Blue Water Bubbles wallpaper

Blue Water Bubbles wallpaper

As Mideast Lashes Out Against Corruption, Chamber of Commerce Lobbies to Weaken Anti-Corruption Law

Even as anger over governmental corruption has exploded into protests across the Middle East, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been working to weaken the law that bans companies from bribing foreign officials.

That effort, which has been going on for months, recently got ratcheted up when the Chamber hired former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to lobby specifically on “possible amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” according to Mukasey’s lobbying registration document. The FCPA, passed in 1977, prohibits U.S. companies and foreign companies whose securities are traded on U.S. exchanges from paying bribes to foreign officials.

The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, in a report last fall [PDF], said that both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission had become “increasingly aggressive in their reading of the law” within the last decade, bringing more FCPA enforcement actions than ever, netting higher fines and filing more cases against individual company employees.

That’s something the Justice Department has trumpeted as an achievement: “Our FCPA enforcement is stronger than it’s ever been—and getting stronger,” Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s criminal division said at a conference in November. In the 2010 fiscal year, half of all penalties won by his division were from foreign bribery cases. (The Washington Post just yesterday published a rundown of some recent actions.)

Some of the companies included IBM, Halliburton ( of course) and Tyson Foods. One can understand the irony. If you want the powers that be to have less power and ordinary citizens to have more the first thing to recognize is how corrosive money and bribes can be on having truly democratic institutions. If you can manage to keep politics out of the discussion most everyday working class Americans do have the well founded perception that big corporations and wealthy powerful individuals operate under a different set of legal and ethical standards than the rest of us. Americans  generally are not in favor of preferential treatment for people.

Florida conservative and tea bagger favorite Rick Scott(R-FL) was not simply well known as for being corrupt, but infamous. He bought his way into office with the uncritical support of the same tea baggers who swore they stood for their own brand of change and hope. They said they stood for the organic originalist brand of patriotism. Rick Scott’s Medicaid Overhaul to Benefit…Rick Scott?

Republican governor Rick Scott’s push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial—not least because the health care business Scott handed over to his wife when he took office could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law.

Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.

And of course Scott, his wife and the Florida Republican Party see no conflict of interests. Scott himself, a tea bagger conservative, sees nothing wrong with using big govmint to further enrich himself. I’m not sure what mom and pop Republicans of Florida were thinking – we’ll vote a criminal into office and maybe he”l stop being a criminal. The Right’s version of a rehabilitation program, that happens to be for one of the biggest thieves in the nation’s history.

Michigan is also suffering along with it’s Republican governor and legislature, Open Letter from a Teacher: ‘I Will Remember, and I Have a Voice’ – Letter from a School Teacher to Michigan’s GOP Legislators

When you place corporate interests above the legitimate needs and concerns of the people in your state, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose policies that force thousands of children into poverty (Who, with any sense of morality, can do that?)  in order to INCREASE corporate welfare, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you abandon the principle of governance for the common good in favor of showering the elite with more privileges, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you disseminate propaganda rather than fact-based information and seek to manipulate the public rather than to represent them, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose to make my vote meaningless and cynically go about the business of disenfranchising Michigan’s citizens in favor of gubernatorial dictatorship, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you gut the public schools, one of the cornerstones of democracy, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you defund and devalue my school district to such an extent that it cannot maintain excellence, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you take away my right to bargain my own labor, I will remember, and I have a voice.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated state Senate have their own Kafkaesque dreams of big government. They passed a bill that allows “Snyder to declare a local city to be in a financial emergency and appoint an emergency manager. That manager can, without anyone else’s approval, cancel contracts, including collective bargaining agreements, force consolidation of schools, townships, cities and counties and, unbelievably, unilaterally remove local elected officials.” Why have local officials and elections if the governor decides, based on their idea of bad management or what the very criteria of what constitutes a fiscal crisis, can tell everyone his appointed goon is going to take over governing any locality. Snyder and Republicans have created a financial crisis for many towns because of the financial decisions they made in the capital. One thing that has worsen the state’s financial problems is the governor’s cut in corporate taxes and increasing taxes on the working poor..



Black and White City Northern River wallpaper – Republican Suggests Shooting UK Public Workers

city skyline

Black and White City Northern River wallpaper

I don’t usually cover British politics, but issues concerned with the media and how they are handling their economic crisis does have some parallels here. The Daily Mail is like the UK’s print version of Fox. It is spin and opinion pilfered off on the British public as news. Here is how they are reporting a huge protest in London, 200 arrested as hardcore anarchists fight police long into night in Battle of Trafalgar Square after 500,000 march against the cut

Extremists hijack anti-government cuts demonstration
84 people injured – and at least 31 police officers hurt on day of violence
Ritz hotel attacked with paint and smokebombs and 1,000 occupy Fortnum & Mason
Protesters surge along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street forcing shops to close
Lightbulbs filled with ammonia hurled at police officers
Labour leader Ed Miliband defends speech to marchers

Over 200 people were arrested as extremists brought violent chaos to central London yesterday after hijacking the much-heralded trade union protest against public spending cuts.

A massive clear-up operation was underway today after trouble continued to flare late into the night as hundreds of people clashed with officers in Trafalgar Square.

Police confirmed 201 people were in custody and there had been 84 reported injuries during the protests. At least 31 police were hurt with 11 of them requiring hospital treatment.

Some pretty clever spin. making the protests sound as though it was largely violent. Out of a reported half a million protesters, by the mail’s own numbers there were 84 protesters injured and 31 police. A total of 121 people. That means 0.0168 percent of the protesters were injured during confrontations. While I tend to think any level of violence at protests are unacceptable. Those 500,000 protesters did an admirable job of keeping the violence down. Violence is counter productive. Tending to lessen  sympathy for your cause. Most of the violence and property damage was done by a small group of people who had splintered off from the main protesters. The BBC reports, TUC condemns post-rally violence in central London

Violence which followed a day of anti-spending cuts protests in London has been condemned by union leaders.

Hours after a peaceful march to Hyde Park, there were clashes between police and protesters in Trafalgar Square.

The TUC said the activities of a few hundred people should not detract from the main message of the official protest, which it said was attended by “between 250,000 and 500,000 people”.

Police said a total of 201 arrests had been made during the day.

The arrests were largely for a variety of public order offences, they said. In addition, 66 people were reported to have been injured, including at least 31 police officers, 11 of whom required hospital treatment. The injuries were described as relatively minor.

[  ]…Labour leader Ed Miliband, who spoke at the earlier rally, said there was “no excuse” for the violent scenes.

“I unequivocally condemn those who have committed acts of violence,” he said.

Policing minister Nick Herbert said “a small minority of individuals were intent on disorder”.

Powerline’s own Assrocket see’s people fighting for their economic rights, social justice and the actions of less than 1% of the protesters as the end of England, There May Not Always Be An England

Do you remember the good old days when an Englishman’s proudest boast was that he paid his way? That was then, and this is now: today something like a half million Englishmen demonstrated in London against proposed budget cuts. Their boast, apparently: someone else pays my way!

America’s right is at least consistent, framing England’s social safety net in the same terms they frame that of the U.S. Those protesters do pay their way. When they have jobs they pay for health care and retirement benefits out of payroll taxes just like we pay for Social Security and Medicare out of payroll taxes. The protesters, which Assrocket, without flinching at the hypocrisy, acknowledges is partly about massive layoffs as part of England’s austerity measures. How to save the England that Assrocket remembers, the one that exists only in his imagination. Shoot the protesters,

Powerline suggests shooting protesters.

AssRockets thinks Napoleons prescription would work on the protesters – ” but he had the right prescription for dealing with mobs: a whiff of grapeshot“. For those who are not familiar with the term grapeshot

Grapeshot is a type of anti-personnel ammunition used in naval cannons. It was similar to its land cousin canister shot, although its slugs were much larger to punch through the hull of ships. Instead of solid shot, a mass of loosely packed metal slugs is loaded into a canvas bag. Grapeshot can also be improvised from chainlinks, shards of glass, rocks, etc. When assembled, the balls resemble a cluster of grapes (hence the name). On firing, the balls spread out from the muzzle at high velocity, giving an effect similar to a shotgun, but scaled up to cannon size.

Grapeshot was devastatingly effective against massed infantry at short range. It was used to savage massed infantry charges quickly.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on the attacks on NPR. While I still cannot say I am a fan – to me NPR seems watered down, frequently leans Right of center, has a larger proportion of right-wing guests, features more male reporters and pundits than women, has mostly white commentators and a few other problems, they are, to borrow a quote from the full editorial, “Yet in the words of Confucius, better a diamond with a flaw — a big flaw — than a pebble without.” NPR Is Not Left Wing Opposite of Right Wing Media Machine – Our publicly supported media is not perfect, but we must defend it against this current asault

To the accusers of NPR, the created reality of however they define “liberal” is not the same as what they mean when they call themselves “conservative.” If it were, the two would be exact reverse images of each other. Where media are concerned, all you have to do to know this is not the case is to hold them up, side-by-side. If “liberal” were the counterpoint to “conservative,” NPR would be the mirror of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and James O’Keefe, including the use of their techniques as well as content. Clearly it isn’t.

To charge otherwise is a phony gambit aimed at nothing less than quashing the public’s access to non-ideological journalism, narrowing viewpoints to all but one. We know from first-hand experience that any journalist whose reporting threatens the conservative belief system gets sliced and diced by its apologists and polemicists at Fox and on talk radio.

[  ]…Americans need more and sustained reporting on what the journalist William Greider calls “the hard questions of governance” — those questions of how and why some interests are allowed to dominate the government’s decision making while others are excluded. Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?  None execute this kind of reporting better than Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’s on Democracy Now!, which, while carried by some public radio and television stations, is not distributed nationally by either NPR or PBS.  Public media – radio and television – too rarely challenge the dictum: “News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.”

NPR is a decades long example of how rabid far Right conservatives frame the issue of “liberal” media. Any media, any report, any reporter who does not consistently tow the far Right’s ideological line is defined as liberal. If NPR does a report on Obama cutting taxes – a fact – that is seen as liberal bias. If NPR reports a scientific fact the Right doesn’t like. That is considered a liberal slant. So they are always going to whine about any news that is not spun the way Fox, the WSJ or the Washington Times spins their news. As distasteful as some may find it, reading right-wing blogs, newspapers and net magazines is educational. You get a glimpse of how the media in the United States would be if they had total control. All spin all the time.