Politics and Legislation

Discord over West Bank outpost threatening Netanyahu coalition

Visiting Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood, Likud minister Yisrael Katz says Barak has ‘taken the Defense Ministry and made it a political tool at the expense of the settlers.’

By Yossi Verter

The future of the little Ulpana neighborhood of the West Bank settlement of Beit El, whose legality is in doubt, seems to be driving the government to distraction. Aides to Defense Minister Ehud Barak Saturday released a statement accusing two of their boss’s cabinet colleagues, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon of adopting the rhetoric of the extreme right.

Katz visited Ulpana on Friday and said Barak had “taken the Defense Ministry and made it a political tool at the expense of the settlers.”

The Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El . The Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Photo by: Emil Salman

On Saturday, Ya’alon half warned, half threatened that the government could fall if Ulpana’s residents were forced to leave. In response aides to Barak, who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidant, said Katz and Ya’alon had been struck with “a serious case of Feiglinism,” referring to the extreme right-wing Likudnik Moshe Feiglin.

These are not trivial matters. When Ya’alon, speaking at a cultural event in Be’er Sheva Saturday, suggested the government was in danger of collapse he seemed resigned to the prospect. His statements probably added fuel to the fire of the settlers.

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 The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) will be stepping into the breach the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) left this week when it disbanded its voter suppression arm. Because having as many people vote as possible is very dangerous to Republicans, who aren’t so popular, the Right has to make sure that someone is in charge of returning the nation to Jim Crow days, and now the NCPPR is it.

It’s forming a “Voter Identification Task Force,” according to a press release obtained by PR Watch.

NCPPR’s press release scolds the 11 corporations, as of yesterday, that have recently announced they had dropped out of ALEC, which has come under intense scrutiny as a result of the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed investigation and along with the efforts CMD, Color of Change, Common Cause, People of the American Way, Progress Now!, and other groups plus Daily Kos bloggers as well as concerned citizens speaking up across the country.

NCPPR even set up an email for corporations to reach out to them if they “regret” their decision to cut ties with ALEC under the theme “we are not yellow.” NCPPR asserts that corporations have succumbed to the “left-wing” which is supposedly using a “trotskyite strategy of making relentless demand-after-demand.”

Don’t know much about the NCPPR? PR Watch has the details about this “think tank,” including the assistance the group gave to Jack Abramoff in essentially laundering millions of dollars and the fundraising tactic of “bombarding senior citizens with ‘fright mail.'” They use that money to do things like help Exxon Mobil fight against efforts to address climate change.

In other words, they’re another cog in the extreme right-wing agenda-making machine propping up the Republican Party. They’re not going to let voter suppression efforts stop.

By Joan McCarter | Sourced from Daily Kos

Trustees say Medicare, Social Security funds running out quickly

By Sam Baker – 04/23/12 05:03 PM ET

Medicare and Social Security are on a fast track to deep fiscal problems, trustees for the two programs warned Monday.

The Medicare trust fund will be “exhausted” — meaning it won’t have enough money on hand to cover the benefits it’s supposed to provide — by 2024, the trustees said, the same time frame anticipated in a report last year. Social Security will reach that tipping point in 2033, three years earlier than predicted last year.

“Under current law, both of these vitally important programs are on unsustainable paths,” Trustee Robert Reischauer said Monday.

Both parties looked to score political points on the news, with Obama administration officials saying Medicare’s woes would be far more severe without the 2010 healthcare law, while Republicans used the new estimates to argue that President Obama isn’t serious about entitlement reform.

The trustees called on Congress to repair the entitlements quickly, saying a prompt approach would leave more options on the table and allow lawmakers to make changes gradually.

But even at the trustees’ press conference, the deep political divisions over Medicare were on full display.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took a pre-emptive shot at Republican-led proposals to partially privatize Medicare.

 

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Economy

J K Galbraith: Inequality and Instability Part 1 – Part 2, 3 and 4 pls see links in intro

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qX8sLB4ZNw&feature=plcp&context=C4a97… Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=605lUlAJGj8&context=C4a063a4ADvjVQa1PpcFMG… Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyguJPYjDBc&context=C4d2c0faADvjVQa1PpcFNC…
Further informations about topics addressed are available in favourites, play lists on my channel and complementary video responses. Mirrored: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheRealNews “James K. Galbraith presents his study of the world economy just before the great crisis.”

 

Canada, U.S. refuse to give IMF cash for crisis

By Bradley Bouzane, Postmedia News

Canada was among the countries Friday that declined to contribute additional emergency resources for the International Monetary Fund to assist the economic crisis gripping some European nations, insisting more emphasis should be placed on the eurozone to help relieve its own issues.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told a news conference in Washington that Canada, along with the United States, were not supportive of providing further funds for Europe and said that region should be able to assist itself in a greater capacity.

“A number of countries have agreed to provide the fund with additional resources now,” Flaherty said Friday evening in Washington. “With respect to the Canadian position, Canada has always supported the IMF. At the current juncture, however, we believe the fund has adequate resources to deal with imminent needs. This is particularly true, given the capacity of Europe to deal with its sovereign debt crisis.”

Flaherty, in Washington for meetings of the IMF and G20 finance ministers, said officials have noted the progress Europe has made in terms of some fiscal structure reforms, specifically in Italy and Spain, but said “we encourage our European partners to implement these reforms and make use of financial resources in Europe to stabilize the situation.”

The IMF is seeking $400 billion in commitments for world financial leaders to help backstop eurozone nations in the event of a debt emergency, a drive made urgent by rising borrowing costs in Italy and Spain.

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Wells Fargo Insiders Detail Foreclosure Fraud Practices: ‘It’s Exactly Like An Assembly Line’

That Wells Fargo has fraudulently processed mortgage documents using a process called robo-signing has been evident for nearly two years, since scandal enveloped the mortgage industry in 2010. That it kept doing it even after the scandal broke has been known for months. The practice, at Wells Fargo and other Wall Street banks, has led to waves of improper foreclosures and a $25 billion settlement with the federal government and state attorneys general.

new report from MSNBC, however, provided an inside account of how Wells Fargo’s robo-signing department works. Unqualified employees with salaries ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 are given titles like “vice president of loan documentation” so they can sign foreclosure documents. Actual supervisors institute quotas on employees, forcing them to sign a certain number of foreclosure files each day — sometimes telling them they can’t eat breakfast or take lunch until they’re done. Documents required for homeowners to avoid foreclosure were ignored, left sitting on an unattended fax machine……

 

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Wars and Rumors of War

‘Israel strike on Iran ill-advised, given our nuclear intel’

Iran should ‘play by rules’ over nuclear issue

Iran should play by the rules if it wants to have legitimate access to peaceful nuclear energy, stressed General James L. Jones, former national security advisor to US President Barack Obama, in an exclusive interview with RT.

­RT: There are IAEA experts who say the nuclear threat of Iran is not what it used to be, and if they abide by the law, Iran should have a peaceful nuclear program. How can we move forward without encouraging double standards?

General James L. Jones: We always said that Iran should have access to peaceful nuclear power if it wishes. We offered to replace fuel in medical reactors in Tehran. It is not an issue of peaceful nuclear power.

Iran has declared rather openly what it would do [to its neighbors] if it became a nuclear power.

If Iran seriously wants to play according to the game rules, we all play and sign documents that guarantee certain behavior, there is no reason why Iran should not have nuclear power for peaceful use.

The pressure and responsibility is not upon Russia or the US to make Iran do anything that it does not want to do. It is up to Iran to say: we do not want to be like North Korea ten years from now, living in a world of isolation.

That is a great civilization and great people. We happen to know that the Iranian people want more freedom. They look upon the west and countries outside their borders as inspiration, they see the freedom of our societies and they want to live like that.

They are going to figure out how they can get that a little bit more, but as far as the nuclear question goes, both Russia and the US have sent signals to Iran that there is a perfectly reasonable pathway that preserves their dignity and their respect to get to peaceful use of nuclear power. So it is really up to them.

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US military fights negative perception of “pain ray”

Published on Apr 22, 2012 by

In order to gain stronger public perception of new crowd control technology, the US miltary has been showcasing a new weapon dubbed the “pain ray”.
The system cost more than $120m developing the technology and was deployed in Afghanistan two years ago

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Articles of Interest

 

Egypt ends natural-gas agreement with Israel

The 2005 Egypt-Israel gas deal has come under strident criticism from leaders of the popular uprising that began early last year in Egypt.

By Avi Bar-Eli

Egypt has canceled its natural gas contract with Israel, claiming “violations of contractual agreements,” with Israeli officials calling the move a blatant violation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

The 2005 Egypt-Israel gas deal has come under strident criticism from leaders of the popular uprising that began early last year in Egypt. Critics charge that Israel was getting a bargain price for the gas, while cronies of former President Hosni Mubarak allegedly skimmed millions of dollars off the proceeds.

A Bedouin tribesman inspecting the section of the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline that was hit by an RPG. A Bedouin tribesman inspecting the section of the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline that was hit by an RPG in the northern Sinai last month.
Photo by: Reuters

Nevertheless, Egyptian officials had been saying that they planned to honor the agreement.

The pipelines carrying natural gas to Israel in Jordan have been sabotaged 14 times since the uprising began, resulting in the suspension of the gas supply for about 70 percent of the time since February 5, 2011.

Israel called the Egyptian decision “unlawful and in bad faith” and said Egypt has failed to meet its supply obligations.

Egypt, meanwhile, says Israel hasn’t paid for its gas for four months, a charge Israel denies.

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Billions in Fines Don’t Matter — Here’s How BP Should Be Punished for the Gulf Disaster

What is missing is a criminal prosecution that holds responsible the individuals who gambled with the lives of BP’s contractors and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico.
 

This story was published as an op-ed in The New York Times.

Two years after a series of gambles and ill-advised decisions on a BP drilling project led to the largest accidental oil spill in United States history and the death of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, no one has been held accountable.

What is missing is the accountability that comes from real consequences: a criminal prosecution that holds responsible the individuals who gambled with the lives of BP’s contractors and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. Only such an outcome can rebuild trust in an oil industry that asks for the public’s faith so that it can drill more along the nation’s coastlines. And perhaps only such an outcome can keep BP in line and can keep an accident like the Deepwater Horizon disaster from happening again.

BP has already tested the effectiveness of lesser consequences, and its track record proves that the most severe punishments the courts and the United States government have been willing to mete out amount to a slap on the wrist.

Read Full Article Here

 

Bill Maher’s New Rules segment last night hit on a key aspect of today’s GOP: they’re pro-anything the Democrats (particularly president Obama) are against, even if it’s as disgusting as “Pink Slime.” There should at least be bipartisan agreement on that, said Maher. They’ve come out against children eating their vegetables because Michelle Obama is for it, after all.

If the Democrats came out against arsenic, would the GOP introduce a friendly arsenic mascot?

http://www.hbo.com/bin/hboPlayerV2u.swf?vid=1251784

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