After Calling The Stimulus ‘Fiscal Child Abuse,’ Sanford Flies To DC To Demand Stimulus Money
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) waged a high-profile war against the economic stimulus package last spring, claiming that accepting the $700 million for which his state was eligible would lead to “a thing called slavery.” Even as his state’s unemployment rate climbed above the national average, Sanford maintained his partisan and politically motivated refusal to take the funds. But yesterday, Sanford flew to Washington to demand $300 million in stimulus money for education, the State newspaper reports: Sanford, who spent much of last year fighting parts of the Obama administration’s stimulus plan, now wants S.C. to have a piece of $4 billion in “Race to the Top” education money. [...] Sanford met with [Secretary of Education Arne] Duncan to learn more about a charter school program Duncan started in Chicago, said Ben Fox, the governor’s spokesman. Sanford also took the trip to urge Duncan to support more charter school grants, Fox said. [...] Sanford’s trip — which did not appear on his official calendar — is especially hypocritical because the majority of stimulus money destined for South Carolina was to fund education and save thousands of teachers’ jobs. Yet, in March, Sanford told Fox News host Glenn Beck that taking the money would be akin to “fiscal child abuse.” Indeed, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said of Sanford’s trip: “I am pleased to see that the governor is finally taking an interest in South Carolina’s public schools.” “After going to court last year to prevent stimulus funds,” Clyburn added, “his meeting with Secretary Duncan appears to be the governor’s admission that the stimulus was not only necessary but effective.” Sanford’s objection to taking stimulus education funding became especially poignant after eight-year-old South Carolinian Ty’Sheoma Bethea famously asked President Obama to fix her crumbling school. In June, the state Supreme Court finally ordered Sanford to take the $700 million and now, Bethea’s school is being rebuilt with $23.5 million of stimulus money. Sanford’s opposition to taking the federal aid — which mirrored that of other high-profile GOP governors, like Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Rick Perry (R-TX) — was viewed by many as an effort to lay the groundwork for a run for higher office. But after his affair dashed these hopes, Sanford seems to have gained a new interest doing what is right for his state’s students. Link Here
Richard Shelby Senate Hold Puts Spotlight On Defense Contractor Ties"I guess if you needed one example of what's wrong with this town, it might be that one senator can hold up 70 qualified individuals to make government work better because he didn't get his earmarks," Gibbs said. "If that's not the poster child for how this town needs to change the way it works, I fear there won't be a greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010."
Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Ala.) decision to place a "blanket hold" on all presidential nominations until a pair of billion-dollar earmarks for his home state are fast-tracked has reignited the debate over the parliamentary tactics being deployed by the Republican Party. It also has thrust into the spotlight the clout that major defense contractors often wield on the political process. On Thursday evening, news broke that the Alabama Republican has taken the extraordinary measure of holding up at least 70 "nominations on the Senate calendar" -- essentially threatening to filibuster the confirmation processes if they came to a vote. The move has spurred a series of recriminations from Democratic officials who see it as yet another instance of over-the-top obstructionism of the president's agenda. It also has turned inquisitive eyes towards Shelby himself. The Senator confirmed that he launched the hold, in part, because he is upset with a tanker contract worth $35 billion that remains unresolved between Northrop Grumman/EADs and Boeing. Shelby favors the Northrop Grummann-EADS bid largely because it would result in tankers being assembled in his home state. The two contractors, in turn, have donated to Shelby's campaign committees, hoping ostensibly to secure favor or at least an audience with the Alabama Republican. According to a review of campaign finance records, Shelby's political action committee received $7,500 in donations from EADS's PAC during the past two election cycles and an additional $21,500 from Northrop's PAC since 2000. [UPDATE: The investigative journalism group Center for Public Integrity looked at all political action committees associated with Northrop Grumman and concluded that Shelby has received at least $108,233 in contributions since his first Senate election in 1986.] Airbus Chairman T. Allan McArtor, meanwhile, donated $1,500 to Shelby in May 2009. Samuel Adcock, EADS Senior Vice President of Government Relations, donated $1,000 to Shelby in 2003. A fellow lobbyist and top executive at the company, Ralph Crosby, donated the same amount that same year. One other EADS employee, Bacon Douglas, donated $1,500 in 2003. The strongest connection between Shelby and EADS, however, may not involve campaign contributions. The senator's former legislative director, Stewart Hall, is a major lobbyist for the defense contractor -- he was signed up by EADS North America in 2006 while a member of the firm the Federalist Group. During that time period, the Federalist Group was given $240,000 to help advance the company's legislative interests. When Hall left for another major lobbying firm, Ogilvy, he brought EADS with him -- receiving $160,000 in compensation for his work for the company. LinkHere
CHART OF THE DAY: It's Official: Obama Is Creaming Bush When It Comes To Jobs
Numbers don't lie, do they? In the last year of the Bush administration, the monthly job loss numbers built steadily to a peak which then began to reverse itself during Obama's first year. It's a perfect mirror image, as this chart from Nancy Pelosi's office demonstrates. Now, whether this was the result of Obama's and Bush's policies... or whether it's just a matter of timing, is obviously open for debate. We know what Speaker Pelosi would have you believe. LinkHere
Ollie North On What Happens If Gays Are Allowed To Serve Openly In Military: ‘NAMBLA Members’ Are Next
Last night, Oliver North, the retired U.S. Marine Corps officer-turned-Fox News contributor, appeared on Hannity’s America to condemn the administration’s decision to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” North characterized Obama’s support for the repeal as a “stunning assault on the all-volunteer military, the very best in the world” and suggested that allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly was the tantamount to letting pedophiles into the military:
The irony of a convicted felon who lied about diverting proceeds from arms sales to a rebel group in Nicaragua supporting a policy that forces gay and lesbian servicemen to lie about their sexual orientation was lost on both Hannity and North. The pair also failed to mention that Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen personally supports the policy’s repeal, which would have forced North to condemn him for treating the troops “like lab rats in a radical social experiment.” (HT: MMFA) LinkHere
Anthem Blue Cross dramatically raising rates for Californians with individual health policies
Source: Los Angeles Times California's largest for-profit health insurer is moving to dramatically raise rates for customers with individual policies, setting off a furor among policyholders and prompting state insurance regulators to investigate.
Anthem Blue Cross is telling many of its approximately 800,000 customers who buy individual coverage -- people not covered by group rates -- that its prices will go up March 1 and may be adjusted "more frequently" than its typical yearly increases.
The insurer declined to say how high it is increasing rates. But brokers who sell these policies say they are fielding numerous calls from customers incensed over premium increases of 30% to 39%, saying they come on the heels of similar jumps last year.
Many policyholders say the rate hikes are the largest they can remember, and they fear that subsequent premium growth will narrow their options -- leaving them to buy policies with higher deductibles and less coverage or putting health insurance out of reach altogether.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Mark Weiss, 63, a Century City podiatrist whose Anthem policy for himself and his wife will rise 35%. The couple's annual insurance bill will jump to $27,336 from $20,184. LinkHere
The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.
FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday.
... Recording what Web sites are visited, though, is likely to draw both practical and privacy objections.
"We're not set up to keep URL information anywhere in the network," said Drew Arena, Verizon's vice president and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance.
And, Arena added, "if you were do to deep packet inspection to see all the URLs, you would arguably violate the Wiretap Act." LinkHere
FBI arrests head of SK Foods in massive fraud case
Frederick Scott Salyer, heir to one of the biggest land empires in California history, was arrested today in New York City after being charged in Sacramento federal court with massive fraud in connection with the operation of his SK Foods LP. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said Salyer was planning to flee the country and already transferred millions of dollars from bank accounts formerly associated with SK Foods entities to accounts in the Caribbean and Liechtenstein. SK Foods, until it was sold out of bankruptcy last year as federal agents closed in on Salyer, was a grower, processor, and worldwide distributor of tomato and other food products sold to manufacturers, food-service distributors and marketers and retailers. Salyer, 54, who lived in Pebble Beach, began planning to abscond after guilty pleas by several former SK Foods employees and customers. Purchasing executives for a who's who of the nation's food companies have pleaded guilty to bribing SK Foods in return for various anti-competitive arrangements. Wagner praised the FBI "for its excellent work in apprehending" Salyer. Agents met him as he got off a flight from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Salyer is charged in a criminal complaint filed Jan. 5 and unsealed today with 20 counts of mail and wire fraud linked to a maze of schemes to bilk corporate customers through bribery and food misbranding and adulteration. LinkHere
$9 Million Bonus For Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
After much anticipation and speculation, the number everyone on Wall Street has been waiting to hear was finally released late Friday: the bonus haul for the Street's top rainmaker, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. What did he get? More than 58,000 shares in company stock to be cashed in over the next five years. At today's closing price of $154.16 those shares are worth more than $9 million. Blankfein didn't get a cash bonus. The bonus, though large by Main Street standards, doesn't come anywhere close to Blankfein's legendary haul for 2007. For his efforts, he was paid $26.8 million in cash and $41.1 million in stock and options. So, was Barack Obama's message about outrageous bonuses heard? Did Wall Street learn? LinkHere
NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon received a stock bonus valued at about $17 million for 2009 after steering the big bank through the aftermath of the financial crisis, the company said Friday. Dimon's bonus carries several restrictions and can be recouped by the bank at any time and for any reason. The stringent measures are aimed at countering criticism over lavish pay at banks that helped cause the financial crisis and then received billions in taxpayer bailouts. Like other big bank CEOs, Dimon received no cash bonus for 2009. Instead, he got a combination of restricted stock and options, according to regulatory filings. Dimon's bonus disclosure shifted attention toward Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, whose 2009 bonus had yet to be disclosed. JPMorgan and Goldman have emerged from the financial crisis as two of the nation's strongest banks, earning billions in profits while rivals including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. have suffered losses. Still, neither JPMorgan nor Goldman have escaped scrutiny over employee pay packages. Both banks are paying bonuses to top executives in restricted stock instead of cash and are adopting "clawback" provisions in an effort to align pay with long-term performance. Under JPMorgan's new pay structure, Dimon will be restricted from selling 75 percent of his total accumulated JPMorgan stock until he leaves the company, JPMorgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti said. In addition, JPMorgan's board can recoup the entire 2009 stock bonus under any circumstances, Evangelisti said. JPMorgan received $25 billion in bailout money in the fall of 2008 at the peak of the credit crisis. It paid back that money in the middle of 2009. Dimon received no bonus for 2008. He received a $27.8 million bonus for 2007, just before the financial crisis began to accelerate. Since then, JPMorgan has solidified its status as one of the nation's top banks. Dimon led the bank to four profitable quarters in 2009, including a $3.28 billion profit in the final three months of the year. LinkHere
Obey Tells GOP They Can't Have Their Pork And Eat It Too
The GOP may be the party of no -- but when it comes to individual Republican lawmakers taking credit for federally-funded projects in their home states, they're a resounding yes. "If you look at where money went, it went to districts all over the country where members of Congress voted against the economic recovery," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at a breakfast with reporters Wednesday. "Now we've seen them show up at the ribbon cuttings, by the way, elbowing their way to the front of the line." Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Ala.) push to secure billions in contracting dollars for a European firm that happens to employ non-union, low-wage workers in his home state is only the most vivid example of the have-it-both-ways strategy. David Obey has had enough -- and when he speaks, members of Congress listen. The powerful Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee controls the purse strings and can decide the fate of a local project that may be crucial to a reelection -- no matter how often "pork" is derided on the campaign trail. Obey fired off a tough letter to his House colleagues on Thursday, condemning the hypocrisy of lawmakers who vote against funding for projects after previously expressing their support. The particular issue that got Obey riled up -- admittedly, not a hard task to accomplish -- was a funding request for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative circulated by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). Last year, Obey increased funding for the initiative from $60 billion to $475 billion and Rogers organized his colleagues to lobby for even more. Yet he and nearly every other Republican ended up voting against the bill that contained the funding for the project they had sought the year before, though they had gone out publicly to claim credit for it while at other times bashing Democrats for spending like "drunken sailors."
The Shelby OpeningLast month, the Pew Research Center released a poll that found that only 26 percent of respondents know that 60 votes are required to break a filibuster. No wonder Democratic complaints about Republican obstructionists have thus far failed to catch fire. It's just not all that easy to have a national conversation on the topic when three fourths of the country is in the dark about the process. But all of that can change after today. Congress Daily reports that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has placed a "blanket hold" on at least 70 of President Obama's nominations until he receives over $40 billion worth of earmarks for his state.This is unconscionably outrageous. If it were occurring anywhere else but the Senate chamber it would be extortion. A felony. It is an egregious misuse of minority power, easily the most flagrant example in years. Democrats now have an easy opportunity to pick a national fight with the Republican party. It may be tough to engage the American public in a conversation about filibuster reform, but it should take little effort to build a national consensus around the basic proposition that a single senator should not hold the federal government hostage in exchange for an earmark. That the national interest should not be jeopardized for the benefit of a single state. Shelby offers the perfect opening for Democrats. It's not clear yet which specific nominations are being held up, but as that information comes to light, we will undoubtedly find that many, if not most are nominees for indisputably critical positions in a wide variety of fields, perhaps including national security. LinkHere
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is attracting a great deal of attention for putting a “blanket hold” on all 70 of President Obama’s pending executive nominations in order secure pork for his state. According to congressional experts, Shelby’s hold is both a “rare” and “aggressive” abuse of his power. Unsurprisingly, Shelby had quite a very different attitude when a Republican sat in the White House. In early ’05 — shortly after winning his fourth term to the Senate — Shelby complained, “Far too many of the President’s nominees were never afforded an up or down vote, because several Democrats chose to block the process for political gain.” He added, “Inaction on these nominees is a disservice to the American people.” In Feb. 2005, Shelby specifically promised his constituents in Tuscaloosa that he’d do “whatever it takes” to confirm Bush’s judicial nominees, including killing the filibuster: Shelby also pledged to do “whatever it takes” to confirm Bush’s judicial nominees. A vast majority of Bush’s appointees were confirmed in his first term, but a few controversial ones were filibustered by Democrats in the Senate.
GOP officially breaks filibuster record
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Republican Senate minority today filibustered an omnibus budget bill, setting a modern-day record for blocking the most legislation during a congressional session. A new report released today by the Campaign for Americas Future details the 62 times conservatives have used the filibuster to block legislation (or force modification of bills) in the first session of the 110th Congress. In just the first year of this two-year Congress, their use of the filibuster in the Senate topped the previous record, reached during the entire 107th Congress.
The new report outlines every bill filibustered, vetoed or threatened to be vetoed by President Bush. Conservatives filibustered bills to end the occupation of Iraq, provide soldiers in Iraq rest time equal to their deployments, support renewable energy and grant residents of the District of Columbia representation in Congress. Todays record-breaker involved a $516 billion budget package passed by the House to fund the federal government in 2008. The conservative minority demanded $20 billion additional funding for the war and opposed House language to bring troops home, and threatened a filibuster to prevent the bill from getting an up or down vote.
In just one session, a minority in Congress has prevented a mind-blowing 62 pieces of legislation from going to the floor for an up or down vote, said Campaign for Americas Future co-director Roger Hickey. Our report shows how over and over again, the uncompromising minority has thwarted the will of majorities in Congress and of the American people, holding the Senate floor hostage to a radical right-wing agenda.
Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. The 62nd cloture vote of the session is more than any single session of Congress since at least 1973, the earliest year cloture votes are available online from the Senate. Republicans are on pace to force 134 cloture votes to cut off a filibuster, according to the Campaign for Americas Future analysis, more than double the historical average of the last 35 years.
Even pieces of legislation that have made it past the Senate filibuster blockade have been obstructed by President Bush. Last week the President vetoed for the second time a popular bill that would expand health coverage for 10 million American children. According to the Campaign for Americas Future report, Bush has threatened to veto 84 bills and has vetoed six as of December 17. In contrast, during the period when the Republicans were in the congressional majority, Bush went the longest time without vetoing a bill since President Arthur Garfield.
Eric Lotke, Campaign for America's Future research director and lead author of the new report, calls the obstruction a deliberate strategy. He observes that the congressional Republicans block legislation, then blame the Democrats for getting nothing done. Its like mugging the postman and then complaining that the mail isnt delivered on time.
The story of this historic level of obstruction has recently been covered by The New York Times, but has yet to be fully told in the media. The new Campaign for Americas Future report shows how major media outlets describe the 60-vote threshold as an ordinary procedure, neglecting that this tactic is an unprecedented assertion of minority control. LinkHere
Campaign for Americas Futures report Block and Blame: The Conservative Strategy of Obstruction in the 110th Congress,
As the 110th Congress nears its close, the impact of a record-breaking campaign of obstruction by a conservative minority in the Senate is now more clear than ever. The right-wing strategy of "block and blame" has driven the public perception of a "do-nothing Congress." In reality, the 110th Congress would have achieved truly landmark accomplishments—including safely bringing the troops home from Iraq, reducing America's dependence on foreign oil and its contribution to global warming, and funding long-neglected domestic priorities—had it not been for conservative obstruction. Our October 2008 block-and-blame analysis cuts through the political spin. We document how what is being reported as political stalemate is really the product of a conservative political strategy, both in Congress and the White House, to sabotage the new majority in Congress as it responds to the mandate it received from the American public—even if it means bringing down public support for the entire Congress in the process. Get the full story: » Report: "The Real Story of the 110th Congress: The Right-Wing Block-And-Blame Game"LinkHere
The Majority Doesn't Count
Source: Secretary of the Senate As this chart shows, never have so many filibusters been threatened as in the first session of the 110th Congress. In just the first year, Republicans filibustered more legislation, and required more cloture votes to break those filibusters, than in any Congress in recent history. By the time this term ends, Congress could well more than double the number of cloture votes of previous Congresses — including the ones that Republicans controlled and complained of Democratic 'obstruction.' This is the result of a deliberate effort by the Republican minority to undercut the will of the majority of the American public, expressed when voters placed a Democratic majority in control of both houses of Congress. The filibuster, a procedure unique to the Senate to block an up-or-down vote on legislation unless a 60-vote supermajority agrees to proceed, has been historically used by both parties. But it has never been used as routinely as it has been by Republicans since January 2007. » Read our up-to-date chart on judicial nominations.LinkHere
Report: Shelby Blocks All Obama Nominations In The Senate Over AL Earmarks
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold. "While holds are frequent," CongressDaily's Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), "Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal." The Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid's account of the hold, and reported that a Shelby spokesperson "did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking confirmation of the senator's action or his reason for doing so." Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to "all executive nominations on the Senate calendar." According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama's nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else: - A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From CongressDaily: "Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals." Federal Times offers more details on the tanker deal, and also confirms its connection to the hold. - An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: "[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won't build" the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based "at the Army's Redstone Arsenal." Though a Shelby spokesperson would not confirm that these programs were behind the blanket hold, the Senator expressed his frustration about the progress on both through a spokesperson to both CongressDaily and the Federal Times. A San Diego State University professor and Congressional expert told the Mobile paper "he knew of no previous use of a blanket hold" in recent history. LinkHere
Reporting from Washington - In a stark reminder of growing costs, the government has released a new estimate that healthcare spending grew to a record 17.3% of the U.S. economy last year, marking the largest one-year jump in its share of the economy since the government started keeping such records half a century ago.
The almost $2.5 trillion spent in 2009 was $134 billion more than the previous year, when healthcare consumed 16.2% of the gross domestic product, according to an annual report by independent actuaries at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, scheduled for release Thursday.
The nonpartisan accounting agency also projected that as early as next year, the country could mark another milestone as government picks up more than half of the nation's total healthcare tab for the first time.
The rise in current costs, driven in part by surging spending in Medicare and Medicaid, and the bleak projections for the future do not take into account changes that may come if Democrats revive their healthcare overhaul legislation. LinkHere
Author: TAREK EL-TABLAWY AP Business Writer Date: January 17, 2010 Publication: Associated Press Archive The Saudi billionaire whose investment firm is one of the biggest stakeholders in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said he is looking to expand his alliances with the media giant, in the latest indication that his appetite for growth remains robust even as his company retrenches. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king and who was listed last year by Forbes as the world's 22nd richest person, met with News Corp.'s chief executive Rupert... LinkHere By TAREK EL-TABLAWY, AP Business Writer Tarek El-tablawy, Ap Business Writer – Sun Jan 17, 8:15 am ET CAIRO – The Saudi billionaire whose investment firm is one of the biggest stakeholders in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said he is looking to expand his alliances with the media giant, in the latest indication that his appetite for growth remains robust even as his company retrenches. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king and who was listed last year by Forbes as the world's 22nd richest person, met with News Corp.'s chief executive Rupert Murdoch on Jan. 14 in a meeting that "touched upon future potential alliances with News Corp.," according to a statement released by his Kingdom Holding Co. late Saturday. Media reports have indicated that News Corp, parent to Fox News and Dow Jones & Co., among others, may be thinking of buying a stake in Alwaleed's Rotana Media Group, which includes a number of satellite channels that air in the Middle East. Neither company has commented publicly on the possible deal, but the talks offer an indication yet that such an agreement may yet be in the offing. Kingdom Holding's statement said Alwaleed is already the second largest stakeholder in News Corp., with 5.7 percent of the shares of the media company. The stake is held through Kingdom Holding, in which Alwaleed holds a 95 percent stake. The investment company has a diverse portfolio, ranging from hotels to shares in Apple, eBay and Citigroup. LinkHere So lets review Most of the 9-11 Hijackers were Saudi Nationals. Outfoxed references a study that showed the majority of Fox "News" (sic) viewers misidentified the perpetrator of 9-11 as Iraqi, Saddam Hussein. (Conducted, I believe by the group FAIR). One of the major owners/investors in Fox "News" (sic)’s parent company are members of Saudi Royal family. Is it me, or was Saddam Hussein’s biggest mistake not investing in Murdoch’s News (sic) corps. NOTE: the use of (sic) in the above article was chosen to reflect the fact that the Fox Corporation routinely misuses the term "News" in their corporate branding efforts, and media commentators that do not publicly recognize that the content of Fox owned media outlets cannot be accurately labeled as "News," do so at their own peril. LinkHere
Complaint Filed Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al
International Arrest Warrants Requested
Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, U.S.A. has filed a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) in The Hague against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales (the "Accused") for their criminal policy and practice of "extraordinary rendition" perpetrated upon about 100 human beings. LinkHere
On September 16, 2007, employees of the military contractor Blackwater, USA opened fire and killed at least 14 Iraqis in the infamous Nisour Square massacre. The youngest victim was nine-year-old Ali Kinani, who died from a gunshot wound to the head. In this exclusive interview, produced for Democracy Now by The Nation's Jeremy Scahill and Richard Rowley of Big Noise Films, Ali's father Mohammed talks about his son, the shootings, and his struggle to win some justice for his son. Two and a half years after the shootings, Mohammed may be the one man standing between Blackwater and total impunity. LinkHere
As ThinkProgress reported last week, Fox News was the only major cable news network to not show the entirety of President Obama’s conversation with House Republicans at their annual retreat. Fox cut away from the event 20 minutes early and instead began attacking the President for “lecturing” to the lawmakers. Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Arianna Huffington challenged Fox News President Roger Ailes about this decision: HUFFINGTON: Roger, you clearly are in ratings, but if you are in ratings, can you explain to me why FOX went away from the meeting the president was having in — why did you go away, 20 minutes before the end? AILES: Because we’re the most trusted name in news. Guest host Barbara Walters cut off the conversation though, since the show was over. However, discussion on the topic then continued in the green room, even though Ailes wasn’t present. Both Huffington and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman criticized the network for its hypocrisy: HUFFINGTON: Their framing of the President is that he’s radical, that he’s taking us down a dark, fascist or Bolshevik future — depending on the day. And there he was, rational, charming, and in full command of his facts. So the narrative fell apart and so the cameras stopped showing what was happening. KRUGMAN: Yeah, I mean it’s — I thought it was actually quite funny except it has real consequences. There you have Roger Ailes, with this powerful, popular news network, whining about how the media are unfair to Republicans. I mean, he is a powerful person in the media — and of course, you know, “Fair and Balanced” is truly Orwellian and we know that. So it’s clear that Fox — I felt like yelling to him, “you can’t handle the truth,” because that was what was actually happening on the Fox coverage. LinkHere
Watch this video in a new windowBig Banks: Pigs at the Trough
In a new push to sound a tougher tone with Wall Street, an outside group supportive of the White House is going up with a new television spot urging Congress to pass the president's plan for financial regulatory reform. Americans United for Change released the spot on Monday morning. In it, the group makes the same political pitch the White House has made in recent weeks, one that elevates cleaning up Wall Street over health care reform on the legislative agenda. "When big banks went hog wild on Wall Street they left behind one fine mess on Main Street," the ad goes. "Their greed and recklessness left the economy stuck in the mud and over seven million Americans without jobs. But the big banks were first in line at the trough for their taxpayer bailout and back to their old piggish ways in no time. Now the Wall Street lobbyists say they will clean up their act. But remember you can put lipstick on a pig. But it is still a pig. Tell Congress it is time to step up and pass President Obama's plan to hold Wall Street banks accountable." LinkHere
May be precursor to midterm elections; Obama’s proposed regulations key issue
In a six-day span just before the US Senate election, Republican Scott Brown collected nearly $450,000 from donors who work at financial companies, a sign the industry is prepared to spend heavily in the upcoming midterm elections to beat back new controls and taxes President Obama wants to impose.
The donations, from hundreds of financial executives, far exceeded what Brown received from doctors and others in the health care industry in the final days of the campaign. While Brown saw donations from all quarters explode in mid-January, as polls showed him closing fast on opponent Martha Coakley, the donations from financial workers coincided with several key developments that would affect their companies.
Senate Republicans Called For Commitment To PAYGO Before Voting Against It
In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama urged the Senate to adopt pay-as-you-go rules (PAYGO), which essentially stipulate that all spending increases will be offset by either cuts elsewhere or tax increases. “When the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s,” Obama said. Today, the Senate followed through, and considering all of the deficitfearmongering that has been going on in Congress, you’d think that it would have passed by a fairly wide margin. But no. Instead, the rules passed on a party line vote of 60-40. And the blanket Republican opposition is particularly interesting considering that some Senate Republicans used to support PAYGO, even when it was opposed by their own party. For instance, in 2004, three current Senate Republicans — Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — joined 47 Democrats in adopting PAYGO, against the majority Republicans’ wishes (although the rule was ultimately scuttled when Congress failed to pass a budget). The next year, the same three senators were joined by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) in a failed attempt to implement the rule. Yet all four of them opposed the rule today. Here’s what they’ve had to say in favor of PAYGO in the past: VOINOVICH: I just don’t understand how we can continue to go this way. We’re living in a dream world. This deficit continues to grow. COLLINS: [PAYGO is] much-needed restraint for members of Congress as we wrestle with fiscal decisions. SNOWE: I believe now is the time for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to commit to pay-as-you-go rules for both revenues and spending. Just last year, Snowe approved of Obama’s advocating for PAYGO. And in the last few weeks, all of these Republicans havevoicedconcernsabout the deficit and spending. So what changed? And why did all the supposed deficit hawks in the Senate — like Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) — vote against it as well? Could it be that they’re actually deficit peacocks, who “like to preen and call attention to themselves, but are not sincerely interested” in addressing deficits? In last night’s address, Obama chided Senate Republicans, saying that “just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let’s show the American people that we can do it together.” They’re not off to a good start. LinkHere
Source: AFP Switzerland's justice minister warned in an interview on Sunday that top bank UBS could collapse if sensitive talks with the United States over a high-profile tax fraud investigation fall through.
"The actions of UBS in the United States are very problematic. Not just because they are punishable but also because they threaten all of the bank's activities," Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told Le Matin Dimanche newspaper.
"The Swiss economy and the job market would suffer on a major scale if UBS fails as a result of its licence being revoked in the United States," she said.
Switzerland and the United States have negotiated an agreement under which UBS would hand over information on some 4,500 account holders to US tax police. But a Swiss court ruling earlier this month put the deal in doubt. LinkHere