Alabama’s Historic Economic Prize!

Along with this state’s recent headline grabbing immigration policies rearing its ugly head the most populous county in Alabama is destined for the record books as well, in a story of greed and corruption.

Jefferson County, Alabama has filed for Bankruptcy and if the case is allowed to go ahead it will be the Largest Municipal bankruptcy filing in United States History.

When combined the water and sewage rates in this county of 658,466 residents the rates for these must have services has increased 329% over the last 15 years.

As with most of the gut wrenching economic hardships of our recent recession the poor are the unwarranted recipients of most if not all of the consequences. They are now being forced to bathe in bottled water and use portable toilets as they have been cut-off from these basic necessities through no fault of their own.

While disturbing it’s not surprising that local government officials and Wall Street financiers have been implicated again in another case of financial wrongdoing.

All of this stems from the debt the county took on to finance a new sewer system for Jefferson County residents. Initially the cost was to be $300 million dollars however that initial projection soared to $3.1 Billion dollars and the county is drowning in debt.

JP Morgan Securities along with two of its prior directors have already been fined as they were accused of offering bribes to local politicians to guarantee they would win business financing the project. Six former members of Jefferson County’s commissioners have also been found guilty of corruption as well as fifteen other government officials for accepting bribes.

The new local county commission has seen no other alternative other than to file for chapter nine bankruptcy protections in November as the only way to try to bring the county out of this current financial hole.

However the banks and bondholders who stand to lose $4.5 million dollars per month in repayment charges are fighting the commission’s decision and a bankruptcy judge will give the last word on whether the Jefferson County commission can proceed.

The local residents have absorbed rate hikes of 8.2% a year to attempt to deal with repaying the escalating debt. According to John S. Young the court appointed receiver the rates are projected to be 10% per year up to a whopping 25% for the cash poor citizens of the county in the future.

Along with the prospect of bankruptcy filing for the sewage project the country is also projected to have an extra $40 million dollar budget shortfall.

As five hundred county workers were recently laid off and are living off of unemployment insurance the county’s ability to finance local services is further called into question as tax revenues will most certainly fall.

Tony Petelos the new county manager believes it will be years before the county might be able to turn the tide. He stated, “The public has lost confidence in Jefferson County over the last decade and a half, because of the mismanagement, because of the corruption. We have got to rebuild that confidence” and that there is, “light at the end of the tunnel”.

However in regards to any relief the citizens might realize in their water and sewer rates he was quoted as saying, “When you look at the amount of debt, and you  look at the revenue that is produced from the rate payers, there is no way it is going to come down,”.

Mr. Petelos who was the former mayor of Hoover city, Alabama recalls a Wall Street presentation about the same type of bonds that were used to finance the Jefferson County sewage project. After the presentation he recalls talking with his finance director in dismay and how they were both in agreement that they did not want to have anything to do with the type of financing that was presented.

One resident has found it is cheaper for him to pay a portable sanitation company $14 dollars a month to deal with his household sewage. His previous sewer and water bills sometimes reached $300 dollars per month this in a county whose citizens average income was $19,724 dollars per year according to the most recent census figures.

As most of the citizens of Jefferson County live off of meager Social Security income in this predominately poor community it is abundantly clear they cannot afford to pay these rate increases brought upon them by greed and corruption.

As the current Republican mindset in Washington is to gut most if not all of our governments regulation or oversight of the financial sector or corporations. This current situation in Alabama is the poster child for why we Do Need Regulation of banks and corporations that cannot be trusted to conduct themselves in a responsible honest fashion.

The meteoric rise of the debt from $300 million to $3.1 billion has been tied to construction issues and a series of bad bond and derivative deals that went sour during the 2008 financial debacle which has landed us in our current economic recession.

While for now as Jefferson county may be filing the largest Municipal bankruptcy in the history of our country. How many other cities and counties across the country are also reaching the breaking point remains to be seen.

Again Wall Street is being implicated in more financial crimes with few if any of the perpetrators being brought to justice. However as is usually the case the poorest citizens of the U.S. are being asked to suffer the brunt of the damage.

When will the poor citizens of the United States catch a break or at least be treated in a fair and equitable fashion and when if ever will the financial sector be held accountable?

Rick Perry’s Ignorance Another Episode Among Many

In an ad put out by the Rick Perry for president campaign (which began showing in Iowa on Wednesday December 7th) the television ad is clearly showing Rick Perry’s bigoted, racist and Ignorant side once more for all of America to see in their living rooms. Even Perry’s top pollster Tony Fabrizio called it, “nuts” according to an email recently uncovered.

The governor of Texas questions in the ad why solders who are gay are allowed to serve openly in the military while children, “can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school”.

Well Rick the separation of church and state in the United States has quite a long history it’s surprising that a man running for president would not know about this subject matter. While not specifically stated in the constitution the U.S. Supreme court has spoken on the subject many times

 

 

Thomas Jefferson first alluded to the term in 1802 in a letter to the Danbury Baptist church, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State“.

Really Rick you have a bachelor’s degree so your educated what is it that you don’t understand about this?

Gay solders have served in every war throughout time while they fought for other’s freedom they could not express their own. However society has matured and realized how unfair it is for military personnel to fight and die for freedom yet to have none for themselves. I was in the military and I just wanted solders who would work together to get the job done I’m not gay I didn’t care if my fellow solder was gay I only wanted him to be able to fight. About 25% of Americans are gay if we excluded all gays from the military do you think we are going to have enough solders to fight in our conflicts both foreign and domestic?….probably not.

 

 

 

The standard of the separation and state on the other hand has a long history if children were allowed to pray in school, (which by the way they can just privately) would All religions be included in your vision? If schools were allowed to celebrate Christmas would the Jews be allowed to celebrate Hanukkah, Blacks be allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa, etc..??

The answer is No Rick in this country we don’t try or we shouldn’t try to force our own religious beliefs on others. The U.S. Supreme Court realizes this that is why the separation of church and state is still in place and always will be in America.

You know Rick it may be part of my cynical side that is thinking that you are really just Pandering to the voters in Iowa. Your most recent poll numbers are showing you in the single digit territory, is this add some type of sensationalized hype in hopes of gaining in the polls. It really does not speak well of you especially after the name of your little hunting area with the racist name came to light in recent history.

However maybe it’s a good thing that all of America is seeing you for what you really seem to be, nothing more than a bigoted racist who is undeserving of serving America in the most powerful seat in our country.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

John McCain has the gall to question Obama’s credibility

John McCain has the habit of making statements calling into question the fact the Barack Obama has failed to serve his country and that he has no foreign policy experience. So why not take on these questions Mr. McCain has been invoking and see if they have any validity. Read more of this post

Now more Lies to come forth on Tower Seven’s 9-11 collapse

In a soon to be released investigation into the unbelievable collapse of tower number seven on 911 the so-called experts are going to explain to a gullible American public their so called truth.

This structure known as tower seven was a 47 story building which collapsed seven hours after the twin towers had already fallen. The building housed among others the Secret Service, the CIA, the Department of Defence and the Office of Emergency Management.

Although it was the only and the first steel skyscraper in the world which obstensibly collapsed due to a fire none of the evidence was kept for inspection. Of all the thousands of tons of steel not one piece of evidence was deemed worthy of safekeeping for further inspection.

The fact that the destruction of tower seven had made architectural history no one thought to hold on to any of it’s components. Those deciders who chose to dispose of the evidence knew there would be an investigation that no amount of political will could stop, so they did the next best thing they destroyed all the evidence.

The fact that tower number seven was never mentioned in the 911 commission final report some would find also troubling. Another government agency FEMA stated during May 2002 that the building collapsed because of numerous fires which they said were fed by diesel fuel stored in the structure. However even this fanciful explanation was quoted as being of only a low probability.

The fact that a groups of architects, engineers and scientists say the official explanation that fires caused the collapse is impossible. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth argue there must have been a controlled demolition.

This of course will all be dismissed by the upcoming report which will be sold to the American public hook line and sinker. The American media who no longer is willing to tell the truth will trot out the story and will not call it’s dubious findings into question for fear of being labeled anti-American.

They of course will tell us all exactly what happened even though all the evidence has been destroyed and that their 2 year investigation cannot be called into question.

So coming soon to a newspaper, television station or blog near you will be their pack of lies. You can keep believing them and the government, I on the other hand will choose not to as I prefer not to be a lemming.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The United States’ new backyard

When the US decided that its backyard would in future be a greater Middle East – from Pakistan to Morocco – it imagined that it could rearrange the region to suit itself. The results have been disastrous and will be long-lasting

By Alain Gresh Read more of this post

The End of Journalism and Confidential Sources the Constitution be Damned!

Journalists across the globe have much to worry about if present legislation in Germany makes its way to the United States. Many European nations have began the practice of retaining all their countrymen’s communications since the 9/11 attack in New York.

The German Bundestag or parliament has now drafted legislation which would make their collection of all data including all voice communications received by the countries journalists which would effectively end the freedom of the press or allow for confidential sources to expect anonymity.

The future does not look bright for Germanys many news gathering organizations as confidential sources will no longer be afforded to secretly reveal any information. As all data that the German press receives will be available for the government to collect and quite possibly go on the attack against once confidential sources.

For a concerned German citizen to send an email, fax, text or voice communication they would be taking their life in their own hands. While they might attempt to alert the press of government malfeasance or inappropriate conduct the government will then know who they are and this will have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press.

The bill if passed would take effect on January 1st, 2008 and it will remove any and all protection of a journalist’s sources in regards to Internet and Telecommunications information they might receive.

This legislation will destroy the freedom of the press in Germany and Christoph Gusy an authority on constitutional law points out that, “An enormous hole is being torn in the freedom of the press; Protection of sources will be largely left up to the judgment of law enforcement agencies. This de facto puts an end to confidentiality.”

The editor in chief of the German public television network ZDF was quoted as saying, “If the state holds confidential information for a period of preventive detention, this amounts to an attack on the very foundation of our work.”

The legislation requires all of Germany’s telecom providers to retain all communications data from their customers, all landline and mobile calls, faxes, text messages and e-mails. This would mean that all electronic communications in Germany would be recorded whether the parties concerned are under investigation or not.

There are many critics of the German governments attempt to destroy the freedom of the press and its attempts to violate the principle of communications secrecy and the right to privacy in the information age.

The general public in Germany is largely unaware that their Justice Ministry wants to remove two levels of the right to refuse to give evidence to the government. Only defense lawyers and members of the clergy would be allotted a top level which would not allow for them to be wiretapped and their private communications would still be private.

The press would not be afforded this protection as they would fall into the second class bearers of secrets and would be forced to reveal the sources which would effectively end the freedom of the press in Germany. The day of confidential sources in reporting would come to an end and the people and the press of Germany would suffer the penalty.

The right to a free press would be left up to the local magistrate who would work with and by all accounts for the prosecution.

A former Justice Minister described the proposed legislation as, “opening a massive gateway to access information that journalists possess, and then decide if it may be used or not”. While Christoph Gusy an authority on constitutional law points out that by that time it would already be to late, “There’s not an investigator in the world who would spontaneously forget new information that he has discovered”.

The legislation would have a chilling effect on the press as no one would pass sensitive information, especially from a government agency, if they assumed that the police and domestic security officials were recording all forms of communication.

For those brave journalists who once reported on government corruption or corporate misdeeds this law would in effect end an historic era. Where once the freedom of the press was regarded as an important facet of information and whose journalists were provided some protection from persecution by the government this would no longer be the case.

The journalists in Germany are fighting back and attempting to apply as much pressure as possible to avoid the introduction of this current legislation and some government officials are listening. There are some proposals that are gaining some strength with the government only being allowed access to their data if the reporter was a suspect of a serious criminal offense, of course this would be left up to the prosecutors discretion.

Still the politicians of Germany have little regard for the journalists of their country and they are not at all inclined to give them anymore protection than is minimally needed as they believe the power of the state overrides the freedom of the press.

The prosecutors of Germany want full access to various journalists’ confidential sources for use in whatever action they might feel prudent and they are applying as much pressure as possibly to make that a reality.

The ZDF television editor in chief is beside himself with the governments attempts to destroy the once confidential resources so desperately needed in reporting that he stated, “These days, with the free press already treading on thin ice, this is a devastating blow.”

The government official who introduced the legislation doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about as she believes she was following a European guideline. She is just following a European Union directive which makes the collection of all data a mandatory requirement.

She is quick to point out that the German requirements are less than the other European nations who will retain data for longer than 24 months this in comparison to Germanys six month retention policy.

Throughout history journalists have fought for their right to publish the truth and confidential sources have only strengthened this honorable tradition. Also during this period corrupt governments and corporations have wanted to squash these freedoms so that they may do as the please without any outside interference.

Government officials have often attacked the journalists by invoking the war on terror or any other term at their disposal to attack the media who might find out about government malfeasance or maybe government sponsored torture or the violation of citizen’s rights.

The days of Freedom of the Press may be coming to an end for our European counterparts and it is only logical to assume the American government and our current administration will only attempt to pass a similar law in the near or distant future.

What will our world be like when our journalists and reporters are no longer allowed to effectively report the news, will we just turn on state sponsored television to learn all we need to know?

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

 

Donny’s Crazy tales to Protect His Wacky Bosses Back!

We all have friends who will take the heat for us while our other coworkers or neighborhood friends will cut and run and leave us to the wolves so they might have their dinner snack.

Donald Rumsfeld the former Defense Secretary for the Bush administration is one who would dig in and attack anyone who had the audacity to question any of George’s crazy wacky ideas.

As King George wants to wrestle control of the Middle East so that he can have access to all that oil and build spiffy military bases Donny Rumsfeld always came to his defense. In so far as George wanting to be the only hegemonic power in the region and topple the country of Iran as he is destroying Iraq and Afghanistan again Donny would lend his helping hand.

In what are called snowflakes, (ironic as both George and Donald are rather flaky in my opinion) good ole boy Don beat whatever drum he needed to keep Americans in the dark about foreign affairs. He wrote of the need to keep on elevating the terror threat level and that all government officials should try to link Iraq and Iran together to keep the public under the thumb of George’s wild ideas for global domination.

You see the former defense secretary hates the media especially when they try to tell the average American citizen the truth. Donald wants it to be his way and vision, or the highway for any other diverging view, even if the opposing view is valid and shared by the ordinary people in the United States and Europe. The former secretary didn’t like views that differed from his and via his propaganda machine he would attempt to reform public opinion, no matter that the public disagreed.

So on average Mr. Rumsfeld would write about 20 to 60 snowflakes a day, no matter that these destroyed relations with his fellow cabinet members, his thoughts must become part of the lexicon and quite possibly shape future policy for the United States.

During the year in 2004 Rummy was worried that the American public was waking up to the fact that the Iraqi conflict had been a mistake. He marshaled his minions to attack the pessimistic reports from the media, how dare they try to tell anyone the truth. Different standards just needed to be applied to turn around the American public and he wrote this missive, “They are looking for leadership. Sacrifice = Victory.”

We can clearly see today that the Sacrifice angle isn’t working anymore, but Donald kept up the delusion telling his staff to bring up various regional conflicts and to attempt to imbed the terrorist cry into our subconscious so that we would rally behind George and his far fetched ideas all logic be damned.

His underlings were also called to rally around Donny as many former United States generals who had been boots on the ground robots for him began to call for him to resign as they now questioned his power to reign supreme. No matter that these generals has served in Iraq and realized that the entire war had been a huge mistake Donald went on the offensive in the month of April in 2006 as they had the audacity to question his and King George’s wacky ambitions.

Donald wanted and needed a team to assist him in his quest and they needed to “go out and push people back, rather than simply defending” Iraq policy and strategy. “I am always on the defense. They say I do it well, but you can’t win on the defense,” he wrote. “We can’t just keep taking hits.”

He also lamented, “It is going to be a long war,” he wrote. “Iraq is only one battleground.” You see in Donny’s view Iraq and Iran are the same he even floated the idea of renaming the –war on terrorism- as a – Worldwide War on Insurgency. In his view no other nation in the world understood the so called big picture especially the United Nations as he thought he did.

In another of his reported quotations he stated that Muslims in general were nothing more than an oil rich lazy society who in his words were detached, “from the reality of the work, effort and investment that leads to wealth for the rest of the world. Too often Muslims are against physical labor, so they bring in Koreans and Pakistanis while their young people remain unemployed,” he wrote. “An unemployed population is easy to recruit to radicalism.”

In his mind if these not so lazy radicals got their hands on Saudi Arabia and its vast oil reserves this would become, “an enormous national security problem. On this point he is somewhat correct as it is the United States that wants to get its hands on Saudi Arabian oil fields as well as every other Middle Eastern oil field it can control with the United States vast hegemonic hands.

Later as calls for his resignation grew he demanded that a, “better presentation to respond to this business that the Department of Defense has no plan. This is just utter nonsense. We need to knock it down hard”, even in the midst that over 65% of Americans thought that George didn’t really have any plan and he still doesn’t to this day.

The New York Times had in his opinion the gall to say that the Army was ruined in November of 2006 in an editorial and Rummy said it was, “disgraceful”. There was a Brightside to the editorial which said that; “one welcome dividend” of Rumsfeld’s departure was that the United States would “now have a chance to rebuild the Army he spent most of his tenure running down”.

Donald Rumsfeld didn’t care for differing views on United States foreign policy and his tenure was one of attack and to never allow himself to be on the defensive no matter what the cost. The fact that over 3800 American soldiers and 90,000 Iraqis are now dead and over 3.2 million displaced is of little consequence to our government now or then for that matter.

Now we have George W Bush left to his own devices without Donny to help him out and Iran is firmly in the Presidents radar as his next victim. It doesn’t matter that the Russian and Chinese governments are adamantly against any military action in Iran, the rhetoric is already being ratcheted up to attack Iran.

This even as King George sees his legacy and public opinion crumbling around him. Even George must think if ever so rarely about the $4.2 trillion dollar debt for this needless unwarranted war that he will be remembered for placing this scar on American history. As the President makes no secret of his religious beliefs he must also occasionally think how he economically and spiritually took the United States down the path along with him.

How many laws were rewritten to allow for secret prisons and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which other civilized people would call torture. One can only hope that our President comes to his senses before he mires us in another conflict. He has already bequeathed the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq to a future administration and the debt for the war to the young populace of our nation with the added peril to our economy as another gift to the future of our nation.

Is there no one in this administration or our government at large who can counsel George to mend his ways and attempt to begin rebuilding this nation’s moral standing in the world? Or are we doomed to leap from one conflict to another as our armed forces are stretched beyond the breaking point and our nation plunges into the depths of hell.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Can George W Bush for once act like the President rather than a spoiled child!

Russian President Vladimir Putin is backing the Iranian government on its nuclear program and said Russia would not allow any military action to be taken by the United States. This dovetails with recent comments made by the Chinese government who are also calling for dialogue rather than Washington ratcheting up its war mongering rhetoric.

Both the Russian and Chinese governments are calling for more good faith negotiations rather than the United States stances which include further economic sanctions and rhetoric reminiscent of the administration before it invaded Iraq. Read more of this post

The Court system Guilty or Innocent it doesn’t matter in the USA!

As is has been shown recently in Georgia and many other various locations across the country our judicial system is fraught with dangerous perils and suffering quite often caused by unscrupulous prosecutors hell bent on furthering their careers. In a case in Durham North Carolina a state prosecutor was disbarred and charges were brought against him for prosecutorial misconduct, however this is rarely the case.

Prosecutors only further their political careers by their conviction rates and quite often they become our future politicians. For them the defendants are an afterthought, that they were placed into the system whether innocent or guilty is of little consequence to them even if that defendant was sentenced to death, they won the glorious conviction. Read more of this post

Should the US stop the Inhumane Racially Biased Murders carried out in the name of Justice?

The American Bar Association released a report on Sunday which shows among other things the glaring racial disparity in death sentences handed down by our court systems.

Stephen F. Hamilton chairman of the American Bar Associations, Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project stated, “After carefully studying the way states across the spectrum handle executions, it has become crystal clear that the process is deeply flawed, the death penalty system is rife with irregularity”. Read more of this post

Mexican government to United States Stop selling guns to our drug dealers!

As the United States of American claimed 36% of international arms sales in 2005 to again claim the number one position and have the distinction of being the Worlds largest arms dealer it is no surprise our weapons are being used in Mexican drug wars.

If the soldiers fighting now in Afghanistan and Iraq had a free voice they too would voice their dismay that the bullets, bombs and IED’s used to kill and maim them are of United States manufacture, as these countries are awash in armaments and munitions compliments of the world’s arms dealer. Read more of this post

The Tragedy of the USS Liberty and the Israeli and United States cover-up!

A former Navy attorney who helped lead the military investigation of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 American servicemen says former President Lyndon Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, ordered that the inquiry conclude the incident was an accident.

In a signed affidavit released at a Capitol Hill news conference, retired Capt. Ward Boston said Johnson and McNamara told those heading the Navy’s inquiry to “conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” Read more of this post

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