Wednesday, July 4, 2012

HBO's NEWSROOM Opening scene "Why America's Not the Greatest Country"

As we celebrate the 4th of July or Independence Day -- with cook-outs, parades, hot dog eating contests, fireworks etc -- here is one big thought to contemplate:

Our country's future destination.

Are America's brightest day in the rear view mirror or does our country have the will to rise to greater heights? Are we doomed to continue to shout at each other or will we sharpen our capacity to empathize and communicate among ourselves?

Here's an excellent video (thanks Campbell) that poses a challenge to our conventional wisdom. Have a happy 4th.

Class Warfare: Who is the true aggressor?

The masters of the Three Card Monte shell game continue to pull the strings. And the average Joe/Jane American tax payer continues to get hosed.

Problem is: since many of the elite class control most of the media, the average American is kept in the dark.

Rupert Murdoch of Fox Corporation has mastered in media tricknology. For instance, most Fox Nation viewers are aware something is afoul in the playing field. They are not totally deaf, dumb and blind. They can smell the stench, but due to some clever Three Card Monte con games their attention is effectively diverted from the source of their pain.

Citizens of Fox Nation have been convinced that the corporate elite barons are their friends. The corporate elite are our most successful people and the liberals want to punish them for their success. The liberals want to take total control and implement a form of socialism.

And President Obama is their wicked leader of this class warfare effort. He must be stopped.

Let's do a quick study of this so-called class war that Fox Nation believes was initiated by the left. First up we have the Bain Capital wonder-boy, Mitt Romney, to illustrate the two rule system for the have alots and the have less: 

Romney has a Swiss account, off-shore accounts, Cayman Island accounts, assets set under a false blind trust (his personal lawyer maintains it) all these activities are notorious for hiding money and avoiding tax collection.

Here's another example: 

Dick Cheney's Haliburton (he still earns profits from this corporation) received American tax dollars from no-bid contracts during the Iraq war. They admittedly overcharged the American tax payers by several billion of dollars. Once they raked in all of this tax dollar money they moved the corporate HQ to Dubai. 
Read this:
But over the weekend, the company now known as Halliburton announced that its chief executive, Dave Lesar, would move to a new corporate headquarters in Dubai to focus on business in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The announcement sparked warnings from members of Congress, who suspected that the company once run by Vice President Cheney was trying to trim its tax bill and remove itself from the limelight here, where it has come under fire about the way it obtained and executed government contracts, especially those connected to troubled reconstruction projects in Iraq. source

And this:

CAYMAN ISLANDS - Kellogg Brown & Root, the nation's top Iraq war contractor and until last year a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., has avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in this tropical tax have

A "no bid contractor" usually refers to a private for-profit corporation that receives American tax payer monies in large amounts (billions of dollars) without having to competitively bid for the contract. One of the most famous "no bid contractors" is Halliburton. Since Bush and Cheney have been in the White House, Halliburton has received tens of billions of dollars of our money.
There's four important things to remind ourselves about Halliburton...

  1. Dick Cheney served as its CEO right before becoming Bush's VP,
  2. Halliburton has received numerous "no bid" contracts since Bush became the U.S. President,
  3. Halliburton made profits hand over fist in Iraq, and,
  4. Halliburton moved its corporate offices out of Texas and into the Middle Eastern country of Dubai so that Halliburton could avoid paying U.S. taxes.

    In other words, Halliburton has had carte blanche access to our tax payer funds, has profited enormously by banking our tax payer monies, but then, Halliburton itself does all it can do to doing its part to support the government that feeds it.

    Now, there's even more to report...

    Another "no bid" defense contractor moved offshore to avoid U.S. laws and to avoid paying U.S. taxes. This one was also a part of the Halliburton/Dick Cheney gravy train. It has moved it's payroll offices to the Cayman Islands in order to sidestep U.S. laws source

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    NY Times: Africa on the Rise

    I was slightly encouraged to read a NY Times editorial regarding the amazing rise in economic development in Africa.

    The Western narrative -- written in stone -- has been to cast and define Africa by disease, famine, war and overall dysfunction.

    While there is no denying that elements of the aforementioned exist, there are many incredible stories of not just survival but excellence that are unreported -- thereby leaving many in Western society clueless.

    Conversely, countries like China, India, Brazil and Japan have taken note and are in the process of making a larger presence in Africa -- for trade not for aid.

    As the Economist magazine article stated:

    Africa is on a fast track out of poverty. Its astonishing growth is making it an increasingly enticing destination for global companies as northern hemisphere economies contract and stutter.

    GENERATIONS of Americans have learned to pity Africa. It’s mainly seen as a quagmire of famine and genocide, a destination only for a sybaritic safari or a masochistic aid mission.
    So here’s another way to think of Africa: an economic dynamo. Is it time to prepare for the African tiger economy? Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa, according to The Economist. The International Monetary Fund says that between 2011 and 2015, African countries will account for 7 of the top 10 spots.
    Africa isn’t just a place for safaris or humanitarian aid. It’s also a place to make money. Global companies are expanding in Africa; vast deposits of oil, gas and minerals are being discovered; and Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those in China in the early 1990s.
    I’m writing this column in Lesotho, a mountainous kingdom (it was snowing the day I arrived!) in southern Africa, on my annual win-a-trip journey. The winner this year, Jordan Schermerhorn, an engineering student at Rice University, and I visited garment factories that make clothing for American stores. This country is Africa’s biggest apparel exporter to America.
    One set of factories we visited, belonging to the Nien Hsing Textile Company, a giant Taiwanese corporation, employs 10,000 people in Lesotho, making this its biggest operation in the world. Workers turn out bluejeans for Levi’s and other American companies, and Alan Han, a senior company official, said quality is comparable to that of factories in Asia.  Read entire editorial

    Related stories:

    Africa Rising - a continent of hope

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Penn State cover-up: Say it ain't so Joe (Pa)

    St. JoePa
    Roughly, one week before the Sandusky/Penn State fall out, I had a conversation with a retiree and Penn State alum about the sanctity of coach Joe Paterno's coaching career.

    This gentleman, clad in a Penn State cap, recited the proud accomplishments of Paterno's blemish-free 50 years of coaching.

    For example:

    Under his leadership, the Nittany Lions won two national championships, went undefeated five times and finished in the top 25 national rankings 35 times, according to his official Penn State biography.
    At the same time, the program never fell under NCAA sanctions for major infractions while producing 13 Academic All-Americans since 2006. In 2009, according to the university, the Nittany Lions posted an 85% graduation rate.
    "The acclaim for Joe Paterno has stemmed largely from the contrast between the high academic and moral standards he has tried to exemplify and the shameless conduct that often embarrasses and dishonors the college sport he cherishes," author Michael O'Brien wrote in a 1999 biography of Paterno, "No Ordinary Joe."    source

    Oh, but what a difference a week made...

    Now, not only do we have Jerry Sandusky -- convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse against young boys -- we have evidence of a possible cover-up involving top Penn State officials -- maybe even JoePa himself.
    Emails show Penn State's former president Graham Spanier agreed not to take allegations of sex abuse against ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky to authorities but worried university officials would be "vulnerable'' for failing to report it, a news organization has reported.
    The emails show athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz intended to report the allegation, then reconsidered. Spanier responded that he was "supportive'' of their plan, but he worried they might "become vulnerable for not having reported it.''
    The CNN report cites an email from Schultz to Curley on Feb. 26, 2001, 16 days after graduate assistant Mike McQueary told veteran coach Joe Paterno about the shower assault. Schultz suggests bringing the allegation to the attention of Sandusky, Sandusky's charity and the Department of Welfare, which investigates suspected child abuse, according to the report.
    But the next night, Curley sent an email to Spanier, saying that after thinking about it more and talking to Paterno, he was "uncomfortable'' with that plan and wanted to work with Sandusky before contacting authorities, the report said. source
    If these charges are true and accurate, Penn State's liability is both criminal and civil for not reporting or stopping pedophile Sandusky. It is completely unimaginable that an institutional hierarchy could have such first hand and overwhelming knowledge about child rape and do virtually nothing -- or on the contrary co-conspire to cover-up such horrible crimes.
    Or worse yet, continue to provide the abuser a safe haven for the continuation of his sordid crimes. Remind you of another institution -- larger than life -- that looked the other way while certain leaders raped children?
    The Catholic Church.