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Archive for September 12th, 2007

Mexican gas, oil supplies under attack

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2007

Richard Valdmanis, Reuters:

A series of attacks on Mexico’s fuel pipelines this summer has raised fears the key energy supplier could slide into a Nigeria-style struggle to keep its oil and gas flowing, experts said on Tuesday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Mexico, Oil | 4 Comments »

Have the Democrats Finally Figured It Out?

Posted by MEC on September 12, 2007

Majority Leader Harry Reid says no way will Ted Olson be confirmed if Bush nominates him for Attorney General.

It’s about damned time the Democrats took a hard line on Olson. His ruthless partisanship is matched only by his dishonesty.

As Assistant Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, Olson tried to block an investigation into Superfund corruption by giving false testimony to Congress; he was cited for contempt of court and avoided perjury charges on a technicality.

Although Olson was up to his neck in the Arkansas Project, the smear campaign against Bill Clinton funded by rightwing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, he testified during his confirmation hearing to become Solicitor General that he was not involved in it. He also assisted the legal team for Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.

Olson represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore, which all by itself shows how willing he is to undermine the Constitution to achieve partisan goals.

We have seen the damage that Alberto Gonzales did to the office of Attorney General and to the Justice Department by acting as if the Attorney General’s job was to represent the president and promote political goals, not to represent the American people and uphold laws. As solicitor general, Ted Olson’s duty was to support George W. Bush’s policies and positions in court. He is no likelier than Alberto Gonzales to leave his partisan loyalties behind him if he becomes Attorney General, and he is no likelier to tell the truth under oath.

Posted in Attorney General, BushCo malfeasance, Harry Reid, liars, rightwing moral cripples | 14 Comments »

Reuters: Israel bombed Syria

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2007

Barak Ravid, Haaretz:

Reuters reported Wednesday that U.S. officials had confirmed that the Israel Air Force launched air strikes against Syria last week, but would not discuss the intended targets.

“The strike I can confirm. The target, I can’t,” said one U.S. official, adding that there had been more than one strike. Another official called reports on the likely targets “confused.” …

“One Bush administration official said Israel had recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with material from North Korea,” the paper wrote. “The administration official said Israeli officials believed that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria”

Posted in international, israel | 6 Comments »

Iron Hand, Velvet Glove

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 12, 2007

Most members of what Bob Somerby calls “the celebrity press corps” and I call “the GOP/Media Complex” crave the Velvet Glove treatment, which is how Republicans and their conservative sugar daddies buy off these same people.

Even more importantly, they fear the prospect of the Velvet Glove’s turning into the Iron Hand, should they ever offend their conservative patrons and keepers, as Paul Krugman describes (h/t to Mark Thoma at Economist’s View):

Second, Jon talks at some length about the media, and in particular about the Republican ability to get journalists to harp endlessly on supposed character flaws of Democrats, while their own candidates get a free pass. He emphasizes the right-wing echo chamber, but there’s more to it than that. It’s also – as I can report from my own experience – a result of asymmetrical intimidation. Quite simply, if you point out character flaws in a conservative, there will be an all-out effort, involving major media as well as blogs and talk radio, to discredit and ruin you, personally. This just doesn’t happen on the other side.So journalists feel that it’s safe to ridicule Democrats, even if the supposed character-defining episode never happened; they choke up and shy away when it comes to Republicans. That’s why even the most grotesque stuff, like Giuliani’s claim that he’s a rescue worker too, or Romney’s remark that his sons are serving the country by helping him become president, doesn’t get picked up.

This has been going on for decades now. Remember the Very First Clinton FauxGate (fake scandal) that was ginned up by the GOP and their friends in the press corps? It was The White House Travel Office Scandal.

Here’s the deal: In early 1993, incoming First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton found out that Billy Dale, the Reagan and Bush holdover who was running the White House Travel Office that handled travel arrangements with the Beltway press that covers the president, had been committing a series of dodgy dealings, including keeping over $50,000 of the Travel Office’s money in his own bank account. She moves to have him and several of his staff fired and decides to have him replaced by travel-agency expert friends of hers back in Arkansas.

Now Billy Dale, you see, was the Reagan hire who’d best mastered the “iron hand in the velvet glove” trick: Lots of perks and cocktail weenies and turkee to those press stenographers who behave themselves, severe punishments meted out to those who don’t. Eventually, the desired effect was achieved: The press corps now saw itself as part of the same hyper-rarefied elite as the Reagan-Bushes and their fellow Republicans. This is how we got the GOP-submissive press corps of the Reagan years, immortalized in Mark Hertsgaard’s classic book On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.

So that meant that when the press reported on this, they stood foursquare in Billy Dale’s corner, against Hillary Clinton (who they accused of acting solely to give the Travel Office fiefdom to her friends as a perk) and for corruption. As Vince Foster would tragically write in the note found after his death, “The press is covering up the illegal benefits they received from the travel staff.”

Posted in anti-truth, beat the press, big money, Busheviks, Democrat-bashing, fearmongering, Flying Monkey Right, Fox Noise, GOP bullying, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores | 1 Comment »

The dimensions of the credit crisis

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2007

Via Nouriel Roubini, Luigi Spaventa (U. Rome Econ.) outlines where the bad mortgages went. Here are his figures:

Total $1.5T

….$300B mortgages

….actual losses $100-$200B  (vs. $5T for the dotcom bust)

……..European: $500B

……..German: $125B

Fitch presenters say that the apparent European exposure is somewhat smaller, since the $500B includes the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), but that when one includes the exposure due to US subsidiaries, the EMEA region is actually on the hook for $891B. This averages only about 3% of bank assets.

Via Tanta at Calculated Risk, from Peg Brickley at the Wall Street Journal:

Thousands of homeowners face an “imminent risk” of losing their homes because of clashes between American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. and its former financial backers, according to Freddie Mac, a government-chartered housing financier.

In documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., Freddie Mac said it seized $7 million that homeowners sent to American Home to cover principal and interest payments, property taxes and insurance just before the company’s Aug. 6 collapse. American Home quit making payments to tax authorities and insurance companies Aug. 24….

In court documents, American Home said Ginnie Mae representatives “stood in a line in front of the doors and sat on the stairs, preventing AHM Servicing employees from entering the office.” Freddie Mac said American Home “had its security personnel escort the Freddie Mac representatives out.”

Posted in economy | 2 Comments »

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 12, 2007


And the hits just keep on comin’:

— David Vitter’s hooker troubles aren’t going away. Wendy Cortez speaks.

— You knew it was coming: Larry Craig, meet Fred Phelps. (h/t to Minnesota Monitor.)

— The FBI is interested in Ted Stevens.

UPDATE:  Go to for a login and password to access the article; here’s a little taste of it:

During a secret meeting to discuss what prosecutors say was a dirty deal to keep Alaska oil taxes low, two oil contractors said they had a powerful ally coming to town who could help build support for the plan: Sen. Ted Stevens. The FBI played a videotape of the 2006 meeting Tuesday in a corruption trial against former Alaska House Speaker Pete Kott, who is accused of taking gifts and favors in exchange for supporting oil interests.

In the grainy video, VECO Corp. executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith can be heard talking about how to ensure passage of an oil tax bill. If approved, the bill would increase chances that a natural gas pipeline would be built, a deal that could mean huge profits for VECO.

Allen and Smith said they wanted to ensure Stevens was asked “good questions” that would steer him toward discussing the bill and the pipeline. The senator, Allen said, would make clear that “we need oil.”

— Norm Coleman’s leads over Mike Ciresi and Al Franken continue to shrink, and are now dangerously close to the margins of error in the latest Rasmussen poll.

Posted in 2008, Al Franken, David Vitter, Debra Jean Palfrey, hypocrites, Larry Craig, Mike Ciresi, Minnesota, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans | 4 Comments »

Shinzo Abe resigns as Japanese PM

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2007

From Japan Times.

A welcome setback to the militarization of Japan.

Posted in international, Japan | 1 Comment »

The Tar baby: Iran

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2007

The Independent of London:

British forces have been sent from Basra to the volatile border with Iran amid warnings from the senior US commander in Iraq that Tehran is fomenting a “proxy war”.

In signs of a fast-developing confrontation, the Iranians have threatened military action in response to attacks launched from Iraqi territory while the Pentagon has announced the building of a US base and fortified checkpoints at the frontier.

The UK operation, in which up to 350 troops are involved, has come at the request of the Americans, who say that elements close to the Iranian regime have stepped up supplies of weapons to Shia militias in recent weeks in preparation for attacks inside Iraq.

The Brits just can’t seem to let go.

Posted in international, Iran | 1 Comment »

The Trillion industry: official corruption

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2007

That’s what organized crime costs us, and much of that is bribes paid to officials in developed nations. Julian Borger, The Guardian:

International organised crime has become a $2 trillion (£984bn) behemoth that threatens to pervert democracy around the world and fuel already dangerous levels of global inequality, a new study [from the World Federation of United Nations Associations] warns….

The annual takings of criminal gangs around the world are roughly equivalent to Britain’s GDP, or twice the world’s combined defence budgets. Half of that amount is paid as bribes, which tend to make the rich and powerful even wealthier….

Contrary to the stereotype of the banana republic, only a minority of the political bribes paid each year goes to public officials in the developing world. The report published this week finds “the vast majority of bribes are paid to people in richer countries” where decision taking is “vulnerable to vast amounts of money”….

$1000bn: The cost of world corruption in 2006

Posted in corruption | Comments Off on The Trillion industry: official corruption

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