CNN California Democratic Debate live-blogging..

Tonight on CNN at 5PM Pacific Time.

Well, here we are again, and finally down to two choices…

Next Tuesday is the BIG one.. The super-duper SUPER TUESDAY primary event!

Super Tuesday (2008), Super Duper Tuesday, Giga Tuesday, Tsunami Tuesday, and The Tuesday of Destiny are names for February 5, 2008, the day on which the largest-ever simultaneous number of state U.S. presidential primary elections will be held. Twenty-four states (including American Samoa) are scheduled to hold either caucuses or primary elections for one or both parties on this date.

Its all on the line (supposedly). The problem with that, is the best candidates for the job are no longer in the race. I wonder how people feel about being denied the opportunity to vote for their candidate of choice. I am frankly feeling totally cheated. We have had these final two candidates shoved down our throats my the MSM for a year now. No surprises.. I guess this was inevitable.

(By the way, this debate is sponsored by the Coal industry. Don’t expect much discussion about fighting global warming or cleaning up the air..)

Continue reading

After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton Charity

via: CommonDreams
from The NY Times

Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.

Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.

The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.

Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.

Read entire article…

This is the kind of stuff that makes me hate and absolutely distrust politicians. They can wave around their right hand saying look at the good things I am doing!, while their left hand is behind their back or under the table doing something completely different, that totally benefits themselves personally. It is usually sleazy and out of sight. They only want you looking at their right hand.. And in their minds, they can justify it. (Hope that made sense..)

Is this just the way things work in Washington with all politicians? Somehow I don’t think so.., at least not with all of them.
Do we honestly want the Clintons back in the White House..?

Australia finally to apologize to Aborigines

For 60 years, mixed-blood children were forcibly removed from their Aborigine parents and fostered with white families. Mari Melito Russell was torn from her adolescent mother and raised by an abusive white “mother” and “father”, and didn’t realize she was adopted until thrown out of the family after her adoptive mother died. In her late 60s, she finally met her real mother–in Pennsylvania.

From 1910 until 1970, some 100,000 mostly mixed-blood Aboriginal children were taken from their parents under state and federal laws that argued the race was doomed and that integrating the children was a humane alternative.

An inquiry by the national Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission concluded in 1997 that many stolen generation children suffered long-term psychological effects stemming from their loss of family and culture. It recommended that state and federal authorities apologize and pay compensation to those who were removed. All state governments have apologized, but the question of compensation was left to the federal government.

Then-Prime Minister John Howard steadfastly refused to apologize or pay compensation, saying his government should not be held responsible for past policies.

Although the last laws granting authorities the power to take Aboriginal children from their families were abolished in 1970, many Aborigines say statistics show the government is still far more likely to take Aboriginal children into foster care than white children.

Australia’s new government has announced the an apology for this tremendous injustice will be their first order of business when Parliament convenes in two weeks.

Or will they?

The Australian government’s plan to apologise to Aborigines for past injustices ran into trouble Thursday when the opposition indicated it might not support the move.

The failure of white Australia to speak with a united voice on the sensitive issue would weaken the attempt to heal the nation’s racial rift, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin warned.

. . .
The leader of the opposition Liberal Party, Brendan Nelson, has questioned whether Australians living now can take responsibility for injustices perpetrated in the past.

“The question for me is, can our generation be responsible for that?” Nelson said in a radio interview.

The removals were carried out “in most cases with good intentions, but certainly not in all,” he added, arguing that many children were removed from neglect and abuse.

Nelson said he also wanted to see the precise wording of the apology, which has long been sought by Aboriginal groups and their supporters, before agreeing to back it.

Reluctant even to apologize? Sounds like the Republicans.

Follow the money!

Now that the field is down to two Democratic frontrunners and another two Republicans (someone please tell Huckabee and Paul) it’s time to look at who is trying to buy themselves favours with a new President, if not the whole. You can find extensive information on campaign financing for every candidate if you click on the links provided.

All information is published by opensecrets.org, who are doing a fine job of tracking the money and it’s sources. They share their data to be freely distributed and thus provide an invaluable tool to learn about the background of campaign financing. Please go there and check upon the candidates you are interested in, and if you can spare a dime, donate for their great work.

So, let’s have a look at the money trail and to keep it neutral we start with the pauper in the field:

John McCain is still way behind in financial contributions with a total of $32,124,785. His main contributors are:

Blank Rome LLP $141,100
Citigroup Inc $137,050
Greenberg Traurig LLP $124,987
Merrill Lynch $113,575
Goldman Sachs $88,700
Univision Communications $82,000
IDT Corp $77,150
Bank of New York Mellon $74,000
MGM Mirage $70,400
Irvine Co Apartment Community $68,400
Pinnacle West Capital $64,000
JP Morgan Chase & Co $59,850
Credit Suisse Group $58,950
Bridgewater Assoc $58,300
Cisco Systems $56,600
Lehman Brothers $53,250
Morgan Stanley $50,950
Wachovia Corp $50,850
Blackstone Group $47,950
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu $41,601

Mitt Romney comes in second with contributions amounting to $62,829,069 and the following contributors list:

Goldman Sachs $181,425
Merrill Lynch $147,200
Marriott International $115,000
Bain Capital $112,200
Morgan Stanley $110,050
Bain & Co $103,175
The Villages $96,400
Citigroup Inc $94,150
Compuware Corp $93,800
Huron Consulting Group $91,250
Kirkland & Ellis $89,600
Affiliated Managers Group $77,462
American Financial Group $75,350
PricewaterhouseCoopers $74,200
HIG Capital $71,175
Liberty Mutual Insurance $68,800
JP Morgan Chase & Co $67,450
Credit Suisse Group $66,850
UBS Americas $63,800
Lehman Brothers $60,750

Barack Obama has collected the considerable amount of $80,256,427 and all the well known names appear here, too.

Goldman Sachs $369,078
Lehman Brothers $229,090
National Amusements Inc $220,950
JP Morgan Chase & Co $216,759
Sidley Austin LLP $203,325
Exelon Corp $194,750
Citigroup Inc $180,650
Citadel Investment Group $166,600
Jones Day $158,400
Skadden, Arps et al $150,900
UBS AG $146,150
Time Warner $142,718
Harvard University $141,700
University of California $126,972
Jenner & Block $122,419
Kirkland & Ellis $111,951
UBS Americas $106,680
Morgan Stanley $104,425
WilmerHale $102,360
Credit Suisse Group $92,300

And the winner is: Hillary Clinton with a war chest of $90,935,788 unsurprisingly her donor list matches the who’s who, we have seen above:

DLA Piper $356,100
Goldman Sachs $350,050
Morgan Stanley $323,550
Citigroup Inc $307,350
EMILY’s List $211,642
National Amusements Inc $193,850
JP Morgan Chase & Co $173,350
Kirkland & Ellis $172,000
Skadden, Arps et al $151,460
Greenberg Traurig LLP $150,900
Cablevision Systems $135,113
Merrill Lynch $125,550
Time Warner $124,150
Lehman Brothers $123,450
Bear Stearns $120,580
Patton Boggs $118,400
Ernst & Young $110,650
Blank Rome LLP $105,100
Latham & Watkins $100,950
News Corp $99,350

This is, of course a rough overview and, honestly, I have not yet looked up all the info about all the candidates, there are interests that hide behind the donor’s list. It is an adventure in itself to find out. I’m sending you on the quest to knowledge, the one weapon against populism and lies. And I don’t pretend this makes decision making any easier for you.

Segregating Women to “Save” Them

Jessica Valenti, The Nation blog:

Last week Mexico City unveiled women-only buses as a way to battle the increasing sexual harassment on public transportation.

Some men treat women so badly that the subway system has long had ladies-only cars during rush hour, with police segregating the sexes on the platforms.

But that hasn’t helped women forced to rely on packed buses, by far the city’s most-used form of public transportation — until this week.

Acting on complaints from women’s groups, the city rolled out “ladies only” buses, complete with pink signs in the windshields to wave off the men.

Pink signs, huh? I’m all for safe spaces for women, but is segregation really an answer to sexism? I’ve written about this trend of women-only spaces before, most recently for The Guardian, and I still fail to see how this is anything but a temporary solution to a systemic problem.

There’s no doubt the harassment women face in public spaces needs to be addressed – whether it is on the street, the train, or even the internet. We’ve been subjected to regular catcalls and groping for far too long. But while the idea of a safe space is compelling, this international trend – which often comes couched in paternalistic rhetoric about “protecting” women – raises questions of just how equal the sexes are if women’s safety relies on us being separated. After all, shouldn’t we be targeting the gropers and harassers? The onus should be on men to stop harassing women, not on women to escape them.

What an interesting idea — require men to curb their own behavior, rather than creating man-free zones for women.  “Boys will be boys” only goes so far.  When you can’t even ride the bus home after a long day at work without being assaulted, it’s gone way too far.

If we’re going to make women safe, let’s make them safe everywhere – not just in designated areas.

Read the whole article here.

King George is at it again…

Bush Asserts Authority To Bypass Defense Act

by Charlie Savage (The Boston Globe)
via: CommonDreams

President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent US military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill.

Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008. In the signing statement, Bush asserted that four sections of the bill unconstitutionally infringe on his powers, and so the executive branch is not bound to obey them.

“Provisions of the act . . . purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as commander in chief,” Bush said. “The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”

One section Bush targeted created a statute that forbids spending taxpayer money “to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq” or “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

The Bush administration is negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The agreement is to include the basing of US troops in Iraq after 2008, as well as security guarantees and other economic and political ties between the United States and Iraq.

Read entire article (because it is excellent, as you would expect with Charlie Savage..)

How many days does he have left? And tell me again why we can’t impeach him..?

(AP Photo)

This Campaign’s a B-Movie with a B List of Characters

by Dave Lindorff
via: BuzzFlash

With the presidential race now effectively pared down to four candidates, thanks to the departure of John Edwards and the imminent exit of Rudy Giuliani, we’re left with a really “B-grade” contest: a bomber (John McCain), a bummer (Hillary Clinton), a betrayer (Mitt Romney) and Obama (that’s Barack with a B). Read on…

Dave Lindorff goes on the give a pretty good break-down of the four leading contenders for both parties.

He ends with this:

In the choice between a bomber, a bummer, a betrayer, and Obama, it hardly matters who comes out on top. My guess is whoever wins, we get more military spending, more war, fewer jobs, and fewer rights.

Rep. Ron Paul, for all his flaws (and they are many, including a racist attitude on immigration, a sexist attitude on abortion, and a doctrinaire view of primacy of the rights of property), is looking better and better. At least he would end the Iraq War, cut the military budget significantly, and restore the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Let’s hope he quits this B-rated presidential campaign and runs as an independent or Libertarian.

He makes some interesting points.. I like a lot of the things Ron Paul says and his direct style. He is very strong on supporting the Constitution and sounds fiscally responsible (at least he appears to understand the ‘credit card’ mentality that has taken hold of the administration and those in recent past). He would likely do what is necessary to restore the Constitution, Habeas Corpus, end the war, etc.., but I can’t see how the powers that be would ever allow him to get that far. There is just too much power and influence driving these top candidates in order to maintain the status quo.

Why does it feel like we are just going through the motions of nothing but pure theater..?

There still may be the Bloomberg factor to shake things up a bit… Where’s Al Gore when you need him?

There’s a very good article over at Truthdig by Robert Scheer called “Obama, Clinton and the War” that is worth the read.

One Bush Left Behind

by Greg Palast

Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

Read entire article…

When the President and Congress throw out large numbers these days, my eyes just glaze over and the numbers mean nothing. They are just that – numbers. All the numbers are enormous (in the stratosphere..).

Greg Palast does a great job of breaking down a few of them and putting them in practical ‘human’ terms. His style is funny in his own snarky way, but the message is clear and exposes once again just how clueless, how condescending, how ridiculous, out of touch, and heartless George W. Bush is.

Great post by Palast.

Good Morning from Europe – 354 opportunities to impeach!

Good Morning! The GOP Californian Debate has caught the eye of “The Times’” US editor Gerard Baker. And, if an article starts thus:

Another pretty dreadful debate, to be frank. Once again CNN demonstrated how little it really understands the Republican party. Anderson Cooper in particular continues to treat Republicans as some sort of anthropological curiosity, gingerly throwing them silly questions as a zookeeper might throw lumps of rotting meat into a cage full of irritable lions.

it’s made for TheZoo.

Here are the highlights, according to my borrowed European view:

I actually thought the worst moment of the whole debate was McCain’s stupid little snipe about how Romney had done a good job buying and selling companies resulting in some people being laid off. It was the kind of thing that testified both to McCain’s uncontrollable tendency towards nastiness and to the rather troubling attitude he sometimes displays towards business. No-one likes the idea of workers being laid off but it sounds very odd for a self-described conservative and strong supporter of the free market to be expressing doubt about a company’s feeedom to control its labour costs.

(…)

More than a third of the way through (it seems longer) and I don’t think anyone’s earth has moved yet. Tedious doesn’t begin to capture it.

Public Works: Interesting exposition of classical Keynesian stimulus economics by the ever-entertaining Huckabee.

Climate Change: McCain looks and sounds tired. Maybe he’s hoping that if he talks…really…slowly….everybody will just fall asleep and the debate will change nothing.

Read more here: It sounds like you didn’t miss much, when you decided to do something useful instead of watching the debate.

What if McCain prevails and will be nominated in the end? Hard times for the Republican Party ahead. As said in yesterday’s post, the likes of Malkin and Coulter are livid and the Party establishment will work him hard to change some of his positions. To top this off, Republican outsiders Giuliani and Schwarzenegger have endorsed McCain.

Now, the Democratic Party has another set of problems to solve. Sadly, John Edwards has quit the race. Who is going to get his delegates, asks “The Guardian”. And the Times helps us out with a useful list of endorsements for either candidate. “Der Spiegel” provides us with a calculation, why none of the candidates will finally win the nomination on Super Tuesday. Here’s why: Democrats need 2025 delegates for nomination. Hillary Clinton has 232, Barack Obama 158, (Edwards 62). 1678 Delegates will be determined at Super Tuesday. Given that one cadidate takes all Hillary Clinton can get 1910 (1972 if she gets Edwards’), Obama 1836 (1898 Edwards’ included) that’s still not 2025. And, it explains, why Hillary Clinton is so keen on including the Florida delegates despite her signing a party agreement, that the Floridians are out. The calculation for the Republicans looks similar (McCain max. 1178, Romney max. 1155/ 1191 needed). So, prepare for an ongoing battle. Even if you don’t live in a Super Tuesday State, your vote may still make a difference.

And finally, away from the elections. Which branch of the economy is still reaping record profits? Right – Oil

“Europeanview” wishes you all a happy and healthy day. Take care!

Bush puts a price tag on his budget

Yesterday, George W. Bush signed an order to curb ‘earmarks’.

President Bush took executive action on Tuesday to crack down on pork barrel practices in Congress. He promised to veto any spending bill that doesn’t cut the number and cost of congressional pet projects in half.

The executive order Bush signed in the Oval Office orders federal agencies to ignore “earmarks” that aren’t explicitly enacted into law, erasing a common practice in which lawmakers’ projects are outlined in nonbinding documents that accompany legislation.

“That means that these projects never were voted on, never really saw the light of day,” Bush said as he signed the order that he announced in his State of the Union address Monday night.

Today, Bush has decided to put a price tag on his budget.. Lawmakers are to be charged $200 for previously free paper copies of his budget.

In a move it says is aimed at saving money and trees, the Bush administration plans to charge lawmakers $200 for copies of this year’s federal budget.
Democrats and Republicans alike groaned about the decision, telling The Hill that the extra expenses will not be easy to find in already strained budgets.

Is this George Bush’s way of deterring lawmakers from actually READING his budget? Is he trying to find a new and creative way to pay for his wars? Or is he just being vindictive? He is crossing over from “chimp” to “ass”.

I am getting tired of saying “unbelievable..”

Photo from “Bush or Chimp?

Bush trying to sidestep Congress on permanent bases question

via: The Guardian

‘Signing statement’ attached to new Defense bill seeks to reserve the right to build bases in Iraq

George Bush has resumed his practice of disregarding portions of new laws, quietly reserving the right to build permanent military bases in Iraq, keep Congress in the dark on spying activity and block two accountability measures aimed at private security firms accused of wartime abuses.

As he signed a defence bill into law yesterday, Bush quietly added a “signing statement” that asserts his ability to ignore several parts of the measure. The signing statement is not a new tactic for Bush – he has issued hundreds during seven years in office, many more than his predecessors – but Democrats now are planning restraints on the presidential prerogative.

Read entire article…

Basically, this is un-Constitutional. Is he just thumbing his nose at Congress and double-dog daring them to do a damn thing about it? Ya know George.., there is still time to impeach you..

CDC Suppressed Toxic Trailer Warnings

via: CBS News

Agency Suppressed Repeated Warnings From Top Scientist About Formaldehyde Fume DangersAs CBS News first reported last spring, FEMA has been under heavy fire for failing to acknowledge then adequately address health problems like respiratory illness associated with the toxic chemical formaldehyde found in travel trailers that became home for hundreds of thousands of survivors of Hurricane Katrina. More than 143,000 families have lived in the toxic trailers, and more than 40,000 still do. (My emphasis added)

Now, CBS News has learned, the public health fiasco reaches beyond FEMA – into the one of the nation’s most respected agencies. CBS News has learned that the Centers for Disease Control, the nation’s top public health agency, suppressed repeated warnings from one of its top scientists, raising questions about whether the CDC bowed to pressure from FEMA to conceal the long-term health risks of formaldehyde in the trailers it distributed to hurricane victims – health risks like cancer and birth defects, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.

A string of internal documents obtained exclusively by CBS News reveal that Dr. Christopher De Rosa, director of the CDC’s Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, told his superiors “there is no safe level of exposure” to formaldehyde in trailers. That warning never made its way into any public report about the trailers. Read on..

The victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been victimized once again – this time by our own government, and likely with long-term, lasting effects. As Mike Molloy said on the radio last night (paraphrased from what I remember..) “The only thing these people did wrong was to be born, and live during the Bush Presidency”. Even Cuba takes care of its citizens in the event of a disaster..

So now the CDC is being politicized as well..