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Saturday, July 11, 2009

I wouldn't hold my breath!!!!


These are not just the philosophical musings of a new attorney general. Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision." LinkHere

Cheney Told CIA To Hide Program From Congress

WASHINGTON — Government sources say Vice President Dick Cheney directed the CIA not to inform Congress about a nascent counterterrorism program eight years ago that CIA Director Leon Panetta terminated in June.
Government officials with direct knowledge of Panetta's June 24 briefing to congressional intelligence committees confirmed that Cheney had told the CIA not to discuss the program with Congress yet.
Subsequent CIA directors did not inform Congress because the intelligence-gathering effort had not developed to the point that they believed merited a congressional briefing. That from a former intelligence official and another government official. LinkHere

Obama To Africa: End Corruption, Tyranny

ACCRA, Ghana — America's president and Africa's son, Barack Obama dashed with pride onto the continent of his ancestors Saturday, challenging its people to shed corruption and conflict in favor of peace. Campaigning to all of Africa, he said "Yes you can."
"I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world," Obama told a riveted Ghanaian Parliament. "I have the blood of Africa within me."

In the faces of those who lined the streets and in many of Obama's own words, this trip was personal. Beyond his message, the story was his presence _ the first black U.S. president coming to poor, proud, predominantly black sub-Sahara Africa for his first time in office. LinkHere

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Palestinian Boy's Death Gives 5 Israelis The Gift Of Life

When a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in the West Bank city of Jenin by Israeli soldiers who mistook his toy gun for the real thing, it could have been just one more blip on the news: one more war, one more child, one more human tragedy that ripped the heart out of a family and a community, but rippled no further into the world's consciousness.
But something extraordinary happened that turned Ahmed Khatib's tragic 2005 death into a gift of hope for six Israelis whose lives were on the line: while overwhelmed with grief, Ahmed's parents consented to donating their son's organs. Suddenly, amid the violence and entrenched hatred surrounding an intractable conflict, a simple act of humanity rose above the clamor and captured worldwide attention.
Heart of Jenin tells the story of Ahmed's tragic death and his father Ismael Khatib's journey to visit three of the organ recipients two years later. One of Ahmed's kidneys went to an Orthodox Jewish girl and his other kidney went to a Bedouin boy. While his parents hesitated to donate Ahmed's heart, it now beats in the chest of a Druze girl.
"I see my son in these children," Khatib says.
Crossing from northern Israel to the Negev desert and ending up in Jerusalem, Khatib encounters every complexity of the conflict: deep-seated animosity, hardened judgments, and heartfelt generosity. While laying bare the deep divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, Heart of Jenin offers a rare vision of common humanity and hope. LinkHere

Netanyahu's paranoia extends to 'self-hating Jews' Emanuel and Axelrod

Opppps bite your tongue Bibi, darn about time they put Israel of guard.
At about 3:15 P.M. yesterday, the government's 100th day in office, political correspondents' beepers went off. In an unprecedented move, the Prime Minister's Bureau was inviting the correspondents to a press conference at the Knesset that was slated to begin in 15 minutes. This was the start of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's panicked, disproportionate response to the criticism senior Kadima politicians had leveled at him three hours earlier.
Kadima MKs had attacked Netanyahu at a press conference under the banner "100 days, zero gains. It's the same old Bibi." Later, Kadima supporters handed out stickers with anti-Netanyahu slogans in the Knesset cafeteria.
Netanyahu, who - unusually - was in the cafeteria on Wednesday, got one of the stickers from his political adviser, Shalom Shlomo, and summoned ministers Yisrael Katz, Gideon Sa'ar and Gilad Erdan to a meeting. "I want to call a press conference," Netanyahu said. His colleagues tried to dissuade him, but he insisted.
However, instead of appearing at the press conference himself, he stayed in his office and sent his advisers.
An atmosphere of permanent crisis has surrounded Netanyahu's bureau ever since he took office, so it was no surprise that the press conference also had an air of panic. The five advisers - National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser, director general of the Prime Minister's Office Eyal Gabai, political adviser Ron Dermer and Nir Hefetz, who heads the public relations desk - arrived at the meeting without a prearranged, uniform message. Over and over, they cut each other off.
Hauser tried to convince the press that Netanyahu's zigzagging on the issue of value-added tax was a deliberate ploy coordinated with the other coalition parties. Arad once again lambasted U.S. President Barack Obama's refusal to honor understandings reached with his predecessor, George W. Bush, on the issue of the settlements, but argued that coordination with Washington on Iran had actually improved. Dermer emphasized Netanyahu's speech at Bar-Ilan University, which he said won international plaudits. And Hefetz denied that there was any panic in Netanyahu's bureau, attributing the friction there to "work-related pressure." LinkHere

Dallas Police Cut Bush's Extra Security Due To Budget Cuts

Dallas police cut extra protection at George W. Bush's home
The Dallas Police Department has cut back on some of the additional protection that the department provided around the Preston Hollow home of former President George W. Bush.
Secret Service protection, Dallas until last week had stationed one on-duty tactical officer per eight-hour shift on the street outside the president’s home. The estimated cost of that service was $300,000 for about a year, according to police officials who asked that they not be named.
“We just had to cut it,” said one police official, who agreed to speak on the condition on anonymity. “We’re about to layoff people.”
The city of Dallas has been struggling to deal with a $190 million budget deficit, and police officials said that the police department’s civilian workforce likely will be reduced by as many as 190 of the department’s 739 employees.
But Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, who declined to discuss specific changes said, “Our decision on how to deploy people around security issues like this is not dependent on the budget. They’re based on other factors.”
Police officials said that they had been already gradually reducing extra security provided for the former president even before the city’s fiscal crunch. LinkHere

Panetta Acknowledged CIA Misled On Interrogation Policy: Dem Lawmakers

CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers in a recent briefing that the intelligence agency he heads misled Congress on "significant actions" for a "number of years," a group of Democrats revealed on Wednesday.
In a letter written to Panetta on June 26 by seven Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, the CIA chief is urged to "publicly correct" an earlier statement he made in which he insisted that it was not agency policy to mislead Congress.
As the letter details, Panetta apparently acknowledged in an earlier briefing that this statement was not, in fact, true.
"Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," the Democratic lawmakers write. "This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods."
The letter does not explain what those "significant actions" were. But a source with knowledge of the dispute says it concerns Bush administration interrogation policies. Panetta briefed the Intelligence Committee about these and other matters two days before the letter was written, as well as other dates.
Early reports on the matter said that the letter was signed by six Democratic lawmakers: Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., John Tierney, D-Mass., Rush Holt, D-N.J., Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. (These are the members who signed the above document). A source with direct knowledge of the letter's content says that Rep. Adam Smith D-Wash., has also added his name to the letter.
The note was made public just hours after Congressional Quarterly reported that the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, also stated that the CIA had "affirmatively lied" to his committee. LinkHere

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims

Rupert Murdoch's News Group News papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.
The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators. Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence, which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them. The evidence also poses difficult questions for:
• Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts.
• Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public.
• The Metropolitan police, which did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel.
• The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity.
The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge. LinkHere

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Olbermann gives Limbaugh Worst Person runner-up for suggesting that U.S. needs a coup

Sam Stein Joins "Ed Show" Panel To Debate Al Franken, Healthcare Reform, Sarah Palin

HuffPost reporter Sam Stein joined an "Ed Show" panel with Katrina vanden Heuvel and Tim Griffin, former Deputy Political Director for the Bush White House, to discuss Al Franken coming to the Senate, and what that means for the passage of health care reform, as well as the political fallout from Sarah Palin's sudden resignation as Governor, and the possibilities for her political future.


Monday, July 06, 2009

The Crooks Get Cash While the Poor Get Screwed

By Chris Hedges —
But innocence and guilt are funny things in America. If you are rich and guilty, if you have defrauded banks and customers and investment firms of billions of dollars, as AIG or Citibank has, if you wear fancy suits and have degrees from elite universities that cost more per year than Brown used to make, you get taxpayer money. You get lots of it. You maintain the lavish lifestyle of jets and spas and million-dollar bonuses. You live a life of unchecked greed and have too much in a world where most have too little. If you are moral scum in America we take care of you. But if you are poor, if you are, say, Tearyan Brown and African-American and 39 years old with four kids and no job and you live in the inner city, you are in trouble. No one comes to help you. You don’t get a second chance. This is what being poor means. LinkHere

Remembering McNamara

Robert McNamara
By Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com
By Robert Scheer
In memory of Robert McNamara, we post this article by Robert Scheer, published in 1995 in the Los Angeles Times.
By Robert Scheer — Once again we were in a briefing on body counts, and he was in charge with the latest figures, and once again, any personal responsibility for the deaths seemed to elude him. Finally one understands the desperate shrillness of the anti-war movement, as an attempt to tug at the arm if not the inaccessible soul of this impervious man. LinkHere

McClatchy Runs Scathing McNamara Obituary:
I Hated That Man, He's Going To Hell

Commentary: Galloway on McNamara:

Reading an obit with great pleasure

By Joseph L. Galloway McClatchy Newspapers
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." —Clarence Darrow (1857–1938)
Well, the aptly named Robert Strange McNamara has finally shuffled off to join LBJ and Dick Nixon in the 7th level of Hell.
McNamara was the original bean-counter — a man who knew the cost of everything but the worth of nothing.
Back in 1990 I had a series of strange phone conversations with McMamara while doing research for my book We Were Soldiers Once And Young. McNamara prefaced every conversation with this: "I do not want to comment on the record for fear that I might distort history in the process." Then he would proceed to talk for an hour, doing precisely that with answers that were disingenuous in the extreme — when they were not bald-faced lies.
Upon hanging up I would call Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam and run McNamara's comments past them for deconstruction and the addition of the truth.
The only disagreement i ever had with Dave Halberstam was over the question of which of us hated him the most. In retrospect, it was Halberstam.
When McNamara published his first book — filled with those distortions of history — Halberstam, at his own expense, set out on a journey following McNamara on his book tour around America as a one-man truth squad.
McNamara abandoned the tour.
The most bizarre incident involving McNamara occurred when he was president of the World Bank and, off on his summer holiday, he caught the Martha's Vineyard ferry. It was a night crossing in bad weather. McNamara was in the salon, drink in hand, schmoozing with fellow passengers. On the deck outside a vineyard local, a hippie artist, glanced through the window and did a double-take. The artist was outraged to see McNamara, whom he viewed as a war criminal, so enjoying himself.
He immediately opened the door and told McNamara there was a radiophone call for him on the bridge. McNamara set down his drink and stepped outside. The artist immediately grabbed him, wrestled him to the railing and pushed him over the side. McNamara managed to get his fingers through the holes in the metal plate that ran from the top of the railing to the scuppers.
McNamara was screaming bloody murder; the artist was prying his fingers loose one at a time. Someone heard the racket and raced out and pulled the artist off.
By the time the ferry docked in the vineyard McNamara had decided against filing charges against the artist, and he was freed and walked away.


White House, Hospitals Near Deal For $150 Billion In Cost Savings

Published: July 6, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration and major hospital associations on Monday evening were nearing a deal for about $150 billion in cost savings to help pay for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system, with an announcement expected at the White House as early as Wednesday, officials said.
If an agreement is finalized, it would be the latest step in an on-going effort by the White House to win concessions from major health industry groups to help pay for legislation aimed at providing health insurance to all Americans. Democrats are hoping to keep the cost of the overhaul at about $1 trillion over 10 years.
Earlier this month, the White House announced a “historic agreement to lower drug costs” and the lobby for drug companies, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, said it had pledged $80 billion over 10 years to help Democrats in the efforts to improve the health care system.
In addition to controlling costs and helping Mr. Obama achieve his goal of providing coverage to more than 40 million uninsured Americans, the administration’s tentative agreements with drug companies and providers, including hospitals and doctors, are also intended to bring pressure on the private health insurance industry.
Private insurers may have the most to lose as lawmakers in the House and Senate debate the possibility of creating a new government-run insurance program to compete with private firms and help slow the steep growth in medical spending. LinkHere

Afghan Insurgents Cross-Dress To Escape U.S. Marines

Military official: Afghan insurgents dressed as women to escape
CNN) — Insurgents locked in a standoff with U.S. Marines tricked them by dressing up as women to escape, a task force spokesman said Monday.
Women and children had been caught in the standoff between the armed groups, but some of the women were not what they seemed, according to task force spokesman Capt. William Pelletier.
After the Marines began taking fire from insurgents in the town of Khan Neshin, located in south Afghanistan near the Helmand River, the militants ran into a multiple-room compound, the U.S. military said.
Unsure of whether civilians were inside the compound, the Marines had an interpreter talk to the insurgents, said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly. After some time, a number of women and children left the compound, the military official said.
The insurgents denied any more civilians were inside, the official said, but the Marines held their fire anyway. About 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET), in the midst of the standoff, another group of women and children emerged from the compound, the official said. As of 4:30 p.m., the Marines were holding all fire and waiting out the insurgents, the official said.
Finally, a screaming woman emerged from the compound with a bullet wound to her hand, Pelletier said. Then, another group of women come out, covered from head to toe according to custom, he said. The Marines attended to the wounded woman while the others walked away.
When the Marines went into the compound, they discovered it empty, Pelletier said. That’s when they realized the fighters had dressed up as women to escape, he said.
“Apparently these were tall, rather broad-shouldered women with hairy feet,” Pelletier said.

Michael Jackson Fans Raise Money To Defeat Peter King

Good for them! I, too, am not a huge MJ fan, but admired his amazing talent. Thus said, PK is the biggest hypocrite you can find - anyone have any statements from him decrying the Cath. p r ! ests scandals? Since he is of that faith, where's the outrage from him on that?!

"Low-life" pervert who "may have been a good singer" and "did some dancing."
There is, it turns out, a political price to pay when you make bold statements calling out Michael Jackson for some of the nefarious moments of his personal history.
Fans of Jackson are mobilizing to raise money for an opponent -- any opponent -- to run against Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., following the critical remarks the congressman made about the recently deceased pop icon.
Over the weekend, King said that the media had gone far over the top in glorifying Jackson, who he deemed a "low-life" pervert who "may have been a good singer" and "did some dancing."
Now, an ActBlue fundraising site has been set up by "A fan of Michael Jackson" titled "Michael Jackson Fans AGAINST Peter King." LinkHere

SHOCK: 90,000 Seals To Be Clubbed To Death

JOHANNESBURG — Namibia's annual commercial seal hunt will go on despite objections by animal welfare groups, a government official said Monday.
Frans Tsheehama of the Namibian fisheries and marine resources ministry said that the season started on July 1 and will run until Nov. 15.
Hunters are expected to club over 90,000 seals, including 85,000 pups.
The hunt was expected to begin last week, but there was confusion over whether the killings had begun after numerous media reports that a South African-based animal rights activist was in negotiations to halt them.
Namibia is one of only a few remaining countries with a commercial seal harvest. The government argues that the seal population needs to be controlled to protect fish stocks.
However, animal rights activists say the practice is inhumane and outdated.
Seals are hunted for skins, fur and meat, and seal genitals are sold as traditional medicines and aphrodisiacs in Asia.
Activist Francois Hugo of Seal Alert South Africa said last week that he had made a bid to buy out the company that purchases the Namibian seal pelts, effectively halting the hunt. LinkHere

Ain't that the truth!!!

Fox News Contributor Rips Into Palin:
"The Woman Is Inarticulate, Undereducated"

Even Fox News has started to turn on Sarah Palin. In the midst of a segment about the Alaska Governor's battle against "liberal" attacks, Liz Trotta went off-message.
Frankly, "the woman is inarticulate, undereducated," Trotta said, arguing that for once liberal criticism was "well-deserved."
"I think all the liberal stylists ... really have a case. She just begs for adjectives like flaky and wacky." When pressed, she added, "We're talking about somebody who, right from the get-go, has been a flashy person who gets into a lot of trouble and really has no credentials for any


New GOP "Racist" Headache

Surprise, Surprise
After "Barack the Magic Negro" and other GOP racial gaffes, a top Young Republican official—who hopes to be elected chairman Saturday—laughs at a racial slur about President Obama. The Daily Beast's John Avlon on a choice facing GOP brass: Lose the radical fringe, or never email, use social media or send out holiday CDs again.
Note to Republicans: Racist “humor,” the Internet, and political ambitions don’t mix. Audra Shay, vice chairman of the Young Republicans and the leading candidate to be elected its chairman on Saturday, is now the latest in a growing list of GOP officials learning this lesson the hard way, based on pictures of a now-deleted Facebook page obtained by The Daily Beast.

“This is still America… freedom of speech and thought is still allowed… for now any ways… and the last time i checked I was a good ole southern boy… and if yur ass is black don’t let the sun set on it in a southern town…”

On Wednesday, Shay—a 38-year-old Army veteran, mother, and event planner from Louisiana who has been endorsed by her governor, Bobby Jindal—was holding court on her Facebook page, initiating a political conversation by posting that “WalMart just signed a death warrant” by “endorsing Obama’s healthcare plan.” At 1:52, a friend named listed as Eric S. Piker, but whose personal page says his actual name is Eric Pike, wrote “It’s the government making us commies… can’t even smoke in my damn car… whats next they going to issue toilet paper once a month… tell us how to wipe our asses…”
Two minutes later, Piker posted again saying “Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals.”
Eight minutes after that, at 2:02, Shay weighed in on Piker’s comments: “You tell em Eric! lol.”

I'm getting confused...isn't the republican "Base" supposed to be made up of 100% devout Christians? That's what they're always bragging about. I hadn't realized racist comments were now acceptable. The southern mentality never ceases to amaze me. But go ahead, guys...keep it up. If you would only read something other than Ann Landers and the comics page you would realize whites are becoming more and more the minority.
This means you are contributing to your own destruction.
Which is a good thing.

I thought to myself, "What a perfect running mate for Palin when she throws her hat into the ring in 2012." (And--horrors!--I have NO doubt that she will.)
Little Miss Shay has every bit the intellectual sophistication of Sarah, plus she's got that whole "It's my critics' fault when I screw up/Why does everybody always pick on me" thing down to a tee.

Votes Mostly Go Obama’s Way

By Rachel Bloom and John Cranford, CQ Staff
As his presidency approaches the half-year mark, Barack Obama is on pace to be the most successful Oval Office occupant in more than half a century when measured by his ability to get Congress to vote his way — even though he shows signs of carefully picking his fights on Capitol Hill.
Almost without exception, presidents start strong in their contests with lawmakers, and their success rates falter over time. Typically, presidents win most often in their first or second years in office on House and Senate roll call votes in which they take a clear position.
So far, Obama has taken clear positions on relatively few floor votes — 26 in the House and 37 in the Senate, including 20 votes to confirm his nominees. Still, his success score of 95.2 percent, if it continues for the rest of the year, would be the highest for any president since Congressional Quarterly began this measurement in 1953. That’s true not only for the first year of a presidency, but also for any year.
The following are a few statistics about Obama’s success on floor votes held through the start of the July Fourth recess and the degree to which lawmakers are voting with him.
• Obama has secured victories on 24 of the 26 House votes where he’s staked out a clear position in advance and 36 of 37 votes in the Senate. One of his two House defeats came on a meaningless vote two days after he took office to block continuation of the $700 billion financial bailout effort begun in September.
The other was two weeks ago on passage of the defense authorization bill for fiscal 2010, which Obama has threatened to veto because it would continue building F-22 fighter jets, which he wants to cancel, and require an alternative engine design for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an addition he doesn’t think is necessary. His lone Senate defeat came in May, when the chamber voted against closing the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
• If Obama’s success rate holds, he’ll surpass Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson, who has the record with 93.1 percent in 1965, his second full year in office. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has the second-highest success rate, 89.2 percent in 1953, his first year. By contrast, Democrat Bill Clinton — who started strong with 86.4 percent success rates his first two years — has the lowest one-year success score of the past half-century, 36.2 percent in 1995, the year the Republicans took control of Congress.
• Democrats in both chambers are far more supportive of Obama than they have been for a president of either party in half a century. Senate Democrats are voting with him 92 percent of the time on average, and House Democrats are supporting him 89 percent of the time.
• Senate and House Republicans aren’t consistent with each other in their support for Obama. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that members of the House GOP are voting with Obama just 36 percent of the time — compared with their average support score of 39 percent for Clinton in his first year and 42 percent for Democrat Jimmy Carter in his first year. But Senate Republicans have so far supported Obama 56 percent of the time. That’s the second-highest Senate GOP support score for any Democratic president — just shy of the 60 percent they gave Clinton in 1997. LinkHere

Health-Care Industry Spending Over $1.4M A Day On Lobbying

Firms Hire Hundreds Of Former Lawmakers And Congressional Staffers To Lobby
The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records
The tactic is so widespread that three of every four major health-care firms have at least one former insider on their lobbying payrolls, according to The Washington Post's analysis.
Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), debating whether to adopt a public insurance option opposed by major industry groups. At least 10 others have been members of Congress, such as former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), both of whom represent a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm.
The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.
The push has reunited many who worked together in government on health-care reform, but are now employed as advocates for pharmaceutical and insurance companies. LinkHere

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Goldman trading scandal?

Matthew Goldstein is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own.–

Did someone try to steal Goldman Sachs’ secret sauce?
While most in the United States were celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, a Russian immigrant living in New Jersey was being held on federal charges of stealing secret computer trading codes from a major New York-based financial institution. Authorities did not identify the firm, but sources say that institution is none other than Goldman Sachs.
The charges, if proven, are significant because the codes that the accused, Sergey Aleynikov, tried to steal are the secret sauce to Goldman’s automated stock and commodities trading business. Federal authorities contend the computer codes and related-trading files that Aleynikov uploaded to a German-based website help this major financial institution generate millions of dollars in profits each year.
The platform is one of the things that gives Goldman an advantage over the competition when it comes to the rapid-fire trading of stocks and commodities. Federal authorities say the platform quickly processes rapid developments in the markets and using secret mathematical formulas, allows the firm to make highly-profitable automated trades.
The criminal case has the potential to shed a light on the inner workings of an important profit center for Goldman and other Wall Street firms. The charges also raise serious questions about the safeguards that Wall Street firms deploy to protect these costly-to-build proprietary trading systems.
The criminal case began to unfold on the evening of July 3, when Aleynikov was arrested by FBI agents at Newark Airport after returning from Chicago. Aleynikov apparently had just started a job with another big firm in Chicago after leaving his previous employer in New York in early June. LinkHere

No return. Honduras erupts as president's plane blocked

No return ... two young protesters have reportedly been shot dead in Honduras as the military stopped the nation's overthrown president from landing at the capital city's airport LinkHere
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