Archive for December 2, 2010

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.

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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


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. 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 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.

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 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

Mosaic News – 12/1/10: World News From The Middle East

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment
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Dean Preston – Tea Party Leader Should Apologize Over Voting Rights Comments

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From the California Progress Report:

Tea Party Leader Should Apologize Over Voting Rights Comments

Posted on 02 December 2010

By Dean Preston

Tenants Together

Judson Phillips, President of “Tea Party Nation,” recently stated that restricting voting to property owners “makes a lot of sense.” Phillips’ comments about disenfranchising tenants were shocking, even coming from the Tea Party.

Phillips made the comment in his weekly Tea Party radio program on November 16, 2010:

“The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who got the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you automatically got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of them was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. And if you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than non-property owners do.”

Over 95 million Americans rent their homes. Renters are one third of the U.S. population. In the 18th Century, states restricted voting to property owners, but these restrictions were phased out in the early 19th Century.

Phillips owes tenants an apology, both in writing and on his radio program.  His support for the disenfranchisement of tenants is appalling. We are increasingly witnessing an era in which right-wing extremists will say anything to spark division and controversy.

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Climate Progress – Nigerian government to charge Dick Cheney in massive bribery case over natural gas pipeline

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The Progress Report – Freezing Hope

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Progress Report:

Blog Watch

The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics.

Technology matters.

Will Republicans accept a modified DREAM Act?

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) links tax cut vote to nuclear weapons.

Fixing the Fed.

Another person dangerously takes Glenn Beck seriously.

Colorado 527s and “magic words.”

How Ireland just got burned.

Freezing Hope

On Monday, President Obama announced that he will propose freezing the salaries of non-military federal workers “for two years to help cut federal spending.” In making his announcement, Obama pointed to the sacrifices made by Americans who serve in the military and said federal workers have to be able to make similar sacrifices by accepting a pay freeze. “These are also times where all of us are called on to make some sacrifices,” he said. “And I’m asking civil servants to do what they always do and play their part.” While streamlining the operations of the federal government and cutting back on wasteful spending is a key progressive goal, the pay freeze is the wrong way to accomplish it. A freeze on federal workers’ pay would have little impact on the budget deficit, discourage talented workers from staying in the federal workforce, harm the economy, fail to win over desired political support from conservatives, and bolster the conservative philosophy that unfairly blames the modest pay of public sector workers for a deficit caused by disastrous warstax cuts for the richexploding health care costs, and a recession spurred by Wall Street’s misdeeds. As an alternative to the freeze, public officials should champion bold progressive ways to cut the deficit that would both lower U.S. debt and protect spending on programs that grow the economy and invest in America.

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The Center For Public Integrity – Polluters Get a Free Pass

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Center For Public Integrity:

December 2, 2010

Center Blogs

PaperTrail Blog » Money & Politics

Whistleblower Bill Close to Winning Senate Approval

December 2, 2010, 4:04 pm

A landmark bill to protect government whistleblowers is expected to win U.S. Senate approval this month, according to two advocacy groups, extending protection to members of the intelligence community who report waste, fraud, and abuse. Read More

PaperTrail Blog » Finance » Financial Reform Watch

New Consumer Agency Won’t Survive If It Focuses Only On Making Rules

December 2, 2010, 3:02 pm

With Republicans angling to strip power from the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren said the agency won’t succeed in curbing unfair and abusive lending practices if it gets bogged down in making too many rules. Read More

The Daily Watchdog

Most Contract Awards Posted on Pentagon Website Omit Key Information

December 2, 2010, 9:45 am

Most of the contract awards announced each day on the Pentagon’s public website are missing some of the information required about dollar amount, number of bids submitted, and other details, the Government Accountability Office says. Read More

The Daily Watchdog

Sensitive Information Posted On Pentagon’s Own Public Websites, Report Says

December 1, 2010, 3:55 pm

The Pentagon, already embarrassed by WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents, needs to tighten up management of hundreds of its own websites because some sensitive information is inadvertently being posted there, according to a new inspector general report. Read More

Polluters Get a Free Pass

Call it the dark side of expediency. In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation’s most egregious polluters. And it has granted the companies sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, according to a new Center investigation. The administration has awarded more than 179,000 “categorical exclusions” to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. We obtained documents that show the administration has devised a speedy review process that relies on voluntary disclosures by companies to determine whether projects pose environmental harm.

Better Tracking of Tuna Fisheries

We’re always watching for story impact. The intergovernmental body charged with protecting Atlantic Bluefin Tuna voted last week to create an electronic system to better track the troubled tuna trade, whose problems were detailed in a recent investigation by our International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The 7-month probe by ICIJ revealed that the trade in Atlantic Bluefin Tuna has been plagued by years of fraud, overfishing and lack of oversight. ICIJ showed that the current paper-based system that is supposed to track the catch is full of holes and inconsistencies, and leaves enforcement officials unable to oversee the trade in real time.

More Money Flowing to Chamber

American businesses do a brilliant job protecting their interests in Washington. The US Chamber of Commerce is currently raising millions of dollars from energy, health insurance and financial services companies to fund a new anti-regulatory campaign, Center reporter Peter H. Stone finds.  The business lobby group is trying to fend off regulations of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency; curb the power of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and ease the costs of the new healthcare reform law for insurers and businesses. The chamber has for many years provided convenient cover to companies wishing to anonymously affect policy.

Tomgram: Andy Kroll, How the Oligarchs Took America

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From TomDispatch:

Recent Posts

Tomgram: Andy Kroll, How the Oligarchs Took America
Posted at 10:00AM on December 02, 2010.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The United States of Fear
Posted at 10:10AM on November 30, 2010.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, General Petraeus’s Two Campaigns
Posted at 3:30PM on November 23, 2010.

Tomgram: David Swanson, All War All the Time
Posted at 4:40PM on November 21, 2010.

Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, How at Risk Is the Justice System?
Posted at 3:05PM on November 18, 2010.

Tomgram: Nick Turse, Off-Base America
Posted at 3:30PM on November 16, 2010.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, War to the Horizon
Posted at 5:28PM on November 14, 2010.

See the Archive »

Tomgram: Andy Kroll, How the Oligarchs Took America

Posted by Andy Kroll at 10:00am, December 2, 2010.

We already know that it’s party time for the financial elite who gave real meaning to the phrase “economic meltdown” in 2008, that bonuses are soaring, that corporate profits for the third quarter of 2010 are beyond the stratosphere, and that the corporate chieftains and Wall Street titans of our new gilded age have, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote recently, “waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time.”

What we know far less about is the degree of the catastrophe they inflicted on the rest of us.  Here’s just one story that should be front-paged in our major newspapers, but for which, at the moment, you have to turn to Dollars and Sense, a modest if intriguing economic publication.  There, Jim Campen, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an expert on racial discrimination in mortgage lending, has written a piece entitled, “Update on Mortgage Lending Discrimination: After a Disastrous Detour, We’re Back Where We Started.”

It may not sound like much, but what a horror story it tells.  If you were black or Latino in the 1980s or early 1990s and wanted to buy a home, the odds were that the banks had “redlined” your neighborhood and were denying you mortgage applications at “disproportionately high rates” compared to whites in similar economic circumstances.  In other words, you would have a tough time becoming a homeowner.  Then came those high-cost subprime loans whose fine print ensured that you would never be able to pay them back.  In a case of “reverse redlining,” they were aggressively targeted at black and Latino neighborhoods in numbers strikingly disproportionate to white neighborhoods.  Not surprisingly, when the housing bubble burst, the financial world shuddered, the economy went south, and wave after wave of foreclosures began to sweep across the country, it was black and Latino homeowners suffered the most.

In Boston in 2006, the peak year of the subprime lending boom, Campen discovered that “49% of all home-purchase loans to blacks, and 48% of all home-purchase loans to Latinos, were high-cost loans, compared to just 11% of all loans to whites.”  In the carnage that followed, he informs us, nearly 8% of black and Latino homeowners were foreclosed on, compared to 4.5% of whites.  In other words, while the people TomDispatch Associate Editor Andy Kroll calls “the New Oligarchs” bought Dom Pérignon and celebrated, they had let loose the financial equivalent of a neutron bomb on nonwhite neighborhoods in America.  It’s a scandal that should be at the top of the news, not in obscure magazines or at websites like this one, and it’s just a small part of the larger, distinctly un-American scandal that Kroll lays out below.  Tom

The New American Oligarchy
Creating a Country of the Rich, by the Rich, and for the Rich

By Andy Kroll

There is a war underway. I’m not talking about Washington’s bloody misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, but a war within our own borders. It’s a war fought on the airwaves, on television and radio and over the Internet, a war of words and images, of half-truth, innuendo, and raging lies. I’m talking about a political war, pitting liberals against conservatives, Democrats against Republicans. I’m talking about a spending war, fueled by stealthy front groups and deep-pocketed anonymous donors. It’s a war that’s poised to topple what’s left of American democracy.

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The Raw Story – Cheney to be charged in $180m bribery case

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Wikileaks CableGate Day 4 – Tom Flanagan Apology and Retraction

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Alley and Rohrabacher: Brain vs Bluster

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The Ecologist – Dupont follows Monsanto in new move to consolidate South African seed market

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Ecologist:

Dupont follows Monsanto in new move to consolidate South African seed market

Kara Moses

1st December, 2010

Proposed merger between Dupont-owned Pioneer Hi-Bred and Pannar Seeds could spell disaster for local farmers and food security, watchdog claims

A proposed merger between two giant seed companies in South Africa has raised concerns among campaign groups that farmers could be forced to become dependent on just two foreign seed market giants, DuPont and Monsanto, for local seed supplies.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, owned by biotech corporation DuPont, is attempting to buy a majority stake in the largest remaining South African seed company Pannar Seeds. If successful, the merger would mean the South African seed market would be effectively duopolised by DuPont and Monsanto, which acquired two other major South African seed companies several years ago.

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TPMMuckraker – How Lieberman Got Amazon To Drop Wikileaks

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From TPMMuckraker:

How Lieberman Got Amazon To Drop Wikileaks

Early this week, after hacker attacks on its site, Wikileaks moved its operation, including all those diplomatic cables, to the greener pastures of’s cloud servers. But today, it was down again and mid-afternoon we found out the reason: Amazon had axed Wikileaks from its servers. Read more »

Keiser Report: Centurion Nails Bankster’s Coffin

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New York Times Beats Drums for War

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Attorney Confirms WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange in Britain, Responds to U.S. Attacks

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Journalist Jeremy Scahill: WikiLeaks Cables Confirm Secret U.S. War Ops in Pakistan

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Democracy Now! Headlines for 12/2/2010

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Rep. John Kline (R – MN) Lambasts Bill To Help Hungry Kids

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Boing Boing – Who spies on your browsing history?

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From Boing Boing:

Who spies on your browsing history?

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 11:55 PM PST

We’ve written before about the security vulnerability that allows websites to sniff your browsing history. A paper from UC San Diego computer science department researchers, “An Empirical Study of Privacy-Violating Information Flows in JavaScript Web Applications,” surveys which websites use this invasive technique against their users. YouPorn tops the list, but PerezHilton, Technorati,, and Wired are also spying on their users’ browsing habits by exploiting this vulnerability.

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McClatchy – Fed’s massive fix sent trillions across the nation, globe

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Fed’s massive fix sent trillions across the nation, globe

Lifting the veil on its $3 trillion emergency rescue of the financial industry, the Federal Reserve Wednesday revealed the names of U.S. and foreign banks that benefited hugely from nearly a dozen programs to stem panic and keep money moving.

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Kaiser Health News – Drug Lobby’s Tax Filings Reveal Health Debate Role

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From Kaiser Health News:

Drug Lobby’s Tax Filings Reveal Health Debate Role

By Bara Vaida and Christopher Weaver

Dec 01, 2010

It’s official. The drug industry’s chief lobbyists – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – raised and spent at least $101.2 million in 2009 on advocacy efforts during the contentious health care debate, according to IRS documents the group filed in mid-November.

Former PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin says the lobby used the money – special contributions from member companies – for broadcast and print advertising, grassroots and direct lobbying, polling and consulting. Tauzin, who has a two-year contract to advise PhRMA’s new leader, recently opened his own DC-based lobbying shop with his son Tom.

The former Republican Louisiana lawmaker was sweetly rewarded. He pulled down a $2.1 million salary, as well as a bonus of $2.3 million in 2009, according to the tax filing. Including other benefits, Tauzin’s total compensation was $4.6 million, just up from his $4.4 million the year before.

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Justin Elliott – Julian Assange and the sex crime Trojan horse

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From the War Room:

Julian Assange and the sex crime Trojan horse

By Justin Elliott

Julian Assange and the sex crime Trojan horse
AP/Martial Trezzini
Julian Assange

Swedish prosecutors today ramped up their pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by authorizing Interpol to issue a so-called Red Notice, which asks foreign governments to arrest and extradite Assange to Sweden.

The prosecutors say he is wanted for questioning about accusations of sex crimes made against him by two women; he has not been charged with a crime. But the real peril here for Assange — whose whereabouts are unknown — is that if he ends up in the hands of Swedish authorities, the chances that he will be extradited to the United States rise significantly.

(Journalist Mark Leon Goldberg has a good explanation of what a Red Notice actually is. Assange is not on a “most wanted” list, as some headlines have put it.)

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WikiLeaks reveals more than just government secrets

By Glenn Greenwald

WikiLeaks reveals more than just government secrets
Clockwise from lower left: Jonah Goldberg, Wolf Blitzer, Julian Assange, Bill Keller and Sarah Palin

(updated below – Update II)

The WikiLeaks disclosure has revealed not only numerous government secrets, but also the driving mentality of major factions in our political and media class.  Simply put, there are few countries in the world with citizenries and especially media outlets more devoted to serving, protecting and venerating government authorities than the U.S.  Indeed, I don’t quite recall any entity producing as much bipartisan contempt across the American political spectrum as WikiLeaks has:  as usual, for authoritarian minds, those who expose secrets are far more hated than those in power who commit heinous acts using secrecy as their principal weapon.

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The Guardian – WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Guardian:

WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban

Officials concealed from parliament how US is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance of treaty

Rob Evans and David Leigh

Wednesday 1 December 2010 22.59 GMT

An expert from the Mines Advisory Group inspects an Israeli cluster bomb in Ouazaiyeh, Lebanon
An expert from the Mines Advisory Group inspects an unexploded Israeli cluster bomb in the Lebanese village of Ouazaiyeh, Lebanon, after the 2006 war. Photograph: Mohammed Zaatari/AP

British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs, the Guardian can disclose.

According to leaked US embassy dispatches, David Miliband, who was Britain’s foreign secretary under Labour, approved the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory.

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Lewis Black – Red White And Screwed 1 (playlist)

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment
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