The Taliban Tea Party will continue to press forward towards their version of the 19th Century whether or not the rest of the Republican Party volunteers. The Koch Bros will continue their funding at least as long as their ilk funded the John Birch Society.
The only surprise has been the number of Republicans in elective office with as little backbone as Democrats. You would think that with as many years experience as some have, dedication to Big Business and Capitalism as a class would trump fealty to Big Oil and extractive industries alone – and the promise of more support for hating women, Latinos, Black people, trade unions, intelligentsia, artists and pretty much everyone outside the borders of the GOUSA.
Turkey’s chances of a breaking a three-year stalemate and relaunching its bid to join the European Union look like being dashed because of the government’s ruthless response to three weeks of street protests amid worsening friction between Ankara and Berlin.
The foreign ministry in Berlin summoned the Turkish ambassador to Germany on Friday to explain the harsh language directed at the chancellor, Angela Merkel, by Egemen Bağis, the Turkish official in charge of negotiations with the EU.
Merkel had said earlier this week that she was “appalled at the very tough” response by the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in ordering riot police to clear central Istanbul of thousands of protesters last weekend.
Bağis accused the chancellor of playing domestic politics, said that anyone using Turkey for political purposes would suffer “an inauspicious end” and warned of severe retaliation if the negotiations were called off.
Turkey opened negotiations to join the EU eight years ago, at the same time as Croatia. While Croatia joins next week as the 28th member, Turkey’s bid has been frozen for three years…Merkel and the German centre-right remain firmly opposed to Turkey joining. Her Christian Democrats’ draft manifesto for the general elections in September states: “We reject full membership for Turkey because it does not meet the conditions for EU entry…”
Negotiations were supposed to resume next week after a long hiatus because the French president, François Hollande, lifted the block imposed by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, as a gesture of goodwill. Talks were to take place on regional development, an issue that could have influenced Ankara’s policy towards parts of the south-east populated mainly by Kurds who have long been campaigning for greater rights and more devolved government.
But Germany and the Netherlands are refusing a green light for next week’s resumption, triggering a European debate over the most sensible response to the turmoil in Turkey.
Discussions about how to respond to the turmoil in Turkey have nothing to do with either the causes of the turmoil or core reasons for the refusal of admittance. The turmoil results from a populist government trying to cure every modernist problem it sees with the hammer of suppression.
Rejection of Turkey’s membership in the greater economy the EU affords is a twofold reaction to a government in Turkey led by a liar and hypocrite. The years of Erdoğan’s populist government have been characterized by his wink and a nod to a goal of crushing modernism, secular freedoms central to Turkey’s constitution. He’s given the wink to his rural religious supporters and nodded assent to the constitution – while plotting its demise.
Investigators charged with conducting background checks of U.S. national-security workers have falsified records and aren’t receiving adequate oversight, according to an inspector general’s testimony.
One worker fabricated 1,600 credit checks before it was discovered her own background investigation had been falsified, Patrick McFarland, inspector general…said in prepared testimony…obtained by Bloomberg News.
While 18 investigators, including contract and government employees, have been convicted of falsifying reports since 2006, McFarland said the inspector general’s office lacks the resources to clear a backlog of an additional 36 cases.
“My office has been alarmed for several years about the lack of oversight,” he said in his written testimony. “Our resources remain woefully inadequate, preventing us from performing the level of oversight that such an important program requires.”
The disclosure of secret documents describing two U.S. surveillance programs by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who…had a top-secret clearance, has called attention to the government’s process of vetting people who handle sensitive information.
Two Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittees plan to hold a hearing addressing the government’s security-clearance process…
The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for some 90 percent of the background investigations of U.S. government employees and contractors. The Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security are the biggest users of the program.
The personnel office conducts more than 2 million investigations a year, according to its website. It vets applicants for federal agency jobs and applicants for security clearances.
While the personnel office charges other federal agencies to conduct the checks, it isn’t allowed to include the cost of the inspector general’s oversight in its prices, according to McFarland.
Which gives you an accurate pictures of how much necessity is placed on oversight by the folks who approve budgets. House of Representatives isn’t it?
Whining about the cost of budgets, deficit ratios, and mouthing off about federal taxes still seems to be the highest priority among today’s conservative politicians. Perish the thought they check on whether or not anything is being accomplished.
May 7th, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, House Speaker John Boehner warned that the U.S. government must balance its budget. After all, he said:
We have spent more than what we have brought into this government for 55 of the last 60 years. There’s no business in America that could survive like this. No household in America that could do this. And this government can’t do this.
It’s hard to think of better evidence for the sustainability of budget deficits than the fact that we have run them for 55 of the last 60 years. If our fiscal practices haven’t caught up to us after 60 years, when will they? Or does Boehner take a David Stockman-like position that the last several decades of American advancement have in fact been a ghastly failure?
Of course, budget deficits work because the government is different from a household. A government does not have a life cycle, does not ever expect to stop generating income to support itself, and, therefore, does not ever have to retire its debt. It must keep its debts at a manageable size relative to the economy, which the U.S. has done over that 60 year period. If the economy is growing over the long term, that means the government can run a deficit and grow the debt every year — sustainably…
Boehner’s position on short-term debt is confused, too. If the recent expansion of the public debt is a matter of overriding economic concern, why is Boehner so resolutely opposed to tax increases to pay it down? America’s economy has thrived under a variety of tax policies, including much higher top marginal tax rates than are in effect today. Shouldn’t Boehner be willing to accept tax increases, or perhaps even be eager for them, in order to fight the debt menace he cites?
Boehner doesn’t really care about the public debt, as he made clear when he repeatedly supported debt-expanding measures under a Republican president. What Boehner and House Republicans really want are excuses to cut federal spending, particularly on programs such as Medicaid and food stamps that support low-income Americans. But those cuts are unpopular, so Republicans frame fiscal debate to make such cuts appear necessary to avoid disaster. If you can’t borrow or tax more, and can’t cut old-age entitlements or the military, which command the majority of federal spending, you’re not left with many options but to soak the poor.
Soaking the poor is a policy option. It is not, as Boehner would have it, a policy necessity dictated by the inability of the federal government to borrow or tax sustainably. But if the debate instead becomes about tax and spending priorities — is it more important to provide universal health care or keep tax rates low on high earners — it shifts to turf unfavorable to Republicans. So they pretend.
Households often borrow for decades against large enough purchases. They’re called mortgages. But, like the room full of millionaire lawyers that is Congress – Boehner has never been especially concerned with anything he’s not been personally challenged with. Like the expenses of healthcare.
Jon Stewart rocks!
It will be nothing but fun to watch the Birthers who ran all their Trumped-up blather over a non-white Democrat born in Hawaii running for president. Even worse – winning.
Now, they get to flip-flop when the same silly questions on presidential eligibility are asked of their favorite white Republican Kool Aid Party Kandidate – born in Calgary.
A Brazilian doctor faces charges of fraud after being caught on camera using silicone fingers to sign in for work for absent colleagues, police say.
Thaune Nunes Ferreira, 29, was arrested on Sunday for using prosthetic fingers to fool the biometric employee attendance device used at the hospital where she works near Sao Paulo.
She is accused of covering up the absence of six colleagues…
The doctor was arrested by the local police following a two-week investigation in the town of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, and was released on Sunday.
Police said she had six silicone fingers with her at the time of her arrest, three of which have already been identified as bearing the fingerprints of co-workers…
Brazil’s ministry of health has said it will launch an inquiry of its own into the local hospital.
The town’s mayor, Acir Fillo says that the police investigation showed that some 300 public employees in the town, whom he described as “an army of ghosts“, had been receiving pay without going to work.
Wow! A couple of decades ago, this would have been a silly French movie. Now, modern science comes to the aid of phonies on the payroll.
Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) misled investors before the global financial crisis.
S&P gave its safest credit rating, AAA, to complex and risky securities, which later lost most of their value.
In what is regarded as a landmark ruling, the court ordered S&P and the bank which arranged the product, ABN Amro, to pay damages to investors…
Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot said that both S&P and ABN Amro were “misleading and deceptive” in the rating of two structured debt issues in 2006, which she agreed were “grotesquely complicated”.
She said the agency had published false information and given “negligent misrepresentations” to potential investors about the riskiness of two financial products…
The judge was also critical of the actions of ABN Amro, saying it was “knowingly concerned” in S&P’s misleading and deceptive conduct, and used the AAA rating on its products to denote a reliability that it knew was not accurate…
The case was brought against S&P and ABN Amro Bank by several Australian local governments which lost millions when the value of the investments was virtually wiped out during the financial crisis.
Judge Jagot said S&P and ABN Amro would have to pay 30 million Australian dollars in damages to the authorities.
Overdue. The sort of criminal proceeding which should be brought in the United States against all the rating agencies. Anyone in the market for a spell learns they are a joke; but, many covenants exist in pension plans and government agencies requiring these ratings as part of a borrowing or investing scheme.
The ratings companies were a critical part of the phony derivatives market that built the real estate bubble that led to the Great recession. Of course, they are no less likely to admit to their guilt than the politicians who built-in the disaster by making certain there was no real oversight of these investments.
There’s a lot of chatter about the new word debuted by Obama today — “Romnesia” — which is meant to describe Mitt’s tendency to forget about, contradict or evade his own positions on a host of issues. Here’s the “Romnesia” riff Obama delivered in Virginia today:
Obama runs through Mitt’s “Romnesia” on a range of issues — equal pay, contraception, abortion, tax cuts for the rich, etc. — and then ends on a joke. He says the good news is that Mitt’s “Romnesia” can be cured — thanks to Obamacare, which guarantees coverage to people with preexisting conditions…
Romney held extreme positions to get through the primary, then flip flopped away from them to get through the general election, but can be expected as president to honor the extreme positions he originally took, since his base won’t let him do otherwise. There’s nothing contradictory in pointing all that out. However, painting Romney as a flip flopper does risk driving home the idea that Romney never really believed in the exreme positions he adopted and is a moderate at heart.
The new “Romnesia” riff can be seen as an answer to this. There’s no need to choose between “extremist” and “flip flopper.” Romney is simply a weasel.
I’ll take weasels – or the ferrets who live in tunnels under my front yard – over politicians like Romney, any day. They may be aggressive carnivores, scary to prey appropriate to their size and nature; but, Romney takes Brylcreem image onto the battlefield of ideas like a phony ambulance with a big Red Cross on the side and white phosphorus flame throwers mounted behind a sliding panel.
We’re supposed to believe that in his heart he’s just a traditional American conservative who really cares about us ordinary folk. When the reality is that he’s greedy money-sucker whose only allegiance is to dollars and gold. He doesn’t care who gets screwed for him to profit. He doesn’t even care which country’s banks get to hide his money.
Tony Harris and Lucia Newman still delivering real TV journalism
CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton said on Friday he is leaving the once-dominant cable news network, which has struggled in the ratings race in recent years.
Phil Kent, chief executive of Turner Broadcasting, will begin a search for a new president, the network said…”CNN needs new thinking. That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan,” said Walton, 54, president since 2003.
CNN, founded in 1980 and now owned by Time Warner Inc, has tried to hold the middle ground in its news coverage, a position that some blame for its ratings erosion, while ratings have risen for competitors Fox News and MSNBC, which blend news with opinion and political commentary…
The problems run deeper than that statement. Fox blends crappy conservative news with rightwing opinion. MSNBC blends straight-up news with opinion that runs from liberal to somewhat progressive. CNN has been stuck with management that considers news only from the perspective of entertainment. That works on the Right. Not in the independent middle or the Left. Real content is still key.
One positive for CNN under Walton’s stewardship has been its financial performance; the network is highly profitable. This year, CNN is on track to post record operating profit of $600 million.
“When Jim Walton assumed the presidency of CNN in 2003, it was underperforming and earnings were in serious decline,” said Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes in a statement. “Since then, he and CNN have tripled earnings, doubled margin and delivered annual growth of 15 percent.”
Since the bottom line – short term – is all that concerns entertainment industry types like Time-Warner I don’t see any likelihood of CNN returning to being a real news source.
The funny thing is that CNN online news has kept to the standard. They’re one of the sources worthwhile blogging. The TV entertainment types got rid of real news staff and concentrated more on personalities, flash and noise. The best of the TV news staff went to NPR, Aljazeera, BBC World.
The entertainment blather bumped numbers for a while – imitating Fox – but, viewers who want real content migrated away to the Internet. Cable and satellite networks are no more courageous than CNN so real competitors like BBC World and Aljazeera have limited distribution here in the United States. At least Aljazeera is available 24/7 via their app – and my AppleTV via AirPlay puts it live up on the living room TV set any time of the day.
In the dramatic conclusion to a week-long saga that has shaken trader confidence in the trillion-dollar U.S. futures markets, authorities released parts of a detailed statement in which one of the industry’s best-known veterans explained how he used little more than a rented P.O. Box, Photoshop and inkjet printers to dupe regulators in a more than $100 million scheme.
FBI agents arrested Russell Wasendorf Sr, 64, at the Iowa City hospital where he has been since trying to commit suicide on Monday. He was charged with making false statements to regulators, but prosecutors said they would seek more charges. He faces “decades in prison”…
In the signed statement, left along with a suicide note and released as part of the criminal complaint, Wasendorf said he began forging bank documents after the business he built from his basement risked failing without additional capital. The timeline suggests his deceit lasted almost the entire life of his brokerage…
“I guess my ego was too big to admit failure. So I cheated,” the note said. It was discovered on Monday in his car outside the company’s new Iowa headquarters, where Wasendorf had tried to kill himself by funneling in tailpipe exhaust.
The arrest ends much of the mystery that has enveloped the futures industry this week. But it will not ease the pain of betrayal in the small Iowa town that Wasendorf made his corporate home in 2009, nor the anger of a financial industry still smarting from the failure of rival brokerage MF Global…
Yet he also wrote in almost boastful detail about the “blunt authority” that allowed him to control the flow of documents into the company; how he used a simple post office box to trick “unquestioning” regulators; and his skill in turning out forged bank statements within hours that “no one suspected.”
First – convict this sleazy thug. He is a crook and shouldn’t be treated differently from any other crook just because he wears thousand-dollar suits.
Second – force regulators to do the job they are paid to do. Snoop, question, evaluate according to industry and government standards. This is part of what the word “govern” means.
Wasendorf’s note about “unquestioning” regulators is significant. No differant from anything admitted by Bernie Madoff – or the few Enron officials who eventually admitted guilt. Getting away with a crime is always made easier by bureaucrats who don’t perform the tasks they’re paid for.
The usual political leeches, conservative politicians who blather of free markets and the glories of enterprise will stamp their patent leather shoes and try to bring a halt to more government regulation. That’s what you get, folks, when you don’t do your own jobs. More oversight. Try taking responsibility for the personal corruption that inspired a thoroughly ordinary thief.
Third – throw away the key.