May 1, 2010
AABR Business Bulletin (Vol. 118/No. 235)
. Thousands of conservative tea partiers streamed into WDC 4/15 to protest the Obama administration policies
and denounce what they regard as excessive taxation and government spending. They‘re either misinformed or
dumb or racist, doing this because they think they‘re smarter than blacks They said they are outraged because
BHO is trying to ―redistribute the wealth (is poverty a crime?), offshore US jobs (large US companies do this to
fatten their bottom line and give fat compensation and bonuses to senior personnel, and spend his way to
prosperity (this president has given much more to charity than GWB/Cheney combined).
. Taxes this year are lower for many businesses, the second lowest since 1955, contrary to the GOP hell-raising
rhetoric. The people whom they vilify as doing nothing are the unemployed who depend on day-to-day work at
whatever amount they can earn because they have a limited education, are unskilled, poor, and in many cases are
people of color. In today‘s economy, when not even an Ivy League diploma is ticket to a good job, these people
have no chance in Hades. It’s unfair to describe them as sitting on their butts. They are not responsible for
bankrupting America. It is the buddies of many tea party activists on Wall Street who are to blame and who
receive the bailout. The demonstration should have been held on Wall Street. Besides these tea partiers have
never voted for BHO and never will!
. The ―solid‖ GOP stance against the administration‘s proposals is breaking apart. The extension of
unemployment benefits will cost an additional $9 billion. Any GOP opposition is the height of hypocrisy when
the same party voted for tax cut galore and funding for two wars they started and the $700 billion bank bailout..
Their opposition to the financial regulatory reform is also breaking down.
. Now that the healthcare bill is law, it‘s vital that we amend it to expand the covered therapies to emphasize diet,
exercise, stress reduction, botanical medicines, biofeedback and other safe, low-cost interventions with proven
worth. These are invaluable to alleviate rampant, chronic diseases that compliment treatment by conventional
. CA owes a debt of gratitude to Alicia Lewis and Ashli Biggs, students at CSU-Stanislaus for bringing to light
Sarah Palin‘s contract to speak at the university. These 2 young students are to be commended for their civic-
mindedness and citizenship. They were going through the garbage and found Sarah Palin—no surprise there!
. There‘s got to be a better use for the $100k the foundation intends to pay for her appearance. Forget about the
speeches. For a fraction of the cost, they could have gotten Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter. Beware of the
loudmouthed female charlatan. She is not interested in being in politics, but the power it brings. Power means
control. Being president means sharing that power. Her behavior shows that she is more interested to be a dictator
where she garners all the attention. She will stop at nothing to get it, no matter how many get hurt. She knows
how to fool the people and work the system.
. She is an idiot—no argument there! Just because some people think she‘s a well-educated woman doesn‘t
make it true. Heck, No talent hacks have been getting idiots to throw away money for hundreds of years. The
foundation is bringing Palin (and her husband) to raise money for the university and they will succeed. All the
$500 per-plate tix! But one must question the judgment of the president of CSUS and the wisdom of creating this
shit-storm. The money they earn will never pay for the tarnished image of the school.
. The over-hyped Tea Party phenomenon is more about symbolism and screaming than anything else. A
―movement‖ that encompasses gun nuts, tax protesters, devotees of the gold standards, Sarah Palin, insurance
company lobbyists, ―constitutionalists,‖ who have not read the Constitution, Medicare recipients who oppose
government –run healthcare, crazy ―birthers‖ who claim Pres. Obama was born in another country, a contingent
of outright racists (come one, people, let’s be real) and a bunch of fat cat politicians pretending to be ―outsiders‖
is not a coherent intellectual or political force. (Eugene Robinson)
. The gun-toting protesters who came to Northern Virginia in camouflage and ammunition vest, carrying AK-47s
slung over their shoulders and pistols in their hip holsters on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing
were parroting the usual stupid diatribe of ―being in the end of times,‖ ―Obama is the anti-Christ,‖ etc. The
demonstration was a flop. Fewer people than expected showed up.
. MS Gov. Haley Barbour (his ignorance is gross) and VA Gov. Bob McDonnell (he apologized) are a disgrace to
this nation and their states for their insensitivity and stupidity in declaring April ―Confederate History Month,‖
and reopening the wounds of the past to honor the Confederate soldiers who fought to protect a system
responsible for vile practices, such as state-auctioned kidnapping, torture and rape.
. Wall Street is where it is today because of the blood of slaves. Its rise as a financial center revolves around
the cotton trade which could not have functioned without slavery. This revisionist version of the Civil War by
Barbour and McDonnnell is a slap in the face to the average American. The ―lost cause‖ die-hards insist that the
reason was a fight over rebellion, freedom of the Constitution or states‘ rights. But the ―right that was being
fought over was the ability to own human beings, compel their labor, buy & sell them as if they were livestock,
exploit them sexually and torture or kill them if they tried to escape. (Eugene Robinson)
. ―Lies, damned lies and statistics‖ is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of
statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that will support their
position. On Fox radio, there are no facts, only disparagement, ignorance and anger.
. Is Dick Cheney blind, stupid and/or unpatriotic? If anything is unpatriotic, it is the macho rattling of the saber
from the conservative chair-borne brigades for which 5-deferment Cheney is the chief spokesman, paints a bull‘s
eye on America‘s back.
. Conducting a war against terrorists merely makes them warriors instead of criminals and causes more money
and fighters to flock to the jihad. Using a lighter touch—intelligence, law enforcement and maybe even a rare
military strike now and then to counter terrorism will at least be less likely to make the problem worse. After all,
what is wimpy about calling mass murder what it is—an evil crime?
. Cheney wants us to close our eyes to his own administration‘s abysmal record on the subject—ignoring
warnings and failing to prevent the most deadly foreign attack on American soil in US history, failing to prevent
the similar shoe bomber‘s attempt to bring down an aircraft and using 9/11 to launch invasions on Muslim
countries that led to an increase in terrorist attacks worldwide—and tries to make us believe that Republicans are
better in countering terrorism than the Democrats just because they are Republicans. (Evan Eland, L.A.
. The recent mine explosion in WV which killed 29 miners has worsened the uncomfortable spotlight on three
legislators (Rep. Nick Rahall, Senators John D. Rockefeller III and Robert Byrd). Byrd has become an unlikely
critic of the industry. Rockefeller has learned hard lessons about challenging coal. He has asked for patience
(coward). Rahall is facing a possible reelection fight against a close industry ally.
. Gov. Charlie Crist of FL is considering an independent FL Senate bid despite growing pressure from top
Republicans to drop out of the race if he thinks he couldn‘t win a GOP primary.
. Does AIPAC expect to revise history and close their eyes to the Jewish major mistakes in the past (1933) when
they declared economic boycott on Nazi Germany. They are repeating the mistakes of their forebears: American
Jewish Congress. The result was almost their total extermination in Europe. To a certain extent the holocaust
religion signals the Jewish departure from monotheism.
. In every Jew is a potential little god or goddess. Gilad Shalit is the god of innocence, Abe Foreman is the god
―anti-Semitism,‖ Maddoff is the god of swindling, Greenspan is the god of ―good economy,‖ Lord Goldsmith is
the god of the ―green light,‖ Lord Levey is the god of fundraising, Wolfowitz is the god of the new ―American
expansionism, and AIPAC is the American Olympus where American-elected human beings come to ask for
mercy and forgiveness for being Goyim and for daring to occasionally tell the truth about Israel.
. The vast majority of those who consider themselves Jews today are of non-Semitic origin. They are of Turkic
central Asian origin which settled to the north of the Caspian Sea and are known as Khazari Jews. The king of the
Khazars learned the Torah with the assistance of Jewish preacher Isaac Sangari, whose existence has recently
been verified (by the discovery of poems authored by Sangari in the Firkovitch collection of manuscripts). In the
9th century, the Khazarian kings and nobles officially converted to Judaism; so how could they be considered of
Semitic origin? Are Jews, with a few others, could only be considered as Semitic?
. Talk is cheap! Israel is beating the drums of war that it will attack Iran by November if the US doesn‘t impose
economic sanctions that will satisfy them. We should stand up to these warmongers who actually want American
men and women to fight their war for them. The talk of their invincibility is all talk and nothing but empty talk,
and now Iran is calling their bluff. They think that by making a preemptive attack against Iran, we will be there to
rescue them because they are our only reliable ally in the Middle East. It’s time to call their bluff.
. We must resist their criticism of America and the BHO administration as being soft on Iran. We have been
used for so long and we are now smarter and wiser when it comes to Israeli ploy and machination without being
anti-Semitic. This rhetoric has been uttered repeatedly throughout the years that unless we jump at their
command, we are sending them to the slaughter. Let‘s throw back at them their standard line: Never again!
. The number of employees in the industrial and construction sectors of Gaza has fallen from over 53k in 2007 to
fewer than 3k today. According to the most recent report from the World Bank and PalTrade, 70% of industrial
establishments are closed; 20% are operating at 10% capacity, and only 10% are working at 20% to 50% capacity.
The Israelis want to annihilate them by starving them.
. All but $60 million of the $540 million in planned expenditures for 2010 will be financed from foreign aid
(from Iran and sympathizers in the Gulf) to survive. The embargo has resulted in serious malnutrition. They have
resorted to mud bricks for housing when it is unable to obtain Israel‘s permission to import appropriate building
materials for the 4,000-plus homes that were damaged or destroyed during Operation Cast Lead. The tunnel from
Rafah to Egypt is their only lifeline to the outside world.
. The Iceland volcanic eruption paralyzed London and Paris and spread to Hong Kong and Tokyo, to Nairobi and
Buenos Aires, and to New York and both of the Washington area international airports. It was one of the most
bizarre acts of nature ever to constrict world travel, grounding thousands of international passengers.
. Greece is on the edge of default as talks continue on a $50 billion rescue package from the International
Monetary Fund and the European Union that is contingent on Athens taking further austerity measures. The
Greek debt crisis is weakening the euro and sending ominous ripples across a stagnant European economy.
. The economic crisis in Greece has pushed the IMF and EU leaders into sometimes tense talks over how
deeply an agency associated with propping up developing countries should push into one of the developed
world‘s major economic zones—negotiations that could shape future European economic policy.
. A leading credit agency lowered Greece‘s rating to junk status, dealing a blow to an international rescue plan for
the country and hammering US and European stock markets. The junk rating (unusual for a developed nation),
deepened fears about big fiscal deficits and debt burdens elsewhere would threaten economic recovery in Europe.
Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic tumbled about 2% or more after the downgrade by S&P.
. Belgium passed a nationwide law prohibiting women for wearing full-face Islamic veils in public places, the
first move of its kind in Western Europe. Nothing has aroused more resentment than the right of women on the
streets of European cities covered from head to toe in dark robes with only a slit or a screen at eye level. Despite
the consternation, women having the veils are seen infrequently even in suburbs with heavy Muslim population.
. The full veil has been condemned by politicians of the right and left as an affront to the dignity of women and
a security risk in schools, banks and government offices. In France, it was described as the tip of the iceberg
behind which lurk radical Islamic preachers seeking to impose a fundamentalist and politicized vision of their
religion on French Muslims.
. In a new book, A Captain‘s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea, Richard Philips,
then captain of the Maersk, was faulted by some members of the crew for taking the ship into private-infested
waters and then failing to secure the ship. They do not consider him a hero, but a villain.
. Recent data released from the National Cancer Institute confirms that San Francisco has the highest rate
of liver cancer in the nation. It is the gateway for immigrants from Asia where there is a high prevalence
of hepatitis B. SF Hep B is a unique collaboration of over 50 private and public organizations whose goal
is to turn SF into the first hepatitis B-free city nationwide.
. Gonorrhea may become untreatable as the improper use of antibiotics reduces the body‘s ability to clear
the sexually transmitted infection, the World Health Organization said.
II. Private Sector
. We have been devoting far too large a share of our wealth, far too much of the nation‘s talent to the business of
devising and peddling complex financial schemes—schemes that have a tendency to blow up the economy.
. Since the recession began, we‘ve lost over 2 million manufacturing jobs that have traditionally delivered
American families into the middle-class and kept them there. And not much is said of this in Washington. Neither
the way that this useful sector of the economy is being replaced by the useless section of our economy! The
numbers don‘t lie: The share of our economy making things is shrinking while the share devoted to valuing, made
up chips and credit swap derivatives is expanding.
. It‘s not just manufacturing jobs that are disappearing. Hundreds of thousands of well-paying, white-collar
jobs are also now being shipped overseas. (Arianna Huffington)
. What is a derivative? It‘s a contract between two parties in which money changes hands based on some other
market condition, such as interest rates or stock prices of value of a currency. They are called derivates because
their value is derived from something else.
. Many derivates are traded on market exchanges which function with few problems through the financial
crisis. Things get more complicated with ―over the counter derivatives, which are traded through private
intermediaries, often including a Wall Street firm. These include ―credit-default swaps‖ which allow an investor
to buy protection against losses if a bond goes bad.
. Over-the-counter derivatives worldwide were worth about $25 trillion in 2009, about half the value of the
world‘s stock market, the Bank for International Settlements estimates. The ―national value‖ of these derivatives
is astronomical, totaling $604 trillion or about 10x the annual economic output of planet Earth.
. These derivatives are a significant contributor to the financial panic that swept the world in 2008, partly
because of lack of transparency. A firm that bought a credit-default swap to protect itself against losses on bonds
was only as safe as the company it bought the swap from. (Neil Irwin, WP)
. Banks were not the only ones giving bonuses in the boon years before the worst financial crisis in generations.
The government which has been lending out millions of dollars to bank regulators was rewarding ―superior‖ work
even as an avalanche of risky mortgage helped create the meltdown.
. If the US is to sell more abroad and borrow less, countries with trade surpluses, e.g., Germany and China, will
have to spend more, buy more, save less and export less. That is the only way to reduce the dangerous and
unsustainable imbalances in the global system that the G-20 governments, representing the leading economies in
the world, agreed was essential to recovery.
. Only China and Germany clearly haven‘t got the message. The Chinese continue to manipulate their
currency, now starkly undervalued against the dollar. This is a centerpiece of a comprehensive mercantilist policy
to grow by dominating export markets. Germany, the world‘s second greatest surplus country, continues to
restrain demand at home, while subsidizing its high end export engines. (Robert L. Borosage)
. A growing number of American businesses feel unwelcome in China because of what they see as discriminatory
government policies and inconsistent legal treatment. The fact is the US does not need to do business in China.
The market is growing and we should seriously consider bypassing the Chinese market.
. China‘s frenzied real estate market is starting to turn optimists into pessimists who say this sector could be
the next big economic bust. The fear is that a collapse of China‘s property market could slow down global
recovery by rocking the stock market and sinking consumer confidence around the world. It also could sharply
reduce China‘ demand for US exports, slowing the growth in the American economy.
. The US Chamber of Commerce (not the local chapters) has become a despicable organization. It is the nation‘s
richest corporate lobby with a far-reaching right-wing, anti-consumer, partisan political agenda. Its activities this
year includes: blocking health insurance, and financial reform, petitions/lawsuits against EPA, opposing Sen. Al
Franken‘s defense appropriations amendment that says those who serve as contractors in Iraq and get brutally
drugged and raped by their co-workers ought to be able to seek legal recourse for their injuries. They are starting
to force movie audiences to watch commercials to convince them that the biggest problem facing the economy
today is not the economy, unemployment, two wars (need to go on?), but lawsuits by the average working
families, especially the ones against corporations that hurt and poison people. (Joanne Doroshow, Center for
Justice and Democracy)
. Representatives of Goldman Sachs at a Congressional hearing, the Fabulous Four (Fabrice Tourre, Joshua
Birnbaum, Daniel Sparks, Michael Swenson)—small talking, impeccably dressed, tutored by its army of high-
priced lawyer, made clear there was no such thing as a bad deal or scrappy security, only mis-priced risks. Nor
were there winners or losers, only willing buyers and sellers! Concepts such as fairness, loyalty, shame, and greed
simply had no meaning on Wall Street. They asserted their lack of blame for the bursting of the bubble they
. When the head honcho (Lloyd Blankfein) followed the humiliated arrogant four who frustrated the senators
with their responses after 5 hours of talking past each other, everyone simply gave up. When he was ushered in,
the results were largely the same and the issues were never really joined, the conflicting mismanagement never
resolved, the full story never told.
. The hearing highlighted two big fallacies: 1) having the ability to hedge markets and positions on everything
from copper prices and asset-backed securities is unquestionably good for the economy. From the hearings we
learn that the scam with which Goldman can hedge against losses from esoteric financial instruments can make an
investment bank rather sloppy about the securities it underwrites and distributes or for which it serves as a market
2) Investment banks that underwrite securities are actually standing behind them. Today, Goldman has fully
monetized the value of its reputation, and anyone who pays such a premium is a fool. (Steve Pearlstein, WP)
. Goldman is assembling a team of veteran lobbyists, well-connected former Hill staffers and top public relations
strategists to confront what is arguably the most traumatic movement in its 140-year history.
. Banks and other financial institutions will still be tightly-run aggressive organizations that can develop and sell
complicated and risky new products in a heartbeat. But the agencies tasked with their oversight will be
complicated and slow, encumbered by hard-to-follow rules and divided lines of authority.
. When BHO asked a group of various executives for suggestions in streamlining government, it‘s unlikely that
any of them suggested layers of new bureaucracy, vague marching orders, or management by committee. Yet Sen.
Dodd‘s compromise financial reform proposal does all these things. It‘s no mystery that money has become a key
factor in American politics. Until now it‘s been difficult to show voters just how closely politicians hew to the
interests of their political patrons and campaign donors.
. Thousands of union workers, students and unemployed New Yorkers, angry over high unemployment, reckless
financial industry practices and billion-dollar bailouts gathered to march on Wall Street, the primary focus of their
anger. They also aired their frustration at lobbyists and lawmakers in Washington, where the Senate is debating on
the regulatory overhaul bill.
. Limiting any inquiry to Lehman alone is inadequate. To start, here are a few simple questions: 1) To the Fed—
Where were you? Did you know what Repo 105 was? You claim that you were not the regulator but acknow-
ledges that you were on site for 6 months before Lehman‘s failure to make more. You would be repaid on your
exposures, so wouldn‘t deceptive accounting have reduced your faith in your ability to collect on your expenses?
2) To the SEC--What are you doing to ensure that other banks and investment banks are not using similar
techniques to manipulate their books?
3) To federal investigators—where are the subpoenas?
4) To the remaining post-Arthur Anderson audit firms—have you signed off on any client transactions whose
primary purpose was not driven by economic business decisions but rather to change the appearance of assets or
liabilities? Are you aware of any of your client firms using any mechanism to optically reduce the appearance of
leverage while actually retaining the risk?
5) To the investment banks and banks—Did you use Repo 105 or any other accounting practices, such as the end-
of-quarter parking of assets at unconsolidated but related hedge funds or total reform swaps for the primary
purpose of shifting income?
6) To shareholders—shouldn‘t you demand to know if the firms in your portfolio have used deceptive accounting
7) To Congress—you have the authority to demand answers from virtually all of these entities, and especially the
Fed, the SEC and the auditors. What are you waiting for? Why have you now already sought all the email traffic
between the Fed, Treasury and Lehman, and as we have argued elsewhere, AIG and the Fed?
. In the banking world, there are generally four types of risks: liquidity risk, credit risk, operational risk and
risk to reputation. Of the four, only risk-to-reputation failures threaten the entire value of the business and its
goodwill. If our questions remain unanswered, the entire financial system will remain dangerously exposed. (Eliot
Spitzer and Joshua Rosner)
. MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan Web site, hopes to change that. The site uses 3 data sets to illustrate money‘s
influence over elected officials: campaign contributions, voting records and the supporting and opposing interests
of a bill.
. To show how it works, Dylan Ratigan used MAPLight.org to research Ron Paul‘s ―Audit the Federal Bill.‖ It
showed that ―banks and other financial institutions donated $97.7 million to oppose Paul‘s bill. That figure was
more than 250x larger than the $37k donated by supporters of the bill. It has only been around since 2008, but
new tools allow users to dig down deeper for a more detailed look at the links between Congressional votes and
. London‘s Financial Services Authority and Germany‘s BaFin regulatory agency are coordinating with SEC‘s
investigation of Goldman Sach‘s sale of an investment that SEC charges, was structured to fail. The Royal Bank
of Scotland lost an estimated $850 million and Dusseldorf-based IKB Deutsche Industriebank lost more than $100
million on mortgage-related securities set up by Goldman.
. Lehman Brothers hid the degree of its indebtedness by shifting money around right before the end of each
quarter, according to a bankruptcy examiner‘s report. The transactions were known as ―Repo 105‖ and allowed
Lehman to move $50 billion off the balance sheet that it released to the public.
. Among many financial executives, there is little love lost for the powerful Goldman Sachs, which has been at the
center of controversy over such things as handling sub-prime mortgages, trading oil futures and engineering,
Greek currency transmissions. Many rival traders and fund managers say Goldman frequently bets against the
very securities it is promoting to customers.
. More people lost their homes to foreclosure during Q1 of this year as banks worked through a backlog of
troubled borrowers and repossessed more properties, according to data from Realty Trac. (Renae Merle, WP)
. About 2/3 of Americans supported stricter regulations on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct
their business, according to WP-ABC News poll. Majorities also bucked two main components of the pending
Senate bill, greater federal oversight of consumer loans, and a proposed fund paid for by the financial industry
that could go toward dismantling failed firms that put the broader economy at risk.
. Arizona‘s immigration law is appalling. It is racist, arbitrary, small-minded, oppressive, full of hate , unjust,
outrageous and unconstitutional (usurping federal role); local police is now forced to fulfill a federal
responsibility. It requires legal immigrants to carry papers proving they have a right to be in the US. Those
without documentation can be charged with trespassing and jailed for up to six months.
. Where is the TPM? Isn‘t the whole premise of the movement to counteract the overreaching government that
poses a grave threat to individual freedom? Or, is TPM really binding behind the veneer of individual freedom
against the bully government but holds an exemption when the victims are people of brown skin and Spanish-
. It is only fair for AZ to recognize this problem and seek a solution to it. But the new immigration is no
solution at all. It demeans Latinos and makes them inferior human beings and puts legal residents on a pedestal as
targets for capricious harassment. It‘s horrible and ought to be thrown out.
. Supporters of the new AZ law on illegal immigrants view it as a common sense tactic to drive away some of the
state‘s estimated 450k illegals and later others from coming. Opponents foresee harassment, racial profiling and
fear. The police find themselves in the middle. This law will be nullified before the end of May when it starts to
affect the state adversely from the economic perspective when tourists, visitors, investors & conference attendees
avoid/bypass the pariah state. It doesn‘t even mention lawsuits against the state for this unconstitutional law.
. Mexican officials reacted with swift and near-universal condemnation warning that the law would harm trade,
tourism and bilateral relations. The US-Mexico border is the busiest in the world, with approximately 350 million
crossing each year. Daily two-way movement of goods amounts to about $1 billion, according to the US Dept. of
. Illegal immigrants contribute to both US and Mexican economies. The growth and prosperity of the US
would not be possible without the contributions of Mexican workers. Mexicans working abroad sent home last
year more than $20 billion, the country‘s second leading source of foreign capital after all sales.
. There are many municipalities around the world facing a deepening financial crunch from bad investments,
plummeting tax revenue, high debt levels and rampant overspending. In the US, at least six states have budget
gaps bigger than Greece‘s with Hawaii shifting to a 4-day school week to cope.
. The problem in our economic mess is that Wall Street doesn‘t understand how Wall Street works. That was
caused the financial crisis. Bankers didn‘t understand the tail risk of collateralized debt obligations. Ratings
agencies didn‘t understand the sub-prime investment market. (Ezra Klein, WP)
. Botched oversight and a turf war between federal bank regulators contributed to the failure of Washington
Mutual in 2008 and fueled a broader unraveling of the Wall Street mortgage market, according to a Senate probe
. The CEO of United Health Group (Stephen Helmsley) reaped almost $100 million for exercising stock option
last year, the company reported. This disclosure comes at a time when executive pay in general and
compensation of health insurance executives in particular have been flash points for the public.
. The pay czar (Kenneth Feinberg) further announced pay cuts at 5 US firms still receiving substantial help
from the federal government, capping their salaries at $500k or less. This ruling affects 119 executives at AIG,
GM, Chrysler, GMAC and Chrysler Financial.
. Karl Rove lashed out at Fox & Friends hosts when they asked him to comment on a tape of Code Pinkers being
arrested at his book-signing in CA, when he slammed his otherwise solicitous co-hosts for even bringing the
matter up. A co-founder of the anti-war group (Jodie Evans) strode across a stage toward Rove with handcuffs
calling him a ―war criminal.‖ She was removed but Rove was scared-shit that he scrapped his appearance after 10
more protesters chimed in.
. More troubles are staring Blackwater/Xe in the face. Its former president (Gary Jackson) was charged with using
―straw purchases‖ (persuade someone to pose as the purchaser) to stockpile automatic weapons at the security
firm and filing false documents as a cover-up.
. Something doesn‘t have to be illegal to be wrong. And almost everything about the Abrams 2007-AC I
―synthetic collateralized debt obligations‖ deal was wrong. The firm not only put its reputation at risk but also, by
its own account, managed to lose money. It wasn‘t just dumb; it was double dumb. (Allan Sloan)
III. Federal Government
. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, businesses have failed, farming prices have dropped, and savings
were wiped out. Senate Democrats believe that the failure that led to the crisis requires bold action. Sen. Dodd,
Chair of the Banking Committee unveiled the comprehensive legislation that will clean up Wall Street and
strengthen Main Street.
. The Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, chaired by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) approved the
Wall Street Transparency & Accountability Act bringing the strongest Wall Street reforms to date a step closer to
reality. Her bill prohibits the Federal Reserve and FDIC from providing any federal funds to bail out Wall Street
firms which engage in risky derivatives.
. Senators Reid and Dodd sent a written response to Sen. GOP Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlining the GOP
caucus outlining GOP intent to protect Wall Street and keep the same rules in place that brought America‘s
economy to the brink of collapse—asking Republicans to stop ―mischaracterizing the legislation and protecting
Wall Street.‖ They reiterated that the Wall Street reform they want to see passed should help create a financial
system that work, for all Americans, not just the sort Wall Street executives that Sen. McConnell recently met with
behind closed doors.
. With the landmark healthcare legislation passed, the rewrite of financial regulations is at the top of BHO‘s
agenda, White House aides say. Increasingly, the president is bringing a sharp political edge to the accelerating
debate. He accused Republicans of trying to carve out special loopholes for the financial sector (which owns
them) in regulatory reform legislation and warned they would soon face a choice: whether to side with an
unpopular industry or with ordinary Americans. You guess it! The Party of No chooses the former.
. What happened to the $50 billion TARP and an additional $20 billion from Fannie and Freddie to help lenders
modify borrowers‘ mortgages by lowering their payments? The CBO‘s recent report said only $31 million has
been spent and now anticipates that only about $20 billion of the TARP would be used.
. Democrats introduced legislation that would sharply limit the ability of foreign-connected companies to
participate in US politics and require greater transparency from corporations, unions and nonprofit groups that
pay for political advertising. The proposal blunts the effects of a Supreme Court ruling in January that permits
companies and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money for or against political candidates.
. The legislation would require CEOs or group leaders to publicly attach their names to ads, much like political
candidates are required to do. It would also mandate disclosure of major donors whose money is used for
―campaign-related activity.‖ It would also require powerful trade groups, such as the US Chamber of Commerce
to identify the companies that fund its political-related spending.
. A Senate panel approved a $3.7 trillion budget blueprint that would reduce projected deficits by trimming
spending unrelated to national defense as it forces lawmakers to cover the cost of popular tax-breaks after 2012,
including Americans that protect millions of middle-class taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax.
. The Senate voted 60 to 34 to proceed on a measure that would extend unemployment insurance, subsidies for
the COBRA health insurance program and federal flood insurance through May 5. Four Republicans—Scott
Brown of MA, Olympia Snowe & Susan Collins of ME and George Voinovich of OH joined the Democrats in
voting to move the bill forward.
. Republicans are being disingenuous in refusing to reform Wall Street, earning another moniker besides the
Party of No as the ―Party of Wall Street.‖ After criticizing the bill as ―perpetuating the bailout on Wall Street‖
they have now come with another rhetoric that the reason for their opposition is that ―the legislation would harm
small businesses.‖ How stupid and misleading when they refuse to even debate the debate. (They have since
recovered their senses by withdrawing their opposition to debate the issue.)
. The better line is that they are beholden to their slave-masters who have paid to own them that they
are prepared to come up with any rhetoric to hide the real reason for their opposition, e.g., Mitch
McConell‘s concern for ―Main Street,‖ Richard Shelby‘s concern for ―government intrusion,‖ Sen.
Brownback‘s concern for an ―overreaching federal government,‖ Ben Nelson‘s concern for ―what it might
do to dentists.‖ All hogwash!
. BHO is reshaping the Fed Reserve governors in line with his vision. The White House made official the new
nominees: 1) Janet Yellen, president of the Fed Reserve in San Francisco, will be the new vice-chairman. She has
long experience as a macroeconomic policymaker. 2) Sarah Bloom Raskin, the commissioner of financial
regulation for MD, is a veteran regulator with particular experience in consumer matters and overseeing banks.
3) Peter Diamond, an economist at MIT, is an expert on retirement programs, taxation and other areas outside of
the Fed‘s responsibilities. He is the unconventional choice.
. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) kept up his line of attack that the financial regulatory bill
mandates a $50 billion ―bailout fund.‖ (a big lie that would assure government involvement in failing financial
firms ―in perpetuity‖ (a bigger lie. Advocates note that the fund in question would be paid by the financial
industry and that it would be used to liquidate troubled firms, not keep them afloat. (This man is not concerned for
the interests of this country but to hide under the veil of being tough on terrorism—hence they are called the
armchair warriors, tax cuts galore, and control of federal spending which they bloated ad infinitum. He asked his
colleagues at the start of the Obama administration to sabotage it because if BHO loses, the GOP wins).
. The Supreme Court unanimously agreed with a federal appeals court‘s decision to allow a class-action
securities lawsuit against Merck over whether it provided enough information to investors who lost millions of
dollars betting on the drug Vioxx about its risks before it was pulled out of the market for doubling the risks of
heart attack, stroke and death. Shareholders have lost a combined ―$28 billion overnight afterwards.‖
. AstraZeneca settled a kickback lawsuit against it by the FDA to pay $520 million that it marketed Seroquel
which the agency approved to remedy mental disorders. AstraZeneca aggressively marketed the drug for
Alzheimer‘s and anxiety disorder to physicians who put patients at risk by prescribing it. DOJ contended that it
made illegal payments to physicians who presented themselves as authors of the Seroquel articles produced by the
. Unlike the acrimony that surrounded the healthcare bill debate which finally passed, both sides are determined to
pass a bank reform bill. Democrats are seeking to close the divide on Wall Street reform. Both sides are eager to
exploit a lingering resentment toward Wall Street in the election-year debate. Democrats have seized on the
attempt to curb reckless investment practices as part of an effort to depict the GOP as out-of-touch with the
concerns of average Americans.
. Republicans, in turn, think voters have even less faith in Washington than in banks and investments houses
(they wish!) that played a central role in the nation‘s economic collapse. They are portraying the Democrats‘
overhaul attempt as a ―bailout‖ (a malicious and deceitful rhetoric) that would cost taxpayers billions (another
. Many Social Security and other federal benefits payments will be made by direct deposit by 2013, Treasury
said. It will eliminate about 136 million paper checks by the Social Security Administration, Department of
Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, and Office of Personnel Management.
. ―Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres!” It behooves Newt Gingrich to remember he is not Speaker
anymore. It was a fluke that he became one and he proved that Republicans failed in governance. Look at who he
associates with these days—groups and individuals who want to pull this country down to embarrass a black
American president. They are a reactionary and anti-government crowd (when it‘s convenient) popularly known
as Tea Partiers.
. BHO was elected overwhelmingly and convincingly in 2008. The American people expect their government
to anticipate and effectively respond to crises, by controlling sky-rocketing healthcare cost, seeking an effective
solution for a looming environmental disaster, saving billions of dollars by handling directly student financial aid
loans, engaging in a cooperative foreign policy and regulating the financial industry. It’s not socialism. It’s good
. Newt is a ―cafeteria‖ loser. He picks and abuses what he wants to talk about, with cynical, exaggerated and
false premises and conclusions. He loves to ―bait & switch‖ the opposition and ―check-mate‖ him. He doesn‘t
bring up government programs, whether it‘s Medicare or federal farm support that would shed light to what is
going on. In brief, he is not an honest leader; he is not different from many of his GOP colleagues.
. Some Democrats are silent on Wall Street reform, e.g., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, NY Atty-Gen. Andrew
Cuomo, who get a lot of support from Wall Street bankers. Their voice has not been heard since the debate began.
. FDA readies the first legal limits on the amount of salt in foods. It is planning on an unprecedented effort to
gradually reduce other salts consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to
nuts could prevent thousands of death from hypertension and heart disease.
. The CIA has been sending abroad more of its employees from its less-flashy directorate in what officials
describe as a major shift in how the agency trains and deploys its analysts. It has also expanded overseas
operations with more drone strikes and distribution of more cash.
. Leaked confidential documents have revealed that senior officials of the Bush administration had warned a 9/11
investigation panel against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks. They argued that by doing so, the panel
would ―cross‖ a ―line‖ and obstruct the administration‘s efforts to protect the nation.
. With black ties and dresses, well-groomed hairs and sparkling diamonds, loud laughter and back-slapping, it was
hard to tell that more than 37 million Americans live in poverty every day and millions more at razor‘s edge or
that more than 508k Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have sought care from a Veterans Affairs facility, while
some of the people at that dinner sent them off to war. That contrast of clashing Americas has always seemed
unseemly like Mitch McConnell in a clown‘s outfit. (Wendy Button, former aide to Sen. John Edwards)
. A few years ago, Tomas Young enlisted after the 9/11 attacks. Five days after he arrived in Iraq he was shot
in the chest and paralyzed. Tomas came home to a country completely unprepared to care for its veterans. His
frustration led to action and he was one of the first veterans to start speaking truth to power about the lies that led
to the war.
. David Cameron describes himself as a ―compassionate conservative.‖ He has shown his party has changed. He
puts his black and Asian supporters out front. He promises to ―unleash‖ the potential of volunteers to… change
our country. This time, he says his party will be different.
. It is 2000 and his name is George W. Bush. It‘s no surprise to discover that David Cameron‘s closest political
ally and spokesman said that in 2000 ―we have much to learn from Bush‘s ―compassionate conservatism.‖ They
are following the Bush script down to the misspelled letter.
. David Cameron is promising to dismantle the very weak protection currently in place and replace them with a
system so the corporations will be able to ―organize their own inspections,‖ carried out by a team of their choice.
His people justify this by pointing to made-up stories in the right-wing press claiming health and safety inspectors
spend their time stopping children playing tops. (Johann Hari, Columnist, London Independent) When will the
Brits learn from the American experience of the last 8 years of this decade that led to our economic meltdown,
thanks to George W. Bush?
. A former NSA official (Thomas Drake) was accused of providing a steady stream of leaks to a Baltimore Sun
reporter whose work exposed NSA failures and mismanagement of programs.
. The Pentagon will solicit bids for a $1 billion contract to train Afghan police officers after an oversight agency
said the contract should not have been awarded to Blackwater/Xe Services in a non-competitive process.
. From Asia, investors watch anxiously the economic plight of Greece. A broker in Taiwan for sovereign wealth
funds and other oil-rich parties from the Persian Gulf said his clients are adamant to shift money out of Europe
and into China and other emerging markets. There is a growing recognition that the weaker European nations are
in for an even slow growth and different choices.
. China is poised to strengthen a law requiring telecom and Internet companies to inform on customers who
discuss state secrets, potentially forcing businesses to collaborate with the country‘s vast, dissent-stifling security
apparatus. State secrets are loosely defined as virtually anything—maps, GPS coordinates, even economic
statistics—could fall into that category.
. The Cabinet in Taiwan approved an amendment to the Act Governing the Retirement of School Faculty that
raises the threshold for teachers and employees in public schools to apply for a monthly pension. Under current
regulations, public school faculty are eligible for retirement when they have served for more than 5 years and reah
the age of 60 or when they have served 25 years.
. Asian stock markets plunged in an early trading, following massive losses on Wall Street, amid fears over the
Greek debt crisis. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 396.48 points or 3.7% to 10,299.21. The
Bank of Japan will offer 2 trillion yen ($22 billion) in short-term loans to commercial banks to boost liquidity.
. South Korean officials launched an investigation into a widely publicized construction boss who supplied
dozens of prosecutors with cash, alcohol and prostitutes in return for favors. Pres. Lee Myung-bak advocates an
overhaul of the prosecutorial system as ―corruption among officials, local authorities and in education remains
. Politicians who win election in the Philippines have one of the worst records in stifling the poor, coddling the
rich and indulging themselves, according to a mountain of data and chorus of economists. About 1.7 million
Filipino immigrants now live in the US, the second-largest immigrant group after the Mexicans.
. A Golkar Party member in Indonesia says that the party chairman has nothing to do with the resignation of
Finance Minister Sri Mudyani Indrawati who is set to become one of the World Bank managing directors in June.
. Combined earnings of 20 of Malaysia’s largest government-linked firms, including Sime Darby Bhd. and UEM
Group, are forecast to rise to RM17.7 billion in the 2010 financial year from RM6 billion last year.
. Red-shirted protesters have been campaigning in Bangkok these past 6 weeks to press their demand that P.M.
Abhisit resign and call new elections. Former P.M. Thaksin will win the election if held today. His term was
marked by human rights abuses and allegations of corruption; he is the godfather of the opposition movement.
. Eliminating child labor in Vietnam remains a challenge to authorities in many provinces which do not keep
track of the situation of local children, according to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.
. A US congressman (Mike Honda of CA) has urged his government to provide more aid to Laos for allowing
unexploded ordnance, after learning of the extent of injuries and deaths caused by the war remnants.
. Toughening its stance against Naxalites, the Center warned Maoist sympathizers in India, including civil
servants and NGOs found supporting or collaborating with a banned organization or extremists, with
imprisonment of up to 10 years.
. Pakistani officials updated earlier claim that Taliban leader Hakimullah Mahoud is not dead, but is not
necessarily back. He has been wounded and has been sidelined ever since. He has been replaced by Wali ur-
Rehman, a South Waziristan commander who was Mahoud‘s adversary in the leadership duel in August.
. Sri Lanka has come out of the global economic crisis and would achieve economic growth rate closer to
6% in 2010, said the Institute of Policy Studies executive director. It should bring down the budget deficit
and create a stable macro-economic environment to make the growth sustainable and move forward.
. Two factions of the Bangladesh Chhatam League clashed with lethal weapons at the Barisol Technical
Institute cutting the unarmed ones discriminately with chapati (sharp-edged weapon). They clashed most
ferociously in Chittagong and Dhaka universities, causing death and injuries to some students.
. The Australian government is taking on the world‘s biggest tobacco companies by announcing a series
of measures to crack down on smoking, including proposed legislation that would force cigarette
companies to adopt plain packaging by 2012.
. The Senate confirmed Judge Deny Chin to serve as Circuit Judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Upon
swearing in, Judge Chin will be the sole Asian-American judge among the approximately 175 active federal
appellate court judges nationwide. For many years, he has served as one of only 8 active Asian American-Pacific
Islander Article III judges in the country. In his first year and a half in office, Pres. Obama has already doubled
the federal presence of AAPI judges with the confirmation of Judges Chin, Dolly Gee & Jacqueline Nguyen, and
the judicial nominations of Judge Ed Chen, Professor Goodwin Liu, Prosecutor Edmond Chang & Judge Leslie
Kobayashi and Judge Lucy Koh.
. In the 161 years, the University of Notre Dame has been awarding degrees, never had there been an African-
American until this year. She‘s Katie Washington of Gary, Indiana. She plans to continue her studies at Johns
Hopkins U. to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D. program and follow in her father‘s footsteps in Medicine.
. ―He [Goodwin Liu, nominee to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit] has an exceptional legal mind and a
deep devotion to excellence in public service… I cannot in my time on this committee remember someone quite
so young [39 years old] who has done so much.‖ (Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-CA)
. ―People don‘t understand why CEOs of banks and Wall Street firms that got us into this mess continue to make
huge dollars while they‘re laid off. People start off with ‗You save‘ the big banks of Wall Street. What are you
doing for people on Main Street?‘‖ (Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH)
. Adverse publicity, governmental scrutiny and legal & enforcement proceedings can also have a negative impact
on our reputation and on the morale & performance of our employees, which could adversely affect our
businesses and results of operations.‖ (Goldman Sachs, in a filing with the SEC)
. ―Health reform legislation is the most important piece of legislation for the past 40 years, and when you are
asked as a member of Congress to vote on something that critical and you pick little teeny excuses, that is
cowardly. It‘s time for us to create a third party.‖ (Greg Rideout, spokesman for North Carolina First that is
going after three legislators—Larry Kissell, Heath Schuler and Mike McIntyre who voted against the healthcare
bill, resulting in the efforts to form a third party to field candidates in the November election)
. ―By not enacting our legislation—by filibustering it, stopping it—we leave the American public vulnerable once
again to the kind of shenanigans that have occurred in our large financial institutions across the country. This
comes right down to the basic question, ―whose side are you on? What more do you need to know?‖ (Sen.
Christopher Dodd, Chairman, Senate Banking Committee)
. ―As you sail into the economic storm, while the people at the top get a big old parachute and they are lifted
gently to the ground or allowed to get gently grounded, the folks at the bottom, they are just pushed off the cliff. ―
(Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND)
. Let me be clear: dissent isn‘t sedition. Questioning an administration‘s policies isn‘t sedition. But questioning
an administration‘s legitimacy in a manner intended to undermine or overthrow it certainly is.‖ (Time magazine
columnist Joe Klein, stating that Beck and Palin are coming close to being seditious in their attacks on BHO)
. ―Now, the solutions we have are to balance the federal budget, control spending, cut taxes to create jobs. The
solutions are old things that virtually every conservative believes in, but we are so maniacally in the habit of
allowing our opponents and the news media to set the terms of the debate that we get sucked into being the
antithesis party rather than being the thesis party.‖ (Newt Gingrich) Talk is cheap! The GOP had their chance in
the 8 years of GWB/Cheney and failed to balance the federal budget, expanded spending with the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, and the usual grandstanding rhetoric of cutting taxes to create jobs. Have the Republicans
ever created jobs? Yes, at a minimum wage which they opposed, but lost, Newt!
. ―This class of the very poor—those who are just on the borders of pauperism or fairly over the borders—is
rapidly growing. Wealth is increasing very fast; poverty, even pauperism, is increasing still more rapidly.‖
(Washington Gladden, Applied Christianity, 1886)
. ―For three decades, we have experienced a socially engineered inequality that is really a sign of biblical
proportions. We have indeed seen class warfare, but this war has been waged by the wealthy and their political
allies against the poor and the middle class.‖ (Jim Wallis, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street and
Your Street, 2010)
. We have passed 2 of the 3 pillars in the historic healthcare and education reform and are working towards a
clean energy and climate agenda in Congress. And essential to prosperity for middle-income Americans we will
ensure that never again will those who are reckless on Wall Street make people jobless on Main Street.‖ (Speaker
. ―[The mortgage business is] totally dead and the poor little sub-prime borrower will not last long!‖ [Two months
later he boasted he had managed to dump some more of the worthless securities on] ―widows and orphans that I
ran into at the airport.‖ (Fabrice Tourre, Goldman Sachs)
. ―Let‘s cut the family fighting, the family feud… it‘s unnecessary; it‘s destructive of our shared national interest.
It‘s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud between the US and Israel. It just doesn‘t serve anybody‘s
interests but our enemies.‖ (Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Israel) When did it begin that the US and Israel are family with
identical national interest? I find this claim offensive and erroneous. This is an idea that Lieberman and his
Israeli cabal have tried to promote for decades. It was just a matter of time that a US president would stand up to
their arrogance as if they own this country just because they own many of its businesses, from banks to
newspapers to televisions. This country should never trust Saudi Arabia but neither should it trust Israel. We must
oppose every effort from their part to make Palestine their colony.
Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D.
Asian American Business Roundtable