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Purveyor

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 28,751

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Chrysler Pays UAW Trust $5 Billion to End Bankruptcy Chapter

Source: Bloomberg

Chrysler Group LLC, the American carmaker owned by Fiat SpA (F), will pay $5 billion to a United Auto Workers trust, completing the final payments that the company owed as a result of its bankruptcy.

Chrysler today closed a bond sale to reimburse the UAW health-care trust for a note it provided five years ago as part of the automaker’s financial rescue, the U.S. manufacturer said in a statement.

Fiat last month bought the 41.5 percent Chrysler stake held by the trust, which was created to pay medical bills for union retirees, to gain full control of the U.S. business. The combination creates the world’s seventh-largest auto manufacturer. Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, 61, wants to transform the company with a scale that can challenge the likes of General Motors Co. (GM) and Volkswagen AG.

“Getting full control of Chrysler is a big step but only a first step,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s business and law schools, said in an e-mail. “Now he will have to display world-class operating skills to integrate the companies and compete globally,” he said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-10/chrysler-pays-uaw-trust-5-billion-to-close-bankruptcy-chapter.html

Eyeing 2016 Campaign, Liberals Are Watching Hillary Clinton For Signs On How She Might Govern

By KEN THOMAS | ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Hillary Rodham Clinton mulls a second presidential bid, liberals are closely watching whether the onetime supporter of the Iraq war moves to the left or straddles the center.

Democrats say economic issues such as raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security have become paramount for anyone aiming to lead the party after years of tough economic times.

During the 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama, Clinton was hurt by her stand on the Iraq war while she was a senator. But she burnished her image among party loyalists during four years at the State Department in the Obama administration. Now liberals want to see how she might carry the torch from Obama.

"We're going to see income inequality play the same role that the war in Iraq played in 2008," said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group. "This is less about what she did before. The issue landscape right now is very different than in 2008."

Whether a viable Clinton alternative emerges for the 2016 campaign remains a looming question.

MORE...

http://www.newser.com/article/7828a8a5b7f74acdac50eb892e973f4c/eyeing-2016-campaign-liberals-are-watching-hillary-clinton-for-signs-on-how-she-might-govern.html

US Blames China For Rising Tensions In South China Sea

By Geoff Dyer in Washington

The Obama administration has significantly sharpened its rhetoric about China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea over the last week amid growing pressure from allies in the region for Washington to take a firmer line.

In public statements in recent days, senior US officials placed the blame for tensions in the region solely on China and warned that the US could move more forces to the western Pacific if Beijing were to declare a new air defence zone in the South China Sea.

Although President Barack Obama is due to visit the region in April, several Asia governments have complained privately that the administration has become distracted in the Middle East and has left the way open for China to pursue its claims with greater confidence.

“They are definitely trying to turn up the volume about China,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. “This is as close as the Obama administration has come to saying that the nine-dash line is illegal. It is quite significant because they previously danced around the issue.” The nine-dash line is a map produced by China which appears to claim that the bulk of the South China Sea is under Chinese control.

China is involved in a series of increasingly tense territorial disputes in the East China Sea with Japan and in the South China Sea with Vietnam and the Philippines. The US, along with several other governments in the region, believes that China is pushing these claims as part of a broader strategy to exert greater control over large areas of the western Pacific.

MORE...

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cdc09e14-91a7-11e3-8fb3-00144feab7de.html#axzz2srvRADZd

The Illusion of AIPAC's Invincibility

The defeat of AIPAC's ill-advised push for new sanctions on Iran in the midst of successful negotiations is nothing short of historic. The powerful and hawkish pro-Israeli lobby's defeats are rare and seldom public. But in the last year, it has suffered three major public setbacks, of which the sanctions defeat is the most important one.

AIPAC's first defeat was over the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense. In spite of a major campaign defaming Hagel, even accusing him of anti-Semitism, his nomination won approval in the Senate.

The second was over President Barack Obama's push for military action against Syria. AIPAC announced that it would send hundreds of citizen lobbyists to the Hill to help secure approval for authorization of the use of force. But AIPAC and Obama were met with stiff resistance. The American people quickly mobilized and ferociously opposed the idea of yet another war in the Middle East. By some accounts, AIPAC failed to secure the support of a single member of Congress.

The third defeat was over new Iran sanctions. Now, AIPAC and the president were on opposite sides. The interim nuclear agreements from November of last year, explicitly stated that no new sanctions could be imposed. Yet, backed by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, AIPAC pushed for new sanctions, arguing that it would enhance America's negotiating position. The White House strongly disagreed, fearing that new sanctions would cause the collapse of diplomacy and make America look like the intransigent party. The international coalition the president had carefully put together against Iran would fall apart, and the US and Iran would once again find themselves on a path towards military confrontation.

But AIPAC insisted. Its immense lobbying activities secured 59 cosponsors for the bill, including 16 Democrats. Its aim was first to reach over 60 cosponsors to force the bill to the floor, and then more than 67 cosponsors to make it veto proof.

more...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trita-parsi/aipac-illusion_b_4751732.html?utm_hp_ref=health-fitness

Hardline Israeli Attacks on John Kerry Find Public Favor(with israelis), Surveys Show

By Joshua Mitnick

Two Israeli surveys published on Friday indicate that the recent attacks by hardline Israeli politicians on Secretary of State John Kerry over the peace process seem to be resonating with Israelis, and that the U.S. appears to be losing the battle to galvanize public backing for a deal.

Mr. Kerry’s warning that Israel may face rising boycotts if the negotiations with the Palestinians fail was attacked as “hurtful’ and “unacceptable,’’ last week by a minister close to Mr. Netanyahu. Another government minister said he was “not balanced enough.’’

According to a poll by the Israel Hayom newspaper, generally regarded as “pro-Netanyahu”, some 61 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that the Secretary of State meant to threaten Israel with the remarks, compared with 21 percent that believe the remarks were made out of concern for Israel.

More broadly, close to 70 percent of Jewish Israelis don’t trust the Obama administration to safeguard Israel’s security interests under the framework agreement, according to a survey by the weekly Sof Hashavua newspaper.

The Secretary of State asserted in an interview with the Washington Post that his warning about a boycott was taken out of context by opponents of the creation of a Palestinian state.

MORE...

http://stream.wsj.com/story/latest-headlines/SS-2-63399/SS-2-449986/

Forty Koch Brothers Donors Exposed After Document Left at Hotel by Mistake Is Leaked

The confidential spreadsheet contains a who's who of far-right, mega-rich donors

Sunday, 09 February 2014 09:59

A new document providing rare insight into the political machine of the Koch Brothers has surfaced revealing the names of up to 40 donors, as well as senior Koch officials, Washington Post reported.

The list, published by Mother Jones, was mistakenly left behind at a donor conference and includes various corporate executives, real-estate and hedge fund billionaires and GOP financiers.

The list also includes Papa John pizza chain founder and hard-core Republican John Schnatter, Kenneth Griffin, the chief executive of Citadel, Silicon Valley real estate investor Carl Berg (worth $1.1 billion) and owner of Omni Hotels and Gold’s Gym.

What’s more, it appears Charles Koch was scheduled to hold private meetings with at least nine of the contributors including private equity investor John Childs and TRT Holding co-founder Robert Rowling who is worth around $4.9 billion.

Those in attendance also contributed to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, with Rowling directing $3.5 million to the cause.

MORE...

http://truth-out.org/news/item/21744-forty-koch-brothers-donors-exposed-after-document-left-at-hotel-by-mistake-is-leaked

A Renewed Discourse on Inequality

Corporate personhood and the civil and criminal protections it affords, accompanied by the ability to craft legislation and pour unlimited funds into the political process, exacerbate inequality and destroy principles.

Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:00

Suddenly, it is in vogue to discuss economic inequality. The idea of inequality and how it is interpreted today is relatively new in human history and has its roots in the Enlightenment period. By the same token, the discourse surrounding it is old enough to have evolved greatly since this period to the form it enters in the public consciousness via the mainstream broadcast media today. As usual, now that the quicksand is up to our chins, we have decided it's time to start looking for help.

In many ways, having a rational conversation about economic inequality is like trying to have a rational discussion about climate change. Both have reached a consensus within their respective scientific communities that these issues are influenced by human behavior. Problematically, both are also highly charged and emotional matters being debated in high definition by a shallow pool of uniformed talent that panders to the lowest common intellectual denominator among us.

Many of the themes examined by Enlightenment philosophers, scientists and scholars remain highly relevant and are worth revisiting. These figures attempted to define the role of man in civil society, which was revolutionary thinking as Western civilization emerged from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. From the mid-17th to the mid-19th centuries, philosophers such as Descartes, Locke and Rousseau, scientists from Newton to Darwin and writers such as Dostoevsky, Dickens and Melville created enduring masterpieces that challenge our concepts of liberty, democracy and the rights of man to this day.

Vive La Corporation!

Understanding the foundations of economic inequality is instructive when examining it through a modern lens. However, there is a disruptive shift that has occurred that cannot be overlooked. The idea that corporations enjoy the very liberties we associate with humans is a dangerous departure from the theories suggested by the intellectual luminaries highlighted above.

Inequality is multifaceted and takes on several meanings depending upon the context in which it is raised. Inequalities associated to gender and race, for example, are significant issues that move the discussion in meaningful directions but often raise the emotional temperature. As economic inequality serves as both the underlying cause and product of these factors, it therefore provides a more complete template for analysis. Without the polemic that surrounded the nature of liberty and the human person's place in society, we would have little concept of equality and therefore no ability to debate tributaries such as sexual orientation, gender and race.

MORE...

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21708-a-renewed-discourse-on-inequality

Netanyahu Convenes Ministers To Discuss Growing Israel Economic Boycott Threats

Knesset ministers to consider whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through diplomatic channels.

By Barak Ravid | Feb. 9, 2014 | 7:09 PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting Sunday evening to discuss how to cope with the growing threat of the economic boycott on Israel in light of continued occupation and settlement construction in the West Bank.

Senior Israeli officials said prior to the meeting that the plan was to try to decide on a strategy and determine whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through quieter, diplomatic channels.

The discussion had been scheduled to take place last week, but canceled at the last minute due to the political row between Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Sunday's meeting will take place amid a different confronation – this time between Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The previous discussion was supposed to include a broad forum of ministers. The Science Ministry asked to separate the discussion on the economic boycott threat from a discussion on the academic boycott threat, since there is already a strategy for the latter, while the former has yet to be dealt with.

The discussion, scheduled to begin at 5:30 P.M., will only include Lieberman, Bennett and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is expected to present a plan his ministry has been working on.

MORE...

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.573273

Civilian Casualties In Afghanistan Rise, More Children Dying In Violence: Report

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The number of children killed and wounded in Afghanistan's war jumped by 34 percent last year as the Taliban stepped up attacks across the country and continued to lay thousands of roadside bombs, the United Nations said Saturday.

Overall civilian casualties were up by 14 percent, reversing 2012's downward trend and making 2013 one of the deadliest years of the 12-year war for civilians.

The rising civilian toll underscores mounting levels of violence in Afghanistan. Taliban insurgents have ramped up attacks to try to gain ground and shake the Afghan government's confidence as international combat troops prepare to complete their withdrawal at the end of the year.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Afghanistan said in its annual report that 2,959 civilians were killed in the war last year — including 561 children — and that an overall total of 5,656 were wounded.

By comparison, there were 2,768 civilian deaths and 4,821 civilians wounded in 2012, and 3,133 deaths and 4,706 wounded in 2011.

UNAMA's report also noted an "alarming" new trend for 2013 — the increasing numbers of civilians being harmed in fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces.

more...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/08/afghanistan-civilian-casualties_n_4751016.html

Great Lakes Ice Cover Spreading Rapidly; See Which Lake Set A New Record



Ice continued to build this past week on the Great Lakes due to the cold air and temperatures staying below freezing, and Lake Superior's new record shows it.

The lake is 92 percent frozen, toppling a 20-year-old record of 91 percent set on Feb. 5, 1994. That statistic helped total Great Lakes ice cover soar, and we can expect to see more form in coming days.

The air temperatures this past week averaged around five degrees below normal for the Great Lakes area. This amount of deviation from normal means it was a fairly cold week.

As of February 5, 2014, the entire Great Lakes system is now reportedly covered 77 percent with ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Last week at this time the ice cover was 66 percent. The 77 percent ice cover now still lags behind 1994, when the entire Great Lakes system had an average ice cover of 84 percent on February 5. This data is according to Jia Wang, physical oceanographer at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Center in Ann Arbor, MI.

Let's look at each individual lake.

MORE...

http://www.mlive.com/weather/index.ssf/2014/02/great_lakes_added_11_percent_i.html
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