Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rare Earths Problem Could Have A Nuclear Solution

The 17 rare earth elements have energy supply by the throat. They are used in everything from oil refineries to solar and wind generators.
These rare earths are, as John Kutsch, director of the Thorium Energy Alliance, says, “the great multipliers.” They make metals stronger, generators more efficient, cell phones smaller, television sets sharper, and laptops lighter. They are, in their way, as important to modern manufacturing as energy.
Back in the days, the United States was a major supplier of rare earths -- with supplemental supplies coming from countries around the world, including Australia and Brazil. Today, 90 percent of the rare earths the world uses come from China.
The use of rare earths is as important in lasers and jet engines as it is in aiming cruise missiles, which means the United States, and the rest of the world, has a huge vulnerability: China controls the supply of new war-fighting material. All U.S. defense manufacturers – including giants Boeing, General Electric and Lockheed Martin -- are dependent on China. Now China is demanding that U.S. companies do more of their manufacturing there: China wants to control the whole chain.


U.S. Supreme Court rejects Obamacare 'death panel' challenge

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a new challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare law that took aim at a bureaucratic board labeled by some Republicans as a "death panel" because it was designed to cut Medicare costs.
The high court left intact a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out the lawsuit.
The court’s action in an unsigned order was a victory for Obama administration, which has faced a barrage of legal challenges to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. The court is currently weighing a separate case challenging health insurance subsidies that are key to Obamacare’s implementation. A ruling is due by the end of June.

Monday, March 30, 2015

An Update On Hillary's Quest For Another Run For The White House.

It is well established that Hillary Clinton intends to make another run for president.  At present she is the Democrat front runner.  A number of issues, however, suggest she is a vulnerable candidate. Current negative revelations regarding her actions prior to and while serving as Secretary of State and following are raising concerns within her campaign specifically and with Democrats generally.  This item reviews some of the problems plaguing her future plans.  If time is limited please at least read the first four paragraphs and some of the attached links.  The first and fourth (especially the fourth including the link) are sufficient to get the full impact of her dilemma.

This item updates what is known about the Benghazi disaster when four Americans were killed while Hillary was Secretary of State. The as of date is  9 March 2015.  The White House and State Department cover-up efforts were apparently generated by the need to hide the fact that they were conducting a gun running operation and did not want the public to know.  Quote: "The U.S. special mission in Benghazi and the nearby CIA annex were utilized in part to coordinate arms shipments to the jihadist rebels fighting the Syrian regime, with Ambassador Christopher Stevens playing a central role, documents an explosive new book released today."  and "A key issue is that until the end of April 2013, the White House had repeatedly denied it was involved in helping to arm the Syrian rebels.  However, “The REAL Benghazi Story” cites evidence of arms transfers throughout the summer of 2012, escalating with a major shipment from Libya to Turkey just days prior to the Sept. 11 attack."     http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/09/finally-revealed-what-ambassador-in-benghazi-was-really-doing/   This is a segment on Face The Nation where Bob Schieffer interviews Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House committee investigating the Benghazi tragedy.  It regards Benghazi related emails.   http://eaglerising.com/15996/trey-gowdy-says-there-are-gaps-of-months-and-months-in-hillary-clintons-emails/

This is what we know from Hillary's press briefing given on 10 March 2015.  It was suppose to answer questions about her conducting government business using her private email account and potential violations of federal law. She did not satisfy many with her comments rendered during the press conference.  Quote: "Clinton met the press but refused to address the toughest, and most important, three questions she faced about her use of private email accounts for all of her official government business during her tenure as secretary of state:  Would she have an independent arbiter look at her private email server?  What lengths would she go to prove she did not delete emails?  Did she clear the server with State Department security officials, or anyone?"   http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/bachmann-rips-hillary-alibi-what-difference-does-it-make/    It is noteworthy that the AP is filing a lawsuit against the State Department seeking to obtain several unanswered FOIA requests for copies a variety of Hillary's records.  Their FOIA requests have been ignored which is a likely violation of the FOIA act.  The lawsuit includes the emails covered in this item.   http://bigstory.ap.org/article/5f35e25c77194546822769b2f9672fe3/ap-sues-state-department-seeking-access-clinton-records  

This is a former judge's assessment of Hillary's email dilemma.  "By using her personal email address -- @clintonemail.com -- she kept her work documents from the government. Concealing government documents from the government when you work for it is a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and permanent disqualification from holding public office.  Failing to secure classified secrets in a government-approved facility or moving them to a non-secure facility outside the government's control is a misdemeanor, punishable by a hefty fine and a year in jail. Using a false email address that gives the clear impression that the user is not using a government server when she is, or one that creates the false impression that the emailer is using a government server when she is not, is also a felony.  Failing to secure classified secrets in a government-approved facility or moving them to a non-secure facility outside the government's control is a misdemeanor, punishable by a hefty fine and a year in jail. Using a false email address that gives the clear impression that the user is not using a government server when she is, or one that creates the false impression that the emailer is using a government server when she is not, is also a felony." http://townhall.com/columnists/judgeandrewnapolitano/2015/03/12/obama-and-the-clinton-emails-n1969150/page/full     The government's senior most FOIA official's reaction to Hillary's actions are that she was dead wrong and that her claims are laughable.  http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/democrat-foia-expert-hillarys-claims-laughable/    If the judge and this FOIA official are right Hillary is in deep trouble.  This item needs to also be considered as it directly challenges her ethics. http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/clinton-deleted-all-emails/

This item extends the email issue facing Hillary.  If all that is being revealed is true she is in deep trouble.  Quote: "Read in the best possible light, Clinton has lied about what was on her server. She has lied about what was erased. She played fast and loose with classified information. Her lawyer has similarly lied to Trey Gowdy at Clinton’s behest. Read in the worst light, her actions are felonies worthy of a long prison term."  http://www.redstate.com/2015/03/28/situation-normal-hillary-clinton-obstructs-justice-operates-outside-law/   

The Benghazi and email dilemmas rival the troubles she faces with apparent irregular if not illegal fund raising activities.   http://finance.yahoo.com/news/hillary-clintons-money-problems-keep-215312443.html?

Among her troubles with fund raising are her associations with a number of Iranians.  This item is disturbing.  Quote: "As the U.S. presses for an agreement that could allow Iran to become a nuclear-weapons power, Hillary Clinton’s receipt of funds from the mullah-led Islamic regime and her hiring of a convicted Iranian-American multimillionaire with ties to Tehran as her national campaign finance director in 2008 could become an issue if she runs for president again."   And regarding her 2008 campaign finance director, "On July 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Nemazee to serve 12 ½ years in federal prison on multiple federal criminal counts of bank and wire fraud." http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/hillary-has-history-of-iranian-fundraising-to-explain/

Things are looking bad for Hillary when members of her own party start pilling on regarding her lack of candidness and even questioning her honesty.  Quote: "Team Clinton is hoping this all blows over, but according polling, government corruption is a top concern of voters. If that position holds, Clinton and Democrats who support her will have a problem on their hands moving in the presidential election."      http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/03/16/james-carville-yeah-hillary-clinton-probably-used-private-email-to-avoid-accountabilty-and-oversight-n1971117

Who would want to work for someone who treats the help like this?   Bill has introduced a new problem for Hillary's campaign.  Quote: "The New York Times shed light on Guistra’s association with the Clintons in a 2008 report detailing a trip Guistra took with former President Bill Clinton to Kazakhstan in 2005. The pair shared a banquet dinner with Kazakhstan’s president/dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose abysmal human rights record has been criticized by Hillary Clinton, among others. Days later, Guistra’s mining company won lucrative contracts to participate in three state-owned uranium projects."  And, "Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges."    http://freebeacon.com/blog/hsbc-leak-clinton/

Bill has introduced a new problem for Hillary's campaign.  Quote: "The New York Times shed light on Guistra’s association with the Clintons in a 2008 report detailing a trip Guistra took with former President Bill Clinton to Kazakhstan in 2005. The pair shared a banquet dinner with Kazakhstan’s president/dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose abysmal human rights record has been criticized by Hillary Clinton, among others. Days later, Guistra’s mining company won lucrative contracts to participate in three state-owned uranium projects."  And, "Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges."    http://freebeacon.com/blog/hsbc-leak-clinton/ 

The author of this item asks a good question.  Based on the evidence presented the answer should be no.   http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/dwwilber/2015/02/11/does-hillary-possess-a-conscience-n1955785/page/full

George Burns

Thursday, March 26, 2015

US stock market is just way too riggin’ easy

The stock market is rigged.
When I started making that claim years ago — and provided solid evidence — people scoffed. Some called it a conspiracy theory, tinfoil hats and that sort of stuff. Most people just ignored me.
But that’s not happening anymore. The dirty secret is out.
With stock prices rushing far ahead of economic reality over the last six or so years, more experts in the financial markets are coming to the same conclusion — even if they don’t fully understand how it’s being rigged or the consequences.
Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru who isn’t one of the clowns of the bunch, said flat out last week that the market was being propped up. “These markets are all rigged, and I don’t say that critically. I just say that factually,” he asserted on CNBC.
Yardeni’s claim is the most basic one: that the Federal Reserve won’t do anything that will upset Wall Street and, in fact, is doing all it can to help the stock market.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Obama the playground taunter and his merchants of betrayal coddle Iran

It is one thing to shrink from the fight. It is one thing to melt in terror over the unimaginable savagery of the tactics of Islamic radicals. It is one thing to become so paralyzed with fear that your knees buckle and you collapse into the bloody folds of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s skirts.

That is the choice President Obama has made, with steady guidance from Secretary of State John Kerry, who will soon assume the title as history’s greatest buffoon from former President Jimmy Carter and former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

These men — President Obama and Mr. Kerry — are so many fathoms out of their depth that the best they can do for civilization is to toss control of the entire Middle East into the hands of the Iranians. That really and truly is their strategy.

Let Iran figure it out, they say. Let them castrate the gays. Let them lop off the hands of petty thieves. Let them enslave little girls into lifetimes of servitude.

It is one thing to command the world’s most powerful military force with such cowardice, devoid of any convictions. It is one thing to dismiss the lives of so many innocents with such cavalierness.


Obama Regime is Precisely What it Accuses America of Being

With the mega ironies of our tumultuous times in competition for top spot, it must be The Irony of Ironies that Obama and his minions are down to a ‘Tee’ exactly what they accuse America of being: despicable bullies of the world.
First seizing then standing on sanctimony and Projection 101 are Commandments 1 and 2 in Marxist ideology.

History shows that whenever Marxists make it into high office, they seize the moral high ground from which they lecture the masses from bully pulpits provided by the media of the day.

The story of the Obama Marxist regime is told in hundreds of Western movies: the Yahoos come shouting their way into town; kick up the dust into the faces of the hardworking townspeople they invade and bully and burrow their way into a society that is always so much better off without them.

In the days of the Yahoos starring in Westerns, their pictures were posted down at the local post office under the message: ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’.  Today, Obama’s picture haunts us from both the television and computer screen from which there is little escape.


The Export-Import Bank’s Hidden Tax on America’s Companies

For those hoping the Republican congress will allow the charter of the Export-Import Bank to expire on June 30, two recent House reauthorization bills and an imminent bipartisan Senate bill to accomplish the same are not particularly reassuring.

What’s not to like about the Export-Import Bank? The U.S. government’s official export credit agency finances sales of American companies to foreign customers, increasing exports, stimulating output, and creating jobs. Only the most cynical, anti-government zealots could have a problem with this vital engine of economic growth and global engagement. Well…not so fast.

Ex-Im supporters — mostly corporate beneficiaries and politicians — work hard to sculpt the Bank’s image as an institution of costless necessity. But closer examinations have revealed corruption, corporate welfare, and hidden taxation on thousands of U.S. businesses. Victims abound across the country.



If you’re a white liberal you fight this internal, unconscious racism in a number of ways. For example:

You make a point of being ostentatiously friendly with black people;
You never disapprove of “black culture,” even the subculture of lower-class blacks;
You pretend to yourself that you like hip-hop music;
You think Al Sharpton makes a worthwhile contribution to American political discussion;
In collisions between the police and young black males, you give the benefit of the doubt to the young black males;
In the 2008 Democratic primary you voted for Obama, not Hillary; and since then you have approved of everything Obama has done, no matter how inept.


Stocks are overpriced, overleveraged, headed for trouble

Wall Street can’t say it hasn’t been warned.
The Office of Financial Research, the agency tasked with promoting financial stability and keeping an eye on markets released a paper last week, stating that the stock market is dangerously overpriced while excessive leverage will exacerbate the next market correction.
The paper is aptly titled “Quicksilver Markets” alluding that when prices deflate it will happen swiftly and not without pain.
“The timing of market shocks is difficult, if not impossible, to identify in advance, let alone quantify — a shock, by definition, is unexpected,” wrote Ted Berg, an analyst at OFR.
But Berg identified several indicators that are pointing to a correction. Instead of looking at valuation in isolation, Berg and his team analyzed other factors, such as corporate profits and leverage, and found a disturbing picture.


Capital Flees Europe And Fed Warns - Time To Trim Stocks

The Wall Street Journal detailed Europe’s flight of capital in “Torrent of Cash Exits Eurozone – Money is going to dollar, currencies of smaller countries.” This unnerving situation rarely (never?) occurs in a major, developed county. From the article (underlining is mine):
A major shift in the flow of money around the globe is driving down the euro at a rapid clip, boosting the U.S. dollar and leaving smaller countries to struggle with the consequence of an extraordinary flood.
A wave of cash is leaving the eurozone, where returns on safe assets are infinitesimal, if they are positive at all, and headed to the U.S. and other refuges such as Denmark and Switzerland.
Europe’s common currency has fallen 22% against the dollar in less than a year, from $1.39 to $1.08. The euro touched a 12-year low of less than $1.05 this month. The European Central Bank is holding interest rates, while the U.S. Federal Reserve is looking to raise them—a combination that pushes the euro down against the dollar.


Sorry, but there was never an oil storage crisis

Crude oil storage inventories in the US are at their highest levels in decades. Is that going to cause the price of West Texas Intermediate crude to crash?
Probably not, according to Robert Rapier of Energy Trends Insider.
In fact, we're not even close.
Rapier writes that "oil producers could continue to add a million barrels a week (which is about the average over the past year) for nearly four years before crude oil storage is actually full."
The best-known storage facility, in Cushing, Oklahoma, would run out of space much sooner than that at the current rate (about four months from now). But that still isn't going to happen, according to Rapier:
We are currently in the season when refinery utilization is lowest. Refiners take equipment offline in fall and spring to do maintenance, so they use less crude oil at this time of year. This maintenance usually peaks in March, and then crude oil demand picks back up as refiners gear up for the summer driving season. The difference in refinery demand between this time of year and summer is generally around a million barrels per day, so even if nothing else changes that storage build should start to flatten.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton's credibility just took another hit in email flap

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's staff also used personal emails to conduct state business, possibly contradicting assurances that her team's communications took place on government servers.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner in 2016, emailed her top aides on their private email accounts when discussing the attack on the diplomacy facility in Benghazi, Libya.
"Did we survive the day?" Clinton wrote to a close adviser after being grilled by House Republicans about the 2012 incident.
The report casts new doubts on whether Clinton was being entirely truthful when she said the "vast majority" of her emails intentionally included a State Department address to ensure they were captured by government servers.

FACT CHECK: Higher taxes to balance GOP budgets

The new House and Senate Republican budgets make a big boast: They both balance the federal budget within 10 years, without raising taxes.
Their own numbers, however, say millions of American families and businesses would have to pay more in taxes to make the math work — about $900 billion more over the next decade.
Both budgets also claim big savings by repealing President Barack Obama's health law. But at the same time, they rely on more than $1 trillion in tax revenue from the health law that would supposedly be repealed.
The House and Senate are scheduled to take up their budget resolutions in the coming days. These are nonbinding political documents that often lack details, especially when it comes to taxes.
Nevertheless, they provide important insight into how majority Republicans in Congress would tackle the federal government's finances.

Partisan Politics and the Inequality Gap

When Democrats hold the presidency, unemployment declines more than when the GOP occupies the Oval Office. And when Republican presidents are at the helm, stock-markets make larger gains. Both parties, it seems, tailor their economic policies to reward their core supporters. Partisan politics, a recent study concludes, helps to fuel America's increasing economic inequality.
The evidence of a growing partisan divide in the U.S. has been hard to ignore during recent elections. So has the reality of the economic disparity between the nation’s richest and poorest citizens. The increasing polarization has even led to calls for greater equality of income and wealth from the highest political offices. But the fact remains that politicians seek to appease their political bases first and foremost, and that can lead to a cycle of macroeconomic policies that disproportionally help, or hurt, only one portion of the population during a party's presidential tenure.
The economic concerns of voters in each party, at least in recent years, have been fairly different. A 2009 Gallup poll shows that during the recession, Republicans were most focused on the growing deficit and the possibility of increasing taxes while Democrats listed unemployment and the lack of health insurance as their primary economic concerns. This differentiation was echoed in a 2014 Pew survey, which showed that Republican voters were, again, most concerned with the budget deficit while Democrats said their primary concern was economic inequality.


About Obamacare

I suspect that most average Americans would agree that implementation of Obamacare and the law itself have not lived up to the hype espoused by its authors and implementers.  Years after its passage into law troubles implementation problems persist and increasingly its application in real life is revealing even larger problems.  The Supreme Court will rule on its Constitutionality this year.  Regardless of their ruling its harm will be with us for some time.  I had a recent discussion with my ear doctor about Obamacare and said that we were fortunate that it had not affected us.  He said "Don't worry, it will.  Here are a few examples of why he is probably right..

This is a most interesting interview with the man who discovered the infamous Gruber videos which exposed details regarding how Obamacare was put together.  After viewing this item anyone with any common sense and a sense of decency will see and understand the vast deception that liberals are foisting on the American people. Quote: "Weinstein says thanks to Obamacare, his insurance premiums have doubled. Today, he has connected with three other “citizen journalists” who say they’re committed to doing the job that the news media is not doing well: critically investigating the Affordable Care Act."    http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/02/first-time-camera-meet-man-discovered-gruber-videos/

Obamacare was suppose to enhance healthcare across the nation, especially for the poor.  As is well documented the opposite is true.  For instance this item points out that it is forcing many rural hospitals to close.  Quote: "Forty-eight rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and 283 are in danger, the Post quotes the National Rural Health Association as saying. Most of the shuttered hospitals are in the South.  Other factors are contributing to the problem, but Obamacare is cited as the main reason."
http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/obamacare-rural-hospitals-close/2015/03/15/id/630246/    Here's more.  http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/obamacare-designed-to-close-rural-hospitals/

Not only does Obamacare harm the nation's healthcare system, it is hurting small businesses.  Quote: "... a 30-year restaurant veteran, faced unique challenges in the industry, where profit margins ranged from 5 percent to 7 percent. Restaurants already produce the lowest revenue per employee, meaning there was a high labor cost associated with implementing the new law [Obamacare].  Here is just one example.  http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/22/this-longtime-ihop-owner-sold-his-restaurants-because-of-obamacare/?
Quote: "On the federal level, the problem apparently goes back to the healthcare.gov website, which has been plagued with troubles since it was first launched.  From the Washington Times coverage of the massive tax info error, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says data errors could mean that hundreds of thousands of people who enrolled in Obamacare won’t get the federal subsidies they expected to help reduce their insurance premiums."   http://www.westernjournalism.com/bombshell-tax-info-errors-just-revealed-mean-huge-obamacare-headache-many/  And here:  http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/02/20/ocare-wrong-tax-info-n1959983

How about this one.  Quote: "I again feel compelled to rise on behalf of Obamacare opponents to puncture Vox's latest pseudo-factual exercise in ideological self-congratulation.  Last week, blogger Sarah Kliff, who has done some good work as a journalist on the healthcare beat, published a piece crowing that the so-called "Affordable" Care Act has been vindicated by outcomes, effectively exposing its critics as ignorant hacks.  Setting aside problems with her approach -- selecting uniquely hyperbolic predictions to "rebut," and treating shorthand critiques as granular objections, for instance -- let's examine the eight "myths" she purports to refute."

This doctor says our medical system is headed for a meltdown. Quote: "The signs are everywhere of an imminent “catastrophic collapse” of the U.S. health-care system that will leave Americans clamoring for medical attention, medical supplies and hospital care, says the former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.  Dr. Lee Hieb, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and author of a new book called “Surviving the Medical Meltdown,” says the evidence is mounting that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, is making health care scarcer and that the worst is yet to come.   http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/medical-meltdown-imminent-warns-top-doctor/

Quote: "The health insurance market is changing. And the changes are not good. Even before there was Obamacare, most insurers most of the time had perverse incentives to attract the healthy and avoid the sick. But now that the Affordable Care Act has completely changed the nature of market, the perverse incentives are worse than ever."    http://townhall.com/columnists/johncgoodman/2015/02/21/how-obamacare-is-destroying-health-insurance-n1960029/page/full

A lawsuit is before the Supreme Court for adjudication.  This provides a brief summary of what the lawsuit is about.   http://humanevents.com/2015/02/23/why-we-are-taking-obamacare-to-court/?

This is one of the models we were told was a successful implementation of government run healthcare and served as one of the ones on which they modeled Obamacare.  It is collapsing.   http://humanevents.com/2015/02/23/analysis-u-k-s-national-health-service-continues-to-deteriorate/

George Burns

Sunday, March 22, 2015

U.S. Fights Penalty Threat in Obama Immigration-Policy Suit

The Obama administration asked a federal judge not to penalize it for failing to tell him that a program intended to loosen immigration restrictions was partially implemented, despite his order temporarily blocking it.
The government’s request Saturday followed a threat by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, in Brownsville, Texas, to sanction administration lawyers. Hanen granted a request last month by 26 states to block the initiative by President Barack Obama until their lawsuit challenging it is resolved.
As many as 5 million immigrants could receive deportation waivers and benefits under the plan, announced in November. To qualify, applicants must have been in the U.S. for at least five years and have a child who was born a citizen, or who were brought here themselves as children. They must also pass a criminal background check. 

Greece Continues That Slide Towards Grexident

It’s somewhat difficult to work out what is the negotiating strategy of the Greek side over this debt bailout deal. For it’s increasingly looking like that wonderful portmanteau invention of Schaeuble, the German finance minister, could be about to come true, Grexident. That is, Greece leaving the euro and the eurozone by accident, not by design. Everyone involved in the negotiations keeps insisting that this isn’t what they want to happen. But everything being done by the Greeks appears to be making this more likely. At which point one really does have to start wondering, well, is this actually being done by mistake or not? For it’s long been known that various of the Syriza people, the finance minister Varoufakis among them, privately think that they simply will not be able to reform the Greek economy as they wish to while inside the euro system. It’s just that the Greek electorate doesn’t think that way.
We’ve the usual German insistence that whatever the deal is it must accord with everything that has been agreed so far:


Israel: Beware of Obama

First he comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt and nationalizes the Internet.
He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican “enemies.” He abandons our ­allies, appeases tyrants, coddles ­adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.
Now he’s coming for Israel.
Barack Obama’s promise to transform America was too modest. He is transforming the whole world before our eyes. Do you see it yet?


Under Health Care Act, Many Tax Filers Are Discovering Costly Complications

When he signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act last fall, J. C. Ciesielski estimated his income at $19,400, qualifying him for a federal subsidy that cut his premiums in half. But Mr. Ciesielski, an actor, earned an extra $2,340 from a voice-over job in December, and that welcome bit of income proved problematic when he did his taxes this month.
A tax preparer told Mr. Ciesielski that because he had not informed the federal health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, of his additional income, he had to repay $118 of his subsidy. Mr. Ciesielski, who is being treated for a brain tumor, looked perplexed as he learned the money would come out of his refund check.
“This is definitely the lowest refund I’ve ever gotten,” Mr. Ciesielski, 34, said as he drummed his fingers on the tax preparer’s desk. “But it boils down to I have health insurance, which I desperately need.”


Heavy burden weighs on markets

The grand experiment of central banks to borrow their way to growth may be headed for implosion.
The record expansion in debt across the globe — a stunning $57 trillion since 2007, when the financial crisis erupted — is shattering market confidence and choking prosperity at home as the Fed threatens higher interest rates and Europe engages in its own round of quantitative easing, according to many Wall Street analysts.
“The debts grow larger and larger because of our ability to postpone the consequences — and we are rapidly approaching the crisis that will dwarf the crisis in 2007 and 2008,” said market pundit Peter Schiff, CEO at Euro Pacific Capital.
“The only way we are able to stay ahead is by reducing interest rates and by having the Federal Reserve monetize debt,” he added
And with talk of raising rates at the Fed, the losers are already piling up.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pesticides in produce

Across America, confusion reigns in the supermarket aisles about how to eat healthfully. One thing on shopper’s minds: the pesticides in produce. In fact, a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,050 people found that pesticides are a concern for 85 percent of Americans. So, are these worries justified? And should we all be buying organics—which can cost an average of 49 percent more than standard fruits and vegetables?
Experts at Consumer Reports believe that organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food. The risk from pesticides in produce grown conventionally varies from very low to very high, depending on the type of produce and on the country where it’s grown. The differences can be dramatic. For instance, eating one serving of green beans from the U.S. is 200 times riskier than eating a serving of U.S.-grown broccoli.
“We’re exposed to a cocktail of chemicals from our food on a daily basis,” says Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H., director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body. “It’s not realistic to expect we wouldn’t have any pesticides in our bodies in this day and age, but that would be the ideal,” says Crupain. “We just don’t know enough about the health effects.”
If you want to minimize your pesticide exposure, see the chart below. We’ve placed fruits and vegetables into five risk categories—from very low to very high. (Download our full scientific report, "From Crop to Table.") In many cases there’s a conventional item with a pesticide risk as low as organic. Below, you’ll find our experts’ answers to the most pressing questions about how pesticides affect health and the environment. Together, this information will help you make the best choices for you and your family.


Fed cuts US economic forecasts for 2015

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday broadly lowered its outlook on the US economy this year, saying growth and inflation were slowing but the jobs market was expected to keep improving.
The Federal Open Market Committee, in a statement following a two-day meeting, said information since the January meeting suggested "economic growth has moderated somewhat."
The FOMC said that the labor market had made gains but inflation had declined further below its longer-run 2.0 percent target, largely due to falling energy prices. It held the key federal funds rate at the zero level, where it has been pegged since December 2008 to underpin the recovery from the Great Recession.
In an update of December projections released along with the FOMC statement, the Fed cut its estimate of 2015 gross domestic product growth by 0.3 percentage points, to a range between 2.3 percent and 2.8 percent. In 2014, the economy grew 2.4 percent.

INFLUENCE GAME: Meat industry fights new dietary proposal

Meat companies have tried to rehabilitate an image tarnished in recent years by health and environmental concerns. Now the industry is swiftly and aggressively working to discredit a proposal for new dietary guidelines that recommends people eat less red and processed meat.
The proposal last month by a government advisory committee also relegates the health benefits of lean meat to a footnote to the main recommendations.
"We've been put in a position over the years to almost be apologizing for our product, we're not going to do that anymore," said Barry Carpenter, the president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute.
The meat industry long has been one of the more powerful lobbies in Washington, enjoying an especially close relationship with the Agriculture Department, which has inspectors in meat processing plants.
Together, the meat processing and livestock industries spent about $7 million on lobbying last year and donated more than $5 million to members of Congress in the last election cycle, according to the political money and influence tracking website OpenSecrets.org.


House Democrats angry over Obama’s classified trade meeting

House Democrats are criticizing President Obama's administration for holding a classified briefing on trade with top administration officials, saying it's an attempt to push a trade program in secret.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman will meet with House Democrats on Wednesday in a classified briefing to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Members will be allowed to attend the briefing on the proposed trade pact with 12 Latin American and Asian countries with one staff member who possesses an “active Secret-level or high clearance” compliant with House security rules. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told The Hill that the administration is being “needlessly secretive.”
“Even now, when they are finally beginning to share details of the proposed deal with members of Congress, they are denying us the ability to consult with our staff or discuss details of the agreement with experts,” DeLauro told The Hill.


Forget patience, QE4 is coming: Peter Schiff

While Wall Street waits on whether or not the Fed will include the word "patient" in its statement Wednesday, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital is instead waiting for something else: another round of quantitative easing .
"I think the Fed is more likely to launch QE4 than it is to raise interest rates," Schiff told "Futures Now" on Tuesday. "Wall Street is looking for the Fed to take [the word 'patient'] away because the Fed wants to maintain the pretense that they are actually going to raise rates, but I don't think that's going to happen at all."
Despite a falling unemployment rate and record stock prices (ASX: SPY-AU), Schiff contends the U.S. economy is much weaker than it appears, and that any move by the central bank to raise rates would only derail an already fragile economy.


The Clock Has Hit Midnight for the US Stock Market

The stock market has hit a peak, and the buy-the-dip crowd no longer has the muscle to push it higher, according to Reagan White House budget chief David Stockman.
Stockman noted the S&P 500 has struggled to stay above the 2,000 level since for months, with numerous dips, plunges and signs of weakness since then. Now the clock is striking midnight, in his estimation.
"After the Fed has spent six years inflating a new and even more stupendous financial bubble – the third this century – the market top is in," he declared on his Contra Corner blog.
Stockman believes the timing of the Federal Reserve's expected monetary tightening, which consensus sees coming no later than this summer, could hardly be worse — it is coinciding both with the market top and an emerging downturn in the broader economy.
"The Eccles Building [where the Fed is housed] has been so petrified of a Wall Street hissy fit that it has cowered its way right into the worst central bank error in recorded history: Namely, it is finally attempting to wean Wall Street from its addiction to free gambling money just in time for the tepid post-crisis business cycle recovery to exhaust itself," Stockman predicted.

The Last Two Years of the Obama Administration Will Be a Nightmare. Here’s One Reason Why

President Barack Obama is quietly but steadily working behind the scenes on what could become one of his signature achievements: A global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What he’s seeking out of the December U.N. climate talks in Paris would create the broadest, farthest-reaching deal in history, reworking environmental regulations for governments and corporations around the world and creating a framework for global green policy for decades.Republicans in Congress, sensing what he’s up to, are already saying no. And Obama’s already preparing to sign on without them.
Well, of course he is — that’s how Obama rolls. No Congress, no problem!
Which is why, even though reaching a climate change pact has become a top priority for the West Wing and part of nearly every conversation Obama has recently had with a foreign leader, Obama and his aides aren’t advertising it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Has Obama delivered the ‘most transparent’ administration in history?

In other respects, however, the Obama administration has erred on the side of secrecy rather than transparency. In some cases, blame could be placed on recalcitrant agencies in the giant federal bureaucracy. For instance, 55 of 101 independently audited agencies in 2013 still had not adopted Obama’s new FOIA standard. But blame also can be placed on the administration itself.
The visitors log. Although the administration announced in 2009 that it would disclose details (names, dates) from the White House visitors log, there were vaguely worded exceptions. And when White House officials wanted to keep meetings with certain people off the record, they met them at nearby cafes and townhouses. After this practice became known, officials fought against disclosure in court, arguing that the names and dates were immune to FOIA requests.


More Phony ObamaCare Numbers From The White House

Health Reform: The Obama administration says more than 16 million have gained insurance, thanks to ObamaCare. But a closer look at the numbers shows they're once again playing fast and loose with the data.
A two-page report from the Dept. of Health and Human Services claims the uninsured rate fell from 20.3% to 13.2% since ObamaCare began.
Officials there cheered this news, with one saying that "nothing since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid has come close to this kind of change."
It's not what it seems. To get to its 16 million number, HHS uses Gallup poll data — not the Census Bureau's far more comprehensive survey — for its calculations.
Gallup does show a drop in the uninsured rate. Although its numbers differ from the administration's, it finds that the rate dropped from around 17% in 2013, where it had been since 2011, to 12.9% in Q4 2014.
Whatever numbers are used, the administration conveniently overlooks the fact that those years of high uninsured rates were also when the economy was in the middle of Obama's jobless recovery.

Expert Says: “Look who’s going bankrupt next in America”

No one believed Porter Stansberry six years ago.
As head of one of America’s largest independent financial research firms, Mr. Stansberry’s work back in 2008 led him to a bold, but worrisome, conclusion:
That the world’s largest mortgage bankers–Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which at the time were responsible for nearly 50% of all the mortgages in America–would soon go bankrupt.
In fact, in June of 2008, while their stock prices were still trading at well over $20 per share, Stansberry published a report to his customers titled: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Are Going to Zero.”
Inside this report, Stansberry explained:


FBI’s Plan to Expand Hacking Power Advances Despite Privacy Fears

A judicial advisory panel Monday quietly approved a rule change that will broaden the FBI's hacking authority despite fears raised by Google that the amended language represents a "monumental" constitutional concern.
The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules voted 11-1 to modify an arcane federal rule to allow judges more flexibility in how they approve search warrants for electronic data, according to a Justice Department spokesman.
Known as Rule 41, the existing provision generally allows judges to approve search warrants only for material within the geographic bounds of their judicial district.
But the rule change, as requested by the department, would allow judges to grant warrants for remote searches of computers located outside their district or when the location is unknown.
The government has defended the maneuver as a necessary update of protocol intended to modernize criminal procedure to address the increasingly complex digital realities of the 21st century. The FBI wants the expanded authority, which would allow it to more easily infiltrate computer networks to install malicious tracking software. This way, investigators can better monitor suspected criminals who use technology to conceal their identity.


The E.U. Experiment Has Failed

The slow-motion crisis of the European Union is the big story that rarely gets the attention it deserves. Even an event like the recent terrorist attack in France that left 17 dead is often isolated from the larger political, economic, and social problems that have long plagued the project of unifying the countries of Europe in order to harness its collective economic power, and to avoid the bloody internecine strife that stains its history.
On the economic front, the E.U.’s dismal economic performance over the last six years was summed up in a December headline in Business Insider: “Europe Stinks.” The 2008 Great Recession exposed the incoherence of the E.U.’s economic structure, particularly its single currency, which is held hostage by the diverse economic policies of sovereign nations. The data tell the tale. The E.U.’s GDP grew 1 percent in 2013, anemic compared to the U.S.’s 2.2 percent. In December 2014, unemployment in the E.U. averaged 11.4 percent, while in the U.S. it was 5.6 percent. We are troubled by our labor force participation rate of 62.7 percent, a 36-year low. But in the E.U., it was 57.5 percent in 2013. Our recovery from the recession may be slow by our historical standards, but it is blazing compared to the E.U.’s.
The E.U.’s economic woes have many causes, but intrusively regulated economies and outsized government spending on generous social welfare transfers are two of the most important. Despite the rebuke of such policies delivered by the recession, government spending as a percentage of GDP has actually increased in the E.U., from 45.5 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2013, even as many Europeans decry the harsh “austerity” measures called for by countries like Germany. Greece, the E.U member increasingly in danger of being forced to exit the monetary union and thus risk its unraveling, has nonetheless raised its government spending from 46.8 percent in 2007 to 59 percent in 2013.


Of Course Obama Wants to Take Hillary Down

We can believe Ed Klein’s sources claiming Valerie Jarrett is the White House point woman for the destruction of Hillary Clinton.  Evidence:
It was the New York Times which broke the story. The Democratic press does not eat its own, ever.  Yet here was the Gray Lady, setting the headlines for Drudge.
People asked how Hillary could have been so stupid.  The answer is that in the normal course of mainstream reporting, there is no Democrat crime too large for the press to cover up.  She knew she was perfectly safe.  Bill Clinton raping women?  That story had no legs.  President Obama’s bizarre secrecy and lies about his past -- no interest.  Obama’s radical record as a community organizer?  President Obama attending a black supremacist church led by a Louis Farrakhan clone who hates whites and Jews?  No story there, move along.  Obama working day and night to promote the hegemony of Iran in the Middle East?  Nothing to analyze.  Hillary lying to our faces about Benghazi?  The IRS abusing its power to hobble the Tea Party before the 2012 Presidential election?  Not news worthy. 
So it was perfectly normal for Sect. Hillary Clinton to break security rules and think she could get away with it. 
Even if it came out, a blustering press conference, followed by every liberal journalist’s loyal disinterest and chorus accusing the Republicans of being on a witch hunt -- that everyone uses private emails -- and the story would be buried. That was her expectation.  

Democrats won’t back Iran nuclear deal in blow to White House as enough break with Obama to to put veto-proof legislation in the works to stop an agreement

  • The White House would be powerless to stop the measures from going into effect once passed if as many Democrats as expected defect
  • One bill would levy additional sanctions on Iran if it doesn't agree to the final terms of a deal; the other would give the Senate the power to reject any pact the executive branch makes with the country
  • The Obama administration and its international partners now have until March 24 to set up the framework for an agreement or the Senate will act 
  • Congress' complaints are 'baloney' White House spokesman said Monday
  • 'We can't have a situation where you have people in the Congress back seat driving,' he said

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Obama Administration Appeals Ruling Blocking Immigration Amnesty Program

In an expected response to U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s refusal to grant a stay of his February 16 injunction that blocked the Obama administration’s use of executive actions to grant amnesty to four million illegal aliens, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal on March 12 with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The appeal filed by DOJ attorneys “seeks an immediate stay pending appeal of a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

The injunction, issued by Hanen in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville, blocked the Obama administration and several of its departments and agencies (including DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE], and the Border Patrol) from implementing the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program “as set out in the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s memorandum dated November 20, 2014."


Judicial Watch Sends New FOIAs to Probe Clinton Secret Email System, Lawsuits Could Follow In 20 Days

Judicial Watch announced today that it submitted six Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of State seeking information about Hillary Clinton’s and other State Department employees’ uses of secret email accounts to conduct government business.  Judicial Watch submitted the FOIA requests on Friday, March 6, 2015, seeking:

Communications between employees of the U.S. Department of State and former Secretary Clinton and/or her representatives relating to emails sent or received by former Secretary Clinton on non- “state.gov” email addresses: from June 1, 2014, to the present.
Records concerning the use of a non-­ “state.gov” email address by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Including records concerning security, classification, preservation, and compliance with the Federal Records Act and/or the Freedom of Information Act: from January 20, 2009, to February 20, 2009.
Records that identify the number and names of all current and former officials, officers, or employees of the State Department from January 20, 2009, to the present who used email addresses other than their assigned “state.gov” email addresses to conduct official State Department business.
Records that identify the policies and/or procedures in place to ensure that emails that were sent or received by officials, officers, or employees of the U.S. Department of State who used email addresses  other than “state.gov” email addresses to conduct official State Department business were searched for responsiveness to FOIA requests.
Communications between employees of the Department of State and officials or employees of the White House and/or Executive Office of the President relating to the use of non- “state.gov” email addresses by former  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: from June 1, 2014, to the present.
Communications between officials or employees of the Department of State and Members of Congress or Congressional staff, or Congressional Members or staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi relating to the use of non- “state.gov” email addresses by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: from June 1, 2014, to the present.


How Jesse Jackson exploits the spirit of Selma

The 50th anniversary for the march in Selma, Alabama, provides an opportunity to remember a dark period in history when black Americans were victims of outrageous acts of racism and hatred, including Jim Crow laws and lynching. While many Americans reflected on the heroic efforts of civil rights leaders of that time, a few used the media spotlight to hijack the event to advance their personal agenda – in tragic irony- by fanning the flames of racism and injustice.

The week following the Selma anniversary, Jesse Jackson attended Apple’s shareholder meeting in California to demand that Apple do more to help blacks. Apple CEO Tim Cook took the bait and gave Rev. Jackson an opportunity to address shareholders and the board of directors.

In his prepared remarks, Rev. Jackson referred to President Obama’s comments about the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma and noted, “In Silicon Valley, the march for diversity and inclusion is just beginning.”


The Fed Impedes GAO Audits by Destroying Source Documents

Robert Auerbach, an economist to the Committee on Banking and Financial Services during the Arthur Burns, Paul Volcker, and Alan Greenspan chairmanships at the Fed, as well as being a Fed economist and now a professor at the University of Texas (Austin) has a bombshell revelation in his recent book Deception and Abuse at the Fed. He recounts how the struggle to make the Fed more transparent and accountable has much deeper roots than the mainstream media has let on, and those earlier fights revealed that the central bank hid the existence of original documents, namely FOMC transcripts, then destroyed them, and continues the practice of destroying the original records.

This chicanery means that what the GAO is auditing is not what the Fed does, but a simulacrum the Fed has served up, and a prettied-up one to boot.

In a Huffington Post article recapping some of the material in his book, Auerbach describes how the Democrats tried to make the Fed more accountable in the 1970s:

The Democrats tried to pass similar audit bills in the 1970s. The House Banking Committee (now called the Financial Services Committee) Chairman Henry Reuss, (1975 -1981, Democrat, Wisconsin) could not pass a GAO audit bill through his committee. That bill was then passed by the Government Reform Committee and became law in 1978 with substantial limitations…

In the 1970s, the Fed organized a massive lobbying campaign in the Congress against a GAO Fed audit, using officials from private banks they regulated Evidence of the Fed’s orchestration of the lobbying campaign came into public view after Reuss negotiated with Fed Chairman Arthur Burns for six months. Reuss obtained three years of transcripts from secret meetings of all twelve district Federal Reserve Banks in December 1976….

One example was: “On February 19, 1974, President Frank E. Morris of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank called on his board of directors to contact the members of Congress to promote the Federal Reserve’s position on an earlier version of the GAO audit bill.”


Obama to Bail Out Oil Industry at the Expense of Consumers

Oil industry lobbyists must have been working the government over for months. The price of oil has plunged nearly 60% since June. Smaller oil companies are going bankrupt. Larger ones are bleeding. Energy junk-bondholders are getting massacred. Wall Street is fretting about losing the fees. Banks are worried about their energy loans. Venezuela is falling apart and is going to default. Russia is careening in the wrong direction. Kern County, the oil capital of California, declared a “fiscal emergency.”

They all need the price of oil to jump, and they need it to jump NOW.

And besides, consumers, who’ve benefited from the low price of gasoline, don’t seem to appreciate it, at least not in the true American way, as the last retail sales reports have shown. They aren’t spending the money they’ve saved on gas. They’re supposed to spend all of it, and more than all of it in the true American spirit of living beyond your means. But instead, they’re squirreling it away to pay for surgery or college or whatever. Retail spending has been dropping. And that can’t be allowed to happen.

So on Friday evening, when consumers were busy with other things and didn’t pay attention, the government proposed that it would yank that little monthly bonus away from them and hand it straight to the fracking and off-shore drilling industry, the big oil companies, the little oil companies, their suppliers, to the PE firms that invested so heavily in fracking, to the Saudis, Russia, to the despised government of Venezuela….

Conspiracy theory?


The Friday Filibuster: More Questions Than Answers

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

18% of Americans say government is the country’s No. 1 problem.

20% of U.S. voters trust Fox News “a great deal,” –more so than any other network.

42% of Americans think the Republican senators' letter to Iran was inappropriate.

2 - the number of Ferguson police officers who were shot this week during a protest rally.

6.5 million – The number of Americans over the age of 112 with active Social Security numbers.

56% of GOP primary voters could see themselves voting for Sen. Marco Rubio, coming in above all other potential Republican candidates.

23/23 – The United States’ ranking in math (for millennials) on the OECD’s test, which was given to 23 countries worldwide.

16,000 illegal immigrants will be eligible to receive social security starting in 2017.


FCC Chairman Says Net Neutrality Won’t Mean New Internet Taxes. Here’s Why One Agency Commissioner Says That’s Wrong.

As Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has pushed forward with the reclassification of broadband Internet service from a Title I information service to a utility-like Title II telecommunications service as part of an effort to implement net neutrality rules, his office has repeatedly insisted that the move won’t result in new taxes on Internet service.

You can see this, for example, in an official agency document released yesterday that claims to “separate fact from fiction” regarding the agency’s regulatory overhaul. It’s a “myth,” the sheet says, that the new rules will increase broadband bills or raise taxes.

This is the official position of the FCC under Chairman Wheeler. But it’s not the position of all of the agency’s five commissioners. In a detailed and compelling 62-page dissent, Commissioner Ajit Pai, one of the two Republican appointees who voted against the Title II switchover, argues that the move clearly paves the way for new taxes and fees on Internet service.


America's False-Front, Movie-Set Economy

America’s economy resembles the propped-up false fronts of an old Western movie set; it seems unlikely to support a middle class anymore.  The existential issue is simple, though insufficiently discussed: technology, demographics, and government policy are collaborating to impose economic decline.  The evaporating middle class is taking the erstwhile American worker and his employer with it as it fades.  Folk whose worry ends with the deficits hollowing out Social Security and health care are worried about poor passenger service in a falling airplane.

First, consider the U.S. workforce.  Contrary to some folk, the government isn’t going to support everybody; the government has only the money it takes from citizens.  Unemployed and minimum-wage Americans offer little to take, and the Labor Force Participation Rate is declining.  Those growing numbers of non-working people have to be housed, fed, and watered by those still working.  Government SNAP (food stamps), disability, and/or other benefits are presently paid to 49% of Americans.  That is a wobbly crutch resting upon deficits from a government burdened with debt.  Most of the money is taken from workers whose incomes have just halted a six-year decline.  Our grandparents spoke of “trying to get blood from a turnip.” 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Shock Report: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Husband Wins CA Rail Contract

Out of the entire universe of those who could have won the first phase construction contract for California’s high speed rail boondoggle, who would stand out as the last person who would win it if there were no political patronage.
Put another way, who is the most likely person to win it if there is political patronage?
Both questions have the same answer: Richard Blum, the husband of California senator Diane Feinstein.
So, who won the contract?  Blum, of course, as the principle owner of Tutor Perini, the lead firm in the three-firm consortium selected by the California High Speed Rail Authority.
Yes, Diane, it really does look that bad to us little people.
A High Low Bid
The Perini-Zachary-Parsons bid was the lowest received from the five consortia participating in the bidding process, but “low” is a relative term. The firms bid $985,142,530 to build the wildly anticipated first section of high speed rail track that will tie the megopolis of Madera to the global finance center of Fresno. Do the division, and you find that the low bid came in at a mere $35 million per mile.


Obama's Generals

President Obama likes to fancy himself a modern incarnation of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a wartime president who famously struggled to find generals that shared his strategic vision of victory. Obama also seems to be in search of generals who share his strategic vision.  But where Lincoln sought fighting generals who wanted to win, Obama has tried to create a politically sensitive and strategically befuddled military.    
Obama’s impact on the Pentagon has been both social and operational. He pressed the military change policies on gay service members and women in combat, and now appears to be pushing to remove restrictions covering transgender people. To some extent these moves reflect public sentiment, and the bans on gays and females in combat were going to be lifted under any Democrat president. Still, the developments clearly reflect Obama’s worldview.
Other instances are even more problematic. The military followed Obama’s political lead on the Fort Hood shootings, calling them workplace violence instead of terrorism. And the Army appears to be delaying a politically sensitive decision on prosecuting Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his post in Afghanistan, was captured by the Taliban and then traded for Islamist terrorists. These decisions reflect Obama’s personal biases when it comes to recognizing and defining Islamist terrorism, the worthiness of the Afghan campaign, and the retention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.  

Republican proposes abolishing the ATF amid bullet ban controversy

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has reintroduced legislation to do away with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Sensenbrenner, a senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the policies under ATF's jurisdiction could be easily incorporated into other agencies. Moreover, he argued, the ATF has become embroiled in too many controversies in recent years, like the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.
"The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that lacks a clear mission. Its 'Framework' is an affront to the Second Amendment and yet another reason why Congress should pass the ATF Elimination Act," Sensenbrenner said in a statement.


EPA Rules To Force 85 Coal-Fired Generators To Close By The End Of This Year

Energy companies are preparing to shut down nearly 16 gigawatts of power by the end of this year as the deadline for compliance with new federal environmental regulations looms.
In total, some 85 coal-fired generating units at 36 locations are expected to close in the coming months in part because of Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The largest set of retirements is set for June, when electricity demand starts to peak as Americans turn on their air conditioners for the summer. Most of these retirements will come from coal-fired power plants in Appalachia.
“We are currently showing nearly 300 GW of in-service coal capacity at the end of December 2014, so 13 GW would represent a reduction of approximately 4.3%,” U.S. Energy Information Administration economist Tim Shear told The Daily Caller News Foundation.


'Everybody is reading' a paper about how the world is now at the mercy of the US Federal Reserve

Sitting on the desks of central bank governors and regulators across the world is a scholarly report that spells out the vertiginous scale of global debt in US dollars, and gently hints at the horrors in store as the US Federal Reserve turns off the liquidity spigot.
This dry paper is the talk of the hedge fund village in Mayfair, and the stuff of nightmares for those in Singapore or Hong Kong already caught on the wrong side of the biggest currency margin call in financial history. "Everybody is reading it," said one ex-veteran from the New York Fed.
The report - "Global dollar credit: links to US monetary policy and leverage" - was first published by the Bank for International Settlements in January, but its biting relevance is growing by the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

AP sues State Department, seeking access to Clinton records

The Associated Press filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the State Department to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.
The legal action comes after repeated requests filed under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act have gone unfulfilled. They include one request AP made five years ago and others pending since the summer of 2013.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes a day after Clinton broke her silence about her use of a private email account while secretary of state. The FOIA requests and lawsuit seek materials related to her public and private calendars, correspondence involving longtime aides likely to play key roles in her expected campaign for president, and Clinton-related emails about the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices.