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“A difficult juncture for Goldman”

You think Americans out of work and losing their homes are having problems? Just read about how tough times are for our “friend” on Wall Street. Susanne Craig at the New York Times writes ‘Goldman Wrestles With a Weak Quarter‘.

Goldman posted net revenue, or revenue minus interest expense, in its investment bank of $1.1 billion, up 24 percent from the period a year earlier. Trading, however, was another story. Net revenue in its powerful fixed-income, currency and commodities unit dropped 37 percent, to $3.8 billion. And net revenue from equities trading and commissions fell 33 percent, to $1.9 billion.

The slowdown in trading comes at a difficult juncture for Goldman. It has been the target of criticism from Washington and Main Street over its quick return to huge profits and big bonuses months after the financial crisis, when financial firms, including Goldman, were forced to accept government help.

No firm returned to profitability faster than Goldman, which set aside $3.8 billion in compensation in the third quarter quarter. It will not decide what it will pay out until the fourth quarter, but so far this year it has put aside $13.1 billion in pay for its 35,000 employees.

The banksters have sucked dry much of the American economy. When a parasite totally consumes its host, it needs to find a new host or die. Obviously, there is still is American economic blood left to suck, as demonstrated by Goldman’s looting of $1.9 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2010. But billions of dollars in profits and a concern that $13,100,000,000 won’t be enough to keep 35,000 employees in caviar come New Year’s 2011 do not constitute a “difficult juncture”.  

“A series of lies” led to Iraq war – former Joint Chiefs of Staff

I know the current administration prefers to “look forward”, but the memoir of former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton III has been published and he has a few words to say about how the U.S. went to war with Iraq. To coin a phrase: Bush lied. According to Thomas Ricks at Foreign Policy, this is what Shelton wrote:

Shelton also writes that there was no reason to go war against Iraq. “The fact is that we had Iraq contained and they were not a threat.” (419) Also, “There was absolutely no link between him [Saddam] and 9/11.” (474)  …

His bottom line: “President Bush and his team got us enmeshed in Iraq based on extraordinarily poor intelligence and a series of lies purporting that we had to protect American from Saddam’s evil empire because it posed such a threat to our national security.” (474-475)

Just in case you weren’t paying attention, he elaborates on that charge later in the book. “Spinning the possible possession of WMDs as a threat to the United States in the way they did is, in my opinion, tantamount to intentionally deceiving the American people.” (488)

I just thought I’d share this, in case someone in our “forward looking” Department of Justice is still was ever examining the evidence. Oh and Gen. Shelton, it would have been really nice if you would have written this in 2003 or 2004. Ya know, spoken out before the bastards were in the clear.

Something other than coal for West Virginia

West Virgina’s suicide pact with coal mining makes no sense. The Appalachian state could be a respectable wind energy producer and now Science reports that West Virginia is a geothermal hot spot.

Researchers have uncovered the largest geothermal hot spot in the eastern United States. According to a unique collaboration between Google and academic geologists, West Virginia sits atop several hot patches of Earth, some as warm as 200˚C and as shallow as 5 kilometers. If engineers are able to tap the heat, the state could become a producer of green energy for the region…

The find was a surprise to the scientists themselves as well as to local experts. “Nobody expected West Virginia to show up as a hot spot,” says SMU’s Maria Richards, a geothermal expert and geographer. “Just last year, I thought West Virginia, geothermal energy–I didn’t put the two together,” adds West Virginia’s official state geologist, Michael Hohn, who didn’t participate in the study.

West Virginia could change, but…

Electricity is extremely cheap in West Virginia due to its abundant coal, so geothermal energy probably can’t compete for business from utilities there. But Hohn says the state’s extensive network of power lines makes it a good candidate for exporting electricity produced by geothermal power to nearby states such as Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Madness to keep burning ‘cheap’ coal.

Have debts? Go to jail

Although no crime was committed, Minnesotans and other people across America are being locked up because they owe money to some corporation. This is another example of our emerging corporatocracy — Where the power of the state is just another tool for business.

The Star Tribune has published an investigative piece about the return of debtors’ prisons, “In jail for being in debt“.

It’s not a crime to owe money, and debtors’ prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

Here is what is happening now to people who fall behind in paying their bills. Joy Uhlmeyer, for example, is a 57-year-old patient care advocate. She was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy and no one would tell her why, despite her pleas.

Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth. Then, handcuffed in a squad car, she was taken to downtown Minneapolis for booking. Finally, after 16 hours in limbo, jail officials fingerprinted Uhlmeyer and explained her offense — missing a court hearing over an unpaid debt.

“They have no right to do this to me… Not for a stupid credit card.”

Uhlmeyer ‘crime?’ She “defaulted on a $6,200 Chase credit card after a costly divorce in 2006.” She ignored the collection agency because she “didn’t recognize the name”.

Daniel Ellsberg on Obama’s double standard

Spiegel interviewed Daniel Ellsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers. The interview, ‘Obama Deceives the Public’, touches on a subject close to Ellsberg, which is whistleblowers. He explains:

For instance, the Obama administration is criminalizing and prosecuting whistleblowers to punish them for uncovering scandals within the federal government.

Ellsberg gives the example of the indictment of Thomas Drake by the Obama administration as an example of how “Obama is continuing the worst of the Bush administration”. Drake provided information to reporters about the shortcomings in the NSA. By indicting Drake, Ellsberg thinks it shows a double standard by the U.S. president.

For Obama to indict and prosecute Drake now, for acts undertaken and investigated during the Bush administration, is to do precisely what Obama said he did not mean to do — “look backward.” Of all the blatantly criminal acts committed under Bush, warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, aggression, torture, Obama now prosecutes only the revelation of massive waste by the NSA, a socially useful act which the Bush administration itself investigated but did not choose to indict or prosecute!

Bush brought no indictments against whistleblowers, though he suspended Drake’s clearance. Obama, in this and other matters relating to secrecy and whistleblowing, is doing worse than Bush. His violation of civil liberties and the White House’s excessive use of the executive secrecy privilege is inexcusable.

Ellsberg doesn’t “even listen anymore” to Obama’s rhetoric. For him, Obama has demonstrated that “his actions are totally uncoupled from his public statements… He has turned 180 degrees.”

For Sale: Blackwater

Reuters and other news outlets are reporting that the company formerly known as Blackwater is pursing a sale of the company.

Xe Services announced its decision in a brief statement that gave few details, the agency said.

Owner and founder Erik Prince said in a statement that selling the company is a difficult decision, but constant criticism of Xe helped him make up his mind, according to the agency.

I think it isn’t so much that Prince couldn’t stand the constant criticism, but rather after Blackwater mercenaries massacred 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on the September 16, 2007, he couldn’t shake public attention to his once-fly-below-the-radar operation.  

War Profiteering, or How You Too Can Get Rich Quick

Robert McKeon, the head of Veritas Capital, is about to profit in “the most lucrative deal of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” notes the Street Talk blog at Forbes. How did McKeon do it? By investing in private military contracting mercenaries, of course! Now the DynCorp owner is set to cash out his wartime investment.

DynCorp International, the… provider of services to the U.S. military, announced Monday that it has reached a $1.5 billion deal to be acquired by funds managed by Cerberus Capital Management. If the deal goes through, McKeon will have turned a $48 million personal investment in DynCorp into some $320 million for himself.


Street Talk describes the DynCorp deal as a “defining transaction for McKeon”. So, is McKeon the definition of a Wall Street war profiteer?

American Values in a Nutshell

Here are American values in a nutshell.

  • Today, the House approved by an overwhelming 395-34 vote a ‘budget’ of $636 billion for 10 months for the Pentagon.

  • In November, the House passed by a narrow 220-214 vote legislation that would “cost $1.1 trillion over 10 years and extend insurance coverage to 36 million uninsured Americans.”

The Senate will approve the 2010 Pentagon funding later this month and its price tag will likely increase.

In 10 months, we Americans will allow the Pentagon to spend more than half of what the House is willing to spend on watered down health reform legislation during 10 years. The Senate cannot even be convinced to pass the bill the House barely approved.

This is an example of what we value as a people. I think it is morally and fiscally wrong.

This is what is wrong with Congress. This is what is wrong with America. This is what I think we must change if we are to survive as a nation.


Cross-posted from Daily Kos.


Progressive versus President over jobs and Pentagon spending

A member of the House Progressive Caucus staked his reputation on restoring funding for a canceled Pentagon program and managed to secure $100 million for Lockheed Martin to keep the defunct and unwanted VH-71 presidential helicopter program alive.

President Obama said in Feburary that the project was “an example of the procurement process gone amok and we are going to have to fix it.”

However this Friday, The Hill reported Rep. Maurice Hinchley secured the $100 million commitment to the defunct program. Hinchley, a Democrat representing the 22nd congressional district of New York, said in a statement:

Although I was not able to achieve my complete objective, which was to fully continue all aspects of Lockheed Martin’s Increment 1 presidential helicopter, this funding will save about 250 jobs in Owego that would have been lost without it.

Obama: ‘Finish the Job’


The Pentagon and the White House are in disagreement if it will cost the U.S. $20 billion or $40 billion in 2010 to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The LA Times reports that pricing an Afghanistan troop buildup is no simple calculation.

The Pentagon publicly estimates it will cost $500,000 a year for every additional service member sent to the war zone. Obama’s budget experts size it up at twice that much…

The Office of Management and Budget says adding 40,000 troops would cost about $40 billion a year, or $1 million each. White House officials included in their estimate everything they consider necessary to wage war, including troop housing and equipment.

And today the president said he will ‘finish the job‘ in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan and Steady Presidential Nerves


Quite possibly the best thing happening with Afghanistan right now is President Obama’s steady nerves and careful deliberation on what is the best and correct course of action for America to take.

Advocates of sending more troops to Afghanistan have been searching for a winning rationale to sell an escalation to the public. Despite public opinion polls saying support for the war is disappearing, more U.S. troops for Afghanistan seemed like a foregone conclusion.

Up until yesterday when five British troops were killed by an Afghan policeman, one of the more persuasive arguments has been that the West needs to train more Afghan soldiers so the Afghans can take charge of their country’s own security.

Now with five soldiers dead, The Guardian reports that commanders in Afghanistan fear Taliban infiltration as troops hunt for the assassin.

Four at Four

  1. The LA Times reports the Pacific Ocean ‘dead zone’ in Northwest may be irreversible. Unlike other “dead zones” that are caused by agricultural and other pollution, the vast oxygen-depleted “dead zone” off the coast of Oregon and Washington is permanent and was brought about by the changing climate.

    “I really think we’re in a new pattern, a new rhythm, offshore now. And I would expect [the low-oxygen zone] to show up every year now,” said Jack Barth, professor of physical oceanography at Oregon State University.

    The National Science Foundation released a “multimedia report that said the number of dead zones worldwide was doubling every decade. According to the report, in the Pacific Northwest “the areas of hypoxic, or low-oxygen, water that long have existed far offshore began to appear closer to land in 2002, a phenomenon that may mean they are even deadlier to sea life that exists near the ocean floor.”

    “What we’re seeing is changes in the oxygen content of the water and the winds that drive the ocean and cause that flushing,” Barth said, calling it a “double whammy.”

Four at Four continues with foreclosures, derivatives, climate change, and my farewell.

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