March 18, 2009 archive

AIG Scandal: America Wakes Up To Extent of Capitalist Thievery

The news that AIG executives were to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses (maybe as high as $450 million!), even after a $170 billion dollar bailout, has fueled a populist revolt not seen since the initial shock of the economic crisis hit Americans last October. When Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told American Insurance Group CEO, Edward M. Liddy, that government loans to AIG might be renegotiated as a result, Liddy responded with “grave concern” over the firm’s ability to retain “talented staff.”

Talented in rip-off, that is. But former New York governor and supposed scourge of Wall Street, Elliot Spitzer, is reporting over at Slate that the outrage in the media over the bonuses is a diversion. (H/T Inky99 at Daily Kos.) Not that they aren’t an outrage, the scandal misses the larger crime: the siphoning off of billions of taxpayer dollars to a handful of companies, who insured their highly risky investments with AIG. These companies have received hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money. Now they are to receive 100% on the dollar reimbursement for their losses from AIG. Spitzer comments:

I Am Spartacus!

My fellow Dharmatists, we have been called out (warning: this link and the next provide traffic/revenue to RedState).  No less a rightist luminary than Erick Erickson, Obergruppenf├╝hrer of scrappy little RedState.com, has revealed the hitherto-unthinkable: that left-wing bloggers might be communicating by e-mail!!!

But this particular leftie roach isn’t going to scurry for the darkness, now that the Light of Truth has shone upon me – I’m going to out in a blaze of glory, basking in the freedom of having nothing more to hide, and I invite you to do the same.  Let us together declare our membership in the dread JournoList!  Let us all stand and be counted!  Let us all shout, “I AM SPARTACUS!”

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports the ACLU seeks answers from Holder about torture.

    The ACLU called on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. yesterday to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture at CIA secret prisons, following the leak last weekend of a secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross…

    Although Holder described waterboarding as torture during his confirmation hearings, the Obama administration has shown little willingness to support an investigation of interrogation techniques undertaken while George W. Bush was president

    “Allegations of crimes is not a discretionary matter,” said Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the ACLU. Romero argued that Holder must act to meet the obligations of his office.

    The civil liberties groups also said time is running out for any criminal investigation into the interrogation of the first major terrorism suspect captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, a Saudi-born Palestinian better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Zubaida.

    Obama’s plan seems to be to run out the clock.

  2. The Guardian reports the West Antarctic ice sheet could melt. Research to be published tomorrow in Nature states the giant West Antarctic ice sheet will melt if temperatures continue to rise. Enough water is trapped in the ice to raise sea levels by 15 feet (5 meters). A 9° F (5° C) rise in local “ocean temperatures could be enough to trigger” the meltdown, which will take just a few “thousands of years to unfold”.

Four at Four continues with fresh water and Pentagon procurement.

UpDated: Veterans March for VA Hospital in S. Texas

Kathy Upton, pictured above in the red shirt, is the manager of the Best Western in George West. On Tuesday afternoon Upton donated two rooms to Rio Grande Valley veterans who are marching to San Antonio. This allowed the veterans to get showers after their 30-mile trek from Alice. (Photo: RGG/Joey Gomez)

A couple of days ago I posted about a group of Veterans Marching to San Antonio Texas to raise awareness of the need for Veterans Hospital in South Texas that’s been needed for a long time, the Texas Pols have promised but it never comes about, typical. {that link is for the post at my site}

This is to update that previous, with a few news reports, video and pictures, as these Vets are On The March!!

Demands for Torture Accountability Grow, WH: No Comment

Washington Post

And the judgment of the Red Cross is very important: The agency’s unique status as a monitor of prisons around the world is based on its professionalism and impartiality. If it has accused the United States of torture, the charge — which could indelibly stain the nation’s global reputation — must be taken seriously.

That’s why it remains imperative for the Obama administration and Congress to cooperate in the creation of an independent commission to investigate the treatment of foreign detainees at Guantanamo and other foreign detention sites since 2001. A commission could determine exactly what was done to senior al-Qaeda detainees; it could evaluate the claims of former vice president Richard B. Cheney and other defenders of tough interrogation techniques that such methods produced information that saved lives. It could identify who was responsible for ordering illegal acts — even if, as President Obama has suggested, criminal prosecutions are not appropriate.

Full disclosure is one way of undoing the damage done by the secret prisons and Guantanamo. It should not be left to the International Red Cross to document alleged instances of torture and other abuses; the United States should show itself capable of investigating and fully disclosing its own human rights violations.

How the Military/Industrial Complex evades responsibility

Corporations in the United States are treated in the legal system as “people”, legal entities with rights. That’s a problem addressed in Thom Hartmann’s book, “Unequal Protection”, and he touches on it again in Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class”. These legal loopholes make it easy for corporations to get out from under taking responsibility for their actions, because a corporation, unlike a human being, can change it’s identity and move it’s assets to that new identity very, very quickly. As we are finding out with AIG. AIG and other corrupt corporations are frantically moving their assets out of the company (and out of the country) as fast as possible. Some of the places they’re moving the money to are corporate allies, others are just shell corporations that will allow them to keep the stolen loot in the family.

Incidentally, AIG was the primary insurer for the World Trade Center complex, and arranged a very lucrative policy on those towers one month prior to 9/11 with the site’s owner, Larry Silverstein, who was made a billionaire by the attacks. Just thought I’d mention that here. It’s fascinating how many of these corporations currently exhibiting suspicious behavior had their pattifingers in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and not an Islamic extremist to be found anywhere near them in the bunch. But I digress.

This essay will cover my own personal experiences with large corporations, in particular DoD contractors, and what they do to evade taking responsibility for their actions. Like any predator, the predatory corporation is constantly on the move, it’s shifting identities used to camoflague the identities of those who are on the mercenary warpath against their unsuspecting own. Jon Stewart wasn’t far off when he called it a “Sherman’s March” – in many ways it has been exactly that.

Mr. President: Tear Down this Banking System



Photobucket



Ooh, CNN is reporting Congress is about to get tough with AIG. This is like saying Baby Huey is going to get tough with his diaper pins.

Yeah, Congress, you remember them. Giving Kucinich and a few others a pass, almost 535 fellow citizens who give cowardice a good name in comparison to the craven, corrupt and gutless policies they pursue. Congress made up of used car salesmen with law degrees, is going to tax back $165 million of virtually worthless smackers from AIG for paying bonuses to managerial technocrats following the orders of free-range executives to maximize profits at all costs by filling regulatory loopholes (or caverns) with snake-oil chicanery.

Ooh. You better be scared AIG. Congress is coming! Ooh!

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Dream Catcher #6

Effervescence

Collapsing

folding

tumbling

through time

and space

the fractured

connections

melt and reform

bubbles seeking

minimalism

clasping securely

as much form

as can be

remembered

while embellishing

with renewed hopes

and refreshed dreams

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 17, 2009

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Science Supplement is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Science

1 Walking, talking female robot to hit Japan catwalk

By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer

Mon Mar 16, 10:14 am ET

TSUKUBA, Japan – A new walking, talking robot from Japan has a female face that can smile and has trimmed down to 43 kilograms (95 pounds) to make a debut at a fashion show. But it still hasn’t cleared safety standards required to share the catwalk with human models.

Developers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a government-backed organization, said their “cybernetic human,” shown Monday, wasn’t ready to help with daily chores or work side by side with people – as many hope robots will be able to do in the future.

“Technologically, it hasn’t reached that level,” said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the robot’s developers. “Even as a fashion model, people in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure.”

Late Night Karaoke

Bang Bang  

How can this be Obama’s “smarter Pakistan policy”?

 

Little more than a week ago, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with the New York Times:

At the heart of a new Afghanistan policy is going to be a smarter Pakistan policy. As long as you’ve got safe havens in these border regions that the Pakistani government can’t control or reach, in effective ways, we’re going to continue to see vulnerability on the Afghan side of the border. And so it’s very important for us to reach out to the Pakistani government, and work with them more effectively.

How then is expanding the war in Pakistan “smarter” policy? How is this reaching out? The NY Times is reporting on a trial balloon being floated by anonymous senior officials in the administration –

President Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the American covert war in Pakistan far beyond the unruly tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Wearing Of The Green
O Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news that’s goin’ round?

The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!

No more Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll keep, his color can’t be seen

For there’s a cruel law ag’in the Wearin’ o’ the Green.

I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand

And he said, “How’s poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?”

“She’s the most distressful country that ever yet was seen

For they’re hanging men and women there for the Wearin’ o’ the Green.”

So if the color we must wear be England’s cruel red

Let it remind us of the blood that Irishmen have shed

And pull the shamrock from your hat, and throw it on the sod

But never fear, ’twill take root there, though underfoot ’tis trod.
When laws can stop the blades of grass from growin’ as they grow

And when the leaves in summer-time their color dare not show

Then I will change the color too I wear in my caubeen

But till that day, please God, I’ll stick to the Wearin’ o’ the Green.

You can listen to it here.

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