Friday, January 30, 2009

Populist Appeal

It's no secret that paying taxes is something the American Empire's wealthy need not fret over. The appointment of Timothy Geithner, a tax cheat, to head the Treasury department certainly rubs our noses in this double standard. Geithner reportedly played a role in the decision to rescue insurer AIG, but a bigger factor was undoubtedly AIG's close relationship to Goldman Sachs. Goldman was AIG's largest trading partner and, until two years ago, was run by former Treasury head and bailout architect Hank Paulson. If AIG collapsed Goldman stood to lose $20 billion.

After receiving $150 billion in bailout funds, AIG is rewarding 400 employees with $450 million in bonuses. This is on the heels of Merrill Lynch's decision to pay out $4-5 billion in bonuses as Bank of America purchases this corporate failure.

Polls showed the U.S. public to be overwhelmingly against last year's bailout, but Obama and McCain rendered it a non-issue with their mutual support of Paulson's corporate welfare program. Single-payer health care was another non-issue with both Obama and McCain standing in firm opposition while opinion polls have shown steady support for socialized medicine.

True populist appeal is not something Obama is interested in. Wall Street appeal is much more lucrative.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heroin & coke saved the banks in 2008

VIENNA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bush takes orders from his boss

from the NY Times, 1/12/09:

In an unusually public rebuke, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to abstain from a United Nations resolution on Gaza that she helped draft, after Mr. Olmert placed a phone call to President Bush.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,’ ” Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now,’ ” Mr. Olmert continued. “He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

Israel opposed the resolution, which called for a halt to the fighting in Gaza, because the government said it did not provide for Israel’s security. It passed 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining.

Mr. Olmert claimed that once he made his case to Mr. Bush, the president called Ms. Rice and told her to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Mr. Olmert said, according to The A.P.

Klein vs. Greenwald

Joe Klein at his worst:
TEXT

"As for [Glenn] Greenwald, he is monomaniacal on the subject of civil liberties. His would be a useful obsession, if he were intellectually honest about it. He is not." -Joe Klein, January 8, 2009

Joe Klein at his best:
TEXT

"Abu Ghraib made a mockery of American idealism. It made all the baser motives (oil, dad, Israel) more believable. And it represents all the moral complexities this President has chosen to ignore: all the perverse consequences of an occupation." - Joe Klein, May 9, 2004

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

U.S. complicity

from THE JERUSALEM POST:

The Israel Air Force used a new bunker-buster missile that it received recently from the United States in strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.

The missile, called GBU-39, was developed in recent years by the US as a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision and low collateral damage strikes.

Israel received approval from Congress to purchase 1,000 units in September and defense officials said on Sunday that the first shipment had arrived earlier this month and was used successfully in penetrating underground Kassam launchers in the Gaza Strip during the heavy aerial bombardment of Hamas infrastructure on Saturday. It was also used in Sunday's bombing of tunnels in Rafah.

The GPS-guided GBU-39 is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world. The 113-kg. bomb has the same penetration capabilities as a normal 900-kg. bomb, although it has only 22.7 kg. of explosives. At just 1.75 meters long, its small size increases the number of bombs an aircraft can carry and the number of targets it can attack in a sortie.

Tests conducted in the US have proven that the bomb is capable of penetrating at least 90 cm. of steel-reinforced concrete. The GBU-39 can be used in adverse weather conditions and has a standoff range of more than 110 km. due to pop-out wings.