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US politics live: Eric Holder faces ‘Fast and Furious’ questions in Congress December 8, 2011

1.20pm: Virginia Tech is in lock-down after shots were heard near the campus:

Virginia Tech says a police officer has been shot, and a possible second victim has been reported at a parking lot near the campus.

Authorities are seeking a suspect.

A campus-wide alert tells students and faculty to stay inside and lock doors.

Virginia Tech, as most people will recall, was the site of the tragic shooting of 32 students and staff members by a student on the campus in 2007.

1.15pm: Erick Erickson, the influential conservative Republican and co-founder of RedState, says that the Republican presidential nomination may go to the floor of the Republican National Convention in Tampa next year:

I think it is time to move beyond wishful thinking and take seriously the idea of having a brokered convention with someone other than the current crop of candidates becoming the nominee.

Erickson is not a nut – and this is a sidelight in a longer piece he has written on the state of the GOP race. And my view that there is some wishful thinking going on there. But Erickson isn’t alone among Republicans in saying this.

1.01pm: The morning-after pill decision mentioned earlier has been the subject of considerable controversy, with the American Academy of Pediatrics calling Sebelius’ decision to keep the pill on sale behind pharamcy counters “medically inexplicable”.

AP reports:

Pediatricians say the morning-after pill is safe — containing a high dose of the same female hormone that’s in regular birth control pills — especially compared to some existing over-the-counter medicines.

“I don’t think 11-year-olds go into Rite Aid and buy anything,” much less a single pill that costs about $50, added fellow AAP member Dr Cora Breuner, a professor of pediatric and adolescent medicine at the University of Washington.

With all due respect to Dr Breuner, at my local branch of [national drugstore chain], a bright 11-year-old could probably get a job behind the counter.

12.43pm: At Eric Holder’s hearing, the attorney general says there is a suspect in the killing of US border agent Brian Terry – thought to have been killed by a gun obtained from the botched Fast and Furious operation – but that he can’t speak any further because a court has sealed the matter.

12.36pm: At Obama’s mini press conference, the subject of the “Plan B” morning-after pill came up, and the decision by the Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius to keep the drug behind pharmacy counters rather than on open shelves.

In response to a question, Obama says Sebelius was concerned a 10-year-old could get the medication, which could be dangerous. “Most parents would probably feel the same way,” Obama said.

The morning-after pill will still be available without a prescription to those 17 and older who can prove their age.

12.30pm: Some massive grandstanding going on by Darryl Issa, complete with props – a set of boxes showing the information he has received from a gun-dealer compared with a solitary box showing the information he received from the Justice Department.

I’m not quite sure what his point is but it looks good on television. Well, C-Span 3.

Sample quote from Issa: “When he comes before us saying he will clean house, no house has been cleaned.”

12.22pm: The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent overview of the position Eric Holder finds himself in over Fast and Furious and the chorus of Republicans calling for his resignation.

It also notes this:

While the White House has remained relatively quiet on Fast and Furious, other Democrats have come to Holder’s defense, saying Republican calls for resignation are clearly partisan, in part because they’ve largely ignored a smaller-scale gun-walking program, “Operation Wide Receiver,” implemented during the Bush administration. However, that program, unlike Fast and Furious, was a joint operation with Mexican authorities.

12.10pm: Back to Eric Holder, who is being grilled, baked and roasted by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee over the failure of Fast and Furious.

Earlier, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin told Holder:

If we don’t get to the bottom of this – and that requires your assistance on that – there is only one alternative that Congress has, and it’s called impeachment, where our subpoena powers are plenary and there can’t be any type of a legal immunity or privilege that can be asserted on that.

Now, you know, I’ve done more impeachments than anybody else in the history of the country. It is an expensive and messy affair. And I don’t want to go this far.

A rare moment of humour happened shortly after, from veteran Democrat John Conyers: “I merely wanted to clear the record with Jim Sensenbrenner. I’ve had far more impeachment experience than he has.”

12.04pm: And there’s this news: Iran’s state television appears to be showing video of the top secret US RQ-170 Sentinel drone that crash-landed inside Iran last week.

If the video is legitimate, the drone looks like it is intact.

12 noon: Asked about his vow to cut short his holiday until the payroll tax holiday is extended, Obama says he will delay his vacation to Hawaii until Congress acts: “I will not ask anybody to do something I’m not willing to do myself.”

With grim humour he looks at the assembled journalists and says: “Maybe we’ll have a white Christmas here in Washington.” Someone groans softly in the background.

11.56am: Obama is asked about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and what he means when he says he’s looking at all the options:

Obama: All options means I’m not taking any options off the table.

Reporter: Can you tell us what those options might be?

Obama: No.

Obama does go on to say that the US has imposed the toughest level of sanctions against Iran of any administration, and that Iran can either be isolated or “act responsibly”.

11.53am: On the European debt crisis, Obama says “obviously I am very concerned about what’s happening in Europe”. He says that he has repeatedly spoken to European leaders such as Merkel and Sarkozy, and the only question is political will:

It’s not as if we’re talking about some improvished country … this is Europe, with some of the wealthiest countries on earth.

Obama goes on to say:

We’re going to do everything we can to push them in a good direction on this … if we see Europe tank, that obviously could have a big impact on our ability to create jobs.

11.49am: Obama says he is still committed to appointing Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Finance Protection Board – and won’t rule out a recess appointment (a constitutional device that allows the president to circumvent congressional approval):

Why wouldn’t we want somebody just to make sure people are being treated fairly? Especially when not only is a family affected but our whole economy is affected.

We have Republicans in Congress who appear to have entirely forgotten how we got into this mess.

The bottom line, according to Obama, “is we’re going to look at all our options. My hope is the Republicans come to their senses.”

11.42am: Speaking from the White House briefing room, President Obama says there was no reason for the Senate to block Richard Cordray’s nomination: “This makes absolutely no sense.”

Obama is now taking questions – and the first one is on the accusations by Republican presidential candidates that he has guilty of “appeasement” of Israel’s enemies.

Here’s Obama’s pithy response:

Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaida leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or whoever is left out there, ask them about that.

Hard to argue with that.

11.20am: More Congressional gridlock: the Senate blocks the nomination of Richard Cordray as head of the new consumer watchdog, the Consumer Finance Protection Board. Despite winning the vote 53 to 45 Cordray’s nomination failed to clear the 60 votes required for cloture, in effect filibustering the nomination:

Republicans said they had three demands. One was for a five-member board to oversee the agency. Another was for “safety and soundness” checks of the agency’s decision-making. And they wanted the agency’s funding to be approved by Congress rather than have its budget approved by the Federal Reserve.

President Obama is to speak on the subject shortly.

11.13am: In attempt to derail the Newt Gingrich bandwagon, the Romney campaign sent out two surrogates this morning to attack his record – a sign that the GOP fight is getting more brutal, as the Los Angeles Times reports.

Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent – who served under Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House in the mid-1990s – and a Romney supporter, appeared at a press conference:

The speaker’s running as a reliable and trusted conservative leader. And what we’re here to say, with reluctance, but clearly, is that he’s not a reliable and trusted conservative leader because he’s not a reliable or trustworthy leader.

Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu laced into Gingrich for his remarks about the Medicare proposals of Republican congressman Paul Ryan earlier this year:

For Newt Gingrich, in an effort of self-aggrandizement, to come out and throw a clever phrase that had no other purpose than to try and make him sound a little smarter than the conservative Republican leadership, to undercut Paul Ryan is the most self-serving, anti-conservative thing one can imagine happening.

That’s reference to Gingrich calling Ryan’s plans “right-wing social engineering”.

Things are heating up nicely.

11.41am: The committee is now going into recess to allow members to vote.

10.40am: Darryl Issa, the Republican chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is next up to take a swing at Holder:

My committee just next door was systemically lied to by your own representatives. There is a high likelihood individual was deliberately duped, but he was duped by people who still work for you today, still work for you today.

The president has said he has full confidence in this attorney general. I have no confidence in a president who has full confidence in an attorney general who has in fact not terminated or dealt with the individuals, including key lieutenants who from the very beginning had some knowledge and long before Brian Terry was gunned down knew enough to stop this programme.

10.37am: Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is quickly on the attack, telling Eric Holder:

I am disappointed in the department’s repeated refusal to cooperate with this committee’s oversight request.

This lack of cooperation is evident in the department’s handling of inquiries related to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Operation Fast and Furious and the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. And inconsistent statements from department officials about who knew what and when have only raised more concerns.

10.32am: Perhaps forlornly, Eric Holder says investigators should avoid soring political pints. That ship has sailed, I’m afraid.

Holder also attempts to address the death of US law enforcement officer Brian Terry – who may have been killed by a gun smuggled as part of the Fast and Furious operation:

Nearly one year ago, working to protect his fellow citizens, US Customs and Border Protection agent Brian Terry was violently murdered in Arizona. We all should feel outrage about his death, and – as I have communicated directly to Agent Terry’s family – we are dedicated to pursuing justice on his behalf.

The Department is also working to answer questions that the Terry family has raised, including whether and how firearms connected to Fast and Furious could end up with Mexican drug cartels.

10.29am: More from Holder – who warns that the guns lost during Fast and Furious will be found for “years to come”:

Although the Department has taken steps to ensure that such tactics are never used again, it is an unfortunate reality that we will continue to feel the effects of this flawed operation for years to come. Guns lost during this operation will continue to show up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

In other words, Fast and Furious will be a running sore for the administration.

Holder attempts to put the figures into the context of the huge flow of arms from the US to Mexico:

As we work to identify where errors occurred and to ensure that these mistakes never happen again, we must not lose sight of the critical challenge this flawed operation has highlighted: the battle to stop the flow of guns to Mexico. Of the nearly 94,000 guns that have been recovered and traced in Mexico in the last five years, more than 64,000 were sourced to the United States. In the last five years, the trafficking of firearms across our Southwest Border has contributed to approximately 40,000 deaths.

10.20am: Eric Holder is now before the committee – you can follow it live via C-Span 3 – and in his opening remarks describes the failure of Fast and Furious as “inexcusable”.

Holder told the committee that “addressing the unacceptable rate of illegal firearms trafficking from the United States to Mexico” led to the disasterous policy:

Unfortunately, in the pursuit of that laudable goal unacceptable tactics were adopted as a part of Operation Fast and Furious. As I have repeatedly stated, allowing guns to walk – whether in this Administration or in the prior one – is wholly unacceptable. The use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable. And it must never happen again.



Police on the streets of Monterrey, Mexico. Photograph: Tomas Bravo/Reuters

10.11am: By way of background on the influence of US-sourced guns in Mexico’s drug war, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal has just visited Texas and published this investigation:

It’s a war sustained by a merry-go-round. The cartels use the money paid by Americans for drugs to buy weapons at US guns stores, which are then shipped across the frontier, often using the same vehicles and routes used to smuggle more narcotics north. The weapons are used by the cartels to protect narcotics production in their battle with the Mexican police and army, and smuggle drugs north.

Good morning: US Attorney General Eric Holder appears before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions over the government’s failed operation known as Fast and Furious, a gunning-running sting that led to weapons being passed in the hands of Mexico’s drug cartels.

It’s a complex subject but Republicans in the House of Representatives have been investigating the Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and how the Mexican cartels ended up with hundreds of firearms as a result.

Here’s the background:

Two years ago, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives launched a “gun walking” operation that permitted several gun shops in Arizona to sell a total of more than 2,000 semi-automatic weapons destined for drug cartels with the intention of tracking the guns and busting the smuggling operations.

But the agents carrying out Operation Fast and Furious lost track of about 1,400 of the guns – some of which were later identified as being used in killings in Mexico and other attacks, including an incident in which a Mexican military helicopter was shot down. Two of the weapons were also recovered after a gun battle in Arizona last year in which a US border patrol agent, Brian Terry, was killed.

Now Holder appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be grilled once more on who knew what and when.

Elsewhere, the Republican presidential hopefuls are out and about, with more polling evidence of Newt Gingrich surging in the polls – and the Mitt Romney campaign organising a firm response this morning, rolling out some heavyweight surrogates to attack Gingrich’s record and shore up Romney’s base in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary on 10 January.

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Europe’s Debt Crisis: Spain, France Face Higher Borrowing Costs November 18, 2011

The European debt crisis touched Spain and France Thursday, with both countries now forced to pay more to finance their governments.

Spain, Europe’s fourth biggest economy, sold nearly $5 billion in government bonds Thursday at a big 7 percent interest rate. That is the same rate that Greek, Irish, and Portuguese bonds hit before those countries were forced to ask for bailouts. But Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado says the country is “absolutely not at risk” of needing a bailout.

Also Thursday, French government bonds were selling at an interest rate more than double what Germany pays even though both countries have the same top AAA credit ratings.

Governments sell bonds to investors to raise revenue. The higher the interest rate, the more those governments have to pay back the investors when the bonds mature.

With investors worried about the spread of the European debt crisis, stocks fell Thursday in London, Paris and Frankfurt. U.S. stocks were also sharply lower Thursday.

In Athens Thursday, masked youths threw firebombs at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. It was the first major rally against the new Greek coalition government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. His government is seeking to impose spending cuts, eliminate government jobs, and increase taxes as it tries avoid bankruptcy with the next $11 billion installment of last year’s bailout.

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Analysis: U.S.-India Trade Talks Focus on Trade Barriers July 1, 2011

Although the U.S.-India economic relationship has grown significantly in recent years, economic barriers continue to prevent U.S. investment in several lucrative sectors.

U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner and Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met in Washington this week to discuss trade and economic investment opportunities between the United States and India in the second meeting under the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership. The Indian economy grew 8.5% in 2010 and American corporations are eager to expand their business reach to the Indian marketplace of nearly 1.2 billion people.

Geithner urged India to implement substantive economic reforms, particularly in the finance sector, to enable the United States and India to fully realize the “enormous potential” of the bilateral economic relationship. Mukherjee lauded the rapid growth of trade between Washington and New Delhi in recent years and acknowledged the need for the easing of trade barriers

Analysis

Despite the robust rhetoric welcoming expanded foreign investment, significant barriers remain to additional U.S. investment in several Indian sectors including banking, education, and legal services. India’s ruling Congress Party has been beset by a wave of corruption scandals that have weakened its ability to pass much needed economic reforms to lessen trade and investment barriers.

India desperately needs foreign investment to develop and expand a national infrastructure that is woefully inadequate to support its continued economic growth. New Delhi is likely to move incrementally toward further economic reforms with an eye toward easing restrictions that will allow foreign investment for infrastructure improvements.

Carolyn Leddy held senior positions with the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council under the George W. Bush administration. She was a 2009-2010 Council on Foreign Relations-Hitachi Ltd. International Affairs Fellow in Japan and Visiting Fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo.

© Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Obama’s counterterrorism is backfiring June 30, 2011

President Obama has unveiled new strategies for American counterterrorism, but to some experts the commander in chief is only making matters worse.

“What I see us doing is creating more terrorism throughout policies in Libya and Yemen,” says Susan Lindauer, a former CIA asset that previously worked out of Libya. “I think our actions speak louder than words,” she says, adding that military operations by America are neither proactive nor problem solving. Rather, says Lindauer, “we are actually making the situation worse.”

According to Lindauer, the troops that President Obama is pulling out of Afghanistan are only vacating so that they can go into Libya. While the US might be doing everything but declaring war on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Lindauer says that he is not involved in terrorism and was actually the first world leader to tip off INTERPOL about Osama bin Laden.

“I was directly involved in the 1990s operation to get terrorists out of Libya, and I could assure you that all terrorists were removed from Libya by 1999,” she says.

“I’m amazed,” says Lindauer, “and so disappointed in Obama. He is actually shifting resources to finance al-Quaeda,” whom she claims are among the rebels fighting against Gaddafi’s regime with the help of American war funds.

According to Lindauer, video documentation exists that show the rebel stronghold that America is funding is ripe with graphic depictions of beheadings and castrations of fleeing refugees.

And as Obama continues to support the rebels, innocent Libyans, she said, are suffering at the hands of American-sponsored soldiers.

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NY Marriage Bill Hits Snags on Religion Questions June 18, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held more one-on-one negotiations Friday with Senate Republicans who worry his bill to legalize gay marriage doesn’t do enough to protect religious groups and churches that refuse to preside over same-sex weddings and other services.

A third lengthy, closed-door meeting by the GOP majority brought the bill, widely viewed as key to national momentum on the issue, no closer to a floor vote. The Democrat-led Assembly passed the measure Wednesday as expected, and a vote in the Senate had been anticipated this week.

That action could now be days away, after Senate Republicans didn’t even discuss Friday whether to take that action.

“There has been no decision — in fact that really was not the discussion — as to whether it will come out yet, who’s voting for it, who’s voting against it,” Majority Leader Dean Skelos said immediately after Friday’s two-hour conference.

The Long Island Republican said senators for and against gay marriage want to make the sure that if the bill gets a floor vote there won’t be “unintended consequences to this legislation” — a reference to religious protections.

Skelos didn’t go into more details but noted that some Catholic adoption agencies closed after a law was passed years ago prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Other Republicans have sought further protections of caterers and others who might object to providing services or a venue for a wedding of a same-sex couple.

Activists on both sides of the gay-marriage debate are anxiously watching the outcome of the battle in New York, which may end up hinging on the votes of only a handful of Republican senators. New York would become the sixth and largest state where gay marriage is legal.

Cuomo met throughout the day in his office with undecided Republicans and other influential members of the party, often one on one, sometimes in groups of two or three.

Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York said Friday that the bill proposed by Cuomo, a Catholic Democrat, would impinge on religious freedom and on the social services provided by religious groups.

“We are still working for the defeat of this bill,” Dolan told WGDJ-AM in Albany. “We’re realistic to know the forces pushing this are very strong; they’re well-oiled, they’re well-financed … (but) it’s not a done deal.”

Two conservative ministers, the Rev. Norman Macklin of the Empire Baptist Missionary Convention of New York and the Rev. Duane Motley, leader of a conservative Christian group called New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said the Senate’s continued concern over religious exemptions show the gay marriage bill is in trouble.

Motley said nonprofit faith groups not directly connected to a church, such as a marriage counseling service, are concerned their policies will conflict with the measure.

Cuomo’s bill already has some protections for religious groups, and no clergy would be forced to preside over a gay marriage.

More than 700 clergy and lay leaders working with gay marriage advocates say the bill has adequate protections now.

“There are some among us who are using religion as a smoke screen to hide their intolerance,” those leaders said Friday in a prepared statement. “The governor’s bill specifically provides that no clergy, house of worship or denomination would be forced to perform same-sex marriages or make their facilities available to same-sex couples for marriage ceremonies, receptions or other functions.”

Senate Democrat leader John Sampson of Brooklyn is now accusing the Republican majority of being more concerned with protecting its majority power and conservative voter base than what Sampson calls a civil right.

“This is what the public wants,” said Sampson.

“This vote should come to the floor irrespective of political consequences because I think that is what the concern is at this point and time,” Sampson said. “Who do you represent?”

Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco of Onondaga County said such a political concern is a factor in whether he will vote to bring the bill to the floor, where Democrats and two Republicans — Sens. James Alesi of Monroe County and Roy McDonald of Saratoga County — appear to have brought the issue to within one vote of passage.

“If you are a member of a team, and you want to decide as a team what the best thing is to do for the conference as a whole, then you should do it as a team,” DeFrancisco said.

Skelos, who opposes gay marriage, has said that Senate Republicans will decide if the bill goes the floor for a vote and that senators are free to vote their consciences, not the Republican line.

“I can understand anxiety as a true struggle of conscience,” said Jason Ganns, 27, an Albany accountant who is gay and lobbying for same-sex marriage. “I don’t necessarily understand the political anxiety. It could cost a Republican his or her job, but I don’t see the logic of fighting for a job that you are not doing.”

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Obama to Nominate Gruenberg as FDIC Chairman June 11, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday that he will nominate Martin J. Gruenberg to become chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Gruenberg would succeed Sheila Bair, who plans to end her five-year term as one of the nation’s top banking regulators on July 8. Bair was a holdover from the Bush administration and one of several regulators who helped shape the federal response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Gruenberg’s nomination will require Senate confirmation.

A longtime Democratic Senate staff member, he has been No. 2 at the FDIC since August 2005. The independent regulatory agency is charged with maintaining public confidence in the banking system. It guarantees bank deposits up to $250,000.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., pledged quick action on the nomination.

“It is vital that we have strong leaders in place at our financial regulators as we continue the economic recovery,” Johnson said.

Gruenberg’s nomination is the first of several vacancies at financial regulatory agencies that Obama must fill.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees most of the nation’s large banks, has been without a permanent leader since John C. Dugan completed a five-year term last August. The Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors has two openings and there’s a vacancy atop the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-run housing agencies.

Positions created by a new financial regulatory law also remain unfilled, including a Fed vice chairman for supervision, someone to run a new Office of Financial Research and an insurance oversight position.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the financial overhaul law, also needs someone to run it.

Obama named consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to create the bureau, which is supposed to open in July, but it will not become a full-fledged, empowered agency until a director is in place.

Warren’s supporters want her to become the director, but she has many critics in the Senate and is unlikely to be confirmed. Senate Republicans have also promised to block a vote on any nominee to run the bureau until Democrats agree to reduce its powers.

Bair, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006, was among the first officials to warn about the explosion of high-risk lending to borrowers with bad credit and the agency closed the most banks under her tenure since the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.

She also spoke up for consumers and small banks during the 2008 financial crisis, when most other regulators focused mostly on helping big Wall Street firms. After the housing bubble burst, she argued unsuccessfully for the government to force banks to reduce monthly payments for troubled homeowners facing foreclosure.

Most notably, she clashed with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner over a range of issues related to the Wall Street bailouts.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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2 Guilty in Murder of Journalist Checking Muslim Group June 10, 2011

OAKLAND, Calif. — A jury on Thursday found the leader of a financially troubled community group and another man guilty of murder in the daytime shooting of the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil for reporting a story in more than a decade.

Yusuf Bey IV, former head of Your Black Muslim Bakery, also was convicted in the murders of two other men in a month-long spree of violence that culminated with the fatal August 2007 shooting of 57-year-old Chauncey Bailey while he walked to the newspaper where he was investigating the financial woes of Bey’s group.

Jurors also found co-defendant Antoine Mackey guilty in the murders of Bailey and 36-year-old Michael Wills, but deadlocked on a murder charge against him in the death of 31-year-old Odell Roberson Jr.

“Justice has finally been done,” Bailey’s cousin, Wendy Ashley-Johnson, said outside court. “Now Chauncey can rest. This chapter is over.”

Founded some 40 years ago by Bey’s father, the bakery, which promoted self-empowerment, became an institution in Oakland’s black community while running a security service, school and other businesses. In recent years, the organization was tainted by connections to criminal activity.

Prosecutors argued that Bey felt he was above the law and was so desperate to protect the legacy of his family’s once-influential bakery that he ordered Bailey murdered. The Oakland Post editor had been working on a story about the organization’s finances as it descended toward bankruptcy.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said the verdicts affirmed “our abiding conviction that violence against the free voice of the press will not be tolerated in our society.”

Bey and Mackey, both 25, appeared stoic during the reading of the verdicts, which prompted tears from the families of the victims and defendants.

Bey’s attorney, Gene Peretti, said he had thought the case would end in a mistrial because jury deliberations lasted more than two weeks.

“It’s a surprise and very disappointing frankly,” Peretti said, adding that his client was “a little bit stunned.” He and Mackey’s lawyer, Gary Sirbu, said they plan to appeal.

Both men could get life in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced on July 8.

Bey was charged with ordering the killing of Bailey, as well as the slayings of Roberson and Wills in July 2007.

Mackey, a former bakery supervisor, was accused of acting as the getaway driver for Devaughndre Broussard, who confessed to killing Bailey on a busy city street with three shotgun blasts, including a final shot to the face to ensure his victim was dead.

Mackey was convicted of murder for shooting Wills. He had been accused of aiding Broussard in Roberson’s shooting, but jurors couldn’t decide whether he was guilty.

Prosecutors said Bey ordered Broussard to kill Roberson in retaliation for the murder of Bey’s brother by Roberson’s nephew.

Mackey was accused of killing Wills at random after Mackey and Bey had a conversation about the Zebra murders, a string of racially motivated black-on-white killings in San Francisco in the 1970s. Bey and Mackey are black, and Wills was white.

Broussard, the prosecution’s key witness, testified that Bey ordered him and Mackey to kill the three men in exchange for a line of credit.

The two-and-a-half-month trial, which included more than 60 witnesses, had been delayed several times before finally getting under way in March. Bey’s two original lawyers resigned after prosecutors accused one of smuggling a hit list out of jail to prevent potential witnesses from testifying.

Broussard struck a plea deal of 25 years in prison in exchange for serving as the prosecution’s key witness. The 23-year-old former bakery handyman inexplicably laughed several times while testifying for more than a week, including while describing Bailey’s shooting on Aug. 2, 2007.

Lawyers for Bey and Mackey questioned Broussard’s credibility, arguing he was “a cold-blooded killer” who killed for sport and had doctored his testimony in exchange for the plea deal.

Prosecutor Melissa Krum told jurors during closing arguments that while Broussard is a “sociopath,” his testimony was credible.

“Sometimes you have to make a deal with a demon to get to the devil,” she said.

Before the killing of Bailey, Cuban-American Manuel de Dios Unanue, an outspoken journalist, was shot in the head in a New York City restaurant in 1992. Police believe drug traffickers and businessmen plotted to murder him in retaliation for hard-hitting stories he had written about their operations, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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5 Arrested as Wis. Supreme Court Hears Collective-Bargaining Arguments June 8, 2011

Five people were arrested at the Wisconsin state Capitol on Monday as the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether a bill taking away collective-bargaining rights passed the Legislature legally.

Four people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct after trying to enter the building without stopping for police clearance through metal detectors, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said. A fifth person was arrested and cited for trying to prop open a door, presumably so others could enter later to avoid police, Tubbs said.

There were no reports of weapons or violence, said Capitol police spokeswoman Lori Getter.

Also on Monday, Madison police cited two people for disorderly conduct following a disturbance inside the foyer of MI bank, 1 W. Main St. Police said about 30 protesters entered the area between two doors leading into the bank and were told they needed to leave or be arrested. One officer suffered a sprained wrist during a struggle with a demonstrator.

Three demonstrators also were cited for obstructing a roadway after they refused to get out of the street, police said.

Tubbs said 27 people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct for interrupting Friday’s session of the Joint Finance Committee. All received warnings before their arrests, he said, adding, “They felt they had a passion and they had to do it.”

No problems had been reported in the Supreme Court chamber where legal arguments took place Monday, he said. Passage of the bill at issue had attracted tens of thousands of people to the Capitol in February and March.

About 75 people listened to the arguments, but most were attorneys.

Tubbs said Capitol Police have not had any problems associated with the “Walkerville” protest encampment that began Saturday on city property across from the Capitol.

“People seem to understand our responsibility as law enforcement,” he said.

“What we’re doing is trying to maintain a high degree of security for the Capitol,” Tubbs said, including knowing who’s going in and out and what they’re bringing into the building.

“We are looking into the possibility of opening more doors,” he said, adding, “We have not reached that point.”

Currently, just two of the Capitol’s doors are open.

Tubbs also said the metal detectors installed during the height of the protests might be here to stay.

With temperatures in the 90s expected to continue through Wednesday, Tubbs said, there are concerns that tensions could also heat up. He stressed the importance for people who are out in the heat to have adequate food and fresh water and to limit alcohol consumption.

Tubbs said Capitol Police will be re-evaluating staffing needs with 10 vacancies from recent retirements and officers leaving for other jobs. Currently, 41 out of 51½ full-time positions are filled.

The number of retirements this year is greater than in the past three years, he said, adding that the unrest surrounding Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to eliminate most collective bargaining rights for most public employees and other budget proposals has likely contributed to some retirements.

Capitol police have created a new website to provide updates on security issues at wicapitol.wi.gov.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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NYC Officials Delete Terror-Target Data June 1, 2011

New York City’s Department of Finance is working with the police department to delete sensitive information about potential terror targets from its website after the New York Post revealed security lapses.

The agency’s website had links to floor plans of buildings that included the under-construction 1 World Trade Center, which Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says is the United States’ biggest target.

The online database attaches this information for use in real estate transactions.

“We are working, in consultation with the NYPD counterterrorism unit, to ensure information property owners record with Finance does not pose a serious threat to New Yorkers,” said agency rep Owen Stone.

Officials are scouring the site to remove floor plans, schematics, and any other data that could be used by terrorists.

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House Republicans Propose $650 Billion for Defense

House Republicans released their proposal for $650 billion in defense spending Tuesday. And there’s at least one issue on which they and President Barack Obama agree, Politico reports. The plan meets all of Obama’s requests to finance the country’s wars.

To be sure, the package also adds conditions for counter-insurgency funding for Pakistan, requiring a more thorough explanation of how that aid is used.

The plan would provide a $17 billion increase in regular defense spending to $530 billion and an estimated $119 billion for our military activity, mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The plan allocates $1.1 billion in counter-insurgency money to Pakistan’s government, but 75 percent of that would be withheld until the Defense and State Departments tell Congress how the money is spent.

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Blood at Scene Becomes Pivotal for Strauss-Kahn Defense May 26, 2011

Evidence that Dominique Strauss- Kahn’s encounter with a hotel maid may have involved force, including reports of blood at the scene, might damage any defense contention that she consented, former prosecutors said.

Strauss-Kahn is accused in a seven-count indictment of forcibly trying to have intercourse with the woman at the Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan, and of making her have oral sex with him. Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund after being charged with sexual assault and attempted rape, plans to plead not guilty, his lawyers have said.

Since Strauss-Kahn’s May 14 arrest, news organizations, such as the Associated Press and Fox News, have reported the discovery of physical evidence, including semen and a cut on the defendant’s back, that suggest contact between the accuser, a 32-year-old West African immigrant, and Strauss-Kahn, 62. Strauss-Kahn hasn’t confirmed or denied there was an encounter. His attorneys stopped just short of saying that, if there was one, it was consensual.

“If the DNA evidence is straightforward and there are no big surprises along the way here, plea negotiations would seem inevitable,” Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor, said in a phone interview. “It may be a matter of some time before the defendant can be brought to understand the necessity of those discussions.”

Crime Scene Unit

A New York Police Department crime scene unit gathered evidence from Strauss-Kahn’s hotel suite, Assistant District Attorney John “Artie” McConnell told a judge last week. While the results of tests performed on material taken in the searches weren’t available as of the May 19 hearing, preliminary indications “support the victim’s version of events,” the prosecutor said.

Strauss-Kahn’s body was examined and photographed after his May 14 arrest. Defense lawyers Benjamin Brafman and William Taylor said their client agreed to a government request for a physical examination.

News organizations including the Wall Street Journal have reported that a DNA sample from Strauss-Kahn matched semen found on the maid’s shirt. The Associated Press reported carpet samples taken from the room may contain semen traces and blood was found on the sheets. Fox News said Strauss-Kahn cut his back on a piece of furniture in the room during a struggle with the victim, who told him that she didn’t want to have sex with him. All the reports cited unidentified sources.

Reports of Evidence

Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the New York District Attorney’s office, declined to comment on the reports. Paul Browne, a spokesman for the police department, didn’t return calls seeking comment. Brafman, who declined to comment on the reports, told a judge last week that the evidence was in his client’s favor.

“The forensic evidence, we believe, are not consistent with forcible encounter,” he said at Strauss-Kahn’s first appearance in Manhattan criminal court, stopping short of directly saying it was consensual. “This is a very, very defensible case.”

If convicted, Strauss-Kahn faces as long as 25 years in prison. He has been free on $1 million cash bail and under home detention and armed guard since May 20. His arraignment is scheduled for June 6. In arguing against bail, McConnell said the accuser’s actions and the results of a physical examination supported her account.

‘Multiple Witnesses’

“She made outcries to multiple witnesses immediately after the incident, both to hotel staff and law enforcement,” McConnell said at the May 16 hearing. “She was then taken to the hospital and was given a full sexual assault forensic examination. The observations and findings during that exam corroborate her accounts,”

Any blood from a cut on Strauss-Kahn or the woman that was consistent with her resisting would subvert a defense that the sex had been consensual, said Paul Callan, a former New York prosecutor.

“Blood would be critical to prove physical force. If indeed there is an injury to his back, it corroborates a specific detail in her story,” Callan said in a phone interview. “Corroboration is very important. In a case where it’s he-said, she-said, it gives the jury something to rely on.”

Plea Not Likely

Still, a plea is unlikely, said Callan, who represented the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson in a civil lawsuit against O.J. Simpson. The former football player was found liable for his ex- wife’s wrongful death after being acquitted on charges of murdering her and Ron Goldman.

With a plea, Strauss-Kahn “would become a registered sex offender and it would stain him for the rest of his life,” Callan said. “It’s going to be won or lost at trial.”

Defense lawyers may try to claim the maid exchanged sex for money, Callan said.

“I don’t see the defense being able to make a compelling case” that the woman was “overcome by lust,” Callan said. “The details of the defense are going to be supplied as the case goes along, and it’s not going to be pretty for the victim.”

Callan said he was in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office the day the maid was reported to have testified before the grand jury.

“She had a hat on, large sunglasses and a silk scarf pulled across her face, which she put down as she walked past me,” Callan said. “She was surrounded by police detectives.”

Gained Credibility

Prosecutors said that the woman’s story gained credibility because she immediately reported the alleged incident to fellow workers. She also picked Strauss-Kahn out of a police lineup within 24 hours of the alleged attack. McConnell said Strauss- Kahn could be seen on a hotel video making an “unusually hasty” exit after the attack allegedly occurred.

Defense lawyers said their client was in a hurry to have lunch with his daughter before heading to a scheduled Air France flight. Also, they said, he later called the hotel looking for a mobile phone he thought he had left in his room and told the security staff where to find him. Police used that information to arrest him minutes before his plane was due to take off.

“If you just committed crime at a hotel in New York, the last thing I would want to do is report to hotel security where I am,” Brafman said at a bail hearing.

Brafman told French television’s TF1 on May 22 that, based on the evidence he had seen, his client would be acquitted at a fair trial.

Hard to Convict

Linda Fairstein, a former Manhattan prosecutor who specialized in cases involving sexual attacks, said that while the evidence reported so far seems to favor the prosecution, a conviction will be difficult to obtain.

Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister and member of France’s opposition Socialist Party, had been among the most popular possible candidates to contest France’s 2012 presidential election, according to opinion polls.

“I think it’s a tough case — because of the facts and circumstances and the power dynamic between the witness, who is probably an uneducated or less educated employee doing a menial job, and a powerful, well-respected brilliant politician,” Fairstein said.

The New York Post, citing an unnamed French businesswoman, reported that friends of Strauss-Kahn offered money to the maid’s family in Guinea to make the case go away.

‘Fully Exonerated’

“Reports that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys or representatives are in contact with the complaining witness or her family are false,” Taylor and Brafman said today in a statement distributed by PR Newswire. “We continue to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn will be fully exonerated.”

“There will be enormous pressure on her family in Africa, and undoubtedly her reputation will be vigorously attacked by supporters of Strauss-Kahn,” Callan said. “The biggest thing the prosecutor has to do is keep her available for trial.”

Without the victim, Fairstein said, “there is no case.”

 

© Copyright 2011 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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Proposed Tax Based on Miles We Drive Should Be Ditched May 24, 2011

A 17th-century French minister of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, was once famously quoted as saying that “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the smallest amount of hissing.”

Colbert reigned long before the creation of the automobile. Yet today his advice seems almost quaint in contrast to the crass ways that state and federal government have found to tax the ownership and use of this most important instrument of middle-class American life and freedom.

Loud hissing is what needs to greet reports from late this week that the Obama administration was floating a proposal to tax automobile drivers on how many miles they drive.

By week’s end, the White House was rushing fast to disclaim the proposal, which was reported to explore the installation of mile-tracking electronic meters in each car to monitor miles driven. Payments could take place at electronic filling stations. Talk about adding insult to injury on America’s working people.

On one hand, this is a self-evidently awful proposal on privacy grounds. Recall that we’ve just seen headlines about smartphones tracking everyone’s movements. Now comes the notion that equipment likely possessing the same capability will be in our vehicles and fully accessible by the government. That would be an outrageous intrusion.

But the idea is also awful because beleaguered motorists are entering the
summer driving season with $4 gas at the pump. Already, people are stretched to the limit economically; many people are putting $10 of gas in their tank because that’s all they can muster at the time they need gas.

Unfortunately, the cost of starting and driving their cars is already an issue for too many families when they simply try to live their lives.

Even facing these economic stresses, people do not expect government to impose burdens and limitations on their freedom to drive and move about freely. Imposing a per-mile usage fee on vehicles impairs our fundamental right to move freely without inhibition.

According to reports, the proposal would require $300 million in taxpayer dollars to fund a group to study and promote the program. That would be a staggering amount when we are trying to find urgently needed cuts in spending.

As former governor of Virginia, I won election on a promise, among other ones, to phase out the commonwealth’s despised car tax levied on citizens for merely owning cars and trucks for which they have paid abundant sales tax and continue to pay abundant tax for fuel. This resonated powerfully with citizens who need their cars and trucks for their livelihoods and who feel like they never truly own their vehicles.

But the report of taxing the miles we drive is sadly all too plausible, and has the feel of a proposal that has been given some time and thought. It originates, of course, from a capital city still fixated in a mindset that enables an administration and Congress to continue out-of-control and reckless taxing and spending while our nation’s debt problem has us on the brink of economic crisis.

Let me be fair and clear: There is no argument among reasonable people that we urgently need more and better transportation infrastructure. At Free Congress Foundation and our Center For Transportation, we also think that the government has a legitimate and appropriate role in financing and developing not just highways, but mass transit, rails, water ports and airports.

Responsibly upgrading and expanding our transportation system, including highways, will be a critical ingredient for U.S. growth and global competitiveness when we are able to move beyond the current crisis. And many viable methods to raise the funds are at government’s disposal without infringing on freedom of mobility.

But considering a per-mile highway user tax on the mileage we log in the course of living our daily lives is a wreck that needs to be avoided. Let’s hope wiser, cooler heads in both Congress and the administration stop this bad idea for good.

Jim Gilmore James S. Gilmore III, is president and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation (www.freecongress.org).

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US quietly expanding defense ties with Saudis May 19, 2011

Despite their deepening political divide, the United States and Saudi Arabia are quietly expanding defense ties on a vast scale, led by a little-known project to develop an elite force to protect the kingdom’s oil riches and future nuclear sites.

The U.S. also is in discussions with Saudi Arabia to create an air and missile defense system with far greater capability against the regional rival the Saudis fear most, Iran. And it is with Iran mainly in mind that the Saudis are pressing ahead with a historic $60 billion arms deal that will provide dozens of new U.S.-built F-15 combat aircraft likely to ensure Saudi air superiority over Iran for years.

Together these moves amount to a historic expansion of a 66-year-old relationship that is built on America’s oil appetite, sustained by Saudi reliance on U.S. military reach and deepened by a shared worry about the threat of al-Qaida and the ambitions of Iran.

All of this is happening despite the Saudi government’s anger at Washington’s response to uprisings across the Arab world, especially its abandonment of Hosni Mubarak, the deposed Egyptian president who was a longtime Saudi and U.S. ally. The Obama administration is eager to ease this tension as it faces the prospect of an escalating confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia is central to American policy in the Middle East. It is a key player in the Arab-Israeli peace process that President Barack Obama has so far failed to advance, and it is vital to U.S. energy security, with Saudi Arabia ranking as the third-largest source of U.S. oil imports. It also figures prominently in U.S. efforts to undercut Islamic extremism and promote democracy.

The forging of closer U.S.-Saudi military ties is so sensitive, particularly in Saudi Arabia, that the Pentagon and the State Department declined requests for on-the-record comment and U.S. officials rejected a request for an interview with the two-star Army general, Robert G. Catalanotti, who manages the project to build a “facilities security force” to protect the Saudis’ network of oil installations and other critical infrastructure.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to two written requests for comment.

Details about the elite force were learned from interviews with U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of Saudi security concerns, as well as in interviews with private analysts and public statements by former U.S. officials.

The special security force is expected to grow to at least 35,000 members, trained and equipped by U.S. personnel as part of a multiagency effort that includes staff from the Justice Department, Energy Department and Pentagon. It is overseen by the U.S. Central Command.

The force’s main mission is to protect vital oil infrastructure, but its scope is wider. A formerly secret State Department cable released by the WikiLeaks website described the mission as protecting “Saudi energy production facilities, desalination plants and future civil nuclear reactors.”

The cable dated Oct. 29, 2008, and released by WikiLeaks in December said the Saudis agreed to a U.S. recommendation to create the program after they received an Energy Department briefing on the vulnerability of certain oil facilities.

The program apparently got under way in 2009 or 2010, but it is not clear how much of the new force is operating.

The Saudis’ security worries were heightened by a failed al-Qaida car bombing in February 2006 of the Abqaiq oil processing facility, one of the largest in the world. The State Department cable said a subsequent U.S. assessment of Abqaiq security standards determined that it remained “highly vulnerable to other types of sophisticated terrorist attacks.” That warning was conveyed to top Saudi officials on Oct. 27, 2008.

“The Saudis remain highly concerned about the vulnerability of their energy production facilities,” the cable said. “They recognize many of their energy facilities remain at risk from al-Qaida and other terrorists who seek to disrupt the global economy.”

One U.S. official said the Saudi force’s mission might be expanded to include protection of embassies and other diplomatic buildings, as well as research and academic installations. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue.

The newly established specialized force is separate from the regular Saudi military and is also distinct from Saudi Arabian National Guard, an internal security force whose mission is to protect the royal family and the Muslim holy places of Mecca and Medina. The U.S. has had a training and advising role with the regular Saudi military since 1953 and began advising the National Guard in 1973.

The new arrangement is based on a May 2008 deal signed by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef. That same month the U.S. and Saudi Arabia also signed an understanding on civil nuclear energy cooperation in which Washington agreed to help the Saudis develop nuclear energy for use in medicine, industry and power generation.

In October 2008, Ford Fraker, then the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, called the facilities security force program “probably the single biggest initiative for the U.S.-Saudi relationship” and said the value of contracts associated with the program could reach tens of billions of dollars.

Christopher Blanchard, a Middle East policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service, said the arrangement is important on multiple levels.

“The noteworthy thing is that it’s such a sensitive area,” he said in an interview. “It’s probably the most sensitive area for the Saudis, in the sense that those facilities are the lifeblood of the kingdom.”

“It’s not only about defending against a single military threat like Iran but also an expression, politically and symbolically, of a U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia’s long-term security,” he added. “It’s about seeing the U.S.-Saudi relationship into the next generation.”

The U.S. had dozens of combat aircraft based in Saudi Arabia from 1991 to 2003. When the planes departed, the U.S. turned over a highly sophisticated air operations center it had built in the desert south of Riyadh.

The U.S.-Saudi relationship has been rocked by a series of setbacks, including the 9/11 attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers turned out to be Saudis. Saudi Arabia also is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader killed by U.S. Navy SEALs on May 2 in Pakistan, and Saudis remain active in al-Qaida in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said this month a Saudi considered the No. 1 terrorist target in eastern Afghanistan, Abu Hafs al-Najdi, was killed in an airstrike. They said he helped organize al-Qaida finances.

Even so, Saudi Arabia has become one of Washington’s most valued counterterrorism partners. It also is a top client for U.S. arms. When Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Riyadh in April, he reaffirmed U.S. intentions to proceed with the deal announced last fall to sell up to $60 billion in weaponry, including 84 F-15s and the upgrading of 70 existing Saudi F-15s.

U.S. officials said the arms deal might be expanded to include naval ships and possibly more advanced air and missile defense systems. The Saudis want to upgrade their Patriot air defenses to the latest U.S. version, which can knock down short-range ballistic missiles in flight. And they have expressed interest in a more capable system designed to defend against higher-flying, medium-range missiles.

___

Robert Burns can be reached at http://twitter.com/robertburnsAP

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Bank Bailout A Boondoggle of Billions… December 19, 2010

In none of the news and research reports we read do we see any reference to the fact that insured unemployment jumped 523,000 to 4.2 million. Markets often ignore cold hard facts at their peril.

http://theinternationalforecaster.com/International_Forecaster_Weekly/Bank_Bailout_A_Boondoggle_of_Billions?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+theinternationalforecaster%2FiJUr+%28theinternationalforecaster.com%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Coffee Talk!

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BBC News – Gulf of Mexico oil leak: US sues BP over oil disaster December 15, 2010

The US is suing BP and eight other firms for allegedly violating federal safety regulations in connection with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.The lawsuit asks that they be held liable without limitation for all clean-up and damage costs.The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in April killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil over several months.The oil leak became the worst environmental disaster in US history.The lawsuit charges the companies under the US Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act.

via BBC News – Gulf of Mexico oil leak: US sues BP over oil disaster.

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30 Ben Bernanke quotes… December 7, 2010

The following are 30 Ben Bernanke quotes that are so stupid that you won’t know whether to laugh or cry….

Read More at: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/say-what-30-ben-bernanke-quotes-that-are-so-stupid-that-you-wont-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry

#1 (October 20, 2005) “House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”

#2 (On 60 Minutes in response to a question about what would have happened if the Federal Reserve had not “bailed out” the U.S. economy) “Unemployment would be much, much higher. It might be something like it was in the Depression. Twenty-five percent.”

#3 (February 15, 2006) “Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

#4 (January 10, 2008) “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

#5 (When asked directly during a congressional hearing if the Federal Reserve would monetize U.S. government debt) “The Federal Reserve will not monetize the debt.”

#6 “One myth that’s out there is that what we’re doing is printing money. We’re not printing money.”

#7 “The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we’re doing is lowering interest rates by buying Treasury securities.”

#8 (November 21, 2002) “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at no cost.”

#9 (March 28, 2007) “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

#10 (July, 2005) “We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

#11 “Although low inflation is generally good, inflation that is too low can pose risks to the economy – especially when the economy is struggling.”

#12 (February 15, 2007) “Despite the ongoing adjustments in the housing sector, overall economic prospects for households remain good. Household finances appear generally solid, and delinquency rates on most types of consumer loans and residential mortgages remain low.”

#13 (October 31, 2007) “It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.”

#14 (On the possibility that the Fed might launch QE3) “Oh, it’s certainly possible. And again, it depends on the efficacy of the program. It depends on inflation. And finally it depends on how the economy looks.”

#15 (November 15, 2005) “With respect to their safety, derivatives, for the most part, are traded among very sophisticated financial institutions and individuals who have considerable incentive to understand them and to use them properly.”

#16 (January 18, 2008) “[The U.S. economy] has a strong labor force, excellent productivity and technology, and a deep and liquid financial market that is in the process of repairing itself.”

#17 “I wish I’d been omniscient and seen the crisis coming.”

#18 (May 17, 2007) “All that said, given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.  The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well.  Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable.”

#19 “The GSEs are adequately capitalized. They are in no danger of failing.”

#20 (Two months before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed and were nationalized) “They will make it through the storm.”

#21 (September 23rd, 2008) “My interest is solely for the strength and recovery of the U.S. economy.”

#22 “Economics has many substantive areas of knowledge where there is agreement but also contains areas of controversy. That’s inescapable.”

#23 “I don’t think that Chinese ownership of U.S. assets is so large as to put our country at risk economically.”

#24 “We’ve been very, very clear that we will not allow inflation to rise above 2 percent.”

#25 “…inflation is running at rates that are too low relative to the levels that the Committee judges to be most consistent with the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate in the longer run.”

#26 (June 10, 2008) “The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.”

#27 “Not all information is beneficial.”

#28 “The financial crisis appears to be mostly behind us, and the economy seems to have stabilized and is expanding again.”

#29 “Similarly, the mandate-consistent inflation rate–the inflation rate that best promotes our dual objectives in the long run–is not necessarily zero; indeed, Committee participants have generally judged that a modestly positive inflation rate over the longer run is most consistent with the dual mandate.”

#30 (October 4, 2006) “If current trends continue, the typical U.S. worker will be considerably more productive several decades from now. Thus, one might argue that letting future generations bear the burden of population aging is appropriate, as they will likely be richer than we are even taking that burden into account.”

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12 Reasons of the Mess, America is in… November 12, 2010

The western front of the United States Capitol...
DC Capital…

Just a very good article that points to a sampling of why America is in such a mess. Government big and small needs to get off our backs
Suffocated By Red Tape – 12 Ridiculous Regulations That Are Almost Too Bizarre To Believe:
Read Article >>>

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The USA’s Number 1 Export – Scrap & Trash… October 19, 2010

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

No. 1 export category is–”Scrap and Trash.”

According to data provided by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Chinese imports of U.S. cast-offs (scrap metal, waste paper, and the like) surged by an eye-popping 916 percent over the 2000-2008 period, with most of that expansion occurring after 2004.

Perhaps not many observers will judge this a suitably glamorous role for America to assume on the global stage. But one might take comfort in the thought that if there is one thing that Americans still excel at producing, it’s trash…

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Do you feel proud at this revelation? The kings of trash…

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Grand Theft of Your Existence… October 14, 2010

Seal of the United States Department of the Tr...
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$2,000,000,000,000.00 dollars has been stolen from the US Treasury!! What happened? Who did it? Did they get away with it?

The answers: A ‘false flag’ event, the Federal Reserve, and yes.

The theft was planned. It started with a ‘false flag’ event in 2008. Much like the ‘false flag’ event of 2001 in which two planes somehow imploded three buildings, the false flag event of 2008 was a game changer. As you remember, the big banks had bankrupted themselves with derivative driven debt issuance that could not be repaid. The financial system was in peril. Or, so we were led to believe. We were told by the Treasury Secretary at the time that ‘toxic illiquid assets were clogging up the system’ and preventing the lending process from working. They needed immediate assistance and that assistance could only come from the Federal Reserve. All we had to do was to surrender the Treasury. Our Congress complied and the false flag ruse had worked again. The theft could proceed.

Read More of this Great Article

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The Truth of America… September 2, 2010

Relief Rallies Are Never Made To Last
Written by Bob Chapman
2009 September

America is in a depression not a severe recession. If it were not, why would the Fed and our Treasury Department commit us for $23.7 trillion, and why would our entire financial industry have to be bailed out? Along with this fiat solution comes the political goals of corporatist fascism. Taken away have been the natural solution of growth within the private sector and the purging of excesses within the system. Those arguments are only heard on the Internet and talk radio. The people who our President wants to put on terrorist lists, or better yet has probably already put on terrorist lists, as you and me who speak up and demand our rights.

Our government for the past 20 years has been the most corrupt in American history. This is in your face corruption in banking, Wall Street, corporate America, in our congress and Senate and among our bureaucrats. Our legislation is written in secret by special interests and passed with very few even having read the legislation.

Then we have the change our President and his masters have planned for us. A health reform plan that rations healthcare, Health benefits and procedures will be made by bureaucrats. Everyone will carry a National Health Card ID that will contain your health records as well as federal access to very financial holdings. You will also get to subsidize union health plans and community organizer health plans, such as those of ACORN. Our new Government will be free of judicial review and price fixing. The government will set wages in the healthcare industry including those for doctors.

Insurance is mandatory and your employer will pay for it if he stays in business. Medicaid will be reduced as will services for the old and chronically ill. All doctors would be paid the same no matter what their specialty, training and experience. Hospital doctors will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admission. Government will prepare your taxes prior to death as they provide an approved list of end of life resources, to help guide you to your demise. If you do not take your own life government will arrange it for you. The list goes on and on. This is the same list used in Nazi Germany.

Government cannot create recovery and wealth. The insistence of the fed of massive injections of money and credit only eventually destroys wealth and capital. Such devices demand more taxes at a time when unemployment is rising, and tax revenues are falling; yet, debt is rising exponentially. We have a cadre of elitist banks, Wall Street firms, insurance companies and transnational corporations that will never be allowed to fail. Each time they use leverage and gamble and lose you will get to pay for it, on a never-ending basis. This is the heart of corporatist fascism. All those not in the elite Illuminist circle will eventually be gobbled up into giant transnational monopolies under world government.

Todays modus operandi of the Treasury, the Fed, Congress, our President and the faceless bureaucrats from the Council on Foreign relations, Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group is to debase our currency and other currencies as well and to increase unemployment, reduce income and stop capital formation. Whatever is left over will be confiscated from Americans, because the Illuminists believe that all your wealth belongs to them, because they allowed you to earn it. That is why they are chasing down all the offshore accounts. Once that is completed they will have a financial dossier first on Americans and then everyone in the world. Ultimately all countries will be currency blocked and then they will control all the worlds wealth. Of course, we now have to stop that. Well have to remove them from their pedestal. Egalitarianism caused 300,000 Illuminists to lose their heads in the late 1700s in France. History has a way of repeating itself.

The average person now pays about 40% in taxation, direct and indirect. If Health Care Reform and Cap & Trade are passed you can add another 40%. That is 80% Americans. This is exactly what the gang from the CFR has planned for you. That, of course, does not factor in inflation.

Coffee Talk!

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