(World Economic Forum/Wikimedia)The Guardian:
The independent directors of News Corp have appointed their own legal team as the company faces shareholder law suits and an investigation by the US authorities.
News Corp's nine independent directors include Rod Eddington, the former chief executive of BA, John Thornton, former president of Goldman Sachs and José María Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain.
Another board member, billionaire investor Tom Perkins, has told the Wall Street Journal the directors have appointed law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, to advise them on the handling of the escalating phone-hacking crisis.
Perkins said: "The board honestly thinks Rupert is a genius and we need him and the company needs him. Our worry is the shareholders at this point. The British police will take care of the hacking victims. The next step is not to let the company go down the drain on this thing because we're focused on events in London that are a small percentage of our business overall."
Interesting. Is it merely an abundance of caution, or a distrust of what internal News Corp. attorneys might be telling them, or an extra bulwark erected against potential lawsuits targeted at the directors? I would presume all three.
A more immediately pressing problem, as the article points out, is that there continue to be calls from investment groups for both Murdochs to resign their posts, as News Corp. stock plunges and Standard & Poor's places the company's credit rating on "watch." If either Murdoch has lost the confidence of investors they may be forced to step aside whether they want to or not, simply to, as Perkins said, "not let the whole company go down the drain."
Perhaps CC&B would be an understandable policy fantasy in normal times. But three years after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? We've been violently reminded that there are times when economies contract, and contract fast. Individuals and businesses stop spending, and states and cities have to cut back sharply. The only way to prevent massive layoffs, the only way to give the unemployed some help and the underpaid some relief, is for the federal government to spend. And yet we want to write into the Constitution a requirement that spending remain at 18 percent of the previous year's GDP? That is to say, a requirement that the federal government needs to make recessions worse rather than drawing on its unique capacity to make them better? Are we mad?
And Republicans, frankly, know much of this. Ronald Reagan's entire presidency would've been unconstitutional under CC&B. Same for George W. Bush's. Paul Ryan's budget wouldn't pass muster. The only budget that might work for this policy -- if you could implement it -- would be the proposal produced by the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee. But that proposal was so extreme and unworkable that a majority of Republicans voted it down. The only reason CC&B is faring any better is that it doesn't get specific about what it would require. But properly understood, that makes it much worse policy -- and that's before you realize we're talking about a constitutional amendment, not a simple budget.
Ultimately, though, the real sin here isn't that bad policy will pass. It's that we're wasting precious time on bad policy that won't. Everyone involved knows this will never pass the Senate or the White House. Perhaps that would be okay if we didn't have anything better to do. But we have two weeks before we crash the economy into the rocks of the debt ceiling. It's not a good sign that instead of moving towards compromises and tough choices, the House GOP is daydreaming and sloganeering.
Oh, it?s not just us ? progressives ? beating up on the crazy House Republicans. Even conservatives are piling on the mockery. From Bruce Bartlett, former economic advisor to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush:
?This is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin ? [It was] designed solely for the purpose of appealing to ignorant Tea Party types.?
?Memo to House GOP: passing a plan that will never become law is *almost* as irresponsible as passing no plan at all.?
Ouch! And to rub salt on the wound, David Rogers from the POLITICO speculated that "even Ronald Reagan might have opposed" this stunt. Yet, here they are ? moving forward with their crazy stunt with "no backup plan after vote."
Let?s go over again what can potentially happen if the House Republicans do not get out of the way of averting a default crisis. If the U.S. is allowed to default on our debt, America as well as 7,000 individual cities will lose their top credit rating which will affect everything - from credit card rates to hospitals. If the U.S. defaults on our debt, the stock market will plummet, mortgage rates will rise, and jobs will be lost - for an American family, this could mean losing thousands from retirement savings and adding thousands to a mortgage.
As mentioned yesterday, the ?Cut, Cap and Balance? nonsense has no chance of passing the Senate, is even running into trouble in the House, and the President has already threatened to veto it. It is a reckless plan that amounts to the Ryan budget on steroids. It would require even deeper cuts to Medicare and Social Security than the controversial Ryan plan, and it would go further to protect tax breaks for the wealthy.
It?s been 200 days since the Republicans took power in the House, and yet there has been no discussion of a real jobs plan. They keep continue to ram through their crazy legislation, protecting tax giveaways to millionaires, while slashing and burning programs in a way that destroys jobs and rip apart our country?s social safety nets.
Sooner or later the Democrats in Washington will have to effectively stand up and let these guys know ? through actions, not just tough words. Enough is enough.
The South Carolina NAACP has announced that it will be hosting a series of town hall meetings to be held across the state which will address the impact of the South Carolina Voter Photo ID bill that was signed into law recently. We need your help in getting broad community participation for each of these sessions so that they will become informed about the ways the new law will hamper voting and more importantly the steps we need to take now to delay or lessen its impact on future elections. Individuals may sign up in advance for a session online at: http://scvotertownmeeting.
Upstate RegionMonday, Aug 1, 20116:30 PM - 8:00 PM Freedom Center215 E. Main Street, Rock Hill, SC MidlandsTuesday, Aug 2, 20116:30 PM - 8:00 PMI. DeQuincey Newman United Methodist Church7801 Wilson Blvd., Columbia, SC
Read The Full Article:
Columbia, SC -- Nikki Haley has said in two recent television interviews that "$12, $20 or $32 will not stop someone from being able to vote," referring to the cost of a birth certificate or drivers license. She went on to say that if anyone didn't have a ride to the DMV "she would drive them herself and take them to get their picture ID."
These comments were made after Haley signed into law a piece of legislation that will prohibit over 170,000 South Carolinians from being able to vote due to lack of identification.
The South Carolina Democratic Party released the following video responding to her statements and Chairman Dick Harpootlian had this to say:
"Nikki Haley is driving the state into the ditch with 10% unemployment and the worst education record in the country; now she wants to drive YOU to the DMV...be scared...be very scared."
Any chance the head of the notorious NewsCorporation Rupert Murdoch and the head of the notorious Roman Catholic ChurchPope Benedict XVI aka Joseph Alois Ratzinger were twins separated at birth?
No, I suppose not. Ratz was born in Bavaria, Germanyin 1927, and Rupert was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1931.
Still, their similarities are stunning. They bothare ambitious beyond the ken of normally ambitious men. Neither one has aningrained sense of right and wrong?they only know what feeds or damages theiregos. Both men equate self-worth with the success of their corporations. Bothmen are viciously protective of their corporations. Both men are dictatorial,tyrannical and despotic.
I?m thinking both men have small-man?s disease. Infofrom the Vatican says Ratz is 5?7?. But I suspect that?s in heels?I mean, whowould know what?s under those frocks? However, just try to find out Rupert?sheight. Conjectures on Google run from the size of a giant toad, as in, 3?2? to5?1?. What?s really wonderfully perfect is that this man who is so incrediblyugly inside and out has managed to keep his height out of the newspapersbecause of his vanity.
In any case, both Pope Ratz and Rupert Murdoch have jumpedthe shark.
Both men, at the peak of their power and influence,have done things so reprehensible that they can never regain their reputationsor recover from their own self-inflicted wounds. It is fair to say that bothmen would not have engaged in their arrogant acts of coercion, oppression andintimidation had they not been psychotic in their need for power, andunconcerned with the extent to which they had become toxic and malevolent to gain that power.
Pope Ratz willingly and willfully harmed littlechildren, intimidated underlings and faithful parishioners, lied and cheated in order to protectthe reputation of the Roman Catholic Church and to protect his reputationduring his climb to the top of his profession. There is no difference betweenPope Ratz and Rupert Murdoch who has lied, cheated, intimidated and oppressed thousandsof cohorts, coworkers and underlings in his climb to the top of his profession.
I firmly believe that both men have used the services of thugs, gangsters and murderersand have sacrificed the lives of little children to gain their unholy ends.
Read The Full Article:
Lately there's been another stir about prosecuting Bush Regime war criminals, particularly Cheney, Tenet, Rumsfeld and Bush himself.
A US human rights group has called on foreign governments to prosecute George W Bush and some of his senior officials for war crimes if the Obama administration fails to investigate a growing body of evidence against the former president over the use of torture.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday that the US authorities were legally obliged to investigate the top echelons of the Bush administration over crimes such as torture, abduction and other mistreatment of prisoners. It says that the former administration's legal team was part of the conspiracy in preparing opinions authorising abuses that they knew to have no standing in US or international law.
In 2006 the state of Minnesota accused News America of engaging in unfair trade practices, and the company settled by agreeing to pay costs and not to falsely disparage its competitors.
In 2009, a federal case in New Jersey brought by a company called Floorgraphics went to trial, accusing News America of, wait for it, hacking its way into Floorgraphics?s password protected computer system.
The complaint summed up the ethos of News America nicely, saying it had ?illegally accessed plaintiff?s computer system and obtained proprietary information? and ?disseminated false, misleading and malicious information about the plaintiff.?
The complaint stated that the breach was traced to an I.P. address registered to News America and that after the break-in, Floorgraphics lost contracts from Safeway, Winn-Dixie and Piggly Wiggly.
Much of the lawsuit was based on the testimony of Robert Emmel, a former News America executive who had become a whistle-blower. After a few days of testimony, the News Corporation had heard enough. It settled with Floorgraphics for $29.5 million and then, days later, bought it, even though it reportedly had sales of less than $1 million.
But the problems continued, and keeping a lid on News America turned out to be a busy and expensive exercise. At the beginning of this year, it paid out $125 million to Insignia Systems to settle allegations of anticompetitive behavior and violations of antitrust laws. And in the most costly payout, it spent half a billion dollars in 2010 on another settlement, just days before the case was scheduled to go to trial. The plaintiff, Valassis Communications, had already won a $300 million verdict in Michigan, but dropped the lawsuit in exchange for $500 million and an agreement to cooperate on certain ventures going forward.
The News Corporation is a very large, well-capitalized company, but that single payout to Valassis represented one-fifth of the company?s net income in 2010 and matched the earnings of the entire newspaper and information division that News America was a part of.
Because consumers (and journalists) don?t much care who owns the coupon machine in the snack aisle, the cases have not received much attention. But that doesn?t mean that they aren?t a useful window into the broader culture at the News Corporation.
News America was led by Paul V. Carlucci, who, according to Forbes, used to show the sales staff the scene in ?The Untouchables? in which Al Capone beats a man to death with a baseball bat. Mr. Emmel testified that Mr. Carlucci was clear about the guiding corporate philosophy.
According to Mr. Emmel?s testimony, Mr. Carlucci said that if there were employees uncomfortable with the company?s philosophy-- ?bed-wetting liberals in particular was the description he used? Mr. Emmelt testified-- then he could arrange to have those employees ?outplaced from the company.?
Clearly, given the size of the payouts, along with the evidence and testimony in the lawsuits, the News Corporation must have known it had another rogue on its hands, one who needed to be dealt with. After all, Mr. Carlucci, who became chairman and chief executive of News America in 1997, had overseen a division that had drawn the scrutiny of government investigators and set off lawsuits that chipped away at the bottom line.
Degussa was a large German firm engaged in metal refining and production of chemicals, including Zyklon-B cyanide tablets used in the gas chambers. The Zyklon-B tablets were produced by Degesch, which was owned by Degussa and IG Farben, a chemical concern that was dissolved after the war. Degussa was also the firm that supplied the uranium for the Nazis' atomic bomb project. Recently, Degussa spoke persons have acknowledged ties between Degussa and I.G. Farben during the war. Much of the information surfacing recently about Degussa comes from a lawsuit filed in New Jersey. Degussa held an exclusive contract with the Nazis for re-smelting items taken from the Jews in the concentration camps, including dental gold. There was so much gold being taken from the victims at Auschwitz that Degussa built a smelter there. According to Oberstrumbannfuhrer Rudoff Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz, the daily yield of gold at the camp was 24 pounds.
More recently, Degussa?s role in nuclear proliferation has been brought to light in the film documentary Stealing the Fire. The filmmakers document the trial of Karl-Heinz Schaab, who was tried for treason in Munich. Schaab is the first person in the world convicted of atomic espionage in an open trial in the last fifty years. He sold top secret documents stolen from Germany to Saddam Hussein, and traveled to Baghdad numerous times to help Iraq build an atomic bomb. Schaab was linked to Degussa and Leybold, a Degussa subsidiary. He received an extremely light sentence upon conviction. He was fined only 100,000 deutsche-marks fine and sentenced to 5 years of probation.
However, there is more than meets the eye to the light sentence handed out to Schaab. After the war, Gernot Zippe, known as the "father of the centrifuge" and an employee of Degussa was of great interest to the militaries of several industrialized nations. Zippe was captured by the Russians, and helped them build their atomic bomb. He was returned to the west in 1956. On his return, the CIA immediately snapped him up to work on US centrifuge technology, which is critical in separating isotopes of uranium. Through a convoluted path, a variant of Zippe?s centrifuge technology was discovered in Iraq in 1996. Due to the murky underworld of arms dealing, Degussa was spared charges of treason, largely due to its connections with American defense contractors, such as Du Pont. Schaab was a convenient fall guy. Iraq?s Scud-b missile technology can be described as 90% German and its atomic technology as 60% German.
Additionally, in 1990 Degussa was fined $800,000 for illegally re-exporting nuclear weapons-related material to North Korea. The firm was also implicated in exporting poisonous gas to Libya. Degussa was also a large contributor to the election campaign of George W. Bush. As early as June 1999, Degussa had contributed $1,950.67 It should be noted that Degussa is a German company contributing to an American election campaign. Today Degussa is a worldwide conglomerate reporting sales of 11.8 trillion Euro dollars. Once again, a corporation associated with the Nazis has advanced unencumbered, since the end of the war. Degussa also represents a corporation that has been so thoroughly corrupted with its past dealings with the Nazis that it is beyond reform. It should be broken up before its dealings can provoke another war. With the rise of fascism globally, the best chance of the fascist, regaining control still lies in provoking another war.
After a failed attempt to find a buyer, bankrupt bookstore operator Borders Group Inc. (BGPIQ -32.96%) said late Monday it will sell its store assets to liquidation firms Hilco and Gordon Brothers and submit a liquidation plan for bankruptcy-court approval.That's definitely going to leave a mark on the next jobs report. But hey, shrinkage is growth (in some quarters).
The bookstore operator, the U.S.'s second largest after Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS 0.35%), operates 399 stores and employs about 10,700. Liquidation is expected to begin for some stores and facilities as soon as Friday, with a phased rollout of the program to conclude by the end of September, the company said in a statement.
"Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development," said Borders Group President Mike Edwards. "The headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is no stranger to controversy and seems to relish in making outrageous statements just to provoke a reaction. But the freshman congressman may have outdone himself with a rambling, far-ranging post on the site “Red Country” in which he calls supporters of President Obama “a threat to the gene pool”:
I believe we are headed towards the ultimate ideological clash in America. There is a widening chasm which has developed between those who believe in principled fiscal policies and those desiring the socialist bureaucratic nanny-state. [...]
And all we hear from the President is talk about ?shared sacrifice,? ?tax the rich,? and ?increase revenues by tax hikes.? It was just December 2010 that President Obama and the Democrats extended the Bush era tax rates for two years?now less than a year later they are FLIP-FLOPPING! [...]
I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.
In the same post, West equated the Libyan rebels fighting against dictator Muammar Qaddafi to the Taliban, and falsely claimed that “47 percent of wage earning households in America do not pay federal income taxes.” He also accused Obama of threatening “our nation?s senior citizens and Military Veterans/Retirees,” when it is in fact proposals and demands by members of his own party that are doing that.
West’s disdain and harsh rhetoric for those who don’t agree with him is nothing new. He frequently disparages political opponents – often personally. He once said anti-war congressmen should “get shot a few times,” and claimed “if you support Medicare…you can kiss the United States of America goodbye.”
Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest uninsurance rate and is home to some of the nation’s top health care providers, but a new report from the Boston Foundation and the New England Healthcare Institute finds that the state still has a long way to go towards actually keeping its population healthy and avoiding the doctor’s office. Massachusetts “earned no A?s and five B?s for efforts to build walking paths and bike lanes, promote farmers? markets and encourage workplace health programs”:
Read the full report here.
In the comments to Henry Farrell’s latest intervention into the debate over the need for a “theory of politics,” I note that many people seem primarily to be interested in disagreeing with my public policy judgment. Since I, as Farrell notes, am much more comfortable debating policy specifics than hazy theories of politics I’d rather engage in this. In particular, one thing that came up is the old issue of barber licensing. I see breaking up the barber cartel and increasing competition for barbering services as a progressive measure, because if you reduce the cost of things that poor people buy, you increase their real living standards. A contrary view espoused in comments is that since barbering is a working class occupation, we ought to favor cartelization as a means of increasing working class income.
This, for the record, is exactly what I had in mind when in an earlier post I said that policy ideas need to be “workable.” We need to ask ourselves if it’s actually true that barber licensing is an egalitarian measure. I’m almost certain that it’s not. Clearly, if we restrict entry into the barbering industry what we do is redistribute real income away from the customers of barber shops and to the incumbent barbers. In effect, you’re setting a kind of price floor. But the important thing to note about this is that haircuts are already sold at a wide range of price points. Rich people ? the kind of people it would be progressive to stick it to ? are not buying the cheapest available haircuts. Indeed, they’re not even close. And there’s little reason to think that the de facto price floor on haircuts is having any impact whatsoever on the price that they pay for haircuts. The people impacted by the haircut price floor are going to be the people shopping for the cheapest haircuts. That, by and large, is going to be relatively low-income people.
But to perhaps gesture at a “theory of politics” issue, I think part of what bugs people about the barber issue is that they’ve developed the implicit view that for progressive politics to succeed we need to raise the social status of “big government,” and that it’s counterproductive to this mission to highlight any misguided “big government” initiatives. It’s acceptable to criticize excessive spending on the military and on prisons, because the conservative critique of “big government” often exempts those institutions. But if conservatives attack “regulation,” then “regulation” must be defended or, when indefensible, ignored. My view is that this is backwards, and that the public is skeptical about supporting “big government” precisely because they doubt that its advocates are invested in ensuring that higher taxes will lead to quality services. Progressive insouciance about the question of whether or not regulations are, in fact, serving the public interest feeds cynicism about the role of the state.