“Last night, I spoke on the House floor about a painful time in my life when the pregnancy that my husband and I prayed for was unsuccessful. I had what’s called dilation and evacuation or d & e. The fetus slipped from my uterus into my vagina and could not survive. Today some news reports are implying that I wanted my pregnancy to end, but that is simply not true. I lost my baby.
“It is time to stop politicizing women’s health. For some, describing a procedure like the one I endured is nothing more than talking points. But for millions of women like me it’s much more—it’s something that will always be a part of us.
“Planned Parenthood provides vital services to women including family planning and cervical cancer screenings. I am disappointed that the House passed the Pence amendment to defund it. These sorts of policies would turn back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights. I urge the Senate to defeat it. It is time to stop playing politics with our lives.”
Having read this, I certainly hope that Senator Inouye's promise that this Pence Amendment will be DOA (Dead on Arrival) once it hits the Senate floor will be correct. These are very serious times, however, and the very possible threat of having the government shut down for any length of time is absolutely outrageous and unconscionable! Our beloved nation appears to be unraveling before our eyes and spinning out of control...
Nigeria:Halliburton Scandal - Officials Got Only U.S$21 Million, AGF Confirms
15 February 2011
He also told the lawmakers during the 2011 budget defence session by the Federal Ministry of Justice that none of the big names being bandied about in the media was linked with the Halliburton scandal.
Members of the Senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters headed by Senator Dahiru Umaru expressed concerns over the utilization of multi-billion naira revenue generated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries without the approval of the National Assembly.
One of the Committee members, Senator Ikechukwu Obiora, who is also the chairman, Ad-hoc committee on sale of Federal Government houses called for public hearing on the scandal with a view to ascertaining the true position.
He noted, "the special assistant to (former) President Olusegun Obasanjo was paid money in order to influence the award of this contract", asking, "Was the contract a continuous one? So the successive governments were just taking part of w
hat belong to them?Was the money paid to Obasanjo's aide meant for the aide personally or was it meant for the former president?"
While responding to questions on the investigation, Adoke disclosed that out of the sum of $180 million involved in the bribery scandal, the sum of $21 million was given to government officials spanning the regimes of the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.
The minister said, "The Halliburton scandal is beyond the regime of former President Obasanjo, it started from the time of Abacha, even officials of the government of General Abacha had collected money, the officials of the government of General Abdulsalam have collected
money, it was a continuous process..."Adoke noted that "the contract was already in existence" adding that some of the officials of government were directly involved in thenbribery scandal. On whether former President Obasanjo partook in the bribe, Adoke said "the aide said he collected it and he admitted that it was not for the former President. He emphatically said that Obasanjo never knew about it."
He however noted that none of the big names mentioned by the media were linked with the Halliburton scandal, noting that "they gave this money to influence the award of LNG contract in Nigeria. Like I said $180 million as report was by the London lawyer acting as the
consultant hired by Halliburton..."Adoke however disclosed that the sum of $1 billion has so far been repatriated from the looted funds by Abacha, just as he expressed readiness to provide copies of the update report on the $180 million bribery scandal to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for perusal.
The AGF added that Obasanjo had agreement with Tesler (Halliburton's lawyer) to repatriate 50 percent of the money recovered on behalf of the Federal Government "but I don't know why the money has not been repatriated to Nigeria" since then. After the response, Obiora urged the committee "to conduct full fledged public hearing so thast we can really go into the bribery scandal."
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) --Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer ofJPMorgan Chase & Co., has harsh words for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are “the biggest disasters of all time,” Dimon told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last fall, according to his just-released interview.
Along with others, Dimon greatly exaggerates the role Fannie and Freddie played in the financial crisis, a theme my MIT colleague,Daron Acemoglu, has written about with great clarity.
Too many bankers assert some version of the refrain: Fannie Mae made me do it. As the FCIC’sreportmakes clear, it was the private sector that led us into the financial crisis by making massive subprime bets and then using complex derivatives deals to magnify the downside risks.
Nevertheless, Dimon makes a good point in the sense that Fannie and Freddie became too powerful politically, had too little equity relative to their debt levels and took on reckless amounts of risk. They blew themselves up at great cost to taxpayers.
Who are the government sponsored enterprises today? Which entities are too big to fail, in the eyes of lawmakers and regulators, and therefore are receiving implicit, no-cost government guarantees?
The answer is our largest bank holding companies such as JPMorgan, the second-biggest U.S. bank in terms of assets behindBank of America Corp.This point is made in the latest quarterly report fromNeil Barofsky, the special inspector-general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Who has an incentive to increase debt relative to equity in really big ways? Again, it’s the largest banks. The executives in these companies are paid based on their return on equity -- and the easiest way to increase that is to add leverage. Of course, this increases returns only when times are good. It also increases the potential losses when markets tumble. In other words, greater leverage increases risk.
But the global executives who congregated at Davos, Switzerland, a few weeks ago were uniformly optimistic, and further encouraged by cheerleading from Dimon and his financial industry colleagues.
The government’s best intentions notwithstanding, there is no way bank executives will ever be compensated on a properly risk-adjusted basis. In fact,researchby economists Sanjai Bhagat and Brian Bolton shows that top private-sector bankers know when to cash out: before all the suckers get crushed. And it is cash that bank CEOs get -- the chief executives of the 14 largest U.S. financial companies received cash inflow worth $2.6 billion between 2000 and 2008.
If shareholders are protected from being wiped out by the implicit too-big-to-fail guarantee, they should welcome the arrival of additional leverage as the economy improves. In fact, as the latest quarterly earnings results appear, the financial press has started to ask Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other banks why they don’t increase their leverage even more.
Top bankers are also pressing hard for the right to increase dividend payments. That’s effectively a transfer from creditors and taxpayers tomorrow (because of the guarantee) to shareholders today.
Dimon also wants JPMorgan to become more global, especially by expanding more into emerging markets. U.S. Treasury SecretaryTimothy Geithnerendorsed this approach in an interview he gave to the New Republic, effectively arguing that we should want big, highly leveraged U.S. banks to make large bets on highly volatile emerging markets.
With Geithner firmly entrenched at the Treasury Department and withBill Daley, former senior lobbyist at JPMorgan, nowBarack Obama’s chief of staff, Dimon has all the political cover he needs.
Dimon himself has argued that we can’t deal with too-big- to-fail until we have a way to manage the orderly liquidation of big banks. Yet even with the Dodd-Frank overhaul enacted, we still have no process for handling the failure of a big cross- border bank like JPMorgan.
There is no framework -- either through the courts or directly between governments -- to deal with such a collapse, other than through a Lehman-type bankruptcy. So when a big bank next gets into trouble, the choice will be between allowing a meltdown, with presumably awful financial consequences, and providing a bailout, which can have big fiscal impact.
Recent experiences in Ireland should warn us all against the we’ll-do-a-bailout-when-needed approach advocated by Geithner. Three big banks built up a combined balance sheet worth about two times Ireland’s gross domestic product. They speculated heavily in commercial real estate, financed by borrowing from others in the euro zone. The failure and resulting bailout ruined the fiscal solvency of the Irish government and forced officials to ask for a rescue led by the International Monetary Fund.
As Dimon told the FCIC in October 2010, referring to Fannie and Freddie: “That one was an accident waiting to happen,” and “We all knew about it, we all worried about it, no one did anything about it.” He will probably say the same thing after the next crisis involving government-sponsored enterprise -- but next time the term will refer the likes of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Morgan Stanley and his own JPMorgan.
(Simon Johnson, co-author of “13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown” and a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
I’ve been reading about the events in Egypt and I found myself wondering what would happen if the US entered some kind of period of social/political unrest. I was surprised at how quickly the Egyptian government could shut off the internet, close the banks, etc.
Thinking back to the period after 9/11 I was also surprised at how everyone here panicked, and how quickly habeus corpus, and civil rights in general, were tossed to the side like trash. I don’t have any faith that the US would act any better if something hugely disruptive came around again.
I was thinking of making my own “survival kit.” I’m soliciting comments as to what you would keep on hand, like how much cash (it’s useless in my savings acct. anyway). I plan also to get my radio operator’s license (HAM). I’m not going to get any guns (there are kids in the house), and I reject on principle that kind of Armageddon-head for the hills mentality, but I want to be able to lie low, communicate with my family, keep people safe and fed, and get out of town if the need arises.
I already have the basics of food, water, battery-operated radio, etc. for earthquakes, but I’m thinking about a more disruptive scenario.
What do you think?