Archive for February, 2008


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Imagine my surprise when I received this in my email box today. 
Story from Natural News 
The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is moving forward to institute a rule that would require all passengers to go through a government review process before boarding any airplane that takes off or lands anywhere with in the United States.The U.S. government already requires international passengers to participate in the Advanced Passenger Information System, providing their full name, gender, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, and travel document type and number to the TSA before boarding. Under the proposed Secure Flight Program, this procedure would also be required on domestic flights.Currently, individual airlines are responsible for checking the passenger manifests against the “no fly” and “enhanced screening” lists provided by the TSA. The new programs are part of a concerted effort to centralize this process, so that the TSA itself will check all supplied information against these lists, and then instruct the airline or airport staff as to how to proceed.The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) has criticized the new Secure Flight rules for their secrecy and lack of accountability. The association has expressed concern that there is no clear appeals process for passengers denied boarding or continually forced to undergo enhanced security screening.”On the surface, the new Secure Flight program no longer relies on commercial databases and appears to have reduced the number of names on the ‘No Fly’ list,” said ACTE Executive Director Susan Gurley. “It also seems that the responsibility for checking data is no longer abrogated to the airlines. While this is a step in the right direction, it prompts the industry to ask what was the origin of this new data, how is it stored, who has access to it, and how can it be corrected.”

After watching Bush studder through his press conference demanding his FISA law pass. I stumbled upon the reason for the urgency, he’s referring to and it ain’t got nothing to do with national security. 

Consider this from Roll Call.

“With the House Democrats’ refusal to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies  stalling the rewrite of the warrantless wiretapping program — GOP leadership aides are grumbling that their party isn’t getting more political money from the telecommunications industry”.

Dubya!, Can you hear me now?

More here, as the GOP wines for more cash from the telecoms.

Congressman Ron Paul slammed Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke during a House Financial Services Committee meeting today for following a policy of deliberately destroying the dollar and wiping out the American middle class.

Paul held Bernanke to task over his refusal to address the decline of the dollar and its clear link to inflation.

“Inflation comes from the unwise increase in the supply of money credit….to argue that we can continue to debase the currency, which is really the policy of that you’re following, purposely debasing value of currency – which to me seems so destructive….it just puts more pressure on the federal reserve to create capital out of thin air in order to stimulate the economy and usually that just goes into mal-investment,” said Paul.

Read Full story here

Bernanke really does have a don’t worry we will print more attitude.

Tape Recordings of Whistle Blower Conversations About Production of Substandard Helmet Material Will Be Played

Washington, DC – Tomorrow, Thursday, February 28th, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), will join VoteVets.org and two whistle blowers to discuss the need for a congressional investigation into a $74 million Department of Defense contract awarded to a North Dakota manufacturing company, Sioux Manufacturing Company, which has been outfitting our nation’s troops with substandard Kevlar helmets.

New tape recordings of employees discussing the production of the substandard Kevlar for helmets will be publicly played and posted for the first time during the TELE-PRESS Conference, tomorrow at 10:30 am. The call in number is 866-211-5938 (no passcode required).

On February 6th, The New York Times reported that Sioux Manufacturing, which makes the Kevlar for helmets, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company had shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including helmets used by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense, aware of both the problem with Sioux’s helmets and the company’s efforts to cover it up, awarded another contract to Sioux a mere 12 days before the lawsuit was settled. That same day, CREW sent a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees requesting an investigation into a Department of Defense $74 million contract awarded to Sioux Manufacturing.

Read Full story here.

With all of the attention FISA is getting these days. I thought I would remind everyone of an excellent Frontline  episode from the summer of 07, “Spying on the home front”. It was a wake up call when I saw the first time, so if you haven’t made you decision on whether or not warrent-less wiretaps are a bad thing for America, check it out. Jesus, and to think we impeached Nixon on something far less damaging to American.

Doesn’t the consortium realize the town hall meeting were being recorded? The only “gross misconceptions” I am aware of at this point is coming from Arden’s assurances while exposing his desperation. It’s pretty stupid of him to say “an outbreak is not possible”.

 Because the lab will only research diseases passed from animal to animal and in some cases, animal to human, outbreaks of human diseases mentioned by opponents of the lab are not possible, Arden said. Of the eight diseases that will be studied at the lab — Arden said environmental impact studies will need to be performed before any additional diseases will be studied at the lab — four impact only animals, four can be passed to humans and of those four, only two involve any serious health threat.

I invite you to listen to the audio from the meeting which can be found here. Frank Stasio had to pull the truth out of DHS. They finally had to admit diseases to be studied would change. But at no time did they say a second EIS would be preformed in order to study different diseases. Audio doesn’t lie, I wish I could say the same for _____, well you know. 

And now the story that started my rant.

Official supports Bio-Agro Defense lab

By Brianne Dopart- The Herald Sun 

DURHAM — Warwick Arden doesn’t want “gross misconceptions” about the proposed National Bio Agro-Defense Facility to be what stands between North Carolina and the state’s opportunity to be on the cutting edge of animal disease research.Arden is dean of the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine and lead spokesman for the North Carolina Consortium for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a group of scientists, academics, officials and corporations who believe that construction of such a lab, wherever it ends up, is in the best interest of the United States.The current U.S. facility for such research, which is more than 50 years old, is on the remote Plum Island, N.Y., accessible only by ferry. As a result, Arden said, the U.S. is extremely unprepared to handle any serious outbreak of animal disease.At Tuesday night’s meeting of Durham’s InterNeighborhood Council, Arden spoke in favor of the lab he says will bring economic and academic benefits to the region and urged residents to wait for the release in early May of an environmental impact study on the facility’s proposed placement outside Butner.

Concerns voiced about the proposed facility, most recently at a town hall-style meeting with the Department of Homeland Security last week in Creedmoor, have helped propel misinformation about the lab, Arden said.

The most glaring misconception, he said, confuses the lab, which will house research regarding infectious and foreign diseases affecting animals and that are not communicable from human to human, with one that will produce biological weapons, which Arden pointed out are illegal under international law.

Because the lab will only research diseases passed from animal to animal and in some cases, animal to human, outbreaks of human diseases mentioned by opponents of the lab are not possible, Arden said. Of the eight diseases that will be studied at the lab — Arden said environmental impact studies will need to be performed before any additional diseases will be studied at the lab — four impact only animals, four can be passed to humans and of those four, only two involve any serious health threat.

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By Dan Eggen   Washington Post Staff Writer
After promising last year to search its computers for tens of thousands of e-mails sent by White House officials, the Republican National Committee has informed a House committee that it no longer plans to retrieve the communications by restoring computer backup tapes, the panel’s chairman said yesterday.
The move increases the likelihood that an untold number of RNC e-mails dealing with official White House business during the first term of the Bush administration — including many sent or received by former presidential adviser Karl Rove — will never be recovered, said House Democrats and public records advocates.The RNC had previously told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it was attempting to restore e-mails from 2001 to 2003, when the RNC had a policy of purging all e-mails, including those to and from White House officials, after 30 days. But Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) disclosed during a hearing yesterday that the RNC has now said it “has no intention of trying to restore the missing White House e-mails.”

“The result is a potentially enormous gap in the historical record,” Waxman said, including the buildup to the Iraq war.

Spokesman Danny Diaz said in a statement that the RNC “is fully compliant with the spirit and letter of the law.” He declined further comment.

Administration officials have acknowledged that Rove and many other White House officials routinely used RNC accounts for government business, despite rules requiring that they conduct such business through official communications channels. The RNC deleted all e-mails until 2004, when it exempted White House officials from its e-mail purging policy.

About 80 White House aides used RNC accounts for official government business, committee staff members said. Rove, for example, sent or received 140,000 e-mails on RNC servers from 2002 to 2007, and more than half involved official “.gov” accounts, the panel has said.

The RNC dispute is part of a broader debate over whether the Bush administration has complied with long-standing statutory requirements to preserve official White House records — including those reflecting potentially sensitive policy discussions — for history and in case of future legal demands.

The committee is investigating allegations that vast stores of official Bush administration e-mails have also gone missing from the White House, which scrapped a Clinton-era archiving system and has struggled with data retention problems.

A former White House technology manager told the committee in statements released yesterday that the Bush administration’s e-mail system “was primitive and the risk that data would be lost was high.”

Steven McDevitt, who left the White House in 2006, said he supervised an internal study that found hundreds of days in which no electronic messages were stored for one or more White House offices from January 2003 to August 2005. The study stated a range when tallying the total number of days in which an office had no recorded e-mails, from 473 — which had been previously reported — to more than 1,000, McDevitt said.

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The Wall Street Journal 

WASHINGTON — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is taking steps to brace for an increase in failed financial institutions as the nation’s housing and credit markets continue to worsen.

 Out of Retirement: The FDIC is recruiting 25 of its retirees experienced in handling insolvent financial institutions.
 The Reasoning: The agency is preparing for an increase in failed financial institutions as the housing and credit markets worsen.
 What’s Next: The FDIC will give an update today on the number of “problem” institutions that regulators are watching most closely.

The FDIC is looking to bring back 25 retirees from its division of resolutions and receiverships. Many of these agency veterans likely worked for the FDIC during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when more than 1,000 financial institutions failed amid the savings-and-loan crisis.

FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said the agency was looking to bulk up “for preparedness purposes.” The division now has 223 employees, mostly based in Dallas.

The agency, which insures accounts at more than 8,000 financial institutions, is also seeking to hire an outside firm that would help manage mortgages and other assets at insolvent banks, according to a newspaper advertisement.

In public, policy makers are debating what role the government should play in trying to stabilize the housing market and minimize foreclosures. Meanwhile, regulators have worked discreetly behind the scenes to closely monitor the growing number of troubled banks and thrifts considered at risk.

“Regulators are bracing for well over 100 bank failures in the next 12 to 24 months, with concentrations in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Ohio, and the states that are suffering severe housing-market problems like California, Florida, and Georgia,” said Jaret Seiberg, Washington policy analyst for financial-services firm Stanford Group.

In job postings on its Web site, the FDIC said it is looking for people with “skill in performing duties associated with a financial-institution closing, such as receivership management, resolutions and/or asset disposition; knowledge of the resolutions process as it relates to complex financial institutions.” Such positions would require “very frequent overnight travel,” the posting said, and would pay up to $180,770.

“The notion of bringing back some people who have been through it before is very smart,” said William Isaac, who was FDIC chairman from 1981 until 1985. All told, the FDIC has roughly 4,600 employees, far fewer than the about 15,000 it had as recently as 1992.

On Sunday, the FDIC ran a newspaper ad seeking companies that could service commercial loans, mortgages and student loans in the event of a bank failure. It didn’t say how much a company could earn in this area.

The FDIC rated 65 banks and thrifts as “problem” institutions at the end of the third quarter of 2007, up from 47 institutions a year earlier. Both figures are low by historical standards. At the end of 1993, there were 572 “problem” banks and thrifts. The FDIC is expected to update its data on “problem” institutions today.

Before the housing market soured, the banking industry was enjoying one of its most profitable stretches in U.S. history. There wasn’t a single bank failure from July 2005 through January 2007, an unprecedented span.

There have only been four bank failures in the past 12 months, a rate the FDIC has easily been able to handle.

In many parts of the country, the housing-market decline has hamstrung banks, and regulators have reported weakening performance of commercial real estate, small business and credit-card loans. Exacerbating the situation is a cash-flow crunch, which makes it harder for banks to obtain funding to originate new loans.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan and Office of Thrift Supervision Director John Reich have warned of a pickup in bank failures. Last week, Mr. Reich reported that the thrift industry lost a record $5.2 billion in the fourth quarter.

The FDIC was created by Congress in the 1930s after a series of bank runs during the Great Depression. At the end of 2007, it had $52.4 billion in its fund that backstops the nation’s insured deposits.

 

Also see: Fannie Mae hit with a 2.1 Billion Dollar Loss

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