Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 10,798
Number of posts: 10,798
Nation of Change/David Sirota has a scathing article about how Rahm Emanuel has embraced old-style Chicago corruption by diverting property taxes each year into a half billion dollars a year slush fund which he as mayor controls absolutely.
Immediately after taking office, he doled out a $7 million subsidy to benefit a grocery chain, the CEO of which gave Emanuel's campaign $25,000. That's a 280% return on investment/bribe/"campaign donation".
Another $29 million subsidy went to support a new skyscraper development plan, i.e., "a very expensive corporate plaza" for the building. I know you join in me in being shocked, I say, shocked to learn that the building will house the new Chicago headquarters of a law firm whose employees have "given" Emanuel's campaign $125,000. That's a 232% return on investment/bribe/"campaign donation".
The final example is Emanuel's $55 million subsidy for a new hotel near Chicago's convention center. The investment company which owns a major stake in the construction firm gave Emanuel's campaign $31,500.
That, fellow DUers is an unbelievable 1,745% -ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE PERCENT- RETURN ON INVESTMENT/BRIBE/"CAMPAIGN DONATION"
According to a report by the taxpayer watchdog group Good Jobs First, the supposedly budget-strapped Windy City — which for years has not made its full pension payments — has mountains of cash sitting in a slush fund controlled by its poverty-pleading mayor. Indeed, as the report documents, the slush fund now receives more diverted property taxes each year than it would cost to adequately finance Chicago's pension funds.
Yet, Emanuel is refusing to use the cash from that slush fund to shore up the pensions. Instead, his new pension "reform" proposal cuts pension benefits, requires higher contributions from public employees, raises property taxes — but also quietly increases his slush fund.
Why, you ask, would Emanuel refuse to relinquish some of the half-billion dollars a year that is going into his slush fund? Perhaps because he has been using it to enrich Chicago's corporate class, including some of his biggest campaign donors.
Posted by Divernan | Sat Apr 12, 2014, 07:07 AM (73 replies)
This expose of Congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies (in a crowded primary field of Dems for a congressional seat) has a tremendous amount of disturbing detail - my conclusion after reading the entire article(which I urge all to do) is that she and her ex-husband, ex-con, ex-Congressman, Ed Mezvinsky were two birds of a feather. No surprise that their son makes his millions from hedge funds. Both parents were very slick at scamming the system. She wouldn't stand a prayer of getting elected if she weren't now a Clinton in-law. There are several other candidates much more deserving of both respect and votes. But in such a crowded primary, sometimes the good guys divide the votes, and the least deserving ends up winning.
According to documents obtained by The Huffington Post, as Ed Mezvinsky's fraud was exposed, Margolies doubled her own salary as head of a small, largely taxpayer-funded charity into the six figures, attempted to have the charity renovate and lease a mansion in which she would live, billed the charity for her automobile lease and other expenses, and required charity staff to assist with her other responsibilities as a faculty member at a local university.
The Huffington Post earlier reported that over the past several years, Margolies was paid an unusually large salary given the size of her charity, Women's Campaign International, whose revenue in recent years was in the very low millions. In defending that salary in December, WCI noted that the charity's board of directors determines compensation -- not Margolies, who still runs the charity.
That explanation, however, elided one critical detail: For the first three years of WCI's existence, and at a crucial board meeting at which the decision about her salary was made, Margolies was herself the chairman of the board.
On Dec. 9, 2001, Margolies, as chairman, convened a meeting of WCI's board to discuss salary. Previous minutes date her chairmanship to Dec. 7, 1998, the charity's first meeting -- one month after she lost a bid to become Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor. For WCI's first three years, its only board members were Margolies, Fredrica Friedman and her husband, Stephen Friedman. Nonprofit watchdogs consistently warn charities that a husband and wife should not both serve on a board, that they certainly should not make up two-thirds of it, and that the head of the charity should not also be the board's chairman.
Posted by Divernan | Sun Apr 6, 2014, 11:22 AM (3 replies)
I don't care how much Obama and either Clinton have benefited or expect to benefit from past or future campaign contributions and/or board appointments from Big Pharma or other giant, monopolistic corporations. We know, thanks to Wikileaks that this secretly negotiated trade agreement and the fast track approval process Obama is pushing for are the antithesis of our government's balance of powers and what we progressive Democrats are all about, and it can prove lethal for the citizens of the USA or any other country affected by the TPP. When it comes to drug patents and prices, we're talking life and death.
One example of the way the intellectual property provisions favor giant, multinational corporations over smaller, innovative corporations and regular people around the world is in pharmaceutical prices. A company with a drug patent is granted a monopoly to sell the drug at any price they choose with no competition. Currently a drug might be patented for a limited number of years in different countries. When the patent runs out other companies are able to manufacture the drug and the competition means the drug will sell at a lower cost..
This would provide large pharmaceutical firms with new rights and powers to increase medicine prices and limit consumers’ access to cheaper generic drugs. This would include extensions of monopoly drug patents that would allow drug companies to raise prices for more medicines and even allow monopoly rights over surgical procedures. For people in the developing countries involved in TPP, these rules could be deadly – denying consumers access to HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer drugs.
As to the Internet, the IP section of TPP gives corporations power in deciding what regular people can see, do or say on the Internet. It would override our current rules and regulations, even imposing laws like SOPA and PIPA, which Congress has specifically rejected. More detailed information is provided at the above link.
If Obama and the global corporations gain fast track approval, it will be one-bribe(oh, excuse me/campaign "contribution")-fits-all on this straight up or down vote, and it appears Obama/Corporate interests wouldn't be pushing so hard for this unless they were confident they can buy enough Congressional votes to win this vote, no matter how horrific the provisions of the TPP.
An Undemocratic Path to Unfair “Trade”
Posted by Divernan | Wed Feb 26, 2014, 05:12 PM (2 replies)
Source: WGN-TV, Chicago
Harold Ramis was one of Hollywood’s most successful comedy filmmakers when he moved his family from Los Angeles back to the Chicago area in 1996. His career was still thriving, with “Groundhog Day” acquiring almost instant classic status upon its 1993 release and 1984′s “Ghostbusters” ranking among the highest-grossing comedies of all time, but the writer-director wanted to return to the city where he’d launched his career as a Second City performer.
haroldramis2“There’s a pride in what I do that other people share because I’m local, which in L.A. is meaningless; no one’s local,” Ramis said upon the launch of the first movie he directed after his move, the 1999 mobster-in-therapy comedy “Analyze This,” another hit. “It’s a good thing. I feel like I represent the city in a certain way.”
Ramis, a longtime North Shore resident, was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, his wife Erica Mann Ramis said. He was 69.
Ramis’ serious health struggles began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, his wife said. Ramis had to relearn to walk but suffered a relapse of the vaculitis in late 2011, said Laurel Ward, vice president of development at Ramis’ Ocean Pictures production company.
Read more: http://wgntv.com/2014/02/24/chicago-actor-harold-ramis-dies-at-69/#1VEUbP4tRzvgAGaA.01
Posted by Divernan | Mon Feb 24, 2014, 03:41 PM (1 replies)
US TYCOON Donald Trump could find himself again plagued by a wind farm near one of his signature golf courses – but this time in Ireland rather than Aberdeenshire.
Just days after announcing his £12.4 million investment in a County Clare centre instead of a second course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, it emerged that a plan for nine wind turbines two miles south of Mr Trump’s newly acquired resort in the town of Doonbeg will be considered by the Irish local authority in the coming weeks.
Mr Trump lost in the Court of Session last week against the Scottish Government over an offshore 11-turbine wind farm near his luxury golf course on the Menie estate. He withdrew plans for the second course after the defeat.
The billionaire has repeatedly spoken out against the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay. Last week, he declared that wind farms were “a disaster for Scotland”.
The funniest part of this article is the comment section. Various Scots tear Trump to shreds. Here's a wee sample.
Posted by Divernan | Mon Feb 17, 2014, 08:45 AM (0 replies)
Interesting book on the topic:
No Guts, No Glory - Unmasking Navy Seal Imposters
Paperback – January 1, 2002
by Former US Navy Seal Steve Robinson (Author)
Those who undertake to impersonate US Navy SEALs, for whatever purpose, are a disgraceful insult to every man and woman who ever served honorably in any branch of America's armed forces..."
I ran into one of these bogus SEAL wannabes when I signed up at a local diveshop to take PADI classes to get my certification. I found myself sharing the high price "private" class with 4 other people and the final qualification dives were a joke - done in a 20 foot deep pond, with about 10 feet of visibility. For the written examination, we sat around a picnic table while the instructor read the questions to us. We students took turns orally guessing at the multiple choice answers until we lucked upon the correct answer and then all were instructed to fill in the appropriate blank.
What did I know? I was a total newby. Off I went on my first dive trip, to Belize, and a near drowning experience on a night dive. By talking to other experienced divers, I learned that my classes had neglected some vital information on dive safety. On returning home and researching my dive instructor, I learned that PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) had pulled his license for rushing people through the course/fudging the tests, and he had only recently been re-instated when I contacted him. He also advertised himself as a former Navy SEAL.
I contacted a Navy SEAL group which maintains a Wall of Shame for bogus SEAL claimants. They looked him up and informed me he was never a SEAL, but he had done underwater construction for the Navy as a "non-combat" diver. I'm not sure what they did to follow up, but within the year he closed the dive shop and was working strictly as a commercial diver. I found a reputable dive shop and retook the entire certification course and went on to further certifications/diving experience in wreck diving, night diving, drift diving, underwater propulsion vehicles, rescue diving, equipment repair, etc. and many fantastic dive trips. The best was Truk Lagoon in Micronesia (central Pacific) diving on wrecks of Japanese ships from World War II. Scuba diving is a fantastic experience - just make sure you get good instruction and good, well-maintained equipment and a very reliable person as your dive buddy.
Posted by Divernan | Sat Feb 15, 2014, 08:03 AM (0 replies)
Source: Think Progress
Exactly one month and a day after 10,000 gallons of chemicals spilled into West Virginia’s water, members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure committee on Monday traveled to the state’s capital city, ostensibly to ask state leaders the still-unanswered questions surrounding the leak. There are many.
Perhaps the most important party that could provide answers would have been Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical storage tanks leaked a coal-cleaning chemical called crude MCHM into the water. Company president Gary Southern had been invited to testify, but in the end, did not show up.
“I find that extremely telling,” said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “Freedom Industries’ decision not to testify today compounds its gross misconduct, and is an absolute affront to every person impacted by its spill.”
Freedom Industries’ decision not to show up to a hearing that otherwise housed every party that should be held accountable for the spill (Representatives from West Virginia American Water, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board showed up, to name a few) is depressingly typical, and a painful reminder of the company’s non-presence throughout the month-long ordeal.
Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/10/3273201/freedom-chemical/
Duh-uh! Congressional investigative hearings include the power to subpoena witnesses. Whomever organized this really screwed up in failing to subpoena Gary Southern. Since he insulted the House Committee by ignoring the invitation and not appearing voluntarily, I trust the Committee will now subpoena his sorry a** to Washington. It should be a subpoena duces tecum, i.e, translates to "bring with you under penalty of punishment" and obliges the recipient to appear and bring with him/her all documents or other tangible evidence for use at hearing or trial. The subpoena can spell out a description of such documents.
Subpoenas and depositions:
Posted by Divernan | Mon Feb 10, 2014, 07:06 PM (7 replies)
If Clinton ran and was elected, Warren would be 75 when Clinton finished a 2nd term. Obviously, you can't see both of them in the oval office. I expect, based on her political history and sponsors that Clinton would be even more corporate friendly than Obama.
I like O'Malley very much. He's better qualified than either Clinton or Warren, but lesser known. I'd like to see a Warren-O'Malley ticket. 8 years of Warren, followed by 8 years of O'Malley. My Mom lived in Baltimore while O'Malley was Mayor, and I've followed his political career closely. He has experience in local/city, state and federal govt. Started out as a legislative fellow for Senator Barbara Mikulski; then right onto Baltimore City Council, thence to Mayor of Baltimore and thence to Governor of Maryland.
Prior to serving as Governor, O’Malley served as Mayor of the City of Baltimore, where he was recognized by Esquire magazine as “the best young mayor in the country” and by Time magazine as one of America’s “Top 5 Big City Mayors.” First elected in 1999, he was re-elected in
2003, receiving 87 percent of the vote. Between 1999 and 2009 his policies helped the people of Baltimore achieve the greatest crime reduction of America’s largest cities.
Governor O’Malley served two terms as Chair of the Democratic Governors Association. He currently serves as the organization’s Finance Chair. In addition, he serves as Co-Chair for the National Governors Association Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. He was appointed to the nation’s first-ever Council of Governors by President Obama in 2010 and was named co-chair of the council in 2013.
A former Governing Magazine “Public Official of the Year,” Governor O’Malley was re-elected in 2010. His 2013 legislative successes were described in a Baltimore Sun editorial as “without many parallels in recent Maryland history.”
With a balanced approach of spending cuts, regulatory reform, and modern investment in education, innovation, and infrastructure, Governor O’Malley's results include:
The fastest rate of job growth in the region.
Maryland ranks #1 nationally in median income,
#1 in PHD scientists and researchers per capita,
#1 in Research and Development,
#1 in businesses owned by women.
The Milken Institute ranks Maryland as one of the top 2 states in America for science and technology.
Maryland is one of only a handful of states to earn an AAA Bond Rating, certified by all three major rating agencies.
Called “arguably the best manager in government” by Washington Monthly magazine,
Governor O’Malley has cut more state spending than any previous Governor in Maryland’s history, balancing these record cuts with targeted, modern investments in priorities like public education. He has reduced the size of government to its smallest size since 1973 (on a per capita basis) and reformed the way it is managed, to make it work more efficiently and accountably. His actions to save Maryland’s state pension system have made it sustainable over the long term. His fiscal stewardship has nearly eliminated Maryland’s structural deficit. His efforts to streamline, consolidate and digitize things like business licensing are making Maryland a better place to do business.
Governor O’Malley’s StateStat initiative – modeled after the CitiStat initiative he created in the City of Baltimore – is widely cited as a model for government efficiency and effectiveness.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has expanded health care to more than 380,000 previously uninsured Marylanders. It has driven down infant mortality to an historic low and provided meals to thousands of hungry children as it moves forward toward its goal for eradicating childhood hunger.
The Governor’s policies have been credited with restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay and saving the Bay’s native Blue Crab and Oyster populations.
The O’Malley Administration has secured millions of dollars in rate relief for Maryland energy consumers while jumpstarting the creation of thousands of green energy sector jobs. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland led the charge for RGGI, the nation’s first cap-and-trade auction of greenhouse emissions.
Governor O’Malley has cut income taxes for 86% of Marylanders and reformed Maryland’s tax code to make it more progressive. In addition, he has signed the nation’s first statewide living wage law, along with some of the nation’s most comprehensive reforms to protect homeowners from foreclosure.
Governor O’Malley has signed legislation to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom, along with legislation to protect voting rights. He signed – and successfully defended at the ballot box – the DREAM Act, which expands the opportunity of a college education to more Marylanders.
Posted by Divernan | Thu Feb 6, 2014, 07:06 PM (2 replies)
In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the U.S. would soon begin talks on a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In other words, the U.S. is negotiating a “free trade agreement” (FTA) with the European Union (EU).
The dual track legal system created by the proposed Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is causing increasing opposition and attention in the EU as well as the US. The link is to the lead article in yesterday's Der Spiegel Online International. The article details that previous criticism focused on the fact that the deal seems directed exclusively at economic interests. Now fears are growing that corporations will be given too much power.
The Dispute Settlement provision creates a private trade arbitration, 3 "judge" court which has the power to make rulings on HUGE damage payments if an investor believed its profits were reduced through a local or national law. The rulings are final and unappealable to a country's own court system. Your community's zoning laws prevent Big Fracking from drilling across the street from a grade school, church or hospital? Not under this trade agreement, baby!
Depriving Countries of Power
It would essentially deprive national justice systems of their power. And it could have dangerous side effects as well. Fears of large fines could considerably limit political maneuvering room for governments.
Posted by Divernan | Fri Jan 24, 2014, 10:09 AM (1 replies)
The peoples of the First Nation and Canadian environmentalists are truly David versus Goliath, particularly with Prime Minister Harper's conservative government support for this dirty oil pipeline.
From the OP link:
"The Northern Gateway Project is being vehemently opposed by Indigenous Peoples who will not put their territories, waters and communities at risk," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "We are prepared to go to the wall against this project. We have no choice."
Here is an excellent, detailed and really shocking article spelling out how Canadian PM Harper has gutted environmental regulation, assessment, oversight and enforcement across the board in Canada, and in particular in regard to the dirty oil pipeline:
The Harper Conservatives and Their Dirty Oil Pipeline
The Harper Conservative majority government has “streamlined” the environmental assessment process to speed up development, by removing 3,000 projects from review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). Of course, nationwide, the big one that is still in there is the Enbridge “Northern Gateway” pipeline to carry tar sands crude from Alberta to Kitimat, BC, which this Alberta-based government wants very badly.
What is at stake environmentally is discussed in an Oct 7th Toronto Star article titled ‘Why Northern Gateway shouldn’t go near Great Bear Rainforest,’ by John Honderich, Chair of the Toronto Star‘s Board of Directors. It points out that recent legislation weakening the federal government’s obligation to do environmental protection is more than anything else aimed at preventing environmentalists, native groups, and the BC provincial government from blocking or delaying the construction of this pipeline which is intended to carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to Kitimat, BC to go onto oil tankers bound for the Asian market. The article notes that “the fierce opposition of the Coastal First Nations to the project is well known” and their rights to the land have never been ceded. The tankers departing from Kitimat would pass through dangerous waters: first the 2-3 km wide 70 km long Douglas Channel and then around 27 km long Gil Island with the channel narrowing by half. It was at the northern tip of Gil Island where in 2006 the BC Ferry Queen of the North missed a turn, ran onto the rocks, and sank. It is true that cargo vessels, e.g. ore carriers, have been carrying commercial cargo along this route for decades, but modern supertankers have never done so, and they are six to seven times as long as a typical ore carrier and need at least half a kilometre to alter course. Furthermore, a load of bauxite sinking to the bottom of the channel is much less of an environmental threat than “a supertanker disgorging millions of litres of molasses-like bitumen.” This area is the world’s second largest temperate rainforest, called the Great Bear Rainforest because of the spectacular population of black, grizzly, and kermode bears that live off the abundant salmon runs. By comparison, tankers loading at Valdez, Alaska and going out through Prince William Sound have it easy and safe: the exit from Valdez Arm and past Bligh Reef (where the Exxon Valdez went aground) into open Prince William Sound is about 30 km, and the tankers are always escorted by tugs. Two tugs escort each laden tanker through Prince William Sound and remain at Hinchinbrook Entrance until the vessel is twenty-seven kilometres out to sea. Will tugs escort tankers from Kitimat to the open sea? The nearest Coast Guard is in Prince Rupert, 135 km northwest of Gil Island.
There has been an informal moratorium on all oil tanker traffic off the coast of BC since 1972, renewed by the House of Commons in 2010 after the Harper government said there was no official moratorium. As for the Northern Gateway pipeline, all we have been told is that Enbridge, the pipeline’s owner, says it has a foolproof plan to manage all this. The area is one of the richest and most productive ecosystems on the planet, all based on the salmon. It is critical habitat for seventeen types of marine mammals, including the endangered blue, fin, right, sei and orca whales. Rivers critical for sixty percent of BC’s multi-million-dollar salmon catch run through the region.
During this year there has been a gutting of Environment Canada and Fisheries & Oceans Canada. Scientists whose research might conclude environmental damage have been fired. (Not “de-funded” because some of them are internationally renowned and could attract funding, and the Harper government doesn’t want that.) Government scientists are now followed around at international conferences by “minders” who make sure they don’t speak out of turn. Submitted papers that don’t follow the industry line are excluded. I experienced that personally – a submitted paper critical of massive dispersants use, as happened in the Gulf of Mexico, was rejected for a regular session of an Environment Canada conference in Vancouver, as too political and not really a technical paper. However, many papers promoting the use of dispersants were presented by industry and government attendees. The UK newspaper The Guardian published an article by their US environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg about a revolt by Canada’s leading scientists against sweeping cuts to government research labs and the government’s pro-industry policies, saying that Harper is accused of pushing through a slew of policies weakening or abolishing environmental protections – with an aim of expanding development of natural resources such as the Alberta tar sands. (N.B.: This is not Canadian partisan opinion.)
From issue #63
Posted by Divernan | Fri Dec 20, 2013, 04:58 AM (0 replies)