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Archive for March 11th, 2011

Think Progress- By George Zornick at 12:55 pm

Shortly before signing the controversial bill that ends collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker appeared on Morning Joe today to lambaste the pernicious influence of “union bosses” and “outside money” on the debate in Wisconsin. Watch it:

It’s reasonable to expect national union leaders to be interested in “the largest assault on collective bargaining in recent memory.” Moreover, it is highly ironic for Walker to complain of supposedly shady outside interests.

Over two weeks after receiving a request from One Wisconsin Now, Walker’s administration has refused to release details of its contacts with lobbyists from Koch Industries, run by billionaire arch-conservatives Charles and David Koch. The group requested “all email and written communications between Koch Industries’ lead Wisconsin lobbyist and the office of Gov. Scott Walker and the Department of Administration,” but has not yet received the information.

Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Walker’s election campaign. Americans for Prosperity, a group created and financed by the Koch brothers, has organized rallies in Wisconsin, and “[e]ven before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.” Apparently Walker isn’t troubled by “outside money” when it comes from rich conservatives with a purely ideological agenda.

SOURCE

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My guess is that Helen could be Phoenician, a heritage that goes back thousands of years. In recent studies, dna samples indicated that one third of the Lebanese have the genetic signature of the Phoenicians.

I was fortunate enough to meet a Phoenician when I was in Beirut in 1965. We sit in a coffee house for hours as he explained his heritage. He told me that Beirut was sitting on Phoenician ruins going back to ancient times and all about it being the center of trade for the Mediterranean Sea.

I spent some time on Google this morning, and found Phoenicia.org, which re-enforces what he was telling me back then, but here I am, off subject as usual, so will close with a question. What color are Helens eyes? G%

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David H. Koch in 1996. He and his brother Charles are lifelong libertarians and have quietly given more than a hundred million dollars to right-wing causes.

Suzie’s Note: This article is from last August but definitely worth repeating.

Covert Operations

The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

The New Yorker- by Jane Mayer August 30, 2010

On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.

One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

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Japan Earthquake 2011: 8.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits, 13-Foot Tsunami Triggered

AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 03/11/11 04:54 AM Updated: 03/11/11 12:00 PM

TOKYO — A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan’s eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control.

Hours later, the tsunami hit Hawaii and warnings blanketed the Pacific, putting areas on alert as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast. In Japan, the area around a nuclear power plant in the northeast was evacuated after the reactor’s cooling system failed.

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Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture (state) closest to the quake’s epicenter. Another 88 were confirmed killed and at least 349 were missing. The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scale of the disaster.

The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.

Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, burned furiously into the night with no apparent hope of the flames being extinguished, public broadcaster NHK said.

“The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.

MORE HERE

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AlterNet- Posted by Robert Greenwald at 11:49 am
March 10, 2011
Today Brave New Foundation announces our latest campaign. A campaign where we will take on one of the single greatest threats to our democracy: The Koch Brothers.

With Outfoxed, we exposed the unbalanced propaganda that is Fox News.

With Wal-Mart we uncovered the damage done to our country by the high cost of low prices.

We exposed the war profiteering in Iraq For Sale, and we were on the frontline of questioning what we are doing, and doing wrong, in Rethink Afghanistan.

We fought against insurance company greed in the battle for health care with Sick for Profit.

We halted the history channel from smearing President Kennedy.

And now we aim our focus at the Koch brothers.

With a net worth of 43 Billion the Kochs have already spent decades of their lives and over 324 Million of their wealth exerting their influence. The Kochs accomplish their goals by funding a massive array of right wing front groups, think tanks and tea party efforts. They largely operate outside of the public eye, and target their funding to infiltrate public opinion, the media, judicial decisions and legislation. Over three dozen organizations are funded by the brothers, and they spend additional money lobbying and backing conservative candidates. Everything the Kochs do is to fight for a country free from protections and any degree of a social safety net for working Americans.

You might recognize names of some of the organizations that the Koch brothers fund. Americans for Prosperity is their Tea Party effort. They fund the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Institute for Justice, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and many many more. Through their massive funding efforts, they have fought against health care and are fighting against protecting social security, as well as fighting efforts to halt climate change, and fighting against LGBT rights, Immigration rights, unemployment insurance, environmental protections, the rights of unions to organize and educational opportunity, just to name a few areas they focus on.

When we started our research four months ago – inspired by Jane Mayer’s brilliant New Yorker article and Lee Fang’s great investigative work at ThinkProgress – we thought that a big part of our job was to bring attention to the Koch brothers. Boy have things changed over those months!

MORE HERE

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Billionaires List: Koch Brothers, Right Wing Bankrollers

Forbes- Clare O’Connor

Mar. 10 2011 – 2:41 pm |

As well as ranking the rich by net worth on this year’s Forbes Billionaires List, we looked at the moguls making the most social impact beyond their wealth. Of course, if you’re looking to save the oceans, explore space or build schools, it helps to be loaded — but we’re looking at the billionaires setting the agenda outside of their respective businesses.

In the U.S., look no further than the country’s richest brothers, oil heirs Charles and David Koch, tied for #18 on the Billionaires List.

The Koch brothers — America’s wealthiest industrialists — had a direct hand in the resurgence of the right during November’s midterm elections. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative nonprofit that David founded, spent $45 million bankrolling right-wing candidates, many of them Tea Partiers. AFP outspent the Democratic Governors Association by more than three to one. That same election cycle,  Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hills Resources contributed $1 million to California’s failed Proposition 23, that ballot that would have killed legislation cutting back greenhouse gas emissions.

Weeks later the billionaire brothers convened their secretive biannual retreat of rich, influential Republican donors at a resort in Palm Springs; Forbes 4oo power players Rich DeVos, Ken Langone and Diane Hendricks all reportedly attended to strategize for the 2012 elections. Waiting for them: a thousand protesters (Greenpeace flew a blimp over the rally, its banner reading “Koch Brothers: Dirty Money”).

Their tremendous spending power and influence — dubbed “the Kochtopus” by some media — gained further unwanted attention in February after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was pranked by a blogger posing as David. When the fake Koch offered to fly the governor to California to thank him for his union-crushing efforts, Walker jumped at the chance.

MORE HERE

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