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Mongabay – The march to extinction accelerates

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From Mongabay:

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The $1M bed: why Madagascar’s rainforests are being destroyed
Consumer demand for rosewood furniture and musical instruments is driving illegal logging in Madagascar’s national parks, endangering wildlife and undermining local community livelihoods, according to a new report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Global Witness. The report, based on more than a year of investigations, shows that Madagascar’s valuable hardwoods—including ebony, pallisander, and rosewood—are being illegally harvested from rainforest parks and trafficked, primarily to China.

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The march to extinction accelerates
A fifth of the world’s vertebrate species (i.e. mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) are threatened with extinction, according to a massive new study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); and the situation is worsening for the world’s wildlife: on average 52 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians move one category closer to extinction every year.

Will dumping mining waste in peatlands help mitigate climate change?
(12/02/2010) Indonesia’s national climate change strategy document includes text suggesting that dumping mining waste in peatlands could be used as an approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

‘These are the facts’: 2010 to be among top three hottest years
(12/02/2010) Despite La Nina arriving at the end of the year—which bring cooler than average conditions—and bitter cold showing up recently in the Northern Hemisphere due to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), 2010 was smoldering enough worldwide that it will very likely be among the top three hottest years since record-keeping began 160 years ago, reports the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today.


‘Environmental and social aggression’: oil exploration threatens award-winning marine protected area
(12/01/2010) The Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA), which recently won top honors at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Japan, is now under threat by planned oil exploration in the region, according to the Providence Foundation which is devoted to protecting the area. Proposed blocs for exploration by the Colombian government lie in the North Cays adjacent to the park, and perhaps even inside MPA boundaries. Spreading over 65,000 square kilometers (6.5 million hectares), Seaflower MPA lies within the Colombian Caribbean department known as the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina. This richly diverse Archipelago is home to a known 57 coral species, over 400 fish, and some 150 birds, as well as the ethnic and cultural minority: the Raizal people. The prospect of massive infrastructure or, even worse, oil spills in the area could devastate the park and locals’ livelihoods.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nicole Belle – Boehner Calls Middle Class Tax Cuts “Chicken Crap”

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From Crooks and Liars:

Boehner Calls Middle Class Tax Cuts “Chicken Crap”

By Nicole Belle

boehner-two-faced.gif

Rep. John Boehner, September 12, 2010:

“If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for them,” Boehner said, later adding: “But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.”

That was then, this is now:

On Wednesday, John Boehner (R-Ohio) said House Democrats were playing political games for forcing a vote on extending the lower- and middle-income tax rates while Obama administration officials were huddling with House and Senate lawmakers. On Thursday, Boehner took it a step further.

“I’m trying to catch my breath so I don’t refer to this maneuver going on today as chicken crap, alright?” Boehner told reporters in the Capitol Thursday. “But this is nonsense. Alright? The election was one month ago. We’re 23 months from the next election and the political games have already started, trying to set up the next election. We had an honest conversation at the White House about the challenges that we face to get out of here and to take care of what the American people expect of us. And the roll this vote out today, it really is just what you think I was going to say anyway.”

That’s right, YOU (and the other 98% of Americans that the middle class tax cut extensions would apply) are nothing but chicken crap to the future Speaker of the House. But the millionaires? They are the MOST important thing in the whole world.

Ezra Klein looks at Boehner’s chicken crap by the numbers.

CBO Director’s Blog – Report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program—November 2010

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From the CBO Director’s Blog:

Report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program—November 2010

November 29th, 2010 by Douglas Elmendorf

Today CBO released the fourth of its statutory reports on transactions undertaken as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)—the program established in October 2008 to enable the Department of the Treasury to promote stability in financial markets through the purchase and guarantee of “troubled assets.” The report discusses CBO’s estimate of the costs of transactions completed, outstanding, and anticipated under the TARP as of November 18, 2010. The report also provides a comparison of CBO’s estimate with that published by the Office and Management and Budget (OMB) in October.

CBO estimates that the cost to the federal government of the TARP’s transactions (also referred to as the subsidy cost), including grants that have not been made yet for mortgage programs, will amount to $25 billion. That cost stems largely from assistance to American International Group (AIG), aid to the automotive industry, and grant programs aimed at avoiding mortgage foreclosures: CBO estimates a cost of $45 billion for providing those three types of assistance. Other transactions will, taken together, yield a net gain of $20 billion to the federal government, CBO estimates.

It was not apparent when the TARP was created two years ago that the costs would be this low. At that time, the financial system was in a precarious condition, and the transactions envisioned and ultimately undertaken through the TARP engendered substantial financial risk for the federal government. However, the cost has come out toward the low end of the range of possible outcomes anticipated when the program was launched. Because the financial system stabilized and then improved, the amount of funds used by the TARP was well below the $700 billion initially authorized, and the outcomes of most transactions made through the TARP were favorable for the federal government.

CBO’s current estimate of the cost—$25 billion—is substantially less than the $66 billion estimate incorporated in the agency’s latest baseline budget projections (issued in August 2010) and the $109 billion estimate shown in the agency’s previous report on the TARP (issued in March 2010).  The reduction in estimated cost over the course of this year stems from several developments:

  • Additional repurchases of preferred stock by recipients of TARP funds;
  • A lower estimated cost for assistance to AIG and to the automotive industry;
  • Lower expected participation in mortgage programs;
  • The elimination of the opportunity to use TARP funds for new purposes (because of the passage of time and the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act).

This report was prepared by Avi Lerner of CBO’s Budget Analysis Division.

CBO Director’s Blog – Estimated Impact of ARRA on Employment and Economic Output From July 2010 Through September 2010

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From the CBO Director’s Blog:

Estimated Impact of ARRA on Employment and Economic Output From July 2010 Through September 2010

November 24th, 2010 by Douglas Elmendorf

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), also known as the economic stimulus package, certain recipients of funds appropriated in ARRA (most grant and loan recipients, contractors, and subcontractors) are required to report the number of jobs funded through the law after the end of each calendar quarter. ARRA also requires CBO to comment on those reported numbers. In its latest report, issued today, CBO provides estimates of ARRA’s overall impact on employment and economic output in the third quarter of calendar year 2010. CBO’s current estimates differ slightly from those presented in its previous report (issued in August 2010), reflecting small revisions to its earlier projections of the timing and magnitude of changes to federal revenues and spending under ARRA.

When ARRA was being considered, CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that it would increase budget deficits by $787 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2019. CBO now estimates that the total impact over the 2009–2019 period will amount to $814 billion. By CBO’s estimate, close to half of that impact occurred in fiscal year 2010, and about 70 percent of ARRA’s budgetary impact was realized by the close of that fiscal year.

CBO’s Estimates of ARRA’s Impact on Employment and Economic Output

Looking at recorded spending to date along with estimates of the other effects of ARRA on spending and revenues, CBO has estimated the law’s impact on employment and economic output using evidence about the effects of previous similar policies and drawing on various mathematical models that represent the workings of the economy. Because those sources indicate a wide range of possible effects, CBO provides high and low estimates of the likely impact, aiming to encompass most economists’ views about the effects of different policies. On that basis, CBO estimates that ARRA’s policies had the following effects in the third quarter of calendar year 2010:

  • They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product by between 1.4 percent and 4.1 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.8 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 5.2 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers).

The effects of ARRA on output peaked in the first half of 2010 and are now diminishing, CBO estimates. The effects of ARRA on employment and unemployment are estimated to lag slightly behind the effects on output; they are expected to wane gradually beginning in the fourth quarter. CBO projects that the number of FTE jobs resulting from ARRA will drop to between 1.2 million and 3.6 million, on average, during 2011.

Limitations of Recipients’ Estimates

CBO’s estimates differ substantially from the reports filed by recipients of ARRA funding. During the third quarter of 2010, recipients reported, ARRA funded more than 670,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs. Those reports, however, do not provide a comprehensive estimate of the law’s impact on U.S. employment, which could be higher or lower than the number of FTE jobs reported, for several reasons (in addition to any issues concerning the quality of the reports’ data):

  • Some of the jobs included in the reports might have existed even without the stimulus package, with employees working on the same activities or other activities.
  • The reports cover employers that received ARRA funding directly and those employers’ immediate subcontractors (the so-called primary and secondary recipients of ARRA funding) but not lower-level subcontractors.
  • The reports do not attempt to measure the number of jobs that were created or retained indirectly as a result of recipients’ increased income, and the increased income of their employees, which could boost demand for other products and services as they spent their paychecks.
  • The recipients’ reports cover only certain ARRA appropriations, which encompass about one-fifth of the total either spent by the government or conveyed through tax reductions in ARRA; the reports do not measure the effects of other provisions of the stimulus package, such as tax cuts and transfer payments (including unemployment insurance payments) to individual people.

Consequently, estimating the law’s overall effects on employment requires a more comprehensive analysis than the recipients’ reports provide.

The report was prepared by Ben Page of CBO’s Macroeconomic Analysis Division.

ProPublica – Interactive: Which Banks Got Emergency Loans from the Fed During the Financial Meltdown?

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From ProPublica:

Interactive: Which Banks Got Emergency Loans from the Fed During the Financial Meltdown?

by Karen Weise and Dan Nguyen

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve released data on more than 21,000 loans and other deals it made through a dozen emergency programs created during the financial crisis. We looked at three of these programs and created an interactive news application analyzing the almost $15 trillion that the Fed loaned to financial institutions in hopes of boosting commercial lending and liquidity.

Full coverage: The Wall Street Money Machine

Paul Craig Roberts – A Government Caught Up in Mendacity and Lies

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From Information Clearing House:

A Government Caught Up in Mendacity and Lies

By Paul Craig Roberts

The reaction to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange tells us all we need to know about the total corruption of our “modern” world, which in fact is a throwback to the Dark Ages.

Some member of the United States government released to WikiLeaks the documents that are now controversial. The documents are controversial, because they are official US documents and show all too clearly that the US government is a duplicitous entity whose raison d’etre is to control every other government.

The media, not merely in the US but also throughout the English speaking world and Europe, has shown its hostility to WikiLeaks.  The reason is obvious. WikiLeaks reveals truth, while the media covers up for the US government and its puppet states.

Why would anyone with a lick of sense read the media when they can read original material from WikiLeaks?  The average American reporter and editor must be very angry that his/her own cowardice is so clearly exposed by Julian Assange. The American media is a whore, whereas the courageous blood of warriors runs through WikiLeaks’ veins.

Just as American politicians want Bradley Manning executed because he revealed crimes of the US government, they want Julian Assange executed. In the past few days the more notorious of the dumbshits that sit in the US Congress have denounced Assange as a “traitor to America.” What total ignorance. Assange is an Australian, not an American citizen. To be a traitor to America, one has to be of the nationality. An Australian cannot be a traitor to America any more than an American can be a traitor to Australia. But don’t expect the morons who represent the lobbyists to know this much.

Mike Huckabee, the redneck baptist preacher who was governor of Arkansas and, to America’s already overwhelming shame, was third runner up to the Republican presidential nomination, has called for Assange’s execution. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/01/us-embassy-cables-executed-mike-huckabee So here we have a “man of God” calling for the US government to murder an Australian citizen.  And Americans wonder why the rest of the world hates their guts.

The material leaked from the US government to WikiLeaks shows that the US government is an extremely disreputable gang of gangsters. The US government was able to get British prime minister Brown to “fix” the official Chilcot Investigation into how former prime minister Tony Blair manipulated and lied the British government into being mercenaries for the US invasion of Iraq. One of the “diplomatic” cables released has UK Defense Ministry official Jon Day promising the United States government that prime minister Brown’s government has “put measures in place to protect your interests.”

Other cables show the US government threatening Spanish prime minister Zapatero, ordering him to stop his criticisms of the Iraq war or else. I mean, really, how dare these foreign governments to think that they are sovereign.

Not only foreign governments are under the US thumb. So is Amazon.com. Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, who is Israel’s most influential senator in the US Senate, delivered sufficiently credible threats to Amazon to cause the company to oust WikiLeaks content from their hosting service. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/01/facing-lieberman-boycott-amazon-ousts-wikileaks/

So there you have it. On the one hand the US government and the prostitute American media declare that there is nothing new in the hundreds of thousands of documents, yet on the other hand both pull out all stops to shut down WikiLeaks and its founder. Obviously, despite the US government’s denials, the documents are extremely damaging. The documents show that the US government is not what it pretends to be.

Assange is in hiding. He fears CIA and Mossad assassination, and to add to his troubles the government of Sweden has changed its mind, perhaps as a result of American persuasion and money, about sex charges that the Swedish government had previously dismissed for lack of credibility.  If reports are correct, two women, who possibly could be CIA or Mossad assets, have brought sex charges against Assange. One claims that she was having consensual sexual intercourse with him, but that he didn’t stop when she asked him to when the condom broke.

Think about this for a minute. Other than male porn stars who are bored with it all, how many men can stop at the point of orgasm or when approaching orgasm?  How does anyone know where Assange was in the process of the sex act?

Would a real government that had any integrity and commitment to truth try to blacken the name of the prime truth teller of our time on the basis of such flimsy charges?

Obviously, Sweden has become another two-bit punk puppet government of the US.

The US government has got away with telling lies for so long that it no longer hesitates to lie in the most blatant way. WikiLeaks released a US classified document signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that explicitly orders US diplomats to spy on UN Security council officials and on the Secretary General of the United Nations.  The cable is now in the public record. No one challenges its authenticity. Yet, today the Obama regime, precisely White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, declared that Hillary had never ordered or even asked US officials to spy on UN officials.

As Antiwar.com asked: Who do you believe, the printed word with Hillary’s signature or the White House?

Anyone who believes the US government about anything is the epitome of gullibility.

David Corn – WikiLeaks Cables Reveal Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From AlterNet:

WikiLeaks Cables Reveal Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.    Read more

By David Corn | Mother Jones
Posted on Thursday, December 2, 2010 @ 08:25 AM