Posts tagged ‘Predatory Capitalism’

NSA Report Means More Trouble For 60 Minutes


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On the same day reports circulated that the reporters behind a fatally flawed, retracted 60 Minutes story may return to CBS News’ airwaves as soon as early January, the program again faced criticism for a report that critics are calling a “puff piece” and an “infomercial.”

On December 15, 60 Minutes aired a report on the National Security Agency based on unprecedented access to its headquarters and interviews with Agency staff, including its chief, Keith Alexander, who discussed the concerns many Americans have about its operations since the disclosures by Edward Snowden.

The segment opened with reporter John Miller’s acknowledgement that he had once worked at another federal intelligence agency. It featured no critics of the NSA. Miller explained his thoughts on the story in an interview with CBS News, saying that the NSA’s view is “really the side of the story that has been mined only in the most superficial ways. We’ve heard plenty from the critics. We’ve heard a lot from Edward Snowden. Where there’s been a distinctive shortage is, putting the NSA to the test and saying not just ‘We called for comment today’ but to get into the conversation and say that sounds a lot like spying on Americans, and then say, ‘Well, explain that.’”

Miller’s report was immediately ripped apart by NSA critics and veteran journalists. Some have called the veracity of CBS News’ reporting into question. Others termed the segment a “puff piece” and an “embarrassing” “infomercial,” saying that it filmed was under guidelines that overwhelmingly favored the agency and proved the effectiveness of the NSA’s communications staff.

The NSA report is only the latest of several heavily criticized 60 Minutes stories. Most notably, the network wasforced to retract and remove from the airwaves the reporters responsible for a segment based on a supposed eyewitness to the 2012 Benghazi attacks who apparently fabricated his story. The day after the NSA story ran and less than three weeks after the leaves of absence were announced, Politico reported that those journalists, Lara Logan and Max McClellan, have “started booking camera crews for news packages” and could return to 60 Minutes as early as January. In recent weeks the program has also been criticized for reports onSocial Security disability benefits and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.

This series of debacles was noted by former CBS News correspondent Marvin Kalb, who was at one time the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, who wrote that a program that “used to be the gold standard of network magazine programs” is increasingly “under fire.” He concluded:

What’s clear from this episode is that 60 Minutes is not facing another Lara Logan embarrassment. Miller did not get his facts wrong; he just did a story on 60 Minutes that should never have been on 60 Minutes. It was a promotional piece, almost by his own admission. In addition, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley did a story on the 60 Minutes Miller piece to help promote it, as though it were an exceptional exclusive, which it was not.

In a funny way, all of this fresh criticism can be seen as a compliment. People expect 60 Minutes to be a place on the dial for tough questioning and rigorous reporting. When it does anything less than that, it opens itself to snap judgments that may be unfair but should not be surprising. It should, though, suggest strongly that CBS has further need for continuing self-examination.

Politico‘s Dylan Byers similarly opined that 60 Minutes has had “a terrible year” and that the program “is desperately in need of a news package that earns it praise rather than criticism.It needs to put up a hard-hitting investigation, fact-checked to the teeth, that doesn’t come off as a promotional puff-piece. Because its reputation as the gold standard of television journalism has taken some serious hits of late.”

Miller referred questions from Media Matters about the segment to a CBS News spokesperson who declined to comment on the record.

America’s Deceptive 2012 Fiscal Cliff (Part 2)



America’s Deceptive 2012 Fiscal Cliff (Part 2) (via Market Shadows)

  Source: pintura.aut.org via Bonegrrl on Pinterest   Michael Hudson: America’s Deceptive 2012 Fiscal Cliff, Part II – The Financial War Against the Economy at Large Courtesy of Michael Hudson Originally published at Naked Capitalism (part 1 is here) By Michael Hudson, a research professor…

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Senators hope to end Federal Reserve’s conflicts of interest



Senators hope to end Federal Reserve’s conflicts of interest (via Raw Story )

Three U.S. Senators proposed a bill on Tuesday that would prevent the nation’s most powerful banking executives from simultaneously running the very institutions intended to keep them playing by the rules, with one of the bill’s sponsors saying that JP Morgan’s recent billions in losses are indicative…

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Maher says Republicans have same problem as the Beach Boys: ‘Their fans are dying’



Maher says Republicans have same problem as the Beach Boys: ‘Their fans are dying’ (via Raw Story )

Friday night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” host Bill Maher addressed the Republican Party’s staggering electoral losses in this week’s elections and mused that the party may be facing virtual extinction. Maher began the segment talking about Fox News’s alert early on election day that a…

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Inspite GOP Big Donors They Were Beat Down



Deluge of Republican money made little difference (via AFP)

Despite their funding deluge from wealthy donors, Republicans failed to overwhelm President Barack Obama and Democrats at the ballot box. So was throwing all that money at the 2012 election worth it? Obama was handily re-elected, Democrats added two more seats to their majority in the Senate, and they…

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Judge temporarily blocks possible Iowa voter purge – Yahoo! News – It’s RACISM


Judge temporarily blocks possible Iowa voter purge – Yahoo! News.

Reuters) – An Iowa judge issued a temporary injunction on Friday blocking the state’s plans to verify the citizenship status of voters before the November 6 election in the Midwestern swing state.

The injunction was a setback for Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad, whose government had hoped to check on the citizenship of more than 3,500 people to purge state voter rolls of potential illegal immigrants.

Iowa District Court Judge Mary Pat Grunderson said the effort to verify the legal status of voters could not proceed while a lawsuit against the potential voter purge goes forward.

“The court concludes the harm that granting the temporary injunction may prevent outweighs the harm that may result from denying it,” the judge wrote in her 12-page ruling.

She stressed that the ruling was only provisional and did not directly address the merits of the state’s concern about voter eligibility.

But she said the pursuit of new voter verification efforts, under emergency rulemaking powers adopted by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, had “created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process” in immigrant communities in Iowa.

“They have created fear that new citizens will lose their right to vote and/or be charged with a felony, and caused some qualified voters to feel deterred even from registering to vote,” Grunderson said in her opinion.

Schultz, the state’s top election official, decried Grunderson’s ruling. “Unfortunately this ruling could (open) the door for non-citizens to continue voting in Iowa elections,” he said in a statement.

“Although I am very disappointed in this ruling, this is just one of many steps in the process and I am resolved to continuing to fight for the people of Iowa and protecting the integrity of our elections.”

The legal complaint against Iowa’s voter verification effort was filed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.

“We’re very pleased,” said Randall Wilson, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa, when asked about the temporary injunction.

“The Iowa public was getting the bum’s rush,” Wilson added.

“The law requires a real emergency before emergency laws can be promulgated,” he added.

(Reporting by Tom Brown and David Adams; editing by Todd Eastham)

TV Host Jim Cramer Says Father Will Not Be Allowed To Vote Because Of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law


TV Host Jim Cramer Says Father Will Not Be Allowed To Vote Because Of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law.

Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s finance program Mad Money, is seeing the effects of voter suppression laws firsthand.

This morning, Cramer tweeted about his father, a Pennsylvania resident who stands to lose his right to vote because of the state’s new restrictive voter ID law. Like thousands of Pennsylvania who could be disenfranchised in November, Cramer’s father lacks a voter ID because he’s a senior citizen and does not drive. Cramer also noted that he doesn’t have access to his citizenship documents.

5 ways the Republican party is destroying America – Orlando liberal | Examiner.com


5 ways the Republican party is destroying America – Orlando liberal | Examiner.com.

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Ever since President Obama was elected president in November of 2008, the Republican party has taken a hard turn to the right of the political spectrum. With chants of “socialism” and outrageous claims about President Obama’s birth certificate and religion, the Republican party is more conservative today than it has been in its history. Whether it’s their constant obsession to widen the wealth gap to their views on social issues, the Republican party has tunnel vision when it comes to the future of the United States.

Conservatives see a light at the end of the tunnel and they will make sure that everyone follows their path. As the election inches closer, it’s important to look at the ways the Republican party plans to take over the United States and mold the country to fit their core ideology. The list could be endless, and over time another article will be released, but in the meantime lets take a look at five ways the Republicans plan to destory America.

1. Taxes – Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the United States tax system has completely changed. With the term “supply side economics,” the promise was made that if we drastically cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans that they will in turn, take those same tax cuts and create jobs. The problem with this system is that, while it looks promising on paper, it doesn’t translate in reality. Former president, George H.W Bush called supply side economics “voodoo economics” and talked about its weaknesses. Known throughout the country as “Reaganomics,” when the wealthy received their tax cuts they didn’t create jobs in the United States, but instead took advantage of weak trade policies and created jobs in other countries. Countries like China, India and Pakistan were places that American companies were moving their jobs because for every Union worker that asked for $20 dollars an hour, there was a person in another country doing it for less than a $1.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), from the time Ronald Reagan became president until 2007, income at the top 1%, adjusted for inflation, increased by 281% compared to only a 25% increase for the middle 20% of Americans. President Bush came into office in 2001 and was handed a surplus by President Clinton. With the surplus in hand, Bush gave it back to the American people, but primarily to the most wealthy, adding over $3 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. As the wealthy continue to count their money, average Americans have to watch theirs and hope they can pay the bills.

2. Trade – One of the biggest reasons that Americans have struggled to find work over the years is that millions of jobs are being created in other countries. While Republicans claim that the reason jobs are being sent over seas is that union workers have demanded wages that were too high, the reality is that there is another reason. There is truth that many union workers have a demand for a high rate of pay, but fair wages is a necessity when it comes to living in the United States. From the businesses side, there is a case to be made that creating jobs in a third world country could benefit the company because of the low wages that are paid, however, the other side is more realistic.

Currently, while companies are paying criminally low wages in other countries to turn a profit, bonuses throughout the higher-ups in these companies are hitting a record high. If these companies brought jobs back to the United States, the workers would then take their pay and invest it back into the country and the economy. These companies don’t just benefit from cheap labor, they also use the tax code to line their pockets. Many companies receive tax cuts for creating jobs in other countries, which just increases the likelihood of jobs not returning.

President Obama has stated he wants to end tax cuts for companies who ship jobs to other countries and instead give those tax breaks to companies who create jobs in America.

3. Religious Freedom and Civil Rights – Conservatives say that they love the constitution and hold it close to their heart. With a bible in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other, conservatives claim they are the only ones who know how to run the country. The problem with these statements is that from the opening line of the First Amendment, their claim of religious dominance is shown to be false.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

If you take a look at the first ten words of the First Amendment, it states that the United States will make no law respecting an establishment of religion. So while the country respects everyone’s right to believe what they want, there will be no law that is made to fit a particular religious belief. With the recent debate about contraception and birth control dealing with Catholic organizations, religious freedom is back on the front lines.

Conservatives claim that President Obama and liberals are trying to strip away the First Amendment and religious freedom and force secular beliefs in America. The problem is that President Obama, a Christian himself, is just following the law of the land. The president isn’t forcing Catholic businesses to use contraception, but just make it available to women who want it if they choose, just like all the other businesses in the country.

As the contraception issue was going on, LGBT rights have also come back. Prop 8 in California, the ban on gay marriage, was ruled unconstitutional at the same time same-sex marriage was being legalized in Washington. Once again radical religious conservatives have claimed that letting gay and lesbian Americans marry will undermine the morals of America and break away from their Judeo Christian values. Religious conservatives also take their argument to the classroom by attacking science. 97% of all scientists accept and agree with the theory of evolution, but religious conservatives want to force a faith-based religious belief into public schools.

The issue of religion in public school is a two-part problem. Churches don’t pay taxes and because of this, they can run their private schools and manipulate the curriculum to fit their ideology while doing the minimum to fit the national educational standards. While private schools have the right to work with the churches, they shouldn’t be able to have a say in the public sector since they don’t pay a dime towards it. Religious freedom should be protected and every American has the right to believe what they want, but at the same time those beliefs should not make their way into the public.

4. War and Foreign Policy – Once President Bush came into office in 2001 and handed over $3 trillion in tax cuts over the last decade, America also went to war with not one, but two countries. While the war in Afghanistan is more debatable, the war in Iraq was proven to be based on a lie, or “bad intelligence”. The United States has spent trillions of dollars in Iraq while private companies like Halliburton have made a gigantic profit. Thousands of American lives and Iraqi civilians have been taken all at the cost of the American taxpayer. While President Obama has completed one of his promises from the campaign trail and ended the war in Iraq, he is also starting to pull out troops of Afghanistan. The problem is that if a Republican takes over the White House they have all made it clear that they will have a quick trigger finger when it comes to going to war with Iran. The majority of American people have spoken and they don’t want to be involved with another war, the cost in both dollars and human life is just too much.

5. Financial Reform – The biggest reason for the financial meltdown in 2008 was because the entire industry was given too much slack. Like a teenager given the entire house to themselves for the weekend, only bad things can come of it. During the Reagan administration, as the wealthy saw their tax rates dropped from 70% to 28% within eight years and union workers found themselves without a job, another industry saw a change. With the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 signed into law, banks found it easier to do business and hurt the American people in the process. Allowing big banks to merge and set their own interest rates, bankers felt like it was Christmas. While the banks and wall street found it easier to make money, the American people struggled. With tax cuts and deregulation on the move, Reagan tripled the national debt, raiding the Social Security trust fund at the same time in an attempt to cover up the massive loses. As the years went on, Wall Street reform was never seriously on the table, whether it was President George H.W Bush or President Clinton, there was never enough being done to tackle the problem.

In the 1990s, the economy started to pick up again, President Clinton finally raised taxes on the most wealthy, bringing in the revenue needed for the government to perform the duties it had promised. Not all was sunshine and rainbows however, in November of 1999, with a Republican controlled House and Senate, President Clinton buckled and signed into law the repeal of Glass-Steagall act that had helped refrain big banks from over taking the market.

As America moved on, less than a decade later the economy collapsed. Too much power concentrated in the hands of a select few will be over come by natural human greed every time and that’s what happened in 2008. In 2010, President Obama signed into law the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” which eased the pain on consumers and started to put more of the responsibility back to the big banks. Following the anger of the American people towards the bank bail out of 2008, the Wall Street reform bill put an end to future tax payer bailouts of big banks. The bill passed was a start, but much more is needed before we get back to where the country needs to be.
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Drone on the Range


Drone on the Range.

Those very same pilotless, remote-controlled, undetectable planes that the CIA has been secretly using to spy on and bomb people in Pakistan and elsewhere are headed to our local police departments.

Get ready, America. Here comes “the next latest and greatest thing in aviation.” Wow, what could it be? Maybe the airlines are going to drop all of their ridiculous rip-off fees. That’d be great!

No, no, not that kind of aviation. You probably won’t find this breakthrough so great. It’s the arrival and proliferation of “unmanned vehicle systems,” soon to be buzzing around the airspace of your own town.

Yes, drones, right here at home. Those very same pilotless, remote-controlled, undetectable planes that the CIA has been secretly using to spy on and bomb people in Pakistan and elsewhere are headed to our local police departments, FBI offices, and…well, who knows who else will have these toys?

All we know is that Congress — under pressure from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and other big drone peddlers — directed the Federal Aviation Agency earlier this year to open up civilian air space to thousands of them by 2015. And, in their wisdom, our loosey-goosey lawmakers provided no regulation of who can have drones, how many, or for what purposes.

So prepare to be pestered and monitored, for police agencies and corporate interests are said to be abuzz about getting their own. The first ones are expected to be used for high-altitude surveillance, which is worrisome enough. But consider this: A Texas sheriff’s office that has already bought a “ShadowHawk” drone says it might outfit the little buzzer to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.

No worries, though. The drone industry’s lobbying group has drafted a two-page code of conduct urging purchasers to “respect the privacy of individuals.”

How nice. Only, it’s a voluntary code — and totally unenforceable. For more information about this invasive swarm, contact the Electronic Privacy Information Center: http://www.epic.org.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.
Jim Hightower

Road to Nowhere: Federal Transportation Infrastructure Policy – Council on Foreign Relations


Progress Report and Scorecard

Road to Nowhere: Federal Transportation Infrastructure Policy - road-to-nowhere-federal-transportation-infrastructure-policy

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Release Date June 2012

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Overview

In his blog post, CFR Senior Fellow and Renewing America Director Edward Alden introduces the Renewing America Progress Report and Scorecard series, which is intended to highlight—in both a visually compelling fashion and in a more detailed narrative—the challenges the United States faces in rebuilding the foundations of its economic strength.

The first installment of the series, "Road to Nowhere: Federal Transportation Infrastructure Policy," provides a critical assessment of federal transportation policy.

Just a generation ago, the United States invested heavily to create one of the world’s best transportation infrastructure networks. But now, with real investment stagnating even as much of the infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life, global economic competitors are leaving the United States behind. Along with a description of major policy initiatives, the report analyzes what’s needed to get U.S. transportation infrastructure back on track.

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This report was prepared by Rebecca Strauss, associate director of Renewing America Publications at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Renewing America

The Renewing America initiative explores the major domestic challenges facing the United States that have significant consequences for national security and foreign policy.

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Road to Nowhere: Federal Transportation Infrastructure Policy – Council on Foreign Relations

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