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If money is an abstraction, the investment industry's creative inventions are abstractions of abstractions of abstractions. Banks no longer just give people loans to buy houses. Now Wall Street's geniuses -- and they are ingenious -- trade bizarre financial products in which the original loan is packaged with thousands of others and buried under piles of equations and economic gibberish.
Goldman may face SEC charges, but it's the entirety of our deregulated financial system that's on trial. In this new order, the inventiveness of our entrepreneurs goes not only into creating products that actually enhance our lives (from refrigerators to laptops to iPods) but also into fashioning "absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical" financial products whose main function is to enrich a very small number of well-placed people.
Maybe the next time someone calls Barack Obama a socialist, the president shouldn't issue a denial. He might instead urge his accuser to read the hearing transcript of this week's congressional testimony from the Goldman Sachs guys in their beautiful suits.
Capitalism has not taken a hit like this since Mr. Potter made his appearance as the evil banker on "It's a Wonderful Life." No leftist polemicist could come up with as damning a description of contemporary capitalism as the contents of an e-mail that Goldman's Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre sent to his girlfriend.
"Well," he wrote, "what if we created a 'thing', which has no purpose, which is absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical and which nobody knows how to price?"
Perhaps Fab once read the Karl Marx who wrote: "The more abstract money is, the less natural its relationship to other commodities." Read more.
Kaptur's letter calling for criminal investigation into Goldman heads to DOJ
By Vicki Needham | The Hill | Reprinted in its entirety courtesy of The Hill
A letter signed by more than 60 lawmakers calling for a criminal investigation against Goldman Sachs will be delivered to the Justice Department on Wednesday.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, (D-Ohio), who spearheaded the charge, will take the letter with the support 62 Members and a petition with 140,000 signatures to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Kaptur has worked with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and MoveOn.org, to collect signatures backing the call for criminal charges.
Several Goldman Sachs employees, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein spent all day Tuesday on Capitol Hill discussing their firm's actions leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
To see a copy of Kaptur's letter, click here.
To view the petition, click here.
Not only did Goldman Sachs profit on betting against CDOs they designed to fail; more importantly, they insured them through AIG which led to a $182 billion taxpayer bailout.
Have you heard the news? It’s everywhere! The SEC and Congress have all of a sudden sprung to life and are now “getting tough” on Goldman Sachs. Is this all the first phase of a long-awaited investigation that will reveal the causes of our current economic crisis, or is this just more show trials and psychological operations designed to manipulate public opinion and make the American people feel that our elected officials are finally standing up to their campaign funders on Wall Street?
First off, let’s address these SEC charges against Goldman Sachs. At first glance you might think, oh big deal, this is just a minor civil suit that only indicts a low-level Goldman employee. Goldman will just throw some money at it and it will most likely go away. After all, Wall Street firms have already thrown over $430 billion out to derail 1500 cases against them, so what will make this any different?
We are also left wondering, if the SEC was serious about this case, why aren’t they investigating and prosecuting John Paulson and top Goldman executives under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statutes? Even the NY Times reported that top executives were involved in the process. If you think Lloyd Blankfein wasn’t fully aware of this billion dollar deal involving John Paulson, you’re delusional. Blankfein became CEO of Goldman due to his outstanding expertise in this particular area, serving as Goldman’s head of the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division (FICC) since its formation in 1997.
So unless this is just the first of many moves on the part of the SEC, this whole case amounts to a psychological operation designed to once again quell popular outrage. These indications lead me to believe that this is a classic “limited hang-out.” As Wikipedia explains it:
Lockheed Still Tops Misconduct Charts, But No Misconduct Pattern for Over a Third of Top Gov't Contractors
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is releasing its updated Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), with a new top 100 ranking based on the fiscal year 2009 data of USAspending.gov. POGO's release is concurrent with the operational date for the federal government's contractor responsibility database — the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) — which will not be publicly accessible.
For 27 of the top 100 recipients of federal contract dollars, POGO did not find any instances of misconduct. "The fact that over a quarter of the top 100 contractors have no known instances of misconduct is further evidence that we should not accept contractor misconduct as a cost of doing business," said POGO Investigator Neil Gordon.
An additional 11 contractors in the top 100 have only one known instance, showing that more than one-third of the companies in the database do not show a pattern of misconduct.
However, 63 contractors did have multiple instances of misconduct, and once again Lockheed Martin tops the ranking with 50 instances of civil, criminal, or administrative misconduct since 1995. In FY 2009, Lockheed Martin received almost $40 billion in federal contract awards. Read more.
The case of the missing 92 CIA interrogation tapes would be a good subject for a modern day Agatha Christie mystery. Someone at the CIA decided the tapes had to be destroyed — even at the risk of an obstruction of justice charge — but no one's confessing. By now John Durham, the assistant U.S. attorney investigating the tapes' destruction, must be scratching his head wondering if everyone at the CIA was complicit.
What we know to be fact is that in 2005, the then-head of the CIA's clandestine service, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the destruction of 92 videotapes of the interrogation in Thailand of two al-Qaeda suspects. The tapes were then destroyed, but that's where the trail ends. We can only guess whether Rodriguez acted on his own authority or on the orders of a higher-up. And then there's the question of why the tapes were destroyed. Did the CIA want to destroy graphic evidence of sleep-deprivation or waterboarding? They were interrogation methods approved by the Department of Justice in memos sent to the CIA, and therefore shouldn't have been deemed a legal problem. The closest thing we come to answer is an internal CIA e-mail released last Thursday, in which an unidentified CIA officer writes that Rodriguez decided to destroy the tapes because they made the CIA "look horrible; it would be devastating to us."
But was Rodriguez acting on his own, or following orders? Rodriguez's lawyer said his client had cleared the decision up and down the CIA's chain of command, even notifying Congress. The CIA director at the time, Porter Goss, denies it, saying he never approved the decision to destroy the tapes. But in one e-mail an unidentified CIA official writes that Goss had approved the tapes' destruction — but only after the fact. The CIA's acting General Counsel at the time, John Rizzo, also denies he knew of the decision, and says he was informed only after the tapes' destruction.
What adds to the mystery is that it wasn't as if the tapes' disposal was a routine administrative matter, easily lost in the press of business. One of the internal CIA e-mails described White House counsel Harriet E. Miers as "livid" when she heard about the tapes being destroyed, especially since she'd instructed that she be consulted before any decision was made about what do with the tapes. Read more.
SEC Porn Problem: Officials Surfing Sites During Financial Crisis, Report Finds
SEC Employees Exposed Downloading, Uploading Pornography at Work
By Jonathan Karl | ABC News
The Securities and Exchange Commission is the sheriff of the financial industry, looking for crimes such as Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, but a new government report obtained by ABC News has concluded that some senior employees spent hours on the agency's computers looking at sites such as naughty.com, skankwire and youporn as the financial crisis was unfolding.
"These guys in the middle of a financial crisis are spending their time looking at prurient material on the Internet," said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland and former director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
"It's reckless, and indicates a contempt for the taxpayer and the taxpayer's interest in monitoring financial markets," Morici said.
The investigation, which was conducted by the SEC's internal watchdog at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, found 31 serious offenders during the past two and a half years. That's less than 1 percent of the agency's 3,500 employees but 17 of the alleged offenders were senior SEC officers whose salaries ranged from $100,000 to $222,000 per year. (Emphasis mine. ~Chip :)) Read more.
On April 20, 2010, author and political gadfly Ralph Nader gave a lecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Baltimore, MD. He spoke before a near capacity audience for over an hour. Mr. Nader said corporate crimes, as opposed to “street crimes,” go mostly under-reported by the establishment media in the U.S. and are “rarely prosecuted.” He detailed how corporate “misbehavior, negligence and crimes” cost thousands of deaths every year in the country from “preventable” work-related diseases and injuries, [the Massey Mine Explosion]; air pollution; negligence in hospitals; and from medical malpractice cases. He also spotlighted how Wall Street insiders, using various schemes, looted “trillions of dollars” from workers’ pension funds. Mr. Nader added: “Forty-five thousand people die every year because they don’t have any health insurance.” Professor Fimin DeBrabander of MICA introduced Mr. Nader. For more information on Mr. Nader, go here.
Stock deals are rigged for insiders. Big money runs Congress. And we've gone to war based on a series of calculated lies.
Are you willing to accept the fact that our elections are subject to the same type of corruption?
If you are, then Proving Election Fraud by Richard Charnin pulls back the curtain and exposes the pattern of election fraud over the past four decades. It's not a mystery when your look at the numbers and check them against multiple public sources. The information is all there - if the experts care to look.
Charnin is the widely known internet poster using the name TruthIsAll. He was the first to discover the glaring discrepancies in the 2004 election results shortly after the polls closed. His internet posts on the mathematical impossibility of a Bush victory were critical in fueling the doubts about that election and those that followed.
His many posts are the basis for a consistent narrative and argument using a clearly outlined and heavily quantified analysis. The result is a wealth of information about how elections really work and a methodology (the True Vote Model) that allows the interested reader to check the official results of any national or state election.
Charnin's straightforward style fits his subject matter. For example, early on he makes a powerful point, one of many that appear throughout the book:
"Simple mathematics proves that the 1968, 1988, 2004 and 2008 elections were fraudulent. The returning voter mix required for the Final Exit Poll to match the recorded vote was not just implausible -- it was impossible. In each election, more voters from the prior election returned to vote than were alive. The fact that they were returning Nixon, Bush 1 and Bush 2 voters cannot just be a coincidence. The statistical anomaly has no rational explanation other than election fraud." (p.52)
When the official victory margin includes dead voters and excludes uncounted votes, it's more than reasonable to assume election fraud. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy).
One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.
Bush CIA head agreed to destruction of torture videotapes
By John Andrews | WSWS
According to a formerly secret email message made public Thursday, Porter J. Goss, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004 to head the CIA, agreed to the November 2005 destruction of about 100 videos depicting the repeated waterboarding and other torture of two alleged Al Qaeda prisoners at a secret Thailand prison.
The email was among several documents recently released to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the course of Freedom of Information Act litigation initiated in 2003. To date, the ACLU has made available over 100,000 pages of heavily redacted government documents detailing various aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program.
The latest batch of documents reveals disputes between the CIA and Bush administration lawyers over the retention of video recordings depicting the 2002 torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Other documents confirm that CIA interrogators exceeded the generous limits on “enhanced interrogation techniques”—the Bush administration euphemism for torture—set out in the infamous torture memoranda prepared by White House counsel.
Richard Dawkins plans to arrest the Pope for 'crimes against humanity'
By Daily Mail Reporter | Daily Mail Online
Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens - who have both written books promoting atheism - have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
Two leading atheist campaigners are planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain for 'crimes against humanity'.
Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens - who have both written books promoting atheism - have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.
The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the 'good of the universal church' should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. Read more.
He [Wilkerson] added: “I discussed the issue of the Guantánamo detainees with Secretary Powell. I learnt that it was his view that it was not just Vice-President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, but also President Bush who was involved in all of the Guantánamo decision making.”
Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld, Colonel Wilkerson said, deemed the incarceration of innocent men acceptable if some genuine militants were captured, leading to a better intelligence picture of Iraq at a time when the Bush Administration was desperate to find a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, “thus justifying the Administration’s plans for war with that country”.
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.
The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.
General Powell, who left the Bush Administration in 2005, angry about the misinformation that he unwittingly gave the world when he made the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN, is understood to have backed Colonel Wilkerson’s declaration. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
Back in 2005-06, I wrote a book, The Case for Impeachment, in which I made the argument that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as other key figures in the Bush/Cheney administration--Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales--should be impeached for war crimes, as well as crimes against the Constitution of the United States.
These days, when I mention the book’s title, people sometimes ask, half in jest, whether I’m referring to the current president, Barack Obama.
Sadly, it is time to say, just 14 months into the current term of this new president, that yes, this president, and some of his subordinates, are also guilty of impeachable crimes--including many of the same ones committed by Bush and Cheney.
-I: The Ongoing Theft of Trillions
——-II: Off-the-Books, Off-the-Record
——-III: Osama bin Bank of America
——-IV: New Mafia World Order
——-V: The Goldman Sachs Obama Illusion
——-VI: American Heroes Speak Out on the Financial Reform Ruse
——-VII: Economic Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMDs)
——-VIII: Hank “Pentagon Sachs” Paulson
——-IX: $5.4 Trillion a Year Bullion Market Ponzi Scheme
——-X: Ponzi Nation: Welcome to America, Sucker
——-XI: Economic Shock and Awe
——-XII: Time for a Second American Revolution - The 99% Movement
——-XIII: How You Can Get Involved
Michael Munk commented about this article: "Nothing new about AfPak war corruption here, but the role of Rumsfeld and Zalmay Khalilzad in promoting the US resident son of the Afghan war minister with DOD contracts for its $2B+ Host Nations Trucking program is a nice expose. Remember Hamed Wardak and his NCL Holdings of McLean, VA. His "advisory board" consists of a former Lieberman campaign worker. Check out Hamed Wardak here."
Hamed Wardak, the soft-spoken Georgetown University-educated son of an Afghan cabinet minister, has a Defense Department contract worth up to $360 million to transport U.S. military goods through some of the most insecure territory in Afghanistan. But his company has no trucks.
Instead, Wardak sits atop a murky pyramid of Afghan subcontractors who provide the vehicles and safeguard their passage. U.S. military officials say they are satisfied with the results, but they concede that they have little knowledge or control over where the money ends up.
According to senior Obama administration officials, some of it may be going to the Taliban, as part of a protection racket in which insurgents and local warlords are paid to allow the trucks unimpeded passage, often sending their own vehicles to accompany the convoys through their areas of control.
The essential question, said an American executive whose company does significant work in Afghanistan, is "whether you'd rather pay $1,000" for Afghans to safely deliver a truck, even if part of the money goes to the insurgents, or pay 10 times that much for security provided by the U.S. military or contractors. Read more.
GUAM TAXPAYERS PAY $1,019/HR FOR PORT NEGOTIATOR!
Since former GM of the Port Authority of Guam, Ken Takagawa, became the Port’s Chief Negotiator, there has been no forward progress with the contract negotiations for our workers.
He refuses to negotiate on items that have been negotiable for Public Employees under the Public Employees Management Relations Act for 40 years. Mr. Takagawa works 6 hrs a week and receives $20,000 per month plus per diem of $215 per day which comes out to $1,019 per hour to basically delay the process of getting our Port workers a contract!
It appears that Mr. Takagawa is deliberately delaying the process to maximize his salary.
In an effort to rectify the situation, President Matt Rector sent a letter to the Office of Attorney General Chief Prosecutor, Diane Corbett, to investigate the situation and ensure protection of the people of Guam from Government corruption, theft and waste of thousands of public dollars to this private contractor. Read Letter.
Two and half months post-quake, the major media mostly ignore Haiti, the calamitous conditions on the ground, and the growing desperation of millions forced to largely endure on their own - out of sight, mind, the concern of world leaders, and UN, USAID and other aid organizations diverting most of the $700 million + donated to contractors and profiteering NGOs.
A March 11 New York Times editorial titled, "Haiti, Two Months Later," tried to have it both ways, citing relief effort failures, yet praising the US, UN, foreign countries, and aid organizations for:
"dispatch(ing) tents, tarps, food, water, medicine and doctors as they should. They have done a lot of good, particularly the United States, which rushed supplies, a troop force....and a hospital ship. Many lives were saved."
Unmentioned was the thousands of US combat troops obstructing aid, getting none to the most impoverished neighborhoods, and amounts to emergency shelters have been woefully inadequate, making calamitous conditions worse.
A March 25 Times editorial titled, "Haiti's Misery," in fact, admitted it, stating:
"The emergency in Haiti isn't over. It's getting worse, as the outside world's attention fades away....(Yet) Misery rages like a fever in the hundreds of camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of....people left homeless....The dreaded rains have swamped tents and ragged stick-and-tarp huts. They have turned walkways into mud lakes (exacerbating the problem of) cooking food, washing clothes, staying clean and avoiding disease."
Did a White Sheriff and District Attorney Orchestrate a Race-Based Coup in a Northern Louisiana Town?
In the small northeast Louisiana town of Waterproof, the African-American mayor and police chief assert that they have been forced from office and arrested as part of an illegal coup carried out by the region's white political power structure. In a lawsuit filed last week, Police Chief Miles Jenkins describes a wide-ranging conspiracy led by the area’s district attorney and parish sheriff. These charges come at a time of widespread and high-profile racist attacks against the US President and Black members of Congress nationwide, and in a state where white political corruption and violence have been and continue to be used as tools to suppress Black political representation.
About 800 people live in Waterproof, a rural community in Tensas Parish that is 88% African American. Tensas has just over 6,000 residents, making it both the smallest parish in the state, and the parish with the state’s fastest declining population. The area schools remain mostly segregated, with nearly all the Black students attending public schools, and nearly all the white students attending private schools. With a median household income of $10,250, Waterproof is also one of the poorest communities in the US. The only jobs for Black people in town involve working for white farmers, according to Chief Jenkins. “Unless you go out of town to work,” he says, “You’re going to ride the white man’s tractor. That's it.”
Bobby Higginbotham was elected mayor of Waterproof in September of 2006. The next year, he appointed Miles Jenkins as chief of police. Jenkins, who served in the US military for 30 years and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Troy University in Alabama, immediately began the work of professionalizing a small town police department that had previously been mostly inactive. “You called the Waterproof police for help before,” says Chief Jenkins, “He would say, wait ‘til tomorrow, it’s too hot to come out today.” The new mayor also sought to reform the town’s financial practices, which Chief Jenkins says were in disorder and consumed by debt. Read more.
U.S. Plunges Central America Back To Era Of Coups And Death Squads
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | March 26, 2010
March 24th of this year was the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador.
His killing drew attention to the murderous rampages of death squads in that nation and throughout Central America as no other slaying had, although hundreds of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras before and during the 1980s by paramilitary formations usually led by graduates of the U.S.'s School of the Americas and covertly funded by the same nation's Central Intelligence Agency.
Graduates of the Pentagon's School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia (now the equally euphemistic Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) include the man responsible for ordering Romero's killing, the late Roberto D'Aubuisson; Efrain Rios Montt, head of the military junta in Guatemala in 1982-1983 which perpetrated some of the worst atrocities in the nation's bloodstained history; and Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, who was dismissed as chief of the Honduran military on June 25 of last year and led the coup against President Manuel Zelaya three days later.
After being appointed El Salvador's top ecclesiastic in 1977 Romero, hitherto considered a doctrinal if not a political conservative, spoke out forcefully against the abuses of the country's military and the deaths squads linked to it.
Two months before he was killed he wrote to then U.S. President Jimmy Carter imploring him to desist from arming and training the Salvadoran army, particularly plans to "train three Salvadoran battalions in logistics, communications and intelligence," and criticizing the fact that three months before "a group of six Americans was in El Salvador...providing $200,000 in gas masks and flak jackets and teaching how to use them against demonstrators.” 
His appeal was ignored.
The F Word: Step Toward Justice for Jamie Leigh Jones
By Laura Flanders | Smirking Chimp
Score one for Senator Al Franken.
Thanks to him, Jamie Leigh Jones, a former KBR employee who alleges she was gang raped by her coworkers will get her day in court.
I think we call that equal protection.
In Jones' case, it took an amendment to the 2010 defense appropriations bill. That's right, freshman Franken had to get up and suggest that government shouldn't be in the business of giving rewards -- or government contracts -- to companies that strip their workers of basic Constitutional rights, like the right to a jury trial.
Jones, lest we forget, has testified that she was raped and battered so badly by a group of her co-workers in Iraq that she required reconstructive surgery. Her assailants locked her in a shipping container for 24 hours without food, water, and she has testified before Congress that the company “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job." Read more.
Britons Queued At Ben Gurion Airport As Israeli Officials Cloned Passports
Soca report into forgeries used in Dubai killing says personal data was stolen in border checks
By Sandra Laville, Julian Borger and Richard Norton-Taylor | Guardian.co.UK | Submitted by MichaelMunk.com | www.MichaelMunk.com
Passing through Israel's Ben Gurion airport, a few miles east of Tel Aviv, is a unique experience no first-time visitor is likely to forget.
It represents the pinnacle of modern aviation security. Baggage is passed through giant, state-of-the-art machines, and travellers – both arriving and leaving – are frequently subjected to lengthy, personal and repetitive questioning by officials, on their ethnic background and that of any local acquaintances they may have made.
It is not at all uncommon for the mostly youthful immigration officers to wander off, passports and tickets in hand, ostensibly to consult with their seniors. Surrendering documents at check-in or at immigration has hitherto been considered a necessary evil for all those travelling in and out of Ben Gurion.
But the evidence that the Israeli state has been taking the information gleaned from these inspections to create cloned identities for its spies introduces a new level of risk to the experience. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
Get ready kids. It’s time for more scare stories about Social Security.
The New York Times weighed in today with a dire warning that this year, six years ahead of what had been predicted only a few years ago, the Social Security system would be (cue scary music) paying out more in benefits than it takes in from the payroll tax. The reason for this earlier-than-anticipated event is the Great Recession, the paper explained.
I cannot claim to be an expert on Stewart Udall, the Arizona Congressman, conservationist, supporter of environmentalist casandra Rachel Carson, and interior secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson who died this week at the age of 90.
I can say, from personal experience, though, that he was a breed apart from the money-grubbing, corporate ass-kissing, Washington cocktail circuit, elitist pigs who have headed up federal government departments in the days and years since Richard Nixon, in 1969, inaugurated the "Imperial Presidency."
Obama Administration Destroys Incriminating Contracting Data
By Lloyd Chapman | Huffington Post
In March of 2005, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of the Inspector General found large businesses had fraudulently represented themselves as small businesses to illegally receive federal small business contracts. Report 5-16 stated large businesses had committed fraud by making "false certifications," and "improper certifications." (PDF)
On Friday, March 12, the General Services Administration (GSA) destroyed all of the information that had been used in that investigation.
Since 2003, over a dozen federal investigations have found that Fortune 500 firms have received federal small business contracts. In 2004, the SBA Office of Advocacy found large businesses had received federal small business contracts fraudulently through what they referred to as "vendor deception."
As a result of the deletion of the data it will be significantly more difficult, if not impossible, for federal investigators to conduct investigations into fraud and abuse in federal small business contracting programs. Despite public outcry over the proposed changes, the GSA has eliminated the data under the guise of upgrading the system and making it easier to search. Read more.
Tax Scam? Federal Employees Owe Nearly a Billion in Back Taxes
Chaffetz Wants to 'Ferret Out' Federal Workers With Unpaid Taxes
By Devin Dwyer | ABC News
Working for Uncle Sam comes with some great perks, like job stability, posh benefits packages, and in many cases, average salaries that are higher than what the same job pays in the private sector.
That's why Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is irked that nearly 100,000 civilian federal employees owe the IRS $962 million in back taxes. He thinks they should pay up or be fired.
Chaffetz has introduced a bill that calls for the federal government to "ferret out" civilian employees who have "seriously delinquent tax debt" and prevent the hiring of other tax delinquents.
More than 3 percent of the 2.8 million federal civilian employees owed the Treasury unpaid federal income taxes in 2008, according to the IRS. If you include retirees and military service members, the numbers go from nearly 100,000 up to 276,000 current or former workers who owe $3 billion in taxes.
"If you get to the point where the government is putting a lien on their property and they've exhausted their appeals… the right thing to do is fire them as a federal worker," said Chaffetz. "If you're going to take federal tax dollars, you should be paying your federal taxes." Read more.
In December, we argued the urgent need to make public A.I.G.'s emails and "key internal accounting documents and financial models." A.I.G.'s schemes were at the center of the economic meltdown. Three months later, a year-long report by court-appointed bank examiner Anton Valukas makes it abundantly clear why such investigations are critical to the recovery of our financial system. Every time someone takes a serious look, a new scandal emerges.
The damning 2,200-page report, released last Friday, examines the reasons behind Lehman's failure in September 2008. It reveals on and off balance-sheet accounting practices the firm's managers used to deceive the public about Lehman's true financial condition. Our investigations have shown for years that accounting is the "weapon of choice" for financial deception. Valukas's findings reveal how Lehman used $50 billion in "repo" loans to fool investors into thinking that it was on sound financial footing. As our December co-author Frank Partnoy recently explained as part of a major report of the Roosevelt Institute, "Make Markets Be Markets," such abusive off-balance accounting was and is endemic. It was a major cause of the financial crisis, and it will lead to future crises.
According to emails described in the report, CEO Richard Fuld and other senior Lehman executives were aware of the games being played and yet signed off on quarterly and annual reports. Lehman's auditor Ernst & Young knew and kept quiet.
The Valukas report also exposes the dysfunctional relationship between the country's main regulatory bodies and the systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) they are supposed to be policing. The NY Fed, the regulatory agency led by then FRBNY President Geithner, has a clear statutory mission to promote the safety and soundness of the banking system and compliance with the law. Yet it stood by while Lehman deceived the public through a scheme that FRBNY officials likened to a "three card monte routine" (p. 1470). The report states: Read more.
You gotta see this! [Video above.] If this doesn't convince you that Timothy Geithner knew about the securities shenanigans that were going on at Lehman, than I don't know what will.
Keep in mind, that Geithner ran Lehman through 3 "stress tests" prior to bankruptcy; all of which Lehman failed, and yet, nothing was done. Anton R. Valukas--the examiner who wrote the 2,200 page investigative-report which was released on Thursday-- has provided plenty of information detailing Lehman's “materially misleading” accounting and “actionable balance sheet manipulation.”
In other words, they cooked the books. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama is out and abroad stumping like mad for his embattled health insurance “reform” plan, claiming now that his administration will “crack down” on $100 billion in annual “waste and fraud” in the Medicare and Medicaid systems.
This new tough rhetoric is meant to win over some of the conservative opposition that sees all government programs as inherently wasteful, inefficient and corrupt.
But the claim itself is bogus.
The figure comes from a study done annually by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and that study makes it clear that it is not looking at fraud, but at errors. And there are two things that can be said about those errors, most of which appear to involve problems like illegible signatures on doctors’ orders, or lost paperwork needed to document that a treatment being billed for actually happened.