Local Stories, Events
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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]
07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]
07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]
07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]
07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]
07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]
07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]
07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]
07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]
07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]
07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]
07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]
07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]
07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]
07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]
High Crimes vs. Human Rights
07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
International & Futurism
07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]
07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]
07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]
07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]
07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]
07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]
Now We Can See Why Open Government Is the Only Way to Go
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
The deal that Paulson engineered in secret for shoveling taxpayer money into Goldman Sachs (his former firm) is surely one of the largest acts of official larceny of public funds in the history of the country.For years, advocates of open government, mostly on the left, but also on the right, have railed against the growing secrecy of the US government. But the focus, particularly of left critics, has been on the Intelligence budget, a $40+ billion “black box” that is completely protected from public and even congressional scrutiny, and on large swaths of the Pentagon budget, which are kept hidden allegedly for “national security” reasons.
For the most part, the American public has adopted an ovine attitude towards such secrecy, assuming that the “government knows best.”
Now, however, with the economic crisis, and the collapse of AIG, Citibank, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, General Motors, Chrysler and other leading US firms, and with bailouts that are putting taxpayers on the hook to the tune of trillions of dollars, the people are waking up, or at least are starting to get restless in their slumber.
Perhaps there will be a new awareness soon of the importance of transparency in all parts of government.
For now, the Obama administration, the Federal Reserve and Congress are all trying desperately to ease the citizenry back into a state of torpor by adopting a position of mock outrage at the $135 million in bonuses paid out by AIG to the very employees who created the disastrous and crooked Credit Default Swap market that precipitated the global economic collapse.
What they don’t want to happen is for people to start thinking about the $183 billion that Congress and the Fed approved for AIG, which we now have learned was simply a devious scheme for passing more money in secret through to troubled banks and investment banks – among them Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others – that had bought these CDOs.
Recall that back in September, when the crisis first hit in earnest and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson first called for a bailout program, he asked—in a three-page proposal to Congress which he insisted they must pass or risk total economic collapse and the imposition of martial law!—for absolute authority as Treasury Secretary to hand out the $700 billion and for protection against any legal action for whatever he might choose to do with it.
Congress didn’t accede to his imperious request, though it did give him half the money he wanted: $350 billion, saying it would provide the second $350 billion later (the new Congress did hand the second half of the money over just before President Obama took office). A sizeable chunk of that huge sum of taxpayer money went to AIG, the giant insurance company that had devised a scheme to sell “insurance” for the mortgage-backed securities that banks were gorging on. The term insurance has to be placed in quotes, because since these contracts were not backed by any assets, they were really not insurance at all.
As rumors spread that much of the so-called Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) money that was provided to AIG was actually passed through to banks and investment banks that were already receiving TARP funds directly (including nearly $50 billion to foreign institutions), Congress and some news organizations, notably Bloomberg, sought to learn what firms were actually receiving the cash. AIG, the Treasury Department and the Bush and later the Obama administration initially fought such disclosure, as did all the bank recipients, claiming that releasing the names of the recipients would make investors doubt their stability.
Finally, thanks to the efforts of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose office has been pursuing the issue in the courts, we have the answer: the money was going primarily to the nation’s biggest banks.
But most troubling is that a disproportionate amount of the AIG bailout money--$13 billion -- went to Goldman Sachs, a company that until July 2006 was headed by Treasury Secretary Paulson himself. No wonder Paulson, AIG, Goldman Sachs and others wanted to keep this all under wraps. No wonder too that Paulson initially tried to get Congress to immunize him from the legal consequences of his bailout actions.
The truth is that Goldman Sachs and Paulson should be prosecuted for corruption. The deal that Paulson engineered in secret for shoveling taxpayer money into his former firm is surely one of the largest acts of official larceny of public funds in the history of the country.
Goldman Sachs even publicly announced in early February that it was returning $10 billion in TARP funds it had received last fall, saying it didn’t need the money. Well sure the company didn’t need the money—because it was getting even more in secret via the AIG conduit.
With this backdrop, the rest of the bailout might well be seen as a hugely expensive cover: give enough money to the rest of the big banks and investment banks, and nobody in the industry will squeal about the sweet deal Goldman Sachs was getting.
Of course, the corruption goes much deeper. While public money was being funneled into the banks and other financial institutions, those same institutions were using some of this taxpayer largesse to lobby Congress to do even more. Just between October 1 and the end of 2008, 18 recipients of TARP funds reported spending nearly $15 million on lobbying efforts in Washington. Among the biggest bailout-recipient/lobbyists: American Express ($1.1 million), AIG ($1.1 million), B of A ($$880,000), Citigroup ($1.5 million), Goldman Sachs ($720,000), JPMorgan Chase ($1.1 million), Wells Fargo ($580,000). These amounts represent quite an investment considering that these firms all received, in return for their TARP lobbying efforts, billions of dollars in bailout money.
Remember, Paulson’s original plan was to have even the TARP direct bailout grants kept secret from the public. That idea didn’t fly. But many of these companies that used their public funds to lobby for more public funds also received secret bonus bailouts via AIG.
So here’s what happens when you have secret government. The public gets royally shafted.
Now that the story is coming out, the crooks in Congress, the White House and at Treasury and the Fed are desperately trying to lull us all back to sleep by feigning anger at the relatively paltry sums AIG is handing out in bonuses to some of the crooks and scheisters on its staff.
We should not put our heads down on the pillow being offered, though.
The lesson here is that we need open government, and that we need to demand that our media not go for the cheap and easy story being handed out by government press release.
Also, there’s this last thought: If you thought that the banking mess was a horrible rip-off, just try to imagine what level of corruption there must be in the Pentagon and the Intelligence programs that have been operating in absolute secrecy and with no scrutiny for decades!
About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on March 18, 2009.