TBR News June 21, 2011

Jun 21 2011

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., June 21, 2011:Having read Malaparte’s book on revolution, Eric Hoffer’s book on the True Believer and Carlyle’s work on the French Revolution, I am watching the national political scene with some unhappiness. Our government is no longer trusted by the public. They are seen as corrupt entities, entirely in the hands of the bankers. Politicians now are a pack of lunatics. I could name them but we all know who they are. Secessionists, religious lunatics, deranged populists and creatures I would not let into my house unless they took a bath in Lysol first and kept off both the carpets and the furniture. The economy is collapsing and when the public begins to realize the degree and extent of the MERS mortgage rip-offs, we will surely see mobs in the street and choke on the smell of burning buildings. None of these observations are either manic nor marginal but the political/sociological pot is starting to boil and once it gets going, Obama can stand up on his hind legs and give ten speeches a day but he will be unable to stop the upheavals. No jobs for millions of people, rabid lunatic Republicans trying to do away with Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment and any kind of public health programs are not improving the public’s anger but as long as our crooked politicians are stuffing their personal pockets, they do not care. When the explosion comes, as it certainly will, it will be too late. However, there is a bright side to this: Morticians, firemen and makers of body bags will certainly prosper!”

UK banks abandon eurozone over Greek default fears

UK banks have pulled billions of pounds of funding from the eurozone as fears grow about the impact of a “Lehman-style” event connected to a Greek default.

June 18, 2011

Harry Wilson

The Telegraph/UK

Senior sources have revealed that leading banks, including Barclays and Standard Chartered, have radically reduced the amount of unsecured lending they are prepared to make available to eurozone banks, raising the prospect of a new credit crunch for the European banking system.

Standard Chartered is understood to have withdrawn tens of billions of pounds from the eurozone inter-bank lending market in recent months and cut its overall exposure by two-thirds in the past few weeks as it has become increasingly worried about the finances of other European banks.

Barclays has also cut its exposure in recent months as senior managers have become increasingly concerned about developments among banks with large exposures to the troubled European countries Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

In its interim management statement, published in April, Barclays reported a wholesale exposure to Spain of £6.4bn, compared with £7.2bn last June, while its exposure to Italy has fallen by more than £100m.

One source said it was “inevitable” that British banks would look to minimise their potential losses in the event the eurozone crisis were to get worse. “Everyone wants to ensure that they are not badly affected by the crisis,” said one bank executive.

Moves by stronger banks to cut back their lending to weaker banks is reminiscent of the build-up to the financial crisis in 2008, when the refusal of banks to lend to one another led to a seizing-up of the markets that eventually led to the collapse of several major banks and taxpayer bail-outs of many more.

While the funding position of UK banks is far stronger now than it was back in 2008, the banking systems of several other major European countries, including Spain, Germany and Italy, are showing increasing signs of weakness.

Analysts at UBS have warned that eurozone banks are “particularly exposed” having not done enough since the crisis to cut their reliance on the wholesale funding markets and remain acutely sensitive to the withdrawal of liquidity from the inter-bank market.

Simon Adamson, a banks analyst at CreditSights, said it was clear many eurozone banks had been having trouble funding themselves for several months.

“Clearly there are some banks that are finding it difficult to access markets. I think this is a long term sign of the way the markets are going,” he said.

Spanish banks have become the main focus of market concerns with the latest European Central Bank (ECB) figures showing that Spanish banks have been forced to increase their use of ECB lending facilities and borrowed a total of €58bn (£51bn) in May, up from €44bn in April.

“We have been amazed at the ability of Spanish banks to find ways to fund themselves, but it is clear they are running out of options,” said one senior analyst at a major investment bank.

China floods bring steep food price rises

Regional vegetable prices rise by 40% as rains flood more that 1m acres of farmland and affect lives of 5.7 million people

June 19, 2011


Food prices are expected to rise steeply in China after flooding inundated more than 1 million acres of farmland in eastern provinces, killing at least 100 people and displacing hundreds of thousands more.

Weeks of torrential rain in Zhejiang province in the Yangtze delta have caused nearly 6bn yuan (£575m) of damage, reducing vegetable production by 20% and pushing prices in the provincial capital of Hangzhou up by as much as 40%, Xinhua news agency said.

The rains have forced almost 1,000 businesses to suspend operations and affected the lives of 5.7 million people, China’s official news agency said in a brief report. More than 7,000 homes had collapsed or were otherwise damaged. The rains are expected to continue for two days, stretching from the financial hub of Shanghai in the east to rural Yunnan in the far south-west.

Farmers quoted by Xinhua reported shortages of fruit and grains. Prices for green vegetables were up 40%, the agency said, adding pressure to inflation already at a three-year high of 5.5%.

Villagers on the outskirts of Zhuji in Zhejiang returned to their homes on Sunday as floodwaters receded. Two towns were inundated and thousands of people were evacuated after the breach of two dykes on Thursday. China has mobilised troops to rescue stricken farmers and distribute food, but some villagers said more could have been done to prevent the flooding.

“When the flooding first started, the breach was not that huge. We could have easily fixed it,” said Shou Qiongdan, 22. “But the government did not do anything. None of the local officials tried to salvage the situation. That’s why we have such huge economic losses and so many people being affected by the flooding.”

In neighbouring Jiangsu province, more than 20cm of rain fell on Suzhou city on Friday night, and the Yangtze river and its tributaries burst their banks, affecting up to 3 million people.

McDiabetes: Will McDonald’s Ever Stop Peddling Its Killer Junk to Kids?

One in three kids is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes as a result of diets high in McDonald’s-style junk food.

June 20, 2011

by Patti Lynn


McDonald’s should heed a call from some of the nation’s leading health professionals and stop marketing junk food to kids.

It certainly has good reason to do so. One in three children is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives as a result of diets high in McDonald’s-style junk food. This generation may be the first in U.S. history to live shorter lives than their parents.

That’s why more than 1,750 health institutions and professionals from all 50 states published full-page newspaper ads across the country in May calling on McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner to stop targeting kids with its advertising and promotions.

The ads featured an open letter signed by renowned experts like the noted pediatrician, author, and Harvard Medical School professor Dr. T. Berry Brazelton; editor in chief of The American Journal of Cardiology Dr. William C. Roberts; and Dr. Donald Zeigler, a visiting assistant professor of community and social medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Leading health institutions, including the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition and Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, signed too.

There were also luminaries like the Hollywood-immortalized doctor and clown, Patch Adams, as well asOprah regular Dr. Andrew Weil. My organization, Corporate Accountability International, led the initiative to publish the ads shortly before the fast food giant’s annual meeting in May, and thanks to an outpouring of support from leading health professionals, we’re still getting the ad published in newspapers.

The letter’s signatories summed up the crisis that McDonald’s has helped create, noting that “today, our private practices, pediatric clinics, and emergency rooms are filled with children suffering from conditions related to the food they eat.”

They pointed to the growing body of evidence, from organizations like the Institute of Medicine to the National Bureau of Economic Research, which shows that kids’ health can significantly improve when companies stop urging them to eat unhealthy food.

McDonald’s, like the rest of the fast food and junk food industry, often tries to get off the hook by blaming the alarming pediatric health crisis on a breakdown in parental responsibility. However, research doesn’t back that argument up. A Yale-Rudd Center study found no authoritative data indicating such a breakdown has occurred. And a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study concluded that adolescents exercise as much as they did two decades ago, when rates of obesity and other diet-related disease were significantly lower.

So what has changed?

The food children eat and the amount of marketing bombarding our youth. Every year McDonald’s spends at least $400 million on marketing directed at U.S. kids. The comparatively under-resourced prevention and public education initiatives are at a significant disadvantage to compete with such marketing might.

Adding further impetus for McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald and other kid-focused promotions were the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, who brought forward a shareholder resolution at the company’s annual meeting. With support from 13 other institutional investors, the Sisters appealed to the corporation to assess its “health footprint.”

After all, McDonald’s fast food and its marketing are taking a real toll on the public’s health, as the Sisters noted in their remarks. It’s irresponsible for the corporation not to publicly assess this impact.

Chinese coalminer sentenced to death for murdering man in pollution row

Worker is second to be given death sentence this month as government cracks down on coal industry in Inner Mongolia

June 21, 2011

Reuters in Beijing

A court in China‘s vast northern region of Inner Mongolia has sentenced a coalminer to death for killing a resident who had complained about pollution, according to state media.

The sentence was the second in a matter of weeks involving Inner Mongolia’s crucial coal sector, as the government tries to get tough with an industry that has ignited public anger with its pollution but fuels the economy.

In the latest case, Sun Shuning was convicted of murdering Yan Wenlong after “a dispute over pollution caused by a coalmine” where Sun worked, the official Xinhua news agency said. Sun killed Wen with his forklift, the report added.

“The act was utterly cruel, the crime very serious, and the consequences extremely bad,” it cited the court in Xilinhot as saying.

Earlier this month, a court in the same part of Inner Mongolia ordered the execution of a man for murdering an ethnic Mongolian herder who had also protested against coalmine pollution.

The death of the herder sparked demonstrations by ethnic minority Mongolians demanding better protection of their rights and traditions.

Beijing, ever worried by threats to stability, is now trying to address some of the protesters’ concerns about the damage done by coalmining to traditional grazing lands.

The authorities have since launched a month-long overhaul of the lucrative coalmining industry, vowing to clean up or close polluters.

Inner Mongolia is China’s biggest coal producing region and the protests against the industry have come as severe power shortages loom ahead of the summer’s peak energy season.

Attacking Libya — and the Dictionary
If Americans Don’t Get Hurt, War Is No Longer War

by Jonathan Schell


The Obama administration has come up with a remarkable justification for going to war against Libya without the congressional approval required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

American planes are taking off, they are entering Libyan air space, they are locating targets, they are dropping bombs, and the bombs are killing and injuring people and destroying things. It is war. Some say it is a good war and some say it is a bad war, but surely it is a war.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration insists it is not a war. Why?  Because, according to “United States Activities in Libya,” a 32-page report that the administration released last week, “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors.”

In other words, the balance of forces is so lopsided in favor of the United States that no Americans are dying or are threatened with dying. War is only war, it seems, when Americans are dying, when we die.  When only they, the Libyans, die, it is something else for which there is as yet apparently no name. When they attack, it is war. When we attack, it is not.

This cannot be classified as anything but strange thinking and it depends, in turn, on a strange fact: that, in our day, it is indeed possible for some countries (or maybe only our own), for the first time in history, to wage war without receiving a scratch in return. This was nearly accomplished in the bombing of Serbia in 1999, in which only one American plane was shot down (and the pilot rescued).

The epitome of this new warfare is the predator drone, which has become an emblem of the Obama administration. Its human operators can sit at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada or in Langley, Virginia, while the drone floats above Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Libya, pouring destruction down from the skies.  War waged in this way is without casualties for the wager because none of its soldiers are near the scene of battle — if that is even the right word for what is going on.

Some strange conclusions follow from this strange thinking and these strange facts. In the old scheme of things, an attack on a country was an act of war, no matter who launched it or what happened next.  Now, the Obama administration claims that if the adversary cannot fight back, there is no war.

It follows that adversaries of the United States have a new motive for, if not equaling us, then at least doing us some damage.  Only then will they be accorded the legal protections (such as they are) of authorized war.  Without that, they are at the mercy of the whim of the president.

The War Powers Resolution permits the president to initiate military operations only when the nation is directly attacked, when there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”  The Obama administration, however, justifies its actions in the Libyan intervention precisely on the grounds that there is no threat to the invading forces, much less the territories of the United States.

There is a parallel here with the administration of George W. Bush on the issue of torture (though not, needless to say, a parallel between the Libyan war itself, which I oppose but whose merits can be reasonably debated, and torture, which was wholly reprehensible).  President Bush wanted the torture he was ordering not to be considered torture, so he arranged to get lawyers in the Justice department to write legal-sounding opinions excluding certain forms of torture, such as waterboarding, from the definition of the word.  Those practices were thenceforward called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Now, Obama wants his Libyan war not to be a war and so has arranged to define a certain kind of war — the American-casualty-free kind — as not war (though without even the full support of his own lawyers). Along with Libya, a good English word — war — is under attack.

In these semantic operations of power upon language, a word is separated from its commonly accepted meaning. The meanings of words are one of the few common grounds that communities naturally share. When agreed meanings are challenged, no one can use the words in question without stirring up spurious “debates,” as happened with the word torture. For instance, mainstream news organizations, submissive to George Bush’s decisions on the meanings of words, stopped calling waterboarding torture and started calling it other things, including “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but also “harsh treatment,” “abusive practices,” and so on.

Will the news media now stop calling the war against Libya a war?  No euphemism for war has yet caught on, though soon after launching its Libyan attacks, an administration official proposed the phrase “kinetic military action” and more recently, in that 32-page report, the term of choice was “limited military operations.” No doubt someone will come up with something catchier soon.

How did the administration twist itself into this pretzel? An interview that Charlie Savage and Mark Landler of the New York Times held with State Department legal advisor Harold Koh sheds at least some light on the matter.  Many administrations and legislators have taken issue with the War Powers Resolution, claiming it challenges powers inherent in the presidency. Others, such as Bush administration Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, have argued that the Constitution’s plain declaration that Congress “shall declare war” does not mean what most readers think it means, and so leaves the president free to initiate all kinds of wars.

Koh has long opposed these interpretations — and in a way, even now, he remains consistent. Speaking for the administration, he still upholds Congress’s power to declare war and the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution. “We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” he told the Times. “We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

In a curious way, then, a desire to avoid challenge to existing law has forced assault on the dictionary. For the Obama administration to go ahead with a war lacking any form of Congressional authorization, it had to challenge either law or the common meaning of words. Either the law or language had to give.

It chose language.

Jonathan Schell is the Doris M. Shaffer Fellow at The Nation Institute, and a Senior Lecturer at Yale University.

Revolutionary Rumblings: America’s pay gap shame: Inequality between rich and poor is worse than Cameroon, Ivory Coast and revolutionary Egypt

June 20th, 2011

by Paul Bentley

Daily Mail/UK

The gap between America’s rich and poor is so extreme levels of inequality are worse in the land of the free than they are in many developing countries.

The U.S. ranks way behind the European Union and the United Kingdom in terms of inequality of pay, figures show.

In fact, the situation is so extreme the land of the free falls behind countries such as Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and revolutionary Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen – and only just in front of Uganda and Jamaica.

According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, which ranks countries in terms of how ‘equally’ wealth is distributed, the U.S. is the 42nd most unequal country in the world.

Income disparity in the U.S. has been growing for decades but the latest figures show it has now reached levels not seen since the Great Depression.


No. 1: Bill Gates

Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates is worth a huge net $54 billion

No. 2: Warren Buffett

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett has $45 billion to smile about

No. 3: Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison, chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., a computer technology company, is worth $27 billion

No. 4: Christy Walton and family
As the widow of John Walton, son of Wal-Mart’s founder, Christy Walton has inherited a cool $24 billion

No. 5: Charles Koch
The chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, said to be the largest private company in the world, is worth $22 billion

No. 6: David Koch

As executive vice president of Koch Industries, David trails his brother slightly, with $21.5 billion

Nos. 8 and 7: Alice and Jim Walton
The Wal-Mart siblings and heirs are each worth between $20 and $20.1 billion.

No. 9: S. Robson Walton

As chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Robson’s net worth stands at $19.7 billion

No. 10: Michael Bloomberg
New York City’s Mayor, who also owns media company Bloomberg LP, takes home $18 billion

Ten per cent of the total personal income in America was taken home by the top 0.1 per cent of earners in 2008 – the latest year for which figures are available.

The top one per cent took home more than a fifth of all personal income in the U.S.

Research suggests the reason for this extraordinary disparity is a huge rise in pay for company executives, the Washington Post reported.

According to analysis of tax returns by economists Jon Bakija, Adam Cole and Bradley T. Heim, two thirds of the people that make up the country’s wealthiest 0.1 per cent are executives.

Perhaps surprisingly, almost half are executives, managers and supervisors at non-financial businesses while just less than a fifth are managers at financial firms.

‘Basically, executives represent a much bigger share of the top incomes than a lot of people had thought,’ Bakija, a professor at Williams College, who with his co-authors is continuing the research, told the Post.

‘Before, we just didn’t know who these people were.’

Compensation for executives at the biggest companies in America has quadrupled since the 1970s while pay for 90 per cent of the country has stalled, further research shows.

At food company Dean Foods, for example, chief executive pay has risen by ten times since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, wages for unionised workers at the company has fallen in that time.

Workers who package the milk on the factory floor earn about £23 an hour – a decline of nine per cent in real terms.

Current chief executive, Gregg Engles, however, averages about $10 million in compensation each year.

He owns 64 acres of land in Colorado, a $6million home in Dallas and travels in the company’s $10 million Challenger 604 jet.

‘Do people b***h because Engles makes so much? Yeah. But there’s nothing you can do about it,’ company worker Bob Goad, 61, told the Post.

The Dean Foods pasteuriser, who has to run an auction business in his spare time to supplement his daily income, added: ‘These companies have the idea that the only people that matter to the company are those at the top.’

Joe Bopp, 55, works at a cemetery in the summer to beef up his wage.

‘Twenty-three dollars an hour sounds like a lot of money,’ he said. ‘But when you pay $4 a gallon for gas and $3.29 for a gallon of milk, it goes away real fast.’

Those who defend executive pay say they are worth more than they used to be because companies have grown and become more difficult to manage.

‘You’re king of the hill, and you get paid for that,’ worker Ray Kavanaugh, 61, said of Engles. ‘He’s worth it if he keep the company making money.’

Engles declined to comment when approached.

Bank Chiefs’ Average Pay Rises by 36 Percent

une 15, 2011

by Megan Murphy and Sharlene Goff

Financial Times

Bank chiefs’ average pay in the US and Europe leapt 36 percent last year to $9.7 million, ccording to data compiled for the Financial Times, despite variable performance across the sector.

Two of the industry’s biggest names – Jamie Dimon, the JPMorgan Chase chief executive, and Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein – were paid more than 15 times their 2009 earnings.

Mr Dimon received nearly $21 million in 2010, topping the FT’s survey of the salary and bonus packages awarded to 15 top bankers. Mr Blankfein earned $14.1 million, including a $5.4 million cash bonus – up from $863,000 in 2009.

In the UK, the chief executives of  Barclay, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland were awarded cash and stock bonuses valued at more than $26 million last year. That contrasts with 2009, when all four declined bonuses in a nod to public and political furore.

The analysis by Equilar, the US-based pay research company, shows chief executive pay at several banks is still significantly lower than its pre-crisis high.            Mr Blankfein earned more than $70 million at Goldman in 2007 while Mr Dimon received $40 million in 2006.

Regulators have declined to impose caps on bank pay, instead introducing changes they believe will limit incentives to take excessive risks. That has led many banks to increase fixed salaries, reduce employees’ reliance on annual bonuses and defer cash and stock awards over several years.

“The real story around pay is the progress on ensuring bonuses are deferred, paid in shares and subject to clawback and performance targets, rather than the headline figure,” said Angela Knight, British Bankers’ Association chief executive.

he Equilar analysis shows, however, that salary is generally only a fraction of total pay-outs.

James Gorman, Morgan Stanley chief executive, was paid $14.9 million in 2010, only $800,000 of which was fixed salary. A $9.3 million stock bonus awarded to Brady Dougan, Credit Suisse chief executive, was four times his fixed pay-out.

Two of the biggest winners in the 2010 pay stakes were UK chief executives who have since left their employers.

Eric Daniels, former head of Lloyds Banking Group, was awarded $8.4 million last year, up from $5 million in 2009. Former Barclays head John Varley earned nearly $6 million, a 239 percent increase on 2009.
The Dance of the Apostates: Michele Bachmann’s First Dude

Michele Bachmann’s growing 2012 buzz won’t just put her positions under a microscope—her husband, Marcus, a Christian counselor, believes in a “homosexual agenda” and has referred to gays as “barbarians.”

June 15, 2011

by David Graham

The Daily Beast

Plenty of politicians refer to their spouses as true partners, important counselors, and advisers on the campaign trail and in office. But Marcus Bachmann is all that and more for Rep. Michele Bachmann. He shares his wife’s religious path, political conversion, and unorthodox views, and he’s reputed to be one her few close advisers.

So who is Mr. Bachmann, the man who would be first husband? A Christian therapist, he has referred to gays as “barbarians,” raised five children and nearly two dozen foster children with his wife, and stood by her side throughout her political career. (For her part, she put her career as a tax-litigation attorney on hold to raise her children when they were young.) But he’s also a private person. He’s sometimes refused to discuss his work, and the Bachmann campaign didn’t return a request for comment, although he’s spoken on Christian radio shows in the past.

The couple met at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. In school, they bonded over their shared faith as born-again Christians, but also over politics. It wasn’t what one might imagine, though: Michele Bachmann has spoken of how they worked together on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976. Mr. Bachmann has remained involved in her campaigns ever since. “I’m her strategist,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in March.

And Ron Carey, a plugged-in Minnesota GOP veteran who briefly served as Bachmann’s chief of staff, has said Marcus and son Lucas were the congresswoman’s main advisers on the full spectrum of issues. “The only person she talks to as an insider is her husband, Marcus, who’s a wonderful man, and her son Lucas,” Carey told the Star-Tribune. (Carey has been critical of his former boss, telling the Associated Press in February that she was unelectable and even so would not “be ready for the position of the president of the United States.”)

On the other hand, a comprehensive profile in City Pages, a Twin Cities alternative weekly, described Marcus Bachmann as little known to adversaries and allies alike, other than an appearance working the floor at the 2006 Minnesota GOP convention.

“Too often do we find counselors who will excuse a person and allow their feelings to take charge,” Marcus Bachmann has said.

But where Bachmann’s political involvement is enigmatic, his clinical practice is slightly clearer—and more contentious. Bachmann and Associates advertises “Christian counseling,” and as a “personal mission statement,” he writes, “I believe my call is to minister to the needs of people in a practical, effective, and sensitive way. Christ is the Almighty Counselor.” His focus in part reflects his training, which included a master’s degree at Regent University, the Virginia institution founded by Pat Robertson, as well as a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Union Institute and University, a correspondence-based school in Cincinnati.

His views on counseling are unorthodox. In one radio interview, posted to YouTube, he criticizes counselors who focused on patients’ feelings, saying that instead patients should be instructed on the correct path. “Our culture is filled with, ‘How do you feel?’” he said. “When you get a counselor saying, ‘How do you feel?’ that’s really a mistake. What should drive us is the undeniable truth and the godly principles of truth in God’s word… Too often do we find counselors who will excuse a person and allow their feelings to take charge.” In another interview, he said, “We’ve decided if you feel it, it’s all right.”

Exhibit A is homosexuality, a topic on which Rep. Bachmann has also expressed particularly strident views, calling for a ban on same-sex marriage on the grounds that it would lead to schoolchildren being indoctrinated into homosexuality.

In November 2005, Marcus Bachmann delivered a presentation called “The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda” at the Minnesota Pastors’ Summit. According to a gay activist who attended and spoke to City Pages, Bachmann’s presentation ended with testimony from three people who claimed they’d been gay and had been “cured” and become straight. But Bachmann has denied that he works to turn gay patients straight. “If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that,” he told the newspaper. “But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don’t have a problem with that.”

That’s hard to reconcile with other statements he’s made, however. “Barbarians need to be educated, they need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels it or thinks it, doesn’t mean we need to go down that road,” he said while discussing homosexuality during the radio interview. “We have a responsibility as parents and authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings.”

Such views are becoming rare in the U.S.; a recent Gallup poll found that for the first time ever, a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.

With her stellar performance in the GOP presidential debate on June 13, Michele Bachmann’s reputation is quickly transforming from oddball outsider to formidable campaigner. That will certainly bring a new focus on her family, including her husband and his past statements. But the duo has found improbable success before—and might be able to do so again.

David Graham is a reporter for Newsweek covering politics, national affairs, and business. His writing has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The National in Abu Dhabi.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

Did Michele Bachmann “raise” 23 foster kids?

une 17, 2011

by Brian Montopoli

CBS News

NEW ORLEANS – After her speech at the Republican Leadership Conference, I asked GOP presidential candidate and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann about her repeated claims that she has “raised” 23 foster children, a comment she reiterated in an interview with CNN following her speech.

Writing in the Daily Beast this week, Michelle Goldberg quoted Kris Harvieux, who worked as a senior social worker in the foster care system in Bachmann’s county, who said at least some of Bachmann’s placements were likely short term.

“Some of them you have for a week. Some of them you have for three years, some you have for six months,” he said. “She makes it sound like she got them at birth and raised them to adulthood, but that’s not true.”

According to Goldberg, the Minnesota Department of Human Services reports that Bachmann’s foster care license allowed her to care for at most three children at any one time; she had the license for 7 1/2 years.

Asked to explain her situation with her foster children, Bachmann said “we took children in as teenagers.”

“Their family was facing a challenge and they weren’t going to be able to be at home with their parents and so we took them in as teenagers,” she continued. “And our job was to see that they graduated from high school and were successfully launched into the world.”

Asked how long they lived with her, she said “it varied.”

I asked Bachmann to explain the parameters of how long the children lived with her – was it as short as one week? As long as three years?

“It varied, it really varied depending on the children,” Bachmann responded. “And we’ve never gotten into specifics about the children because we’ve always wanted to observe their privacy and that of their families. As I’m sure you can appreciate.”

Comment: In the midst of economic collapse, a coming enormous national mortgage fraud and other things, what this country needs is sanity and good leadership. It is obvious that we will not get this if the misguided public puts raging religious nuts like the Bachmann wierdo into the White House. Ed.

Surprise! TSA Is Searching Your Car, Subway, Ferry, Bus, AND Plane

June 20, 2011

by Jen Phillips

Mother Jones

Think you could avoid the TSA’s body scanners and pat-downs by taking Amtrak? Think again. Even your daily commute isn’t safe from TSA screenings. And because the TSA is working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol, you may have your immigration status examined along with your “junk“.

As part of the TSA’s request for FY 2012 funding, TSA Administrator John Pistole told Congress last week that the TSA conducts 8,000 unannounced security screenings every year. These screenings, conducted with local law enforcement agencies as well as immigration, can be as simple as checking out cargo at a busy seaport. But more and more, they seem to involve giving airport-style pat-downs and screenings of unsuspecting passengers at bus terminals, ferries, and even subways.

These surprise visits are part of the TSA’s VIPR program: Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response. The VIPR program first started doing searches in 2007, and has grown since then. Currently, the TSA only has 25 VIPR teams doing these impromptu searches: in 2012, it wants to get 12 more.

The searches are in the name of passenger security, and the TSA says it wants to prevent incidents like the 2004 Madrid train bombings. But if the airports’ TSA searches miss security risks like large knives, loaded guns, and explosives, there’s certainly the chance that screenings at train stations would be similarly flawed.

Not to worry: security isn’t the only goal of VIPR. A recent VIPR operation/screening at a Tampa Greyhound bus station was conducted with US Border Patrol and ICE. “What we’re looking for is threats to national security as well as immigration law violators,” said Steve McDonald from US Border Patrol. An ICE representative said that they were also looking for smuggling, and Gary Milano from Homeland Security said that although that was the first time the Tampa bus depot had been screened, VIPR would be back again sometime in the future and was using the element of surprise as a deterrent to “the bad guys.”

Although one man at the Tampa screening said he felt “safer,” VIPR operations are not without their naysayers. A VIPR screening at a Des Moines Greyhound station last week is alleged to have targeted Latinos. Another TSA/Border Patrol VIPR screening on a trolley in San Diego resulted in three teens being handcuffed and deported while on their way to school. Around 20 others were also deported, according to local news outlets.

The trolley is part of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. “We believe this is a flagrant violation of human rights, when we have a situation in which children are being separated from their families without the proper due process rights being afforded to them,” said a spokesman for the girl’s family. The three teens nabbed in the San Diego VIPR operation were deported to Tijuana, but later allowed to re-enter the United States on humanitarian visas.

More children, this time train passengers disembarking at Savannah, Georgia, were treated to questionable TSA treatment in February along with their families. While the passengers (who again, had just gotten OFF a train) were lifting their shirts and having bras handled during pat-downs, their luggage was sitting unattended on the train platform.

The TSA later admitted that the VIPR operation should have ended before the train entered the station, but told the public that the Savannah passengers didn’t have to enter the screening area… even though an eye-witness says a TSA agent instructed them to go into the screening area to collect their luggage… the luggage that was actually waiting somewhere else.

VIPR operations are now even targeting freight trucks on highways. In addition to the random checks on public transit systems, it makes you wonder: can private vehicles be far behind? Will there be any mode of transportation beyond the reach of the TSA?

Conversations with the Crow

When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert  T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Here is the eighty-first  chapter

Conversation No. 81

Date: Sunday, April 20, 1997

Commenced: 9;10 AM CST

Concluded: 9:27AM CST

GD: Just to let you know, Robert, I was able to sell the two drawings I got from Mueller.

RTC: Very good, Gregory. Did you get your price for them?
GD Yes. Fine Chagal trash. I can understand why Hitler burned a lot of this but it does sell. Mueller must have had a warehouse full of this. Much of it came from Jewish collections in Paris and Amsterdam and to my mind, just artistic trash. Same school as the idea that Myron and Estelle bought the Picasso because it matched their rug. Taste up the anus. A friend of mine was in Paris and visited the Rothschild palace there. The building was a beautiful place but the gaudy garbage inside looked like the parlor of a Tijuana whorehouse.

RTC: (Laughter) Well, there’s no disputing tastes, is there?

GD: No, but art is art and junk is junk. Stolen junk but junk the same.

RTC: What about the Polish piece?
GD: That Raphael? It’s safe now. When Heini died, his wife begged me to get it out of the house before someone saw it so I was of assistance. ‘Portait of a Gentlemen.” Looked more like a Hollywood makeup artist if you ask me but a beautiful piece. Well, Frank looted it and the Leonardo from the Poles in ’39 and they got the ‘Lady with the Ermine’ back but the Gestapo had bagged the Raphael and Mueller took it at the end week of the war. The Germans were looking for portable treasures, you know. , and after the war into the hands of its liberators for precisely the same reason. Many paintings, sculptures, rare books, manuscripts and other valuables have never surfaced in public since the war ended in 1945.The Raphael belonged to the wealthy Polish Czartoryski family. Hans Frank, the Governor of the former Polish territory. Frank brought the painting back to Germany since he had to evacuate his post as the Soviets advanced into Poland. The Raphael was taken from Frank by the Gestapo, and the Americans seized the Da Vinci and later returned it to the Poles. The Raphael painting, “Portrait of a Gentleman,” is still listed as missing.

RTC: I understand we got our hands on boatloads of stolen art. Wasn’t Mueller selling it as I recall?

GD: Yes. He got the Rothschild coins, which consisted of a collection of over 2,000 rare gold coins taken from the Vienna branch of the Rothschild family and kept at the Hohenfurth monastery in Czechoslovakia for safe keeping. These coins were taken from the Linz collection in the last month of the war by Dr. von Hummel, Bormann’s secretary, and Dr. Rupprecht, curator of Hitler’s armor collection and an acquaintance of Müller. The collection was transported by car to Berchtesgaden and vanished from sight.

RTC: Did Mueller get these too, are you sure?
GD: I have seen some of them. Yes. Of course the Raphael would be impossible to sell in public auction, but the coins are a different matter. Some for the wife and his second family, some for my dealer friends and some for me. A good, constructive business, Robert.

RTC: All that income was most welcome.

GD: Oh yes, and I wonder how many top CIA people have a Raphael or Fra Fillippi print  on their walls. I have a few of my own. Who can prove where they came from? Who cares? On the other hand, if the Polacks discovered where the Raphael was now, there would be many loud questions asked.

RTC: I would imagine that we kept most of that noise making down. Amazing what a few private threats will do.

GD: Well, if I had it, I would just hang it on my wall and avoid eating Polish sausage. My God, Heini made millions with the stuff. And I’ll bet he even gave you people a few dollars out of the kindness of his heart.

RTC: We take it where we get it. Swiss gold, Nazi looted art, drugs, name it and rejoice.

GD: Name it? You adulterated the gold reserves of a number of our blessed allies during the war…or rather after it. They think they have pure gold bars but what they do have are low grade gold heavily plated. Well, they put the stuff in their vaults and never use it. And how much of the other countries stuff did you keep? I mean, just to protect it from the Russians? Of course they stole too but we beat them to most of it. I have a tea service that belonged to Catherine the Great but someone wants to buy it so I may part with it. I don’t give tea parties these days and silver is so hard to keep clean.

RTC: If you have a nice porcelain teapot, Emily would love it.

GD: I have about eight in storage. Eighteenth century French do?

RTC: Original?
GD: Of course. Who knows where it came from so enjoy it. I have a nice gold cigarette case that belonged to Nicholas the Second. Faberge work. Don’t smoke but it looks nice on the table right under a nice oil of the last Tsar. They smoked long cigarettes with attached cardboard holders. Has Nicky’s initial set with stones on the front lower right. You smoke?
RTC: Well……..I’m not supposed to. Were you going to give me the gold case?

GD: I thought a box of Camels might do.

RTC: A very kind person. But you don’t smoke.

RRRGD: Ah, but you’re not supposed to. How about a nice eighteenth century silver Torah? The Gestapo bagged it in some synagogue in Stuttgart in November of 38. Tag and all. Fine work but it looks weird in the hall and like the silver service, it’s a bitch to keep clean.

RTC: No thanks.

(Concluded at 9:27 AM CST)

Dramatis personae:

James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organizaion eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired, lives in Florida, and works for the CIA as an “advisor.”

Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers specializing in creative writing

No responses yet

Leave a Reply