Friday, February 10, 2012

  • 50-State, $25B Mortgage Settlement: Relief for Struggling Homeowners or Bailout for Big Banks?

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    The U.S. Justice Department has unveiled a record mortgage settlement with the nation’s five largest banks to resolve claims over faulty foreclosures and mortgage practices that have indebted and displaced homeowners and sunk the nation’s economy. While the deal is being described as a $25 billion settlement, the banks will only have to pay out a total of $5 billion in cash between them. We speak to one of the settlement’s most prominent critics, Yves Smith, a longtime financial analyst who runs the popular finance website, "Naked Capitalism." "The settlement, on the surface, does look like it’s helping homeowners," Smith says. "But, in fact, the bigger part that most people don’t recognize is the way it actually helps the banks with mortgages on their own books... The real problem is that this deal is just not going to give that much relief." [includes rush transcript]

  • Apple, Accustomed to Profits and Praise, Faces Outcry for Labor Practices at Chinese Factories

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    Protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers in China. The protests come on the heels of recent revelations of harsh conditions and onerous work environments at Apple’s controversial Chinese supplier Foxconn, where more than a dozen employees have committed suicide. We’re joined by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, who helped break the story about the human costs of Apple products for workers in China. We’re also joined by Mike Daisey, whose acclaimed one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," is based partly on his visits to Apple’s Chinese factories and his interviews with the workers there. "I want Apple to take real responsibility," Daisey says. "They have the resources to change this overnight." [includes rush transcript]

    [On March 16, the public radio program This American Life retracted the program that included excerpts from Mike Daisey’s monologue, "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" saying, "we learned that many of Mike Daisey’s experiences in China were fabricated." The transcript of the hour long retraction is available here. Daisey’s response can be found on his blog, where he says, "I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece..."]

  • Spanish Judge Garzón Disbarred in Trial Seen as Retaliation for Trailblazing Human Rights Work

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    Spain’s most famous judge, Baltasar Garzón, has been disbarred for 11 years after being found guilty of ordering illegal monitoring. Garzón is known for taking on global human rights cases under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, with actions including ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, indicting Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and probing the abuse of U.S. prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Garzón cannot appeal his disbarment, which effectively ends his career as a judge. We speak to Human Rights Watch’s Reed Brody, who observed Garzón’s trial in Madrid. Brody says the case marks "a massive attack on the independence of the judiciary and on a very brave judge." [includes rush transcript]

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