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Archive for April 15th, 2007

Wolfowitz Says Won’t Resign; Bank Says Concerned

by Suzie-Q @ 9:05 PM MDT

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Development ministers from around the globe on Sunday voiced “great concern” over World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz’s handling of his girlfriend’s promotion, but Wolfowitz said he intends to stay in his job.

“The current situation is of great concern to all of us,” the top officials said in a communique issued after a meeting of the IMF-World Bank Development Committee.

“We have to ensure that the bank can effectively carry out its mandate and maintain its credibility and reputation as well as motivation of the staff,” the ministers from World Bank member states said.

In a news conference shortly after the Development Committee’s tough words were released, Wolfowitz said he believed he could still effectively lead the poverty-fighting lender. “This is important work and I intend to continue it.”

Top European officials were among those who expressed worry in closed-door sessions on Sunday that Wolfowitz had tarnished the bank’s reputation by helping to secure a high-paying promotion for his girlfriend, bank employee Shaha Riza.

At the start of speeches to the Development Committee, ministers from Britain and Germany said the bank’s reputation had been dented, sources told Reuters.

Other sources monitoring the meeting said several other European countries also briefly addressed the issue, although they did not call outright for Wolfowitz to step down.

The Netherlands, a large donor country, was among the chorus of nations wondering how the bank’s credibility could be restored. “We are critical but are awaiting development,” William Lelieveldt, Dutch Treasury spokesman, told Reuters.

MORAL AUTHORITY IN QUESTION

Staff and development activists accuse Wolfowitz of breaking bank rules in helping to arrange Riza’s promotion before she was assigned to outside work at the State Department.

They argue the institution’s moral authority has been left in tatters, especially its authority to make countries who receive aid accountable for the money, a priority for Wolfowitz, who has ruffled feathers at the bank with a strong-arm anti-corruption push.

The former No. 2 official at the Pentagon has apologized for his handling of Riza’s promotion and has said he was advised by a World Bank ethics panel to assign her to a job outside the bank to avoid a conflict of interest.

While his backers in the White House have come to his defense, large shareholders like Britain, Germany and France question whether he still has the credibility to lead the bank, which spends about $25 billion a year on projects to fight poverty in developing countries.

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The Spin, I’m In!

by Suzie-Q @ 8:25 PM MDT

The Corrs & Bono – When the Stars Go Blue

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THE ARCHITECTS OF WAR: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

by Suzie-Q @ 3:56 PM MDT

Think Progress

President Bush has not fired any of the architects of the Iraq war. In fact, a review of the key planners of the conflict reveals that they have been rewarded — not blamed — for their incompetence.

Key Quote: “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” [Bush, 10/7/02]

More Here

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Scooter…Who?

by Suzie-Q @ 3:01 PM MDT


Coffee, Tea, or Treason, Mr. President?
© 2007 Stephen Pitt

HuffPo

In the nearly six weeks since his close friend and former chief of staff was convicted of lying and obstructing an investigation, Vice President
Dick Cheney has not once spoken to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Why?

“Well, there hasn’t been occasion to do so,” Cheney said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Read the entire article here.

Video

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A Little Something from my Neck of the Woods

posted by anthony @ 21:52 BST

Just in case you were beginning to think that the US of A is the only country in the world that is governed by a bunch of complete arseholes, here’s a little something to reassure you that you’re not the only ones in your predicament.

A Little background: Gordon Brown, the man in the photo, and current Chancellor of the Exchequor (that’s like Finance Minister, except that America doesn’t really have one, since it’s given power over its money to a private institution called the Federal Reserve), assumed he was John Smith’s successor.

John Smith was the previous leader of the Labour Party which Blair now heads.

When Smith died of a heart attack, Blair and Brown both stood as candidates for the succession. Allegedly, Blair (who was then known as Bambi because he was cute and cuddly), did a deal with Brown in a restaurant in Islington (posh part of London), whereby Brown would support Blair’s leadership bid, but that Blair would stand down at some point to make way for a Brown Premiership.

Blair never did so, and this has been a sore point between the two ever since.

Here’s a story on how Brown lost the country, my country, 2 billion quid.

BTW, before you start to crow, have you ever wondered why Fort Knox is so closely guarded. Is it to make sure nobody steals the gold? Or is it to make sure that nobody gets inside to find that the American People’s gold has been sold by the banksters and there’s nothing left?

By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
The Independent
Published: 15 April 2007

Gordon Brown was accused last night of disregarding advice from the Bank of England before he sold more than half the country’s gold reserves at a time when the market was at a 20-year low.

Bank officials had misgivings about Mr Brown’s decision to sell 400 tons of bullion in a series of auctions between 1999 and 2002, according to The Sunday Times.

The decision cost the taxpayer around £2bn because, since then, the price of gold has almost trebled. At a meeting with senior gold traders, Bank officials were warned the sale would achieve a poor price. The Bank said the decision to sell the gold was taken by the Treasury.

The Treasury said last night the Bank “recommended auction as the best method to achieve… fairness and value for money”.

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Domenici Sought Iglesias Ouster

by Suzie-Q @ 11:10 AM MDT

© 2007 Stephen Pitt

ABQ Journal

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired after Sen. Pete Domenici, who had been unhappy with Iglesias for some time, made a personal appeal to the White House, the Journal has learned.

Domenici had complained about Iglesias before, at one point going to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before taking his request to the president as a last resort.

The senior senator from New Mexico had listened to criticism of Iglesias going back to 2003 from sources ranging from law enforcement officials to Republican Party activists.

Domenici, who submitted Iglesias’ name for the job and guided him through the confirmation process in 2001, had tried at various times to get more white-collar crime help for the U.S. Attorney’s Office— even if Iglesias didn’t want it.

At one point, the six-term Republican senator tried to get Iglesias moved to a Justice Department post in Washington, D.C., but Iglesias told Justice officials he wasn’t interested.

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Gonzales Changes Story

by Suzie-Q @ 9:50 AM MDT

Raw Story

Gonzales is set to give his testimony on the matter before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, where the attorney general promised that he is “committed to explaining my role in this process and will do so.”

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argued Sunday he did nothing improper in firing eight federal prosecutors, despite charges the attorneys had been let go for political reasons.

“I know that I did not — and would not — ask for the resignation of any US attorney for an improper reason,” Gonzales wrote in The Washington Post Sunday.

“Furthermore, I have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a US attorney for an improper reason,” he continued.

Gonzales backtracked from earlier statements that he was uninvolved in the process of firing US attorneys.

“While I have never sought to deceive Congress or the American people, I also know that I created confusion with some of my recent statements about my role in this matter,” he wrote. “To be clear: I directed my then-deputy chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to initiate this process; fully knew that it was occurring; and approved the final recommendations. Sampson periodically updated me on the review. As I recall, his updates were brief, relatively few in number and focused primarily on the review process.”

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Peace Be With You, Kurt Vonnegut

posted by anthony @ 17:40

By Harvey Wasserman
OpEdNews
April 15, 2007 at 08:31:32

As the media fills with whimsical good-byes to one of America’s greatest writers, lets not forget one of the great engines driving this wonderful man-he HATED war. Including this one in Iraq. And he had utter contempt for the men who brought it about.

“Can I speak frankly?” he asked Professor Manuel Luis Martinez, the poet and writing teacher who would “interview” him. “The only difference between George W. Bush and Adolph Hitler is that Hitler was actually elected.”

Holding up a book about Ohio 2004, he said: “You all know, of course, that the election was stolen. Right here.”

Allen L. Roland adds:

As I scanned the obituaries regarding the death of Kurt Vonnegut ~ I was looking for the one that would capture the true essence of this unique man, the one that would capture his spirit and vitality that was, quite literally, a force of nature. Who else but Vonnegut could write ~ “If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: ‘ The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.’ I found it ~ enjoy !

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posted by anthony @ 17:12 BST

By Marc McDonald
OpEdNews
April 15, 2007 at 08:33:47

Let’s say your wealth puts you in the top 1/100th of 1 percent of all Americans. The tax burden for these super-rich people has been steadily falling for years. In 1993, they paid 30 cents of every dollar into federal income tax. In 2000, that had fallen to 22 cents. Now, with the Bush tax cuts, it has fallen to 18 cents. And if you’re wealthy, your odds of a tax audit actually decrease these days.

Every night, in my room in the YMCA just off Central Park South West, during my visit to America in the summer of 2004, I watched the Democrat National Convention which was taking place in Boston at that time. I remember several of the addresses, including those delivered by Edward Kennedy, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. Especially memorable was this part of Bill Clinton’s address:

At home — at home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in. For the first time when America was on a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

Now, I’m in that group for the first time in my life. And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me. But soon as I got out and made money, I began part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I — I never thought I’d be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress.

I, uh, — I almost sent them a thank-you note for my tax cuts — until I realized that the rest of you were paying for the bill for it, and then I thought better of it.

Now, look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs, while withholding promised funding for the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind. While they chose to protect my tax cut, while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job-training programs, a hundred thousand working families out of their child-care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school learning, going to college and having a good life.

They chose — they chose to protect my tax cuts while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans, and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.

Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans. And most of us, all most all of us, from Republicans to Independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part too, but all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts.

Click here to read, hear, and see Clinton’s address.

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Worth a Closer Look?

posted by anthony @ 14:18 BST

by kos
Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 11:56:27 AM PDT

Richardson would completely exit Iraq. The others wouldn’t.

Bill Richardson:

if I were President today, I would withdraw American troops by the end of this calendar year. I would have no residual force whatsoever.

Richardson, in just the last couple of months, has brokered landmark deals in Darfur and North Korea — efforts that had stymied the Bush Administration through two terms. There is no one in American politics today more respected and accomplished on foreign policy than Bill Richardson.

Compare this to Hillary Clinton, who talks about “ending the war”, yet the fine print of her plan shows she’d keep up to 75,000 American troops in Iraq.

Compare this to Barack Obama, who would still leave an undisclosed number of troops in Iraq:

The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces.

Compare this to John Edwards:

Edwards believes that sufficient forces should remain in the region, working in concert with the international community, to ensure that instability in Iraq does not spillover and create a regional war, a terrorist haven, or spark a genocide.

Of all the top candidates, Richardson is the only candidate who currently advocates a complete withdrawal from Iraq. That he’s also the sharpest mind on foreign policy issues isn’t a coincidence.

Update: The Edwards campaign emailed me to explain/clarify their position:

When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period. But we’re also being honest. If John Edwards is president, we’re not going to leave the American Embassy in Iraq as the only undefended embassy in the world, for example. There will be Marine guards there, just like there are at our embassies in London, Riyadh, and Tokyo. And just the same, if American civilians are providing humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, we’re going to protect them. How in good conscience could we refuse to protect them and then allow humanitarian workers to be at risk for their lives or the work not to happen at all? Finally, it’s also Senator Edwards’ position that we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide. But in the region means in the region – for example, existing bases like Kuwait, naval presence in the Persian Gulf, and so forth. I hope this helps explain Senator Edwards’ position. Thanks for standing up for what we all believe in.

See Jon Stewart interview Bill Richardson on the Daily Show.

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