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Reversing 'Citizens United' It will be a year this week since Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative activist colleagues on the Supreme Court joined together in a dramatic assault on American democracy. Their decision in the Citizens United case overturned more than a century's worth of precedent by awarding corporations the rights of citizens with regard to electioneering. The court did away with limits on when corporations can spend on elections, how much they can spend and how they can spend their money, allowing unlimited contributions from corporate treasuries to flood the electoral landscape.
As The Nation noted in the days after the case was decided, "This decision tips the balance against active citizenship and the rule of law by making it possible for the nation's most powerful economic interests to manipulate not just individual politicians and electoral contests but political discourse itself."
According to Bill de Blasio, New York City's public advocate, Citizens United spending - that is, spending that was only made possible by the court's ruling - accounted for 15 percent of the roughly $4 billion spent on the 2010 midterm elections. Eighty-five million dollars of Citizens United money was spent on U.S. Senate races alone. Worse, 30 percent of all spending by outside groups was funded by anonymous donations, an illegal action prior to the ruling. Forty million of the dollars spent on Senate races came from sources that might never be revealed. (Washington Post)
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark Decision: Constitution is Void The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that serves to allow judges to void the Constitution in their courtrooms. The decision was issued on January 18, 2011, and the Court did not even explain the decision (Docket No. 10-632, 10-633, and 10-690). One word decisions: DENIED.
Presented with this information and massive proof that was not contested in any manner by the accused judges, at least six of the justices voted to deny the petitions:
"There is no legal or factual basis whatsoever for the decisions of the lower courts in this matter. These rulings were issued for corrupt reasons. Many of the judges in the Northern District of Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit are corrupt and violate laws and rules, as they have done in this case. The Supreme Court must recognize this Petition as one of the most serious matters ever presented to this Court." (PR Newswire)
World needs $100 trillion more credit, says World Economic Forum
The world's expected economic growth will have to be supported by an extra $100 trillion (£63 trillion) in credit over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum. - This doubling of existing credit levels could be achieved without increasing the risk of a major crisis, said the report from the WEF ahead of its high-profile annual meeting in Davos.
But researchers warned that leaders must be wary of new credit "hotspots", where too much lending takes place, as the world emerges from a financial catastrophe blamed in large part "to the failure of the financial system to detect and constrain" these areas of unsustainable debt.
"Pockets of credit grew rapidly to excess -- and brought the entire financial system to the brink of collapse," said the report, written in conjunction with consulting firm McKinsey. "Yet, credit is the lifeblood of the economy, and much more of it will be needed to sustain the recovery and enable the developing world to achieve its growth potential." (London Telegraph)
Strange Claim: The Sun Rose 2 Days Early in Greenland Residents of a town on the western coast of Greenland may have seen the sun peek over the horizon 48 hours earlier than its usual arrival on Jan. 13, sparking speculation, and disagreements, over possible causes.
The town of Ilulissat sits just above the Arctic Circle, meaning its residents had been without any sunlight for a good chunk of the winter, and traditionally they'd expect to see their "first sunrise" on Jan. 13.
News that the sun had peeked over the horizon on Jan. 11 appeared online in British and German-language publications and it appears to trace back to a story by the Greenland broadcasting company KNR that quotes residents who noticed the change. [Image Gallery: Sunrises and Sunsets]
Of about half a dozen scientists contacted, most were unaware of the report, which was circulating on the Internet. They offered a number of hypothetical explanations, including an illusion caused by an atmospheric effect and conflicting opinions about whether global warming might be to blame for melting along the edges of Greenland's ice sheet. With less ice, Greenland's elevation may take a dip such that the sun would have less distance to travel before appearing over the horizon. (Live Science)
Was Arizona Shooter Obsessed with “Waking Life”? If something is too difficult to explain, just blame cartoons. So now some people are beginning to suggest that Jared Loughner, the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six people, may have been a fan of Richard Linklater’s 2001 rotoscope-animation film Waking Life. Last night on 60 Minutes, friends of the shooter said he was “obsessed with the film.” The connection stems from Loughner’s obsession with lucid dreaming—a mental state in which you’re aware that you’re dreaming—which is a central theme of Waking Life. (Cartoon Brew)
EXPOSED: Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Political Syndicate (w/ Wayne Madsen) Who is Rahm Emanuel? How did he get into politics? The Emanuel family; just how powerful are they? What influence do they have on lobbying, and power politics? His workings with the Chicago Democratic Machine, how did he get started, is there a shady past he is trying to hide? Is Rahm being blackmailed because of his past with Obama on Chicago's North Side? The Blago trial; why was he and others never questioned about Obama, Valerie Jarret, and Jesse Jackson Jr. What role did he play in the attempt to bring the Olympics to Chicago? What is the connection to key players in Chicago and Washington DC winding up dead? Are there secret video tapes waiting to surface? If he is Mayor, what will the city of Chicago look like? Could he become another Rudy Giuliani? In this exclusive Special Investigation the Reality Report begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting goes deep and digs up the dirt that no Chicago media outlet would dare to report. This is a must see expose for anyone who has questions about Rahm Emanuel but just didn't know who to ask. (Reality Report)
Murdered Judge Defended Sheriff Mack Judge John M. Roll, murdered in Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, was the leading judicial voice supporting former Graham County, Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack in his 1997 lawsuit against the federal government. Mack is a speaker, states’ rights advocate and author of The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.
Sheriff Mack observed in an interview on Alex Jones’ Jan. 10 radio broadcast that John Roll changed his life. He has quoted Roll in his books. In 1997, when Mack was sheriff of Graham County, he joined with Sheriff Jay Printz of Montana in filing a suit against the federal government regarding the Brady Act. The resulting Supreme Court decision found the Act unconstitutional.
The Brady Act not only would have required state and local officials to carry out and fund a federal mandate regarding gun regulations, but it also called for the arrest of any law enforcement officer who refused to enforce it. On the basis of these provisions, Mack and Printz filed suit, and were eventually joined by five other sheriffs around the nation. Mack recalled of the judge:
He was really worried about the sanctions against me (or any other sheriff) — he protected me. Judge Roll stood up for me in particular because I was the only one filing the lawsuit at the time. (The New American)
From the archives: Rahm Emanuel, Freddie Mac and the big bucks years From Rahm Emanuel's profitable stint at mortgage giant and Freddie Mac scandals began during Emanuel's watch by Bob Secter and Andrew Zajac, and The House Rahm Built -- How Chicago's profane, ruthless, savvy operative, remade the Democrats in his image by Naftali Bendavid.
Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.
One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel-- now chief of staff to President Barack Obama-- who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort....
What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cozy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fueled the nation's current economic mess..... (Chicago Tribune)
Gabrielle Giffords shooting: Frightening, twisted shrine in Arizona killer Jared Lee Loughner's yard A sinister shrine reveals a chilling occult dimension in the mind of the deranged gunman accused of shooting a member of Congress and 19 others.
Hidden within a camouflage tent behind Jared Lee Loughner's home sits an alarming altar with a skull sitting atop a pot filled with shriveled oranges.
A row of ceremonial candles and a bag of potting soil lay nearby, photos reveal.
Experts on Sunday said the elements are featured in the ceremonies of a number of occult groups.
Investigators have focused on Loughner's online anti-government ramblings as the chief motivation for the shooting Saturday of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
The discovery of the shrine raises the possibility that Loughner, 22, may have been driven by other forces. Students and faculty at Pima Community College, which he attended until his suspension last summer, said Loughner was clearly at odds with the world. (NY Daily News)
Judge John Roll respected among peers: Roll lauded as a law scholar with strong standards U.S. District Judge John Roll could have been a likely target for an angry gunman.
But his death Saturday in the melee near Tucson that killed six and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was likely an unfortunate coincidence.
Roll, 63, chief judge for the U.S. District for Arizona, who sat on the bench since 1991, was in the middle of some of the state's most contentious court battles, many of them having to do with illegal immigration.
He was presiding over a federal court challenge to a ban on ethnic studies in the Tucson Unified School District when he died.
He had received death threats in 2009 during a civil-rights case in his courtroom filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher who made citizens' arrests.
Roll paid no attention to protests on both sides of the issue.
"Politics never bore on any of his decisions," said José de Jesus Rivera, a former U.S. attorney for Arizona who represented one side of the rancher case. But he was a courteous man, the kind who remembered your name, and your spouse's name.
He was not appearing with Giffords in any official capacity. It was a courtesy visit.
He told his family that after Mass on Saturday, he would stop by the supermarket in his neighborhood where Giffords was meeting with constituents to pay his respects to the congresswoman. (The Arizona Republic)
Judge's final actions key to federal charge for his murder The actions and motivations of U.S. District Court Judge John Roll just before he was shot dead at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's campaign event in Tucson on Saturday are important for the public narrative about the tragedy, but they're also vital to the federal criminal charge for his murder.
The criminal complaint federal prosecutors filed Sunday against the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, goes to some lengths to demonstrate that Roll didn't show up at the Giffords event just to say hello to the congresswoman, or on some whim after attending mass, as reports Saturday suggested. That storyline was fueled by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who said "because [Roll] knows Gabrielle very well, [he] came around the corner to say hi. Unfortunately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
By contrast, FBI agent Tony Taylor argues that Roll was at the event to talk to Giffords about ongoing problems related to a surge in the federal judicial caseload in Arizona--a problem which the judge has attributed to a boost in the number of federal agents sent to the area to address immigration and border-related crime.
Under federal law, the murder or attempted murder of a U.S. official, such as a judge, is only considered a federal crime if committed "while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties." In other words, if Roll simply stopped by the event to greet Giffords, who he's said to have been friendly with, or due to idle curiosity about what was happening there, his killing probably wouldn't be a federal offense. (Politico)
Top US Federal Judge Assassinated After Threat To Obama Agenda A Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today states that the top US Federal Judge for the State of Arizona was assassinated barely 72-hours after he made a critical ruling against the Obama administrations plan to begin the confiscation of their citizen’s private retirement and banking accounts in order to stave off their nations imminent economic collapse, and after having the US Marshals protecting him removed.
According to this SVR report, Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll was the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona who this past Friday issued what is called a “preliminary ruling” in a case titled “United States of America v. $333,520.00 in United States Currency et al” [Case Number: 4:2010cv00703 Filed: November 30, 2010] wherein he stated he was preparing to rule against Obama’s power to seize American citizens money without clear and convincing evidence of a crime being committed.
The case being ruled on by Judge Roll, this report continues, was about bulk cash smuggling into or out of the United States that the Obama administration claimed was their right to seize under what are called Presidential Executive Orders, instead of using existing laws. The Obama administration used as support for their claim before Judge Roll, the SVR says, the seizing of all American citizens’ gold, in 1933, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 6102, which was ruled at the time to be constitutional.
Should the Obama administration win their argument to seize their citizen’s money by Executive Order without having to abide by the law was made more chilling this past week when reports emerged from the US stating that President Obama and his regime allies were, indeed, preparing to rule America by decree since their loss this past November of their control over the US House of Representatives, and in the words of the Washington Posts columnist Charles Krauthammer: “For an Obama bureaucrat … the will of the Congress is a mere speed bump”.
Since taking office in early 2009, Obama has completely overturned the once free United States through his use of Executive Orders that asserts his power to put anyone he wants in prison without charges or trial forever and his right to assassinate any American citizen he deems a threat. (What Does It Mean)
Commission spreads the blame for Gulf oil disaster in report "The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur." - "Systemic" problems caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent oil spill and only "significant reform" will prevent another, President Barack Obama's commission studying the disaster says in its soon-to-be-released report. (CNN)
A Clear Danger to Free Speech THE so-called Shield bill, which was recently introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the WikiLeaks disclosures, would amend the Espionage Act of 1917 to make it a crime for any person knowingly and willfully to disseminate, “in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States,” any classified information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States.”
Although this proposed law may be constitutional as applied to government employees who unlawfully leak such material to people who are unauthorized to receive it, it would plainly violate the First Amendment to punish anyone who might publish or otherwise circulate the information after it has been leaked. At the very least, the act must be expressly limited to situations in which the spread of the classified information poses a clear and imminent danger of grave harm to the nation.
The clear and present danger standard has been a central element of our First Amendment jurisprudence ever since Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s 1919 opinion in Schenk v. United States. In the 90 years since, the precise meaning of “clear and present danger” has evolved, but the animating principle was stated brilliantly by Justice Louis D. Brandeis in his 1927 concurring opinion in Whitney v. California. The founders “did not exalt order at the cost of liberty,” wrote Brandeis; on the contrary, they understood that “only an emergency can justify repression. Such must be the rule if authority is to be reconciled with freedom. Such ... is the command of the Constitution. It is, therefore, always open to Americans to challenge a law abridging free speech and assembly by showing that there was no emergency justifying it.” (New York Times)
An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic It is important to keep in mind the difference between a Democracy and a Republic, as dissimilar forms of government. Understanding the difference is essential to comprehension of the fundamentals involved. It should be noted, in passing, that use of the word Democracy as meaning merely the popular type of government--that is, featuring genuinely free elections by the people periodically--is not helpful in discussing, as here, the difference between alternative and dissimilar forms of a popular government: a Democracy versus a Republic. This double meaning of Democracy--a popular-type government in general, as well as a specific form of popular government--needs to be made clear in any discussion, or writing, regarding this subject, for the sake of sound understanding.
These two forms of government: Democracy and Republic, are not only dissimilar but antithetical, reflecting the sharp contrast between (a) The Majority Unlimited, in a Democracy, lacking any legal safeguard of the rights of The Individual and The Minority, and (b) The Majority Limited, in a Republic under a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of The Individual and The Minority; as we shall now see.
Background of the HAARP Project Military interest in space became intense during and after World War II because of the introduction of rocket science, the companion to nuclear technology. The early versions include the buzz bomb and guided missiles. They were thought of as potential carriers of both nuclear and conventional bombs.
Rocket technology and nuclear weapon technology developed simultaneously between 1945 and 1963. During this time of intensive atmospheric nuclear testing, explosions at various levels above and below the surface of the earth were attempted. Some of the now familiar descriptions of the earth's protective atmosphere, such as the existence of the Van Allen belts, were based on information gained through stratospheric and ionospheric experimentation.
The earth's atmosphere consists of the troposphere, from sea level to about 16 km above the earth's surface; the stratosphere (which contains the ozone level) which extends from about the 16 to 48 km above the earth; and the ionosphere which extends from 48 km to over 50,000 km above the surface of the earth.
The earth's protective atmosphere or "skin" extends beyond 3,200 km above sea level to the large magnetic fields, called the Van Allen Belts, which can capture the charged particles sprayed through the cosmos by the solar and galactic winds. These belts were discovered in 1958 during the first weeks of the operation of America's first satellite, Explorer I. They appear to contain charged particles trapped in the earth's gravity and magnetic fields. Primary galactic cosmic rays enter the solar system from interstellar space, and are made up of protons with energies above 100 MeV, extending up to astronomically high energies. They make up about 100 percent of the high energy rays. Solar rays are generally of lower energy, below 20 MeV (which is still high energy in earth terms). These high energy particles are affected by the earth's magnetic field and by geomagnetic latitude (distance above or below the geomagnetic equator). The flux density of low energy protons at the top of the atmosphere is normally greater at the poles than at the equator. The density also varies with solar activity, being at a minimum when solar flares are at a minimum. (EarthPulse.com)
Barack Obama (D) Top Contributors 2008
This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2008 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate , rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Because of contribution limits, organizations that bundle together many individual contributions are often among the top donors to presidential candidates. These contributions can come from the organization's members or employees (and their families). The organization may support one candidate, or hedge its bets by supporting multiple candidates. Groups with national networks of donors - like EMILY's List and Club for Growth - make for particularly big bundlers.
University of California $1,642,735
Goldman Sachs $1,012,841
Harvard University $862,604
Microsoft Corp $852,167
Google Inc $814,540
JPMorgan Chase & Co $807,799
Citigroup Inc $736,771
Time Warner $623,118
Sidley Austin LLP $600,298
Stanford University $595,716
National Amusements Inc $563,548
WilmerHale Llp $549,918
Skadden, Arps et al $543,539
Columbia University $536,202
UBS AG $532,674
IBM Corp $532,372
General Electric $528,180
US Government $517,908
Morgan Stanley $512,232
Latham & Watkins $502,045 (Center for Responsive Politics)
California PENAL CODE SECTION 12403.7 Notwithstanding any other law, any person may purchase, possess, or use tear gas and tear gas weapons for the projection or
release of tear gas if the tear gas and tear gas weapons are used
solely for self-defense purposes, subject to the following
(a) ... (g) Any person who uses tear gas or tear gas weapons except in
self-defense is guilty of a public offense and is punishable by
imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16
months, or two or three years or in a county jail not to exceed one
year or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by
both the fine and imprisonment, except that, if the use is against a
peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section
830) of Title 3 of Part 2, engaged in the performance of his or her
official duties and the person committing the offense knows or
reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, the
offense is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of
Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years or by a fine of one
thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. (California State Assembly)
Campaign finance reform in the United States is the common term for the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics, primarily in political campaigns.
Although attempts to regulate campaign finance by legislation date back to 1867, the first successful attempts nationally to regulate and enforce campaign finance originated in the 1970s. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1972 required candidates to disclose sources of campaign contributions and campaign expenditures. It was amended in 1974 with the introduction of statutory limits on contributions, and creation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). It attempted to restrict the influence of wealthy individuals by limiting individual donations to $1,000 and donations by political action committees (PACs) to $5,000. These specific election donations are known as ‘hard money.’ The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, also known as "McCain-Feingold", after its sponsors, is the most recent major federal law on campaign finance, which revised some of the legal limits on expenditures set in 1974, and prohibited unregulated contributions (commonly referred to as "soft money") to national political parties. ‘Soft money’ also refers to funds spent by independent organizations that do not specifically advocate the election or defeat of candidates, and funds which are not contributed directly to candidate campaigns.
In early 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited pursuant to the right of these entities to free speech. (Wikipedia)
Clean Elections (variously called, "Clean Money," "Voter-Owned Elections," or "Fair Elections") is a term used to describe a particular system of government financing of political campaigns, where the government provides a grant to prospective candidates who agree to limit their and private fundraising efforts and limit their campaign-spending. (Wikipedia)
High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program: Program Purpose HAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.
The HAARP program is committed to developing a world class ionospheric research facility consisting of:
* The Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high power transmitter facility operating in the High Frequency (HF) range. The IRI will be used to temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere for scientific study.
* A sophisticated suite of scientific (or diagnostic) instruments that will be used to observe the physical processes that occur in the excited region. (HAARP)
Iron triangle (US politics)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about a political term. For other meanings, see Iron Triangle.
Iron Triangle diagram.
In United States politics, the iron triangle is a term used by political scientists to describe the policy-making relationship among the congressional committees, the bureaucracy (executive) (sometimes called "government agencies"), and interest groups.
For example, within the federal government the three sides often consist of: various congressional committees, which are responsible for funding government programs and operations and then providing oversight of them; the federal agencies (often Independent agencies), which are responsible for the regulation of those affected industries; and last, the industries themselves, as well as their trade associations and lobbying groups, which benefit, or seek benefit, from these operations and programs.
Probably the earliest concept of the "iron triangle" was on January 17, 1919 by Ralph Pulitzer. It was the post World War I era when Pulitzer wrote about the Paris Peace Conference and the new relationships between the allied Governments. He stated,
“Three forces are laboring for such a sinister peace: (1) the bourbonism of politicians…; (2) the materialism of industrial…; (3) the militarism of professional soldiers…” and “If the Peace Conference is allowed to remain between governments instead of between peoples it is apt to degenerate…”
An often-used example of the term is with reference to the military-industrial complex, with Congress (and the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services), defense contractors, and the U.S. Department of Defense forming the iron triangle. The term iron triangle has been widely used by political scientists outside the United States and is today an accepted term in the field. (Wikipedia)
Jefferson Spurious Quotations: Private Banks Quotation: "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered...I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." - Earliest known appearance in print: 1937 - Status: This quotation is at least partly spurious; see comments below. (The Jefferson Encyclopedia)
Late-2000s financial crisis The Great Recession (often called the Credit Crunch or the Global Financial Crisis) is considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It resulted in the collapse of large financial institutions, the bailout of banks by national governments, and downturns in stock markets around the world. In many areas, the housing market has also suffered, resulting in numerous evictions, foreclosures and prolonged vacancies. It contributed to the failure of key businesses, declines in consumer wealth estimated in the trillions of U.S. dollars, and a significant decline in economic activity, leading to a severe global economic recession in 2008.
The financial crisis was triggered by a liquidity shortfall in the United States banking system in 2008. The collapse of the U.S. housing bubble, which peaked in 2007, caused the values of securities tied to U.S. real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. Questions regarding bank solvency, declines in credit availability and damaged investor confidence had an impact on global stock markets, where securities suffered large losses during 2008 and early 2009. Economies worldwide slowed during this period, as credit tightened and international trade declined. Governments and central banks responded with unprecedented fiscal stimulus, monetary policy expansion and institutional bailouts. Although there have been aftershocks, the financial crisis itself ended sometime between late-2008 and mid-2009.
While many causes for the financial crisis have been suggested, with varying weight assigned by experts, the United States Senate issuing the Levin–Coburn Report found “that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.” Critics argued that credit rating agencies and investors failed to accurately price the risk involved with mortgage-related financial products, and that governments did not adjust their regulatory practices to address 21st-century financial markets. The repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933 effectively removed the separation that previously existed between Wall Street investment banks and depository banks. There is some debate as to what role the repeal of Glass–Steagall had on the late 2000s financial crisis. In response to the financial crisis, both market-based and regulatory solutions have been implemented or are under consideration. (Wikipedia)
In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies. Some special interests retain lobbying firms, many of them located along Washington's legendary K Street; others have lobbyists working in-house. We've got totals spent on lobbying, beginning in 1998, for everyone from AAI Corp. to Zurich Financial.
You can use the options below to search through our database in several ways: search by name for a company, lobbying firm or individual lobbyist; search for the total spending by a particular industry; view the interests that lobbied a particular government agency; or search for lobbying on a general issue or specific piece of legislation. - $3.51 Billion spent lobbying in 2010 (Center for Responsive Politics)
Military-industrial complex (MIC), or Military–industrial-congressional complex (MICC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. These relationships include political contributions, political approval for defense spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and beneficial legislation and oversight of the industry. It is a type of iron triangle.
The term is most often played in reference to the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure.
The term is sometimes used more broadly to include the entire network of contracts and flows of money and resources among individuals as well as institutions of the defense contractors, The Pentagon, and the Congress and executive branch. This sector is intrinsically prone to principal-agent problem, moral hazard, and rent seeking. Cases of political corruption have also surfaced with regularity.
A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guérin, in his 1936 book Fascism and Big Business, about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, "an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs." (Wikipedia)
Rockefeller on Bilderberg and the Press According to the article “Behind The Bias” (W. N. Grigg, The New American, February 10, 2003, p. 4), “Excerpts from Rockefeller’s opening address were leaked to two independent French publications. They then came to the attention of Hilaire du Berrier, an international correspondent living in Monaco, who published them in his newsletter, HduB Reports.”
According to various internet sources, the French publications were Minute, 19 June 1991, and Lectures Françaises, July/August 1991 and it was the HduB Reports of September, 1991 which republished the quote. (WikiMedia)
The Ugliness of SafeGround SafeGround at its inception, continuing to this day, has as its prime goal the dunderheaded hope of transforming America into a communist country. Yes, it's wacky as hell and is unachievable, but, truly, it is the cornerstone of what SG is all about, thrust on Homeless World by the homeless-services industry's nutty Old Guard. When you support SafeGround, in dollars or deeds, you help a national political effort, associated with its so-called "SafeGround Movement," which is linked to the goals of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America [LRNA], a group that was formerly the California Communist League. [At the website American Red Groups, LRNA is cited as being Stalinist and — of communist and communist-leaning groups — one of the ones most opposed to Democracy.]
SafeGround began in Sacramento from an effort by SHOC called "Homeless Leadership Project" Homeless people were recruited, ego-stroked and indoctrinated with a philosophy that calls for a revolution in America that would (1) put an end to capitalism; (2) guarantee jobs for all; and (3) stop advancements in technology. I attended a couple of the meetings. (Sacramento Homeless)
BEWARE: The Real Terrorists are Upping Their Chatter Remember the buzzword chatter? When our criminal government kept the sheeple on the razor's edge of fear because they'd say that chatter levels coming from Al-Qaeda were increasing?
Well, today, in this article, I'm going to openly fear monger to you, because the chatter by the real terrorists, the ruling elite, is getting louder and more urgent -- prompting me to warn you that it seems like a terror attack is coming soon.
All the signs are here. Clearly desperate for public approval and budget justifications, the government has recently made several bogus terror arrests of entrapped FBI patsies. Perhaps they thought the public would give them some political props for thwarting their own staged events. However, they're beginning to realize that the general public has a bad case of "boy who cried wolf" syndrome where these glorious victories in the ongoing war on terror don't carry much effect anymore with people struggling to pay bills. Therefore, the regular folks must be reminded that the wolf can still bite.
Three recent stories seem to indicate a higher than normal level of urgency about an impending attack. The first was the report from Iraq that "intelligence" gathered from the recent round-up of militants revealed a threat of an attack inside the U.S. and Europe during the Christmas season. (Activist Post)
Bank Of America Registers BrianMoynihanBlows.com And BrianMoynihanSucks.com Is Brian Moynihan worried about something (perhaps related to Wikileaks) or is Bank of America just practicing some prudent defensive brand management.
According to Domain Name Wire, the bank recently registered BrianMoynihanBlows.com, BrianMoynihanSucks.com, BrianTMoynihanBlows.com, and BrianTMoynihanSucks.com so that nobody else can get them first. They also registered .net and .org versions. (TG Daily)
Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages 'mutiny' A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week.
Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt.
They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.
The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell’s home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel.
No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.
In fact, one juror wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, said a flummoxed Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.
District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree. Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections. (Billings Gazette)
Fugitive Extradited from Mexico to Face Trial: Man Associated with Drug Tunnel Case Fled to Mexico Before 2001 (Press Release) Victor Flores, 51, was extradited to the U.S. from Hermosillo, Mexico and had his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Marshall on Tuesday, December 14. The defendant will be detained until his trial on February 8, 2011 in front of Chief Judge John Roll.
Flores was to face trial in 2001 on cocaine charges related to a Naco, Ariz. drug tunnel that the defendants used to smuggle 20 tons of cocaine from its inception in 1996 until May 1999 when the tunnel was discovered.
Flores is charged in seven counts of the indictment with a variety of drug and gun violations, and he is alleged to have possessed with intent to distribute over 6,660 lbs of cocaine. An additional count alleges that he possessed three fully automatic machine guns to guard the load.
"The defendant fled to Mexico thinking that he was beyond the reach of this country's justice system and that he would not have to stand trial for his conduct. He was wrong on both counts. This extradition brings a defendant to Arizona to stand trial and marks a significant milestone in dismantling one of the largest border drug schemes in Arizona," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "This defendant's extradition is evidence of that the partnerships between the U.S and Mexico are working and that we are together gaining ground against violent drug trafficking organizations." (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Berkeley votes on naming Bradley Manning a hero Berkeley City Council will today vote on whether to name the US Army private suspected of leaking military secrets to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, a hero.
The resolution, from the city's Peace and Justice Commission, describes the military's treatment of Manning as unjust, and calls on the city to press the military for his release.
It cites Marjorie Cohn, professor of International Human Rights Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, as saying: "If Manning did what he is suspected of doing, he should be honored as an American hero for exposing war crimes and, hopefully, ultimately, helping to end this war." (TG Daily)
Rep. Ron Paul, G.O.P. Loner, Comes In From Cold As virtually all of Washington was declaring WikiLeaks’s disclosures of secret diplomatic cables an act of treason, Representative Ron Paul was applauding the organization for exposing the United States’ “delusional foreign policy.”
For this, the conservative blog RedState dubbed him “Al Qaeda’s favorite member of Congress.”
It was hardly the first time that Mr. Paul had marched to his own beat. During his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, he was best remembered for declaring in a debate that the 9/11 attacks were the Muslim world’s response to American military intervention around the globe. A fellow candidate, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, interrupted and demanded that he take back the words — a request that Mr. Paul refused.
During his 20 years in Congress, Mr. Paul has staked out the lonely end of 434-to-1 votes against legislation that he considers unconstitutional, even on issues as ceremonial as granting Mother Teresa a Congressional Gold Medal. His colleagues have dubbed him “Dr. No,” but his wife will insist that they have the spelling wrong: he is really Dr. Know.
Now it appears others are beginning to credit him with some wisdom — or at least acknowledging his passionate following. (New York Times)
Budding Prospects: Youth Activists Push Marijuana Reform On November 7 a group of student activists gathered in a room on the University of Colorado campus to discuss strategies for how to run a marijuana legalization campaign in the 2012 elections. Five days earlier, voters in California had defeated Proposition 19 by a margin of seven points. Although the vote represented the largest percentage a US legalization measure has ever garnered (46.5 percent), many in the drug policy reform community were discouraged. Young activists who had spent the past several months encouraging students on California campuses to register, and who worked furiously in the final days to get out the vote, were exhausted. There were a lot of sullen expressions in downtown Oakland on election night. But for the students in Boulder, and in some ways for the legalization movement more broadly, the fight is just beginning.
After all the media attention heaped on the Prop 19 campaign, it should come as no surprise that the vanguard of the legalization drive in Colorado is made up of college-age activists. Motivating young voters was a central focus of the grassroots effort for Prop 19, and to a large extent it worked. In a postelection follow-up, the Public Policy Institute of California found that 62 percent of voters under 34 supported the initiative. The campaign I helped to organize through Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) printed more than 100,000 door hangers with bar codes that, when scanned by cellphones, directed students to their polling place. And we didn't stop with California. We worked with our partners in the Just Say Now campaign to organize phone banks staffed by students from all over the country, who made thousands of calls for the low cost of several pizzas per night. (The Nation)
Julian Assange: Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths -- WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks. IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth. (The Australian)
Leaked Cable #r?a?p?e?: An Open Rant Against the Perpetuation of Rape Myths
A VERY important reminder in the current discussion of Assange:
"People say "but these charges are trumped up! the charges are bogus!" and that may be true and it may not. But why is the starting point for discussion the dismissal of the allegations? You know, it IS POSSIBLE that Julian Assange DID sexually assault a woman in Sweden AND that the charges are trumped up in a way and dealt with in a certain way because of his work with WikiLeaks.
So let's get this straight. You can wrap your head around the fact that there is cross-border collusion and manipulation by police, judicial, and other governmental authorities from various countries... and I agree that there is... but you cannot understand that there may *also* have actually been a sexual assault? Just because someone is being persecuted for their work means that they cannot be guilty of something like sexual harassment?"
"Why is the reaction "this is bogus!" as opposed to "why can't the investigation and prosecution of all sex crimes worldwide be so damn efficient?" Seriously. If there is persecution of Assange through the legal system, it is only clear because the reaction is so uncommon. "
"Calling the allegations "farcical rape charges," Shamir and Bennett write: "Julian Assange now stands accused of: (1) not calling a young woman the day after he had enjoyed a night with her, (2) asking her to pay for his bus ticket, (3) having unsafe sex, and (4) participating in two brief affairs in the course of one week."
Those are clearly not the accusations. Repeating irrelevant details, except perhaps for "having unsafe sex," comes across as dismissive and mocking. The inclusion of irrelevant information and the exclusion of relevant information is misleading and serves to discredit the woman alledging sexual assault." (Vancouver Media Co-op)
What is Julian Assange Up To? Aaron Bady won the internet last week with his explication of a pair of essays Julian Assange wrote in 2006. Paddling against a vomit-tide of epithets and empty speculations that threatened to bury Assange under a flood of banalities, Bady proposed and executed a fairly shocking procedure: he sat down and read ten pages of what Assange had actually written about the motivations and strategy behind Wikileaks.
The central insight of Bady’s analysis was the recognition that Assange’s strategy stands at significant remove from a philosophy it might easily be confused for: the blend of technological triumphalism and anarcho-libertarian utopianism that takes “information wants to be free” as its gospel and Silicon Valley as its spiritual homeland. Noting the “certain vicious amorality about the Mark Zuckerberg-ian philosophy that all transparency is always and everywhere a good thing,” Bady argued that Assange's philosophy is crucially different:
The question for an ethical human being -- and Assange always emphasizes his ethics -- has to be the question of what exposing secrets will actually accomplish, what good it will do, what better state of affairs it will bring about. And whether you buy his argument or not, Assange has a clearly articulated vision for how Wikileaks’ activities will “carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity,” a strategy for how exposing secrets will ultimately impede the production of future secrets.
As Assange told Time: “It is not our goal to achieve a more transparent society; it's our goal to achieve a more just society.” (3 Quarks Daily)
Save Obama's presidency by challenging him on the left People who used to say, "Give President Obama more time" when the president was criticized for capitulating to the right, or who argued that Obama must have a plan to turn things around, are now largely depressed and angry. To many liberals and progressives, the president's unwillingness to veto any measure that includes continued tax relief for billionaires is the last straw, building on a record of spinelessness that includes his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, abandonment of a public option for health-care reform, refusal to prosecute those who tortured in Iraq or lied us into that war, and unwillingness to tax carbon emissions.
With his base deeply disillusioned, many progressives are starting to believe that Obama has little chance of winning reelection unless he enthusiastically embraces a populist agenda and worldview - soon. Yet there is little chance that will happen without a massive public revolt by his constituency that goes beyond rallies, snide remarks from television personalities or indignant op-eds.
Those of us who worry that a full-scale Republican return to power in 2012 would be a disaster not just for those hurting from the Republican-policy-inspired economic meltdown but also for the environment, social justice and world peace believe it is critical to get Obama to become the candidate whom most Americans believed they elected in 2008. Despite the outcome of last month's election, it is unlikely that the level of his base's alienation will register with the president until late in the 2012 election cycle - far too late for society today and our future tomorrow. (Washington Post)
FCC Adopts Its Fighting Stance: Net Neutrality Is the Future We've been waiting for this, given many teasing leaks this week, but now it's here: The FCC, via its chairman Julius Genachowsky, has officially staked its claim on the future of the Webs. Net Neutrality all the way.
Genachowski made a speech concerning the matter, and it's a lengthy high-minded affair. We've boiled it down to its simplest essence to make the word cloud up there (more on this later) but Genachowski also thoughtfully released a blog posting clarifying the FCC's position. In it he simplifies the arguments about Net Neutrality down to three key points:
1. "Americans have the freedom to access lawful content on the Internet, without discrimination." Meaning "no one should be able to tell you what you can or can't do" from a company right up to government level, as long as what you're doing is legal.
2. "You have a right to basic information about your broadband service." The FCC shows by this that it's going to get strict with ISPs about making it clear to consumers exactly what they're paying for, which makes it easier to choose between competitors.
3. "The Internet will remain a level playing field." People must be able to exercise free speech, shop, sell products or services and innovate "without permission from a corporation" or a corporate gatekeeper "prioritizing access to one person's content over another."
That's pretty damn straightforward. Say what you will about who has a right to make decisions like this, and listen if you will to the arguments of ISPs that say traffic-shaping is an absolute must if the Net is to continue to grow, placing a strain on their resources: Genachowski has simplified the debate right down to its core principles here. (Fast Company)
Senate Passes Sweeping Food-Safety Bill After stalling for more than a year, a sweeping food-safety bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate on Tuesday, paving the way for increased federal inspections and other preventative measures. The vote was 73 to 25.
Though the bill has yet to be reconciled with a previous version passed by the House in July 2009, there has been some indication that the House will adopt the Senate's bill, a senior Democratic aide tells HuffPost.
The Food Safety Modernization Act would strengthen the power of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees 80 percent of the nation's food supply, vastly improving its ability to ensure safety.
The law will focus on the areas of food-borne illness prevention, detection and response. It will also protect American consumers from unsafe food made overseas by subjecting imported foods to the same standards as food produced in the United States.
The bill is thought to be the most significant overhaul of the food-safety system in decades, and, as noted by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on the Senate floor on Monday, it has attracted uncommonly broad support.
"I realize that the bipartisan road is not always easy to follow, but I can confidently say when we approach legislation in this manner, we often end up with a better, stronger and more responsive law in the end," said Dodd. "I think this bill is an example of just that."
The $1.4 billion measure has the backing of Congressional Democrats and has been touted by the likes of environmental activist Michael Pollan, who, in a New York Times op-ed on Sunday, called the measure "the best opportunity in a generation to improve the safety of the American food supply." (Huffington Post)
United States of America v. $333,520.00 in United States Currency et al Plaintiff: United States of America
Defendants: $333,520.00 in US Currency and Saturn Aura XE 2007, VIN 1G8ZS57N97F136757
Case Number: 4:2010cv00703
Filed: November 30, 2010
Court: Arizona District Court
Office: Tucson Division Office
County: Santa Cruz
Presiding Judge: A Wallace Tashima
Nature of Suit: Forfeiture / Penalty - Other
Cause: Bulk cash smuggling into or out of the United States
Jurisdiction: U.S. Government Plaintiff
Jury Demanded By: None (Justia.com)
Oregon Resident Arrested in Plot to Bomb Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Portland ~ Vehicle Bomb Left at Scene Was Inert and Posed No Danger to Public Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia and resident of Corvallis, Ore., has been arrested on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony earlier this evening in Portland, Ore., the Justice Department announced.
According to a criminal complaint signed in the District of Oregon, Mohamud was arrested by the FBI and Portland Police Bureau at approximately 5:40 p.m. (PST) Nov. 26, 2010 after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree lighting ceremony in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation, during which Mohamud had been monitored closely for months as his alleged bomb plot developed. The device was in fact inert; and the public was never in danger from the device. - According to the affidavit, on November 4, 2010, Mohamud and the undercover FBI operatives traveled to a remote location in Lincoln County, Ore., where they detonated a bomb concealed in a backpack as a trial run for the upcoming attack. Afterwards, on the drive back to Corvallis, undercover FBI operatives questioned Mohamud as to whether he was capable of looking at the bodies of those who would be killed in the upcoming attack in Portland. According to the affidavit, Mohamud responded, “I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured.”
Upon returning to Corvallis that same day, the affidavit alleges that Mohamud recorded a video of himself with the undercover FBI operatives in which he read a written statement that offered a rationale for his bomb attack. On Nov. 18, 2010, undercover FBI operatives picked up Mohamud to travel to Portland in order to finalize the details of the attack.
Earlier this evening, Mohamud was arrested after he attempted to remotely detonate what he believed to be explosives in a van that was parked near the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the affidavit alleges. (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
China, Russia quit dollar China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.
Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.
"About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies," Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.
The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities. (China Daily)
Corporate Profits Hit New Record, U.S. Workers Still Struggling Happy days are back! During the summer months, corporations logged their biggest profits since the government started counting way back in the age of Elvis, and the economy expanded at a slightly faster pace than previously thought. Surely, when Caterpillar and Morgan Stanley are swimming in lucre, life must be getting more wonderful for everyone.
Alas, no. Word that American businesses sucked in profits at an annualized pace of $1.66 trillion between July and September is certainly better than the alternative. Ditto, the wholly expected news that the economy grew faster than an initially reported 2 percent annual rate, reaching a still modest 2.5 percent. But none of this has translated into the sort of job growth that will be required to cut into an unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent. Worse, there is little reason to suspect it will anytime soon.
We have been hearing for so long now that, once companies start making real money, they will feel the urge to expand. Then, they will hire lots of people, and we can stop worrying and resume shopping. Yet so far--this most recent quarter included--all we have gotten is an extended lesson in the modern workings of a stubbornly lean job market and a display of what now stands as American management's core competency: How to rack up profits and reward shareholders while keeping the cubicles empty. (Huffington Post)
My TSA Encounter: "You don’t need to see his identification." On November 21, 2010, I was allowed to enter the U.S. through an airport security checkpoint without being x-rayed or touched by a TSA officer. This post explains how.
Edit: For the sake of brevity, most of the quotes below are paraphrases. I have uploaded the actual audio and it is available here.
This past Sunday, I was returning from a trip to Europe. I flew from Paris to Cincinnati, landing in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
As I got off my flight, I did all of the things that are normally requested from U.S. citizens returning from abroad. I filled out the customs declarations, confirmed that I hadn’t set foot on any farmland, and answered questions about the chocolates that I had purchased in Switzerland. While I don’t believe that these questions are necessary, I don’t mind answering them if it means some added security. They aren’t particularly intrusive. My passport was stamped, and I moved through customs a happy citizen returning home. (No Blasters!)
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