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Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 01:55 AM
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This from the guy whose company received huge tax breaks in addition to the bailout



Last week, the American International Group reported a whopping $19.8 billion profit for its fourth quarter. It was a quite a feat for a company that was on its death bed just a little over three years ago, so sick that it needed a huge taxpayer bailout.

But if you dug into the numbers, it quickly became clear that $17.7 billion of that profit was pure fantasy — a tax benefit, er, gift, from the United States government. The company made only $1.6 billion during the quarter from actual operations. Yet A.I.G. not only received a tax benefit, it is unlikely to pay a cent of taxes this year, nor by some estimates, for at least a decade.

The tax benefit is notable for more than simply its size. It is the result of a rule that the Treasury unilaterally bent for A.I.G. and several other hobbled companies in 2008 that has largely been overlooked.

This rule-twisting could deprive the government of tens of billions of dollars, assuming the firm remains profitable. The tax dodge — and let’s be honest, that’s what it is — also will most likely help goose the bonuses of A.I.G.’s employees, some of whom helped create many of the problems that led to its role in the financial crisis.

But, hey have to find a way to keep the enormous salaries, bonuses and tax breaks flowing to the people who created the mess in the 1st place.

Also, the best way to "take the burden off of the youth" would be for people to be able to retire earlier, thus freeing up jobs for the youth, who now face increasingly high unemployment rates because of the austerity push by Benmoshe and his colleagues. And they would then be contributing to pension funds.

No coincidence that many of AIG's bailout pay outs went to the European banks whose high risk bets with AIG and others fed the crisis and who all sing in the same chorus demanding ever more austerity. And even as austerity is a clear failure when viewing the nations and majority of citizens it is crushing, it's clear the calls for it to continue are coming from the corrupt 1% who draw ever larger profits and benefits at the public's expense.

First Nations have been opposing the Northern Gateway, which is the route to sea

There's also a Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver.

B.C. natives form front to fight oil pipelines
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Dec. 01 2011, 2:16 PM EST
Aboriginal groups in British Columbia said on Thursday they have formed a united front to oppose all exports of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands through their territories.


It adds to the uncertainty over Enbridge Inc. ’s planned $5.5-billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline, which would move 525,000 barrels a day of oil sands-derived crude 1,177 kilometres to the port of Kitimat.

Aboriginal groups, also known as First Nations, say they fear the consequences of a spill from the pipeline, which would pass through some of Canada’s most spectacular mountain landscape. They also oppose the idea of shipping oil from British Columbia ports.

“First Nations, whose unceded territory encompasses the entire coastline of British Columbia, have formed a united front, banning all exports of tar sands crude oil through their territories,” more than 60 aboriginal groups said in a statement.

Looks like the push is on to undo environmental laws, especially those related to water and watersheds and fish, so they can use those routes.

Reminds me of Naomi Klein's "the Take." Also, 2012 is the UN International Year of Cooperatives

The website for the film also includes background and historical info as well as related news such as micro loans for co-ops

Must-read Ebert's review of "The Take." Tis a thing of beauty.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. Much more at link:

Exactly. These are choices Amazon made - same as temp workers and building features

Amazon's choice to use temp workers as "throwaway employees" is similar to Walmart's choice and markedly different from Costco's:

Some companies, like Costco, refuse to use temp workers in their warehouses:

Costco's well-earned reputation for treating its in-store employees well carries over to its warehouse. The Costco warehouse does not rely on temp workers. It hires employees directly, it pays pretty well and it has a safety representative and even stretching classes. Despite all that, the company still manages to provide some of the lowest prices available to consumers.

"We tend to not outsource even if we could save money by doing it," says Richard Galanti, Costco's chief financial officer. "We recognize it might cost more but we think it's the right thing to do. ... Everyone in the building feels like they're employed."

As to comments about how warehouses are built, sustainability efforts can benefit the employees and the environment and even provide additional benefits:

Again from Costco for the warehouse comparison - 2011 report:


Sustainable Construction and Renewable Energy
The organization Leadership in Energy andEnvironmental Design (LEED) has a certification program that is nationally accepted as a benchmarkfor green building design and construction. Costco’s metal warehouse design, one of the warehousedesign styles we have built over the past several years, is consistent with the requirements of theSilver Level LEED Standard. Our metal building envelopes are all insulated to meet or exceed currentenergy code requirements, and our main building structure uses 100% recycled steel material and isdesigned to minimize the amount of material utilized. The roof materials used on our metalpre-engineered warehouse are 100% recycled standing seam metal panels, designed to maximizeefficiency for spanning the structure; and the exterior skin of the building is also 100% recycled metal.In 2008, we opened our first certified Silver Level warehouse in New Jersey. With regard to renewableenergy, by the end of calendar 2011 we will have in operation large rooftop solar photovoltaic systemsat 60 of our facilities, in Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and New Jersey. They are projected togenerate 55 million kWh of electricity per year. We also continue to expand the use of non-chemicalwater treatment systems used in our cooling towers to both reduce the amount of chemicals going intosewer systems and, where possible, reuse that water for site irrigation. By coordinating with state andfederal incentive programs, these and other energy-saving systems help us reduce our carbon footprintand lower the cost of operating our facilities. We continue to evaluate additional opportunities toimprove energy efficiency.

Insulated warehouses that produce energy - not only possible but built and operating.

Well, the almost $47 million in CEO pay for 2011 has to come from somewhere

February 03, 2012

But all told, the company has plunked out almost $47 million in CEO pay in 2011, with Whitman making $16.5 million and Apotheker $30.4 million, including a $6.4 million bonus.


Apotheker earned a base salary of $1.1 million, plus a $6.4 million bonus and another $17.6 million in stock. But he also earned a mysterious roughly $5.2 million in "other compensation."

Could that have been his golden parachute for 11 months worth of work?

Whitman, who took the CEO role at the end of September, got her pay in a hefty $16.5 million stock award and $372,598 in the mysterous "other compensation category."

But hey , Whitman only makes a "salary" of $1 officially, so that's likely the model they hold up to the employees there. "See. She makes less salary than you do. Well, until we lay off most of you, that is."

Far as I can tell, he's still in charge at IIF

and capable of much future nastiness.

Seems like he has had a good circular scam going on for quite awhile:
Make risky investments - the riskier the better; buddy with Merkel to get the German citizenry to pay bailout money to Greece, little of which goes to Greeks, but instead funnels back to Deutsche Bank (and other banks) to pad his profit; all the while arguing for austerity and against "haircuts" which is the euphemism for incurring any loss (even a pfennig's worth) for taking all that risk in the 1st place.

He, as well as many of his colleagues, shouldn't be benefiting, they should be indicted.

Seems to me both the Germans and Greeks should be going after Josef Ackermann from Deutsche Bank

for the role he has played in all of this:

Moving Deutsche Bank from a stable conservative bank to one taking risky ventures
Resisting regulation while increasing speculation
Pushing austerity while raking in record profits (though he has not done so well at the profit part recently)
Privatizing profits while socializing risk

From 2/2/12


When the Swiss banker turns over his position in May of this year to the leadership duo of Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen, he will leave behind a Deutsche Bank that is radically different from the financial institution that he took over in 2006. What was once a successful yet conservative German credit institution has become a global investment bank -- one which plays a role in all important markets and earns gigantic profits.

Many in Germany, however, view the bank's growth with skepticism. Ackermann has become the poster boy in the country for unscrupulous financial capitalism and the media has done little to counter that view. He is seen as only being interested in maximizing profits -- an economic principle that Germans have long been skeptical of, and one which has lost all acceptance since the beginning of the financial crisis.


Even more so in recent weeks, as the crisis has spiralled. As head of the Institute of International Finance, he is a lobbyist for Europe's banking industry, and one of the people holding the fate of Greece in his scissorhands.


A minor detail. German prosecutors tried him for handing outsize bonuses to executives at the telecoms firm Mannesmann. He paid €3.2m (£2.8m) of his own money to make it all go away.

He was originally scheduled to go last year, but two successors have now finally been named. Deutsche Bank will miss him. Not so sure about Greece.


Greek debt crisis
Further information: Greek government-debt crisis
In 2011, the IIF was the main negotiating partner of the EU government, acting on behalf of the private creditors of Greece, on its debt restructuring. In the second bailout plan (July), some academics raised issues about its communication about "haircuts" on Greece's debt (estimates biased upward), and, more generally, the IIF's undue influence in favor of banks, at the expense of Greece's future

More info on past endeavors here:



French election: François Hollande favourite as voters go to the polls

Source: Guardian

Voting has begun in the French presidential election, a ballot which could transform the political colours of France and spark a change in Europe's approach to its debt crisis and austerity measures.

All polls for months have shown the Socialist party candidate, François Hollande, beating the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy, the most unpopular French president ever to run for re-election. The left is hoping for its first Socialist president since François Mitterrand's re-election in 1988, which would be a rare event in a Europe that has swung to the right in recent years and weakened the left.

If Sarkozy is defeated after one term in office, he would become the 11th European leader to be swept from power since the economic crisis. Hollande has promised to renegotiate Europe's fiscal pact on austerity and shift the focus to growth measures.

Sarkozy has remained defiant, claiming that the polls were mistaken, predicting a higher-than-expected turnout that would play in his favour. In the final days of campaigning, he suggested the poll could be so tight that there may need to be a recount, comparing it to George W Bush's win in 2000 after a Florida recount.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/06/frnech-election-francois-hollande-polls

"In-your-face" like the 504 protests

Those protests were exactly about changing laws for the better, in that case about "They were demanding enforcement of the first major law to bar discrimination against the disabled."

Very much in-your-face and they won.

But in San Francisco at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, protesters didn't give up. One day turned into a second day and then a third. More than 100 disabled demonstrators stayed in the building for weeks, refusing to leave until the regulations were signed.

On April 28, nearly four weeks into the sit-in, HEW Secretary Joseph Califano endorsed the regulations. The protesters had won.

Much, much more at link.

Photographer HolLynn D'Lil wrote a poem about the image:

Through the Glass

Those who wouldn't go outside
Those who couldn't go inside
Shattered the walls.

Edited to add:
Good piece here with retrospective on the above protest and the power of people joining together to effect change:


The San Francisco 504 sit-in did not succeed because of a brilliant strategy by a few disability leaders. It succeeded because the Deaf people set up a communication system from the 4th floor windows inside the building to the plaza down below; because the Black Panther Party brought a hot dinner to all 150 participants every single night; because people from community organizing backgrounds taught us how to make collaborative decisions; because friends came and washed our hair in the janitor's closet sink.

The people doing disability rights work in the 1970s rarely agreed on policies, or even on approaches. The successes came because people viewed each other as invaluable resources working towards a common goal.

TSA and Border Patrol both received funding increases

This at a time when so many areas face local, state and federal cutbacks.

With the money increasingly being diverted to this security economy comes the continued branching out of these agencies actions in order to justify the money.

TSA Funding Up in 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act

By: Mickey McCarter

12/29/2011 ( 4:00am)

Although overall appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are down slightly this year from Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) remains a consistent winner in the battle of the budget.

In the FY 2012 consolidated spending act (Public Law 112-074) signed by President Barack Obama last Friday, TSA received about $7.85 billion, up $153 million from 2011. TSA and US Customs and Border Protection, perhaps two of the three most visible DHS agencies along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, both received increases although the total DHS budget dropped to $39.6 billion in base discretionary funding in FY 2012, down about $111 million from last year.

We've seen it up in WA state with the Border Patrol expanding their territory, stops and even branching out to areas such as 911 dispatching. This even as a whistle blower noted they are having to create work to spend the $$$.



edited to add:

Think Arizona is bad for immigrants? Try our Olympic Peninsula
"Do you have your papers?" As if Forks were in Eastern Europe 60 years ago.

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