part of a $13 billion bailout deal made with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union – collectively known as the “troika,” the nation’s second largest bank was closed and severe limits were placed on withdrawals from all Cypriot banks. The troika engineered a stunning solution to the crisis – they confiscated up to 40 percent of funds from depositor accounts of more than €100,000 euros in Cypriot banks, leading to fears of similar confiscations triggered in future banking crises in other nations.
According to Ellen Brown, an attorney and founder of the Public Banking Institute, those fears were realized in mid-November when the G20 nation leaders meeting in Brisbane, Australia endorsed a new set of rules put forward by the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors and proposes regulations for the global financial system. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Brown, who warns that in the event of a future banking crisis caused by derivative bets gone wrong, the rules approved by G20 leaders would prioritize the payment of “too big to fail banks’” derivative obligations to each other, meaning that deposits and pension funds could be confiscated, or “bailed in,” “Cypress Style,” to save the megabanks from collapse.
Find links to Ellen Brown’s recent articles at publicbankinginstitute.org.
- Interview conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Dec. 8, 2014 (28:13)
- Ellen Brown’s article archive at EllenBrown.com
- Web of Debt at WebofDebt.com
- Web of Debt blog at webofdebt.wordpress.com
- Public Banking Institute at publicbankinginstitute.org
- “New G20 Rules: Cyprus-style Bail-ins to Hit Depositors AND Pensioners,” by Ellen Brown, Dec. 1, 2014
- “The Cyprus confiscation becomes the model for bank insolvency,” Bill Mitchell blog on “Modern Monetary Theory … macroeconomic reality,” Dec. 4, 2014
- “European Banks At Risk Of Bail-Ins In 2015 – Moody’s and S&P Warn,” GoldCore gold brokers, Dec. 9, 2014
- “Is your Savings in your bank account safe – G20 Summit Brisbane 2014 what they never told you,” We Are Anonymous, Dec. 8, 2014
- “It Can Happen Here: The Confiscation Scheme Planned for US and UK Depositors,” Counterpunch, March 28, 2013
- “Lessons For US Citizens From The Deposit Confiscation In Cyprus,” Zero Hedge, March 14, 2014
- “The Battle of Cyprus: A Safe and a Shotgun or Publicly-Owned Banks?” Huffington Post, March 27, 2013
- “Eurozone in Crisis,” Counterpunch, April 2, 2013
- “Life On Cyprus After The Bailout,” Forbes, March 31, 2013
Congressional Budget Rider Allows Continued Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, Toxic Waste Dumping
Posted Jan. 7, 2015
Before it recessed for the end-of-year holidays, Congress included several riders in its funding bill to keep the federal government operating for another year. One such rider in the so-called “Cromnibus” budget prohibits the EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies from using funds to make any changes to a regulation put in place by the George W. Bush administration, that allows waste from mountaintop removal coal mining to be dumped in valleys below, often destroying streams that provide drinking water to the people of Appalachia. This so-called “overburden” includes rocks, dirt and anything else that was part of the mountain before it was blown up to gain access to the coal seams beneath.
Environmentalists and local residents of West Virginia and Kentucky, where the vast majority of mountaintop removal blasting occurs, have been trying for years to remove this definition of “fill material.” The inclusion of this rider in the 2015 budget bill makes that goal even harder to achieve. Scientific studies have found links between mountaintop removal operations and negative health impacts for residents of nearby communities, including cancer and birth defects. Toxic chemicals produced by this mining method have also been found to directly kill aquatic species or disrupt their life cycles.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Chris Espinosa, legislative representative with the group Earthjustice, which has filed several legal challenges against mountaintop removal mining. Here, he explains the history of the waste dumping rule, efforts to change it and the challenges ahead for opponents of this destructive form of coal mining.
Learn more about Earthjustice by visitingEarthjustice.com.
- “I Love Mountains: The Human Cost of Coal,” I Love Mountains: End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
- “In Federal Spending Bill, Christmas Comes Early for Polluters, Oil and Gas Industry, and Wall Street High Rollers,” Center for Biological Diversity, Dec. 11, 2014
- “The Obama Spending Bill compromise: a Portent of the Future,” Op Ed News, Dec. 12, 2014
- “2014 Anti-Environmental Budget Riders,” at the Natural Resources Defense Council
- “Study: Mountaintop removal dust linked to cancer,” The Hill, Oct. 17, 2014
- “President Obama Earns ‘C’ on Mountaintop Removal Mining Report Card,” Huffington Post, Dec. 12, 2014
- “Quakers Protest PNC Bank For Financing Mountaintop Coal Mining,” 91.3 WYSO Radio, Dec. 7, 2014
- “Report Outlines Ways to Protect Appalachian Communities from Mountaintop-Removal Coal Mining,” Huffington Post, Dec. 8, 2014
Opting Not to Order Safety Improvements to U.S. Nuclear Plants, NRC Ignores Lessons of Fukushima
Posted Jan. 7, 2015
It’s been almost four years since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that claimed the lives of nearly 16,000 people in northeastern Japan. The catastrophic event at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex destroyed entire communities and triggered one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. When the tsunami disabled the plant’s cooling systems, three of the reactors melted down. The cleanup has been plagued with problems amid accusations that the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO, has mismanaged the effort. While groundwater continues to flood the basements of the crippled reactor buildings, radioactive fuel rods from the heavily damaged No. 4 reactor building were safely removed on Dec. 20. Observers say it may take decades to complete the removal of radioactive fuel from the three melted reactor cores, or, if that task is impossible, they may need to be encased in concrete.
The hydrogen explosions that destroyed three reactor containment buildings at Fukushima have caused concern in the U.S. since 2011 because 31 General Electric Mark I and Mark II boiling water nuclear reactors now operating in 14 states have the same undersized containment design flaw as those that melted down in Fukushima. Independent nuclear experts have recommended that all U.S. nuclear reactors of the same design as those in Fukushima install special vents to both help prevent hydrogen explosions and reduce radiation exposure in the event of a severe accident.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff had recommended the installation of filters as a “cost-benefited” substantial safety enhancement, with an estimated price tag of $20 million or more for each reactor. But according to the group Beyond Nuclear, the NRC Commissioners caved into industry pressure and ordered the installation of containment vents without radiation filters and instructed their staff to re-analyze the GE containment filtering strategy. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Paul Gunter, director of Beyond Nuclear’s Reactor Oversight Project, a 2008 recipient of the Jane Bagley Lehman Award for environmental activism. Here, Gunter explains why he’s opposed to this NRC decision and his concern about the safety hazards at these 31 Fukushima-style U.S. nuclear power plants.
Find more information about Beyond Nuclear’s Reactor Oversight Project by visiting http://BeyondNuclear.org.
- Interview conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Dec. 15, 2014 (25:55)
- “Press release: Federal Nuclear Regulator Opts Not To Reconsider Critical Safety Enhancements at U.S. ‘Fukushima’ Reactors,” Beyond Nuclear, Dec. 11, 2014
- “Fuel Rods Are Removed From Damaged Fukushima Reactor,” New York Times, Dec. 20, 2014
- “Prosecutors won’t indict former Tepco executives over Fukushima disaster: Media,” Reuters, Dec. 25, 2014
- “No Radiation Filters on New Emergency Vents for US Fukushima like Nuclear Reactors – 55 Years Behind on Safety,” Mining Awareness Plus, Dec. 28, 2014
- “NRC to Enhance Post-Fukushima Vent Requirements,” Berkeley (New Jersey) Patch, May 7, 2013
- “How the NRC Brass Refuses to Recognize Costly Lessons of Fukushima,” Truthout, March 5, 2013
- “NRC staff wants radiation filters at some U.S. reactors,” Reuters, Jan. 9, 2013
This week’s summary of under-reported news
Compiled by Bob Nixon
- Quietly Germany, Europe’s largest economy has opened its doors to new immigrants. (“Germany says willkommen to outsiders,” Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 1, 2014)
- In late January 2014, Bart Bareither walked into a sheriff’s office in Indianapolis and confessed he had raped a nursing student nine years earlier, while he was a teaching assistant at Indiana University. (“Dated rape,” Mother Jones, Nov. 20, 2014)
- Hen houses at Hilliker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs, north of San Diego, California are getting a dramatic makeover. (“The New Ethics of Eating,” Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 8, 2014)