Posts Tagged ‘wall street thieves’

CHRISTIAN WARRIORS, SEX and BANKING

November 18, 2009

Catholic Bishops Put Sex Obsession Ahead of Mission to the Sick and the Poor By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet.

First they threatened to take down health-care reform over abortion coverage. Now they’re threatening services to the sick and poor of Washington, D.C., over same-sex marriage.

They lead a church that claims to stand on the side of the sick and the poor, the meek who shall inherit the earth. But in the course of a single week, the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church proclaimed themselves willing to see health-care denied to millions of uninsured Americans, and to yank the social-service rug out from under the feet of tens of thousands of urban poor in the nation’s capital — all to serve the bishops’ obsession with the sex lives and reproductive organs of others.

The church’s week of shame began with the bishops’ role in creating the monster that is the Stupak amendment to the health-care reform bill passed last weekend by the House of Representatives, when the bishops refused to bless a compromise made between pro-choice and anti-abortion Democrats in the language of the bill. (Without the bishops’ blessing, anti-choice Democrats vowed to vote against the bill, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi was strong-armed into allowing Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., to bring an anti-choice amendment to the floor.) Finishing off the week with a brutal bang, the church threatened to sever its social service contracts with the District of Columbia if the city council of Washington, D.C., passes a measure legalizing same-sex marriage — a move that would throw services to 68,000 of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of the nation’s capital into chaos.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/143945/catholic_bishops_put_sex_obsession_ahead_of_mission_to_the_sick_and_the_poor

Christian Bootcamp Seeks to Arm Home-Schooled Youths for “Spiritual Warfare” Posted by Eleanor Bader, RH Reality Check

“Life is not a playground,” says Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas in The Kingdom Leadership Institute Manual. “It is a war zone.”

Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, Assistant Director of Operation Save America, is worried. According to studies by the Barna Research Group, California pollsters specializing in tracking religious and spiritual attitudes, only nine percent of teenaged Christians believe in moral absolutes. What’s more, Barna reports that the vast majority of kids raised Christian will abandon all or part of their faith by the time they finish high school. “Assembly of God leaders estimate between 65 and 70 percent will depart, while the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life estimates roughly 88 percent will leave,” Thomas writes.

To remedy this, Thomas’ Elijah Ministries has started the Kingdom Leadership Institute, a weeklong ideological boot camp for home-schooled Christians between the ages of 14 and 21. His recently released book, The Kingdom Leadership Institute Manual, is a roadmap for their training and a fascinating — if twisted — look at the concerns of far right evangelicals, complete with a game plan for action.

There’s no pussy-footing in Thomas’ screed. For him the battle between God and Satan is at hand, pitting True Believers against Sinners. Common ground? Impossible since there are only two sides, one resulting in heavenly salvation and the other ending with the earth’s destruction.

“Life is not a playground,” he rails. “It is a war zone — a clash of ideas, philosophies, values, and worldviews. It demands leaders who do not shrink back in [sic] the day of battle.” He calls it “spiritual warfare” and repeatedly summons images straight out of the Middle Ages, with gallant Knights protecting grateful maidens, and courtliness trumping gender equity.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/143975/christian_bootcamp_seeks_to_arm_home-schooled_youths_for_%22spiritual_warfare%22

Geithner Singled Out in TARP Watchdog Neil Barofsky’s Scathing Report on AIG Bailout by Shahien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

A brutal report issued Monday by a government watchdog holds Timothy Geithner — then the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and now the nation’s Treasury Secretary — responsible for overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs.

The authoritative new narrative describes how, while bailing out insurance giant AIG last fall, a team led by Geithner failed nearly every step of the way.

Instead of bargaining with AIG’s numerous counterparties to resolve its billions of dollars in souring derivatives contracts, Geithner’s team ended up paying top dollar for toxic assets — “an amount far above their market value at the time,” the report notes.

“There is no question that the effect of FRBNY’s decisions — indeed, the very design of the federal assistance to AIG — was that tens of billions of dollars of Government money was funneled inexorably and directly to AIG’s counterparties,” the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said.

Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia got full value for their derivatives contracts with AIG, and taxpayers got the bill. In total, $27.1 billion of public money was transferred to companies that did business with AIG.

Throughout the bailout of AIG, the report says, the New York Fed failed to develop appropriate contingency plans; failed to properly assess the impact of its decisions; and generally engaged in negotiation strategies that were doomed to fail.

Then, after Geithner’s team paid off AIG’s counterparties on Wall Street, it imposed “onerous” terms on the troubled insurer, the report says.  READ MORE:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/11/17-8

Hightower: Obscenely Rich Bankers Claim to Do God’s Work — They Can Go to Hell By Jim Hightower, AlterNet.

Top executives were initially hurt by the public’s moral outrage. But their sense of entitlement quickly kicked in, and now they claim they’re the good guys.

“Repent,” the preacher cried out, startling those who heard him.

This was no street evangelist ranting at the passing crowd, but the archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England. His sharp admonition was pointed directly at a particular set of sinners, who undoubtedly had never given any thought to the morality of their actions: the barons of global banking.

As in our country, people in Europe are enraged at those hustlers of high finance who wrecked the world’s economies, then flexed their political muscle to get governments to replenish their bankrupt vaults. Infuriatingly, these bailed-out bankers have now returned to business as usual, including grabbing monstrous bonus payments for themselves.

In Europe, such greed is not only being assailed politically, but it is also being cast as a matter of fundamental moral failure. As another of Britain’s leading clergymen put it, “There is a general feeling that the level of bonuses we’ve seen have been obscene.”  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/story/144026/hightower%3A_obscenely_rich_bankers_claim_to_do_god%27s_work_–_they_can_go_to_hell

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IT’S THE BEES, PLEASE!

November 16, 2009

Birdlife

Peaceable Kingdom

Why We Need Bees and More People Becoming Organic Beekeepers By Makenna Goodman, Chelsea Green Publishing.

Bees teach us how to live our life in a way that by taking what we need from the world around us, we leave the world better than we found it.

Beekeeping is rising in popularity — from urban rooftops to backyard hives, the world is abuzz with interest in homemade honey. And who better to comment on the nature of bees than the former president of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, Ross Conrad. He’s led bee-related presentations and taught organic beekeeping workshops and classes throughout North America for many years, and Conrad’s small beekeeping business supplies friends, neighbors, and local stores with honey and candles among other bee related products, not to mention provides bees for Vermont apple pollination in spring. I talked to Conrad about organic beekeeping, the state of pollination, and tips for aspiring bee farmers.

Makenna Goodman: Your book, Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture, offers up a program of natural beehive management, and an alternative to conventional chemical-based approaches. So — why organic beekeeping?

Ross Conrad: History has shown us that the industrialized “economy of scale” approach does not work when applied to agriculture because we are dealing with living biological systems, not an inert assembly line food production system where the economy of scale approach can be applied across the board. One of the biggest issues is the large number of chemical contaminants that are being found in beeswax and pollen, often at very high concentrations. Toxic chemical contamination has been implicated in Colony Collapse and the reality is that there is no effective regulation of chemicals in Western society. Let me tell you why: READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/environment/143764/why_we_need_bees_and_more_people_becoming_organic_beekeepers

Sarah Palin Rules the GOP — And She Will Destroy It By Max Blumenthal, Tomdispatch.com.

Palin’s influence on a party largely devoid of leadership is expanding. If she doesn’t become the GOP’s future queen, she may be its future king-maker — and its destroyer.

Sarah Palin’s heavily publicized book tour begins in earnest this Monday, but weeks before, her ghostwritten memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, had already vaulted into the number one position at Amazon. Warming up for a tour that will take her across Middle America in a bus, Palin tested her lines in a November 7th speech before a crowd of 5,000 anti-abortion activists in Wisconsin. She promptly cited an urban legend as a “disturbing trend,” claiming the Treasury Department had moved the phrase “In God We Trust” from presidential dollar coins. (The rumor most likely originated with a 2006 story on the far-right website WorldNetDaily.)

In fact, a suggested alteration in its position on the coin was shot down in 2007 after pressure from Democratic Senator Robert Byrd. Nonetheless, Palin did not hesitate to take up this “controversy,” however false, since it conveniently pits a tyrannical, God-destroying, secular big government against humble God-fearing folk. In doing so, of course, she presented herself as this nation’s leading defender of the faith.

In a Republican Party hoping to rebound in 2010 on the strength of a newly energized and ideologically aroused conservative grassroots, Palin’s influence is now unparalleled. Through her Twitter account, she was the one who pushed the rumor of “death panels” into the national healthcare debate, prompting the White House to issue a series of defensive responses. Unfazed by its absurdity, she repeated the charge in her recent speech in Wisconsin. In a special congressional election in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Palin’s endorsement of Doug Hoffman, an unknown far-right third-party candidate, helped force a popular moderate Republican politician, Dede Scozzafava, from the race. In the end, Palin’s ideological purge in upstate New York led to an improbable Democratic victory, the first in that GOP-heavy district in more than 100 years. READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/story/143967/sarah_palin_rules_the_gop_–_and_she_will_destroy_it

America Is One Big Clunker and No Amount of Cash Will Buy Us a New One By James Howard Kunstler, Kunstler.com.

We continue to be childishly delusional about our dark economic and environmental prospects. Unfortunately, reality isn’t amenable to lies and spin.

In The Long Emergency (2005, Atlantic Monthly Press), I said that we ought to expect the federal government to become increasingly impotent and ineffectual — that this would be a hallmark of the times. In fact, I said that any enterprise organized at the colossal scale would function poorly in years ahead, whether it was a government, a state university, a national chain retail company, or a giant midwestern farm. It is characteristic of the compressive contraction our society faces that giant hypercomplex systems will wobble and fail. We should expect this.

It’s tragic that the avatar of hopefulness himself, Barack Obama, stepped into his role at exactly the moment when this set of conditions was getting traction. It is sure to get worse, and there are going to be a lot of disappointed people out there who will be suffering terrible losses and real pain in daily life. Societies don’t do well when the public falls into the broad despair that is the opposite of hope. That’s when the long knives and the tribal animosities come out and things get smashed.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/143969/america_is_one_big_clunker_and_no_amount_of_cash_will_buy_us_a_new_one

Obama’s Strongest Supporters Suffering the Most in Recession, While Elites Thrive By Bob Herbert, The New York Times.

The young, the black and the poor are among those who are being hammered unmercifully in this long and cruel economic downturn that the financial elites are telling us is over.

President Obama’s strongest supporters during the presidential campaign were the young, the black and the poor — and they are among those who are being hammered unmercifully in this long and cruel economic downturn that the financial elites are telling us is over.

If the elites are correct, if the Great Recession really is over, then these core supporters of the president are being left far, far behind — as are blue-collar workers of every ethnic and political persuasion. Nobody wants to talk seriously about class in America, but the elites are smiling and perusing their stock portfolios while the checklist of Americans locked in depressionlike circumstances just grows and grows: construction and manufacturing workers, young men without college degrees (especially young black and Hispanic men), teenagers, and those who were already poor when the recession began.

The economic environment for all of these groups is an absolute and utter disaster.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/story/143968/obama%27s_strongest_supporters_suffering_the_most_in_recession%2C_while_elites_thrive

Mooses

Sarah comes down from the mountain.

BEAT GOES ON, ROME BURNS

October 22, 2009

While Rome Burns

Take Action on Oct. 24: Join One of the Largest Global Protests in the Fight Against Climate Change by Tim Kingston, AlterNet.

On Oct. 24, tens of thousands of people will be in the streets and on mountains, rivers and glaciers around the world demanding action to reduce CO2 emissions.

What started out a couple of years ago as a idea promoted by author/climate-change activist Bill McKibben and a few students at Vermont’s Middlebury College has morphed into the biggest environmental, and possibly the most extensive worldwide protest, ever.

On Oct. 24, tens of thousands of people will be in the streets and on mountains, rivers and glaciers around the world demanding action to reduce CO2 emissions to 350 parts per million (ppm).

With just five days to go, 3,422 events are planned or under way in 160 nations on every continent, including Antarctica. More are coming online daily at 350.org, a small (seven staffers) organization based in Berkeley, Calif., that is coordinating the international day of action.

Organizers of the event are targeting the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. They hope the international day of action will apply pressure on the assembled heads of state and governments to reduce global greenhouse gas CO2 emissions to below 350 ppm, the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/action/143365/take_action_on_oct._24%3A_join_one_of_the_largest_global_protests_in_the_fight_against_climate_change

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Humbles Hudson Institute Dilettante Over Health Care Bankruptcies AlterNet.

Franken drove home the point that medical bankruptcies are unheard of in countries with viable heath care systems.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/#143452

Dept of Homeland Security Expands Controversial Program Empowering Local Police By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

The 287(g) program gives local law enforcement authority to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to accusations of racial profiling.

AMY GOODMAN: The immigration debate is heating up on Capitol Hill, and the Department of Homeland Security said Friday it plans to enter into new agreements with sixty-seven state and local law enforcement agencies. These agreements expand the existing 287(g) program, which delegates some federal immigration enforcement authority to certain state and local agencies. The announcement comes shortly after DHS released a report on immigrant detention noting the vast majority of those detained under the 287(g) agreements were never charged with a criminal offense. The 287(g) program has come under intense criticism in recent months from over 500 organizations, including the ACLU, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, calling on the government to end the program. Many of the agencies involved have been accused of racial profiling, and the Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona, is being investigated by the Justice Department.

On Friday the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, said it would go forward with a new jails agreement with Sheriff Arpaio but remove his field authority to enforce federal immigration laws on the street. Well, that didn’t stop the Sheriff, and he conducted his twelfth so-called immigration sweep Friday, arresting some sixty people. The Sheriff defended his stance on Fox’s Glenn Beck Show earlier last week.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/immigration/143372/dept_of_homeland_security_expands_controversial_program_empowering_local_police

The Battle Against Letting Wall Street Continue to Make a Killing on Derivatives By Art Levine, AlterNet.

Protections for consumers and Wall Street’s skullduggery are at stake in an obscure series of hearings going on in Congress right now.

Early in the morning, outside the House Financial Services Committee hearing room in the Rayburn office building last week, there were scruffy ex-homeless and other low-income folks, wearing their dreadlocks or sloppy jeans, mixed in with the pinstriped reps for the financial industry.

 They all seemed to be lining up to see what $223 million in financial lobbying in the first six months of this year could buy in thwarting real reform on Capitol Hill. And they were hoping to get the few dozen of the public seats available inside the room, for a critical 10 a.m. hearing marking up a bill that was supposed to regulate the now-private market in complex “derivatives.”

Those derivatives are nominally worth at least $450 trillion worldwide, with $555 billion in credit at risk in the U.S. banking industry. (Derivatives are forms of insurance or bets on underlying assets, such as now-toxic subprime mortgages, supposedly designed to manage risk.) No wonder Warren Buffett called them “financial weapons of mass destruction.”  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143407/the_battle_against_letting_wall_street_continue_to_make_a_killing_on_derivative

This Year’s Biggest Hoax Is Tim Geithner’s ‘Solution’ for the Economy, Not the Balloon Boy By Robert Scheer, Truthdig.

If we could get one of the banking lobbyists to float a duct-taped flying saucer balloon, Wolf Blitzer might cover the real hoax.

Who are these people? I am not referring to the pathetic parents of “Balloon Boy,” whose fake drama I have been unable to escape while on the treadmill this week, thanks to my gym’s insistence on tuning its flat-screen TVs to Wolf Blitzer’s nonstop self-parody.

The Colorado incident was significant only in the tawdriness of those who perpetrated the made-for-TV scam and their allies in the mindless media who covered this sham “reality” so relentlessly. But even so, it was enough to push aside most consideration of the true hoax reported last week with far less fervor: the obscene rewards that Wall Street bankers bestowed upon themselves for ripping off our economy.

The people I want to know more about are the superrich who expect to be rewarded for their failures, like the folks at Goldman Sachs who will receive $16.71 billion in bonuses—an average of $530,000 per employee—this year after their company did as much as any to bring the world economy to the brink of disaster.

“The Guys from Government Sachs” is what The New York Times once called them in recognition of their chokehold on the federal government. Their power is marked by the two treasury secretaries who led the fight to legally enable and then reward Wall Street for its obscene excesses. Why wasn’t there a CNN stakeout at the homes of former Goldman-execs-turned-treasury-chiefs Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson aimed at finding out how they feel about the almost $7 billion profit that Goldman Sachs made in the last two quarters in the wake of the government’s bailout of the firm?

http://www.alternet.org/media/143433/this_year%27s_biggest_hoax_is_tim_geithner%27s_%27solution%27_for_the_economy%2C_not_the_balloon_boy

gonefishin'