Category Archives: Corporations

Gulf Oil Spill a (Purposeful) ‘Opportunity’?

Robert Gibbs says former FEMA director Michael Brown intimated that the Gulf Spill was ‘leaked on purpose’, though apparently, he made no such accusations. Is Gibbs leaking to us that it was a done on purpose?

Brown Never Said Obama Was Behind The Oil Spill


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Barack Obama turns the oil spill into his poor man’s 9/11 to revive Cap-and-Trade climate legislation

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s chief of staff, famously remarked. “And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” The extent to which his master has absorbed this maxim is demonstrated by Obama’s exploitation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

After obsessively demonising “British Petroleum”, as his administration calls BP – a company 40 per cent British and 40 per cent American owned – Obama plumbed new depths this week by comparing the accident to the Twin Towers atrocity in 2001. To equate an environmental accident in which 11 workers tragically lost their lives with a ferocious terrorist attack that killed 2,995 people, 67 of them British, shows the extent to which Obama has lost touch with reality.

His agenda is to exaggerate the significance of the oil spill crisis to massive proportions, for two reasons. The first is that, the more Americans can be persuaded to regard the accident as a monumental, historic disaster, the less his patent impotence in the face of it will appear blameworthy. His second reason is that, in accordance with the Emanuel doctrine, he sees this as an opportunity to breathe new life into his moribund Cap-and-Trade climate change legislation.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed the climate change Bill last year, but it has stalled in the Senate. Last month, in the wake of the BP oil rig explosion, Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced a “compromise” Bill in the Senate to which Obama is desperate to give a fair wind. He is trying to whip up a green frenzy, to persuade Americans of the evil of oil. Yet ironically, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reminded his colleagues last week, “it’s been widely reported that a major part, a major part of the Kerry-Lieberman Bill was essentially written by BP”.

Cap-and-Trade is extremely difficult to pass in Congress, especially after the forcing through of the unpopular health care legislation, as more and more Americans begin to waken up to the consequences of Obama’s climate change programme. A freedom of information initiative has disclosed that, in contradiction of claims made by the administration, a study by the US Department of Treasury estimated that Cap-and-Trade laws would impose new taxation of up to $200bn a year, equivalent to a 15 per cent increase in income tax.

That is why Obama is trying, very unconvincingly, to brainwash Americans into thinking they are facing a crisis as grave as 9/11 – presumably casting BP as the new al-Qaeda – in order to gain support for legislation that would ratchet up energy prices, destroy jobs and cause the economy to contract. The fact that he is reduced to so transparent an imposture is testimony to how dramatically his status and credibility have shrunk during his 17 months in office. The latest Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll has his Presidential Approval Index rating at a humiliating –18, with 42 per cent strongly disapproving of his performance and just 24 per cent strongly approving. It is that haemorrhaging of support in the run-up to mid-term elections, rather than the oil leak, that is Obama’s real crisis.

Oil Spill, Climate Bill
Obama blocked clean-up of BP oil spill by America’s allies; Failed to issue timely Jones Act waiver
Goldman Sachs sold $250 million of BP stock before spill

In Case you Still Think Obama’s Healthcare Plan is a Good Thing

Obama says The time for debate has ended but Pelosi says: “We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It.” If they do not know what is in the bill, how can the debate about it be over?

16,500 more IRS agents needed to enforce Obamacare

New tax mandates and penalties included in Obamacare will cause the greatest expansion of the Internal Revenue Service since World War II, according to a release from Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

A new analysis by the Joint Economic Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee minority staff estimates up to 16,500 new IRS personnel will be needed to collect, examine and audit new tax information mandated on families and small businesses in the ‘reconciliation’ bill being taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives this weekend. …

Scores of new federal mandates and fifteen different tax increases totaling $400 billion are imposed under the Democratic House bill. In addition to more complicated tax returns, families and small businesses will be forced to reveal further tax information to the IRS, provide proof of ‘government approved’ health care and submit detailed sales information to comply with new excise taxes.

Americans for Tax Reform has a good breakdown of the bill by the numbers.

Isn’t it reassuring that at a time of recession, government will do what’s necessary to ensure its growth?

Final health bill omits some of Obama’s promises

It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.

Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.

Ditto with several Republican ideas that Obama had said he wanted to include after a televised bipartisan summit last month, including a plan by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to send investigators disguised as patients to hospitals in search of waste, fraud and abuse.

And those “special deals” that Obama railed against and said he wanted to eliminate? With the exception of two of the most notorious — extra Medicaid money for Nebraska and a carve-out for Florida seniors faced with losing certain extra Medicare benefits — they are all still there.

For the White House, these were the latest unfulfilled commitments related to Obama’s health care proposal, starting with his campaign promise to let C-SPAN cameras film negotiations over the bill. Obama also backed down with little apparent regret on his support for a new government-run insurance plan as part of the legislation, a liberal priority. Full Story

Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill

The Firedoglake health care team has been covering the debate in congress since it began last year. The health care bill will come up for a vote in the House on Sunday, and as Nancy Pelosi works to wrangle votes, we’ve been running a detailed whip count on where every member of Congress stands, updated throughout the day.

We’ve also taken a detailed look at the bill, and have come up with 18 often stated myths about this health care reform bill.

Real health care reform is the thing we’ve fought for from the start. It is desperately needed. But this bill falls short on many levels, and hurts many people more than it helps.

A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible. Many families who are already struggling to get by would be better off saving the $5,243 in insurance costs and paying their medical expenses directly, rather than being forced to by coverage they can’t afford the co-pays on.

In addition, there is already a booming movement across the country to challenge the mandate. Thirty-three states already have bills moving through their houses, and the Idaho governor was the first to sign it into law yesterday. In Virginia it passed through both a Democratic House and Senate, and the governor will sign it soon. It will be on the ballot in Arizona in 2010, and is headed in that direction for many more. Republican senators like Dick Lugar are already asking their state attorney generals to challenge it. There are two GOP think tanks actively helping states in their efforts, and there is a booming messaging infrastructure that covers it beat-by-beat. Entire Article and Fact Sheet

See Also:

What the Liberal Media Aren’t Telling You About Obama’s Healthcare Plans for tons of links on the healthcare bill
Obama’s Health Care Plan Highlights- Read me and write your congressman and tell him vote NO
Healthcare Bill – HR3200

Related:
Buy Government Insurance or be Fined or Go to Jail
IRS Will Punish Americans Without Acceptable Health Insurance

Television: Monstrous Distortions of Reality

About Television

Unplug the Signal: The Truth Will Not Be Televised

A flow of information is constantly streaming from the television set; a bombardment of words and pictures. The speed at which this information is communicated makes it easy for the signal to take control, switching the viewer’s brain to stand-by as information is absorbed without analysis or question. Today the television’s constant signal shapes the conclusions of the masses and produces the collective norm. The signal prescribes what is news and what is truth through the words of so-called experts and authorities, gelding the consciousness and independent thoughts of those subjected to it. Through television, the masses can be made to accept the most monstrous distortions of reality. The signal is a chill wind of continuous oppression over the minds of the masses. It controls the management of society and culture, creating uniformity across all subjects.

The fuel for this vehicle of mass deception is a technique known as perception management where an array of psychological techniques are used to alter the truth, leading the viewer to a desired conclusion. Some call this spin or propaganda while others know it as lying. According to Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for Adolph Hitler, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it… It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Most of what can be found on the nightly news is nothing but advertisements selling more government and a false reality that benefits only those in control. Television is the dictator of information; newspaper and radio are the whisper campaign of the television’s message.

It is expected that Americans will consistently prescribe to the doctrine of the television. It is subtly communicated that one should stay within the collective and never challenge the message, for doing so may be considered an aggression towards culture. The message is, “Be a good consumer; always obey authority; you know nothing; listen only to experts; be content and never question or express new ideas.” This signal is being broadcast across millions of screens, indoctrinating the unconscious minds of those who choose this as their only reality. Self-censorship occurs when these individuals become so deeply indoctrinated that they are afraid to discuss any information outside the paradigm of television-created culture; they police their thoughts to ensure they won’t conflict with this culture. Sadly, many people’s reality today does not allow any outside information to process, instead it is written off as conspiracy or blatant lies. Our consciousness has been destroyed so much that fiction has become reality. An entire lifestyle of poisonous foods, pharmaceuticals, and fluoridated water are accepted as safe and sold to us at the cost of our health and well being. Full Story

See Also: 5 ways your TV is slowly killing you

‘A Crisis of Historic Proportions’

Unemployment moving map

The New Poor

Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.

Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.

Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department.

Here in Southern California, Jean Eisen has been without work since she lost her job selling beauty salon equipment more than two years ago. In the several months she has endured with neither a paycheck nor an unemployment check, she has relied on local food banks for her groceries.

She has learned to live without the prescription medications she is supposed to take for high blood pressure and cholesterol. She has become effusively religious — an unexpected turn for this onetime standup comic with X-rated material — finding in Christianity her only form of health insurance.

“I pray for healing,” says Ms. Eisen, 57. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got to go with what you know.”

Warm, outgoing and prone to the positive, Ms. Eisen has worked much of her life. Now, she is one of 6.3 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer, the largest number since the government began keeping track in 1948. That is more than double the toll in the next-worst period, in the early 1980s.

Men have suffered the largest numbers of job losses in this recession. But Ms. Eisen has the unfortunate distinction of being among a group — women from 45 to 64 years of age — whose long-term unemployment rate has grown rapidly.

In 1983, after a deep recession, women in that range made up only 7 percent of those who had been out of work for six months or longer, according to the Labor Department. Last year, they made up 14 percent.

Twice, Ms. Eisen exhausted her unemployment benefits before her check was restored by a federal extension. Last week, her check ran out again. She and her husband now settle their bills with only his $1,595 monthly disability check. The rent on their apartment is $1,380.

“We’re looking at the very real possibility of being homeless,” she said.

Every downturn pushes some people out of the middle class before the economy resumes expanding. Most recover. Many prosper. But some economists worry that this time could be different. An unusual constellation of forces — some embedded in the modern-day economy, others unique to this wrenching recession — might make it especially difficult for those out of work to find their way back to their middle-class lives.

Labor experts say the economy needs 100,000 new jobs a month just to absorb entrants to the labor force. With more than 15 million people officially jobless, even a vigorous recovery is likely to leave an enormous number out of work for years.

Some labor experts note that severe economic downturns are generally followed by powerful expansions, suggesting that aggressive hiring will soon resume. But doubts remain about whether such hiring can last long enough to absorb anywhere close to the millions of unemployed.

A New Scarcity of Jobs

Some labor experts say the basic functioning of the American economy has changed in ways that make jobs scarce — particularly for older, less-educated people like Ms. Eisen, who has only a high school diploma.

Large companies are increasingly owned by institutional investors who crave swift profits, a feat often achieved by cutting payroll. The declining influence of unions has made it easier for employers to shift work to part-time and temporary employees. Factory work and even white-collar jobs have moved in recent years to low-cost countries in Asia and Latin America. Automation has helped manufacturing cut 5.6 million jobs since 2000 — the sort of jobs that once provided lower-skilled workers with middle-class paychecks.

“American business is about maximizing shareholder value,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist at the research firm Decision Economics. “You basically don’t want workers. You hire less, and you try to find capital equipment to replace them.”

During periods of American economic expansion in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the number of private-sector jobs increased about 3.5 percent a year, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, a research firm. During expansions in the 1980s and ’90s, jobs grew just 2.4 percent annually. And during the last decade, job growth fell to 0.9 percent annually.

“The pace of job growth has been getting weaker in each expansion,” Mr. Achuthan said. “There is no indication that this pattern is about to change.”

Before 1990, it took an average of 21 months for the economy to regain the jobs shed during a recession, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the National Employment Law Project and the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research group in Washington.

After the recessions in 1990 and in 2001, 31 and 46 months passed before employment returned to its previous peaks. The economy was growing, but companies remained conservative in their hiring.

Some 34 million people were hired into new and existing private-sector jobs in 2000, at the tail end of an expansion, according to Labor Department data. A year later, in the midst of recession, hiring had fallen off to 31.6 million. And as late as 2003, with the economy again growing, hiring in the private sector continued to slip, to 29.8 million.

It was a jobless recovery: Business was picking up, but it simply did not translate into more work. This time, hiring may be especially subdued, labor economists say.

Traditionally, three sectors have led the way out of recession: automobiles, home building and banking. But auto companies have been shrinking because strapped households have less buying power. Home building is limited by fears about a glut of foreclosed properties. Banking is expanding, but this seems largely a function of government support that is being withdrawn.

At the same time, the continued bite of the financial crisis has crimped the flow of money to small businesses and new ventures, which tend to be major sources of new jobs.

All of which helps explain why Ms. Eisen — who has never before struggled to find work — feels a familiar pain each time she scans job listings on her computer: There are positions in health care, most requiring experience she lacks. Office jobs demand familiarity with software she has never used. Jobs at fast food restaurants are mostly secured by young people and immigrants.

If, as Mr. Sinai expects, the economy again expands without adding many jobs, millions of people like Ms. Eisen will be dependent on an unemployment insurance already being severely tested.

“The system was ill prepared for the reality of long-term unemployment,” said Maurice Emsellem, a policy director for the National Employment Law Project. “Now, you add a severe recession, and you have created a crisis of historic proportions.”

Fewer Protections

Some poverty experts say the broader social safety net is not up to cushioning the impact of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Social services are less extensive than during the last period of double-digit unemployment, in the early 1980s.

On average, only two-thirds of unemployed people received state-provided unemployment checks last year, according to the Labor Department. The rest either exhausted their benefits, fell short of requirements or did not apply.

“You have very large sets of people who have no social protections,” said Randy Albelda, an economist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. “They are landing in this netherworld.”

When Ms. Eisen and her husband, Jeff, applied for food stamps, they were turned away for having too much monthly income. The cutoff was $1,570 a month — $25 less than her husband’s disability check.

Reforms in the mid-1990s imposed time limits on cash assistance for poor single mothers, a change predicated on the assumption that women would trade welfare checks for paychecks.

Yet as jobs have become harder to get, so has welfare: as of 2006, 44 states cut off anyone with a household income totaling 75 percent of the poverty level — then limited to $1,383 a month for a family of three — according to an analysis by Ms. Albelda. Full Story

Obama Nation: Ray of Hope has Already Darkened for Many

State of Obama Nation: One year on from America’s choice

Arising From the Ashes of the Financial Collapse – a New World Order

Bush Sr. on a New World Order

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A year after financial crisis, a new world order emerges

One year after the near collapse of the global financial system, this much is clear: The financial world as we knew it is over, and something new is rising from its ashes.

Historians will look to September 2008 as a watershed for the U.S. economy.

On Sept. 7 , the government seized mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac . Eight days later, investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial panic that threatened to topple blue-chip financial institutions around the world. In the several months that followed, governments from Washington to Beijing responded with unprecedented intervention into financial markets and across their economies, seeking to stop the wreckage and stem the damage.

One year later, the easy-money system that financed the boom era from the 1980s until a year ago is smashed. Once-ravenous U.S. consumers are saving money and paying down debt. Banks are building reserves and hoarding cash. And governments are fashioning a new global financial order.

Congress and the Obama administration have lost faith in self-regulated markets. Together, they’re writing the most sweeping new regulations over finance since the Great Depression. And in this ever-more-connected global economy, Washington is working with its partners through the G-20 group of nations to develop worldwide rules to govern finance.

“Our objective is to design an economic framework where we’re going to have a more balanced pattern of growth globally, less reliant on a buildup of unsustainable borrowing . . . and not just here, but around the world,” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner . Full Story

Blackwater/Xe: Christian Supremacists Involved in Murder, Prostitution

Keith Olbermann: Blackwater – Murder, Inc.

Child Prostitution, Illegal Weapons & Murder!

US security firm faces fresh allegations

Ex-employees claim Blackwater pimped out young Iraqi girls

Since the revelation earlier this week of allegations by two former employees of security firm Blackwater that its owner was complicit in murder in order to cover up the deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians, explosive charges have continued to emerge.

Perhaps the most shocking of those charges — quoted by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Thursday from the employees’ sworn declarations — is that Blackwater was guilty of using child prostitutes at its compound in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and that owner Erik Prince knew of this activity and did nothing to stop it.

The declarations describe Blackwater as “having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the ‘Blackwater Man Camp’ in exchange for one American dollar.” They add even though Prince frequently visited this camp, he “failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men.”

One of the statements also charges that “Prince’s North Carolina operations had an ongoing wife-swapping and sex ring, which was participated in by many of Mr. Prince’s top executives.”

According to the two former employees, Blackwater supervisors in Iraq sometimes sent men back to the United States for wanting to “kill ragheads,” excessive drinking, steroid use, or failure to follow weapon safety procedures, but “Mr. Prince and his executives would send them back” with a reprimand to the supervisor for costing the firm money. Blackwater even fired “those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men.”

Full Story

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US Still Paying Blackwater Millions

Just days before two former Blackwater employees alleged in sworn statements filed in federal court that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” the Obama administration extended a contract with Blackwater for more than $20 million for “security services” in Iraq, according to federal contract data obtained by The Nation. The State Department contract is scheduled to run through September 3. In May, the State Department announced it was not renewing Blackwater’s Iraq contract, and the Iraqi government has refused to issue the company an operating license.

“They are still there, but we are transitioning them out,” a State Department official told The Nation. According to the State Department, the $20 million represents an increase on an aviation contract that predates the Obama administration.

Despite its scandal-plagued track record, Blackwater (which has rebranded itself as Xe) continues to have a presence in Iraq, trains Afghan forces on US contracts and provides government-funded training for military and law enforcement inside the United States. The company is also actively bidding on other government contracts, including in Afghanistan, where the number of private contractors is swelling. According to federal contracting records reviewed by The Nation, since President Barack Obama took office in January the State Department has contracted with Blackwater for more than $174 million in “security services” alone in Iraq and Afghanistan and tens of millions more in “aviation services.” Much of this money stems from existing contracts from the Bush era that have been continued by the Obama administration. While Obama certainly inherited a mess when it came to Blackwater’s entrenchment in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has continued the widespread use of armed private contractors in both countries. Blackwater’s role may be slowly shrinking, but its work is continuing through companies such as DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

Full Story