The P.S. Chatterbox is a weekend news feed of recommended readings and viewings.
Know-nothings, no-nothing-to-see-here-s, and nuclear power
Chasing Fukushima’s fallout
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been steadily escalating his warnings about the impact of the deep cuts facing the Pentagon if the congressional super committee fails to reach a deal. On Thursday, he played the last – and strongest — card in his deck, arguing that the hundreds of billions of dollars of mandatory cuts would directly imperil U.S. national security…
…The remark underscores the Pentagon’s growing panic over the possibility of deep mandatory cuts. Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are already struggling to meet White House demands for $450 billion in spending reductions over the next 10 years. The so-called “sequestration” which would go into effect if the super committee is unable to strike a deficit-reduction agreement would force the Pentagon to cut nearly half a trillion dollars more.
Panetta said those cuts would leave the military “a hollow force” which “retains its shell but lacks a core.”
“It’s a ship without sailors. It’s a brigade without bullets. It’s an air wing without enough trained pilots,” Panetta said. “It’s a paper tiger.”
The Pentagon’s concerns about such cuts have led Panetta and the chiefs to insert themselves directly into a domestic political debate, a move typically eschewed by the Defense Department’s senior military and civilian leadership.
- National Journal
More know-nothingness from James Murdoch
Wall Street Transaction Tax Would Raise $350 Billion
A minuscule tax on financial transactions proposed by congressional Democrats would raise more than $350 billion over the next nine years, according to an analysis by the Joint Tax Committee, a nonpartisan congressional scorekeeping panel…
…The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act would impose a tax of 0.03 percent on financial transactions, meaning that longterm investors would barely notice it, but traders who move rapidly in and out of positions would feel its sting and, the authors hope, reduce the volume of their speculation in response.
The European Union is pressing forward with a financial transaction tax, though it is encountering some resistance from the United Kingdom, the financial center of Europe.
Zero arrests at Penn State, thirty-nine arrests at UCal Berkeley
I originally was very uncomfortable with the way the protesters were focusing on the NYPD as symbols of the system. After all, I thought, these are just working-class guys from the Bronx and Staten Island who have never seen the inside of a Wall Street investment firm, much less had anything to do with the corruption of our financial system.
But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government “committed” to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.
This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an unparalleled crime wave.
Further Euro woe: Berlusconi bows out, while Cameron misses another ‘good opportunity to shut up’
So the EU is shovelling enormous amounts of money into Greece to forestall a default, while forcing European banks to take a “haircut” of 50 percent on their Greek loans. Even with all that, however, Greece is still drowning in debt, and the EU is no closer than ever to creating a financial authority with the power to protect the euro. It can’t, because there is just no political support for a genuinely federal Europe with harmonised economies.
When will Greece finally default and get it over with? Here’s a clue. Euro deposits in Greek banks fell by 14 percent last year, as depositors moved their money abroad to protect it from being converted into “new drachmas” at a huge discount when Greece crashes out of the euro. In just the past month, euro deposits fell by a further six percent. It may not be long now.
Endangered species zero-sum game