Friday, December 31, 2010

Federal Appeals Court temporarily blocks Obama administration from control of Texas atmosphere

12/31/10, "Court blocks US from taking over Texas carbon emissions program," Bloomberg, Geimann, Schoenberg

"A federal appeals court temporarily blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking control of Texas’s carbon-emission rules
  • while it considers the state’s bid to fend off federal intervention.

Texas filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington yesterday, saying the EPA didn’t give adequate notice or allow for comments on a proposed federal takeover of the state’s air permitting program on Jan. 2. Last night, the court ordered the agency to hold off on its plan while the court considers whether to delay the move until the case is resolved.

  • The appeals court ordered the EPA to respond to Texas’s motion by Jan. 6. Challenges to federal rules are brought directly to appeals courts.

The EPA is both unlawfully commandeering Texas’ environmental enforcement program and violating federal laws that give the state and its residents the opportunity to fully participate in the regulatory process,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a Dec. 30 statement.

  • Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The case is Texas v. Environmental Protection Agency, 10- 1425, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington)."

via Tom Nelson

Steve Rattner former Obama car czar totals $16 million fines for bribes against NY State pension funds

Rattner, a member of the glitterati, was allowed to do a media campaign to sell his book about his genius as Obama car czar while announcement of his federal penalties was pending. Thursday's announcement wrapped up the NY State portion of his fines.

12/30/10, "Rattner Coughs Up $10M to Settle Pay-to-Play Suit," WSJ, Law Blog, Koppel

"Rattner has agreed to pay $10 million to settle allegations that he paid kickbacks to land business
  • from New York’s $125 billion pension fund.

Here’s a WSJ report on the settlement, which also requires Rattner to refrain from doing business with any New York pension funds for 5 years. (And here’s a post from WSJ’s Deal Journal blog.)"...


12/30/10, "Rattner Will Pay $10 Million in Restitution, Cuomo Says," Bloomberg, McLaughlin

"The financial adviser last month settled a parallel probe with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for $6.2 million and a two-year ban
  • from associating with broker- dealers or investment advisers....
Rattner has handled the personal and philanthropic finances of New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whom
  • Rattner supported through his chairmanship of Democrats for Bloomberg during the 2005 re-election campaign."...
10/13/10, "It's important to understand that he (Rattner) isn't just an important person, he is a very specific kind of a very important New York person.
  • He works for important clients at important banks, writes important books, throws important parties in important homes, keeps important friends,
  • is called on to do important things in the capital, and has a wife that does important Democratic Party fundraising."...NY Observer, Abelson
Joe Klein says people like Steve Rattner are the reason we have the Tea Party today (which like the NY Times, Time Magazine may view as a national embarrassment).

12/31/10, "Mr. Rattner, who recently published a book about his work in the auto-industry rescue, also
  • about the auto industry"...Wall St. Journal, "Rattner settles scandal for $10 million," by Corkery and Rothfeld
  • (Item is last sentence in WSJ article)


Home foreclosures jump in 3rd qtr., increasing number seek solutions outside failed Obama program

12/29/10, "Home foreclosures jump in third quarter: regulators," Reuters, D. Clarke

"U.S. home foreclosures jumped in the third quarter and banks' efforts to keep borrowers in their homes dropped as the housing market continues to struggle, U.S. bank regulators said on Wednesday.
  • The regulators said one reason for the increase in foreclosures is that banks have "exhausted" options for keeping many delinquent borrowers in their homes through programs such as loan modifications.

Newly-initiated foreclosures increased to 382,000 in the third quarter, a 31.2 percent jump over the previous quarter and a 3.7 percent rise from the same quarter a year ago, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) said in a quarterly mortgage report.

The number of foreclosures in process increased to 1.2 million,

  • a 4.5 percent increase from the second quarter and

  • a 10.1 percent increase from a year ago, according to the regulators....

Regulators also said a possible reason for the foreclosure uptick in the quarter was that a large pool of borrowers who were being considered for home retention programs but did not qualify moved through the system....

Foreclosures have become a hot political topic and mortgage servicers have come under fire in recent months amid accusations they did not properly review documents before attempting to take borrowers' homes.
  • These concerns prompted the country's 50 state attorneys general to coordinate an investigation of lenders such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Ally Financial's GMAC unit.

Some banks, including BofA, temporarily suspended foreclosure proceedings late in the third quarter to review procedures....

State attorneys general and regulators have been pushing banks to perform more loan modifications and the report shows

  • these efforts have had mixed results.

Overall home retention actions taken by banks dropped by 17 percent compared to the second quarter, but most of that was due to decreases in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the Obama administration's leading foreclosure prevention effort.

  • In the third quarter, HAMP loan modifications slid by almost 46 percent, according to the report.

Regulators said the drop in HAMP modifications is likely due to a few factors, including that a large pool of borrowers who were being considered for the program

  • turned out not to be eligible once their qualifications were fully reviewed.

Treasury launched HAMP to try to find a way to reduce mortgage payments for struggling homeowners who wanted to keep their homes but who were at imminent risk of foreclosure.

But it is widely regarded as a flawed program, and the incoming Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,

  • Representative Darrell Issa, has called for it to be ended.

Regulators pointed out that mortgage servicers are pursuing more modifications outside of HAMP and

  • such efforts increased by 10 percent in the third quarter.

The report, which covers 33 million loans serviced by national banks and federally regulated thrifts, shows that the amount of borrowers making their mortgage payments on time remains steady at 87.4 percent.

The amount of seriously delinquent loans, those 60 days or more past due, dropped 6.4 percent from the second quarter. The amount of loans that were 30 to 59 days past due, however, increased 4.3 percent."

via Drudge Report

Mandatory new 'green' boilers in UK give off acid vapors and don't work in cold weather

12/31/10, UPDATE, More on the 'green' boilers from a UK blog: "A scandal emerges"
  • 'Green' boilers give off acid vapors.
12/30/10, "Freezing Brits steamed over new 'green' boilers," American Thinker, Phil Boehmke

"Five years ago the global warming crowd and their comrades in the Labour Party mandated the use of new green technology boilers in Great Britain. Government and environmental experts said that the ‘condensing boilers’ would not only greatly reduce the consumer’s carbon footprint, but would also lower their heating bills. Saving money and saving the planet, what could be better?

The UK Daily Mail reports that during the recent record cold spell in Great Britain, tens of thousands of people were without heat due to a serious flaw in the new boiler’s design.

  • British Gas is understood to have had 60,000 call-outs in Yorkshire alone. And the cost to call out a plumber? It can be between £ 200 to £ 300 on a bank holiday. And don’t forget about VAT.
‘We’ve had double the number of call-outs as in the same period last year,’ says Charlie Mullins, MD of Pimlico Plumbers in London, the country’s largest independent plumbing company.
“It is a massive problem. Some customers were ready to move out because their condensing boilers broke. If I had a choice, I’d put in a non-condensing boiler every time.”
It’s all the more infuriating because the problem causing these breakdowns is so simple. In cold weather, the pipe that takes waste water from the back of the condensing boiler-which isn’t there in a normal boiler-freezes solid, shutting down the system and in many cases causing permanent damage.
But this problem is just one of many that have plagued this boiler design since they became popular in the Nineties. Many plumbers consider them to be little more than a multi-billion-pound con-trick.
The condensing boilers were designed to recycle the CO2 emissions and steam that would normally be vented outside and then feed it back into the system through the waste water pipe. The new system was touted to increase efficiency by as much as 93%.

In 2005 Labour deputy PM John Prescott made the condensing boiler mandate a key part of his plan to meet the CO2 reduction targets called for in the Kyoto Protocol. Three years later in an effort to sell the green technology boondoggle to the people, the government initiated a program which paid homeowners £ 400 towards the purchase and installation of the new boilers.
Sales people quickly jumped on the new market and produced glowing savings estimates for their customers. Boiler manufacturers and installers enjoyed a boom as they removed perfectly good boilers and replaced then with the new eco-friendly units. Everything was going smoothly until frustrated consumers discovered that their
  • new boilers didn’t work in really cold weather.
To make matters worse, the new boilers typically last only 3-6 years and the costs of parts to repair the units are outrageously high. One of the bi-products of the condensation process is the creation of acidic water vapor from the dissolved nitrogen and sulfur oxides which corrode the delicate system components. Gee, the old boilers were very reliable
  • and lasted 20 years on average."


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Central California hunger and poverty deliberately planned by US Senate among others

A region that once fed the world now resembles the average third world country filled with misery and poverty affecting the entire US.

The Delta smelt ruling impacts "the water supply for more than half of the state of California" according to California Judge Wanger. (12/15/10, para. 6).
9/22/09, "Senate rejects measure to turn California water on," Washington Times, Amanda Carpenter

12/30/10, "California’s Central Valley: Zimbabwe West?," Hot Air, Ed Morrissey

"Until recently, California’s Central Valley was one of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions. Not only did it feed itself, the state of California, and the entire country, it also produced exports to other nations. That kind of enterprise employed a lot of people in Central California, from farm hands to wholesalers, and created a high standard of living.

That continued right up to the moment that the federal government got more concerned over
  • the Delta smelt, a small, inedible fish,
  • than feeding people.
A court order cut off water deliveries for seven months out of the year to the Central Valley at the same time a drought hit, and the combination turned a once-fertile breadbasket to the world into a Dust Bowl — or as Investors Business Daily suggests,
  • a government-initiated agricultural disaster on the same order as Zimbabwe today or Ukraine in the 1930s....

It isn’t just Fresno, although it appears to have taken the worst of the crisis. Besides Fresno, four other Central Valley cities got listed in the bottom ten of MarketWatch’s 2010 survey on the worst places to do business in the US. Fresno came in dead last at 102 on the list.

The collapse has another element to it for Californians as well. The state has a huge budget shortfall, currently estimated around $26 billion, and

  • cannot afford to expand safety-net programs to help the Central Valley.

One reason the budget hole is so large is because of the lack of revenue from normally-robust agricultural production in that region. Instead of being a net revenue producer, the Central Valley threatens to become a sinkhole of welfare spending that

  • will and an economy that would normally rank among the top 10 in the world if considered as a nation unto itself.

This is entirely the result of federal government intervention in agriculture, which might be understandable if it was intended to help agriculture. Instead,

  • and Americans as a whole.

Thanks to the collapse of the Central Valley, food prices will increase as we have to import more from countries with much less strict" hygiene and safety standards. "The starvation that has a national embarrassment, and a moral outrage."...

Nevertheless, so-called environmentalists hope for even tighter water restrictions:

12/14/10, "Doug Obegi a staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council who worked on the case...

predicted changes ordered by Wanger would not allow state and federal water projects to return to the record-breaking pumping levels they reached from 2000 to 2007.

P.S. 9/28/10, "Republicans green with democrat envy: GOP activists pursue a liberal eco-agenda," the Washington Times, Green Hell blog by Steve Milloy.

  • (We got rid of Mike Castle. One down. ed.)


Mayor Bloomberg withheld some Ground Zero mosque communications

"Moreover, City Hall held back some documents, claiming exemptions for privileged communications. "...
"As long as Mayor Mike is in the dock, let us also note that when it comes to building a mosque near Ground Zero, he has from the start stood behind the First Amendment -- sort of.
  • That is, he likes the part that gives Muslims the right to build a house of worship just about anywhere they want.

But the part guaranteeing a separation between religion and government?

  • Not so much.

That much became obvious last week with the release of e-mails demonstrating that City Hall

  • did much more than offer the mosque's organizers routine help.

In fact, it turns out that Team Bloomberg was heavily involved in operating the political machinery needed to ensure that various regulatory agencies approved the controversial project -- which has rightly drawn the ire of many 9/11 survivors and victims' families.

Even to the point of pressing Community Board 1 to cast an approving vote -- so that the chairman of the
That not only raises First Amendment questions -- it also provides serious doubts about the legitimacy of the LPC vote,
  • which appears to have been dictated far more by politics than by any consideration of the building's architectural and historical merit.
Bloomberg's community affairs commissioner even ghost-wrote a letter to CB1 on behalf of Daisy Khan, wife of mosque promoter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Meanwhile, officials intervened to obtain permits so that prayers could be conducted at the site.
  • Bloomberg's office maintains that the mayor's staff did nothing out of the ordinary on behalf of the mosque.

But if that's so, why did City Hall wait nearly five months before responding to the Freedom of Information request from the American Center for Law & Justice --

  • acquiescing just before Christmas?

Moreover, City Hall held back some documents, claiming exemptions for privileged communications.

All this is objectionable on its face.

  • But the violence it does the First Amendment takes the offense
  • to a fundamentally higher level.

Government has no business advocating for any religion. That's the principle that

  • chased Nativity scenes from the public square.

Leave it to Mike Bloomberg to cherry-pick one of America's founding principles."

via Hot Air

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

US stopped mining 'rare earths' thinking Communist China would share theirs, now China says its cutting exports

Rare earths minerals are needed to produce wind turbines, hybrid cars, and many electronics products. US mines none of its own.
"China has said it will cut exports of rare earth minerals by 10% in 2011.

World manufacturers are heavily reliant on China for these minerals, which are

  • essential for making many electronic goods, such as TVs and PC monitors.

China has 97% of the world's known supply of the goods. The US mined none last year.

  • Rare earth minerals have been a thorny trade topic for some time, and China has previously promised not to cut supplies drastically.

Rare earths are a collection of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table: scandium, yttrium, and some fifteen lanthanides....

The US last week said it was "very concerned about China's export restraints on rare earth materials, antimony and tungsten" and could

  • still file a case on that at the World Trade Organisation.

In September, China blocked exports of rare earths to Japan after a territorial row but later resumed them....

  • There uses also include the manufacture of wind turbines and hybrid cars."...

10/27/10, This cutback in rare earths from Communist China has been feared by the US and EU.

  • The US opted out of 'rare earths' mining because our environmental and wage laws made it too expensive. Since it is needed to make wind turbines and other 'green' items, it follows the US is in no 'race' for green jobs, as it claims.
Inside China's secret toxic unobtainium mine," DailyMailOnline, Jan. 10, 2010


GAO sees problems in Obama government financial management

12/27/10, "GAO Sees Problems in Government’s Financial Management," Accounting Today

"The U.S. Government Accountability Office said it could not render an opinion
  • on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government,
because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.

“Even though significant progress has been made since the enactment of key financial management reforms in the 1990s, our report on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statement illustrates that much work remains to be done to improve federal financial management,” Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in a statement.
  • “Shortcomings in three areas again prevented us from expressing an opinion on the accrual-based financial statements.”

The main obstacles to a GAO opinion were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements unauditable, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and

  • (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

In addition, the GAO said last week it was unable to render an opinion on the 2010 Statement of Social Insurance because of significant uncertainties,

  • primarily related to the achievement of projected reductions in Medicare cost growth.

The consolidated financial statements discuss these uncertainties,

  • which relate to reductions in physician payment rates and
  • to productivity improvements, and

provide an illustrative alternative projection to illustrate the uncertainties.

Dodaro also cited material weaknesses involving an estimated

  • $125.4 billion in improper payments,
  • information security across government, and
  • tax collection activities.

He noted that three major agencies — the DOD, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor — did not get clean opinions.

  • Nineteen of 24 major agencies did get clean opinions on all their statements.

Given the federal government’s fiscal challenges, it’s imperative that Congress, the administration, and federal managers have reliable, useful, and timely financial and performance information,” Dodaro said. “Improved accuracy and transparency in financial reporting

  • are urgently needed.”"
It is understood that George Bush (father and son) did a bad job, which is why Jeb Bush's name should never be mentioned for public office. George Bush has now been gone for 2 years. Obama and the media said he would be much, much better, that we could sleep at night now. We are in a worse financial situation by far than we were 2 years ago, and Obama's reaction is to do nothing.

via Weasel Zippers

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanks anyhow, population leaving San Francisco Bay Area per Rose Institute study

12/21/10, "California to keep its 53 congressional seats," Contra Costa Times. Inside Bay Area, L. Vonderbrueggen

"The Census Bureau will not release until probably late March the detailed numbers down to the block level the redistricting commissioners need to do their work. The bureau will start rolling out state-by-state tables in February, but California is usually last.

Nonetheless, there has been ample speculation about how California's population shifts will drive the political landscape of the next decade.

Scholars at the conservative-leaning Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont College, in a study based on population estimates, found that California's population center continues to shift from its traditional coastal metropolitan regions toward inland communities.

The Census Bureau's numbers reflect actual counts rather than estimates, and the outcome could be much different.

But if the census figures uphold the Rose Institute's findings, the trend could have significant consequences for Bay Area lawmakers.

Six of the 10 congressional districts in the nine-county Bay Area have lost population in the past decade.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of San Francisco, represents the smallest congressional district in California

and its boundaries must expand in the 2011 redistricting plan in order to preserve equal representation. Also underpopulated are the districts of Reps. Barbara Lee, of Oakland; George Miller, of Martinez; Lynn Woolsey, of Santa Rosa; Jackie Speier, of San Mateo; and Anna Eshoo, of Palo Alto.

In the California Senate, the state's four most underpopulated districts are in the Bay Area, according to the Rose Institute's analysis, including seats held by Leland Yee and Mark Leno, both of San Francisco; Joe Simitian, of Palo Alto; and Loni Hancock, of Berkeley.

Nine of the 18 Assembly districts in the Rose study show under-population, including in the East Bay seat held by Sandre Swanson, of Alameda.

In 2001 and most prior decades, legislators adopted redistricting plans that kept sitting lawmakers in their home districts and preserved or improved the incumbents' party registration advantage. The self-serving nature of the 2001 maps, in particular, fueled critics, who were ultimately successful in their repeated ballot-box efforts to end the practice.

"With California's new Citizens Redistricting Commission now in charge of the state's redistricting process, incumbent legislators will no longer be able to control the effects of regional changes in California's population," the Rose Institute scholars wrote."

via Mark Levin show substitute host, Inga

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shariah compliant stock index now on Bombay Stock Exchange-BBC

12/27/10, "Bombay Stock Exchange launches Islamic index," BBC

"The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in the Indian city of Mumbai has launched a new index which consists of companies
  • that meet the Islamic legal code.

The Tasis Shariah 50 was formed using guidelines from an Indian Shariah advisory board.

  • Studies have found that most Muslims in India are excluded from the country's formal financial sector.

That is because Islamic law does not allow investment in companies that sell goods like alcohol, tobacco or weapons.

  • Neither does it allow investment in companies that derive significant profit from interest.

The index is intended to be the basis for other Shariah-compliant financial products.

'Come and invest'

BSE Managing Director and Chief Executive Madhu Kannan said that the new index would

  • attract Islamic and other "socially responsible" investors both in India and overseas.

"This index will create increased awareness of financial investments among the masses and help enhance financial inclusion," he said in a statement.

Companies included in the index have been screened by Tasis, which is based in Mumbai and whose board members

  • include Islamic scholars and legal experts....

Tasis said the index would "unlock the potential for Sharia investments in India".

"The BSE has the largest number of listed Sharia-compliant stocks in the world," said Shariq Nisar, director of research and operations at Tasis.

  • "All Muslim countries of the Middle East and Pakistan put together do not have as many listed Sharia-complaint stocks as are available on the BSE."

Stocks will be reviewed every month to ensure they continue to meet the criteria - any which do not will be removed, officials say."


Ugh. Scott Brown, Obama Republican, has $6.8 million in the bank


12/24/10, "Brown draws ire on the right," Boston Globe, Matt Viser

"No primary challenger has emerged, and it is unclear whether a newcomer could wage a serious fight against

  • Brown and his $6.8 million war chest....

Brown has been making strategic moves to expand his donor base, leaning more heavily on Massachusetts residents for support while also trying to make inroads with national campaign donor networks.

During the special election, when Brown became a national phenomenon, he was heavily reliant upon

  • non-Massachusetts residents for support.

In the 19 days before he was elected, nearly 70 percent of the 12,773 contributors who gave him more than $200 were from outside Massachusetts, according to a Globe analysis in February.

Since his Jan. 19 election victory, however, Brown has collected $1.1 million in donations of more than $200, with

  • more than 65 percent of those coming from Massachusetts residents, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics."...
In my view, Scott Brown isn't explained away by terms like, 'pragmatic, independent,' or 'Massachusetts Republican.' I've heard numerous audio clips of him since his election, and I'd describe his disposition as scornful, indifferent almost to the point of rudeness, disconnected. Overall he seems a phony, in one instance he even put out a last minute objection to something we knew he was going to vote for anyway. When a person is a complete phony it's pointless to discuss him in terms of conservative, right or left. Who cares?
  • If he fits any label, it's 'Obama Republican.'


Mafia expands its normal close ties in Switzerland

12/26/10, "Italian mafia spreads in Switzerland," AFP

"Switzerland has always been a key destination for Italy's mafia bosses to launder their assets or hide their cash, but recent probes show that
  • Italian organised crime is broadening its activities there.

Some groups, in particular the 'Ndrangheta from southern Italy's Calabria region, are also investing in property and businesses here, as well as

  • trafficking arms and drugs through Switzerland, sparking alarm among Swiss law enforcers.

In one example, the head of a mafia clan who was sentenced to 21 years in prison in Calabria had lived for several years in Switzerland.
  • Another member of the mafia was extradited from Switzerland to Italy after having been sentenced to 11 years in prison for arms and explosives trafficking and concealment, said Kunfermann.
In its latest annual report, Fedpol said it expected the mafia to transfer more of their businesses to Switzerland as they were coming under increasing pressure in Italy "due to the determination of authorities." ...
  • Switzerland is also being used for "drug trafficking on a large scale" and as a hideout for mafia members being hunted by police, added Kunfermann....

In an interview with Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Ducry claimed that

  • two financial companies -- PP Finance and World Financial Services -- were controlled by members of organised crime outfits.

"They gathered money that they had stolen in part from their clients by driving the two companies into bankruptcy. They then hid a part of this money and bought land in Sardinia....

  • "Behind these figureheads, there are two or three people who go up to Calabria and who take care of these companies very intensively," said Ducry.

Stephanie Oesch, author of the book "Organised Crime, A Threat for the Swiss Financial Centre?", estimates that the Italian mafia have laundered "between 20 to 30 billion Swiss francs" (20.8 to 31.2 billion US dollars) in the past five years in Switzerland through investments in restaurants, property, art or luxury."

These illegal groups have clearly increased their presence here, a sign that

  • the law is not adapted to act efficiently against them, said Oesch, who is also researcher at the University of Zurich.

  • Ducry meanwhile warned that Switzerland was not doing enough to tackle the problem.

"Switzerland is rather slow, too bureaucratic -- in my view, examining magistrates
  • need to coordinate better their investigative work with cantons and foreign authorities."...

After 4 long years a right turn in the House of Representatives, for example new Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen

12/16/10, "Ros-Lehtinen ready to shake up foreign policy establishment," Washington Post 'Right Turn,' by Jennifer Rubin

"The new House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is unabashedly delighted to be taking the gavel in hand and, with it, to start taking on a raft of foreign policy issues. She began a phone interview with me yesterday with cheery informality: "Hi, this is Ileana." And she declared up front her plans for the committee: "We are going to have great fun talking about freedom and democracy."

  • She was careful not to overstate her committee's jurisdiction, noting that she does not chair the appropriations committee.

She emphasized, however: "What we can do is shake the tree. There is always a better way to do things. Certainly, the State Department and international organizations can learn to do better." What she offers, she continued, is a forum for

  • challenging "the tone, the tenor and the policy" of the administration....

She stressed that part of her focus is on making sure taxpayer money is well spent. ("The State Department works for the taxpayers. I work for the taxpayers.") But that is not what gets her juices flowing. She wants to play a role in

  • "promoting the interests of the United States of America -- not being ashamed of American exceptionalism. We need to get back to the basics and make no apologies."
I asked her about the UN Human Rights Council, which the Obama administration decided to rejoin after the Bush administration pulled out. She rejected the idea that our presence has helped matters.
  • "In the time we have been a participant, things have gone from bad to worse," she said. "I didn't think that rogue's gallery had yet sunk to the bottom of depravity -- I guess that would be the heights of depravity.
They have castigated Israel in every possible way. I don't think our presence has made that body any more responsive." To the contrary, she said our involvement has backfired: "We have given it credibility. What have we got from it?
  • Every serial abuser of human rights in the world gets the protection it needs by joining."
She said she understands that money we spend at the United Nations is fungible, to a large extent, but her attitude is that

Yes, she is a blunt woman, in stark contrast to the State Department's evasive and overly-cautious language. And she intends to grill the administration on foreign policy failures. I asked about our North Korea policy, and she fired back, "What is our policy? What have we accomplished?"

  • She noted that the policy failure began under the Bush administration and has continued.

Now, she cautioned, "it is an increasingly aggressive state," while China, she argued, has distinguished itself "by its refusal to rein in" its neighbor. She urged the U.S. to impose new sanctions and "to

  • immediately relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism."

And she castigated the Bush administration for removing the regime from the list: "It was part of naive engagement. It didn't work then and it doesn't work now."

Shifting to Russia, she argued against ratification of the START treaty, making the case that "it

  • will put us in a strategic straight-jacket."

As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has been doing, she argues that "the administration has not satisfactorily answered questions" on verification and missile defense. And she said that entering into a nuclear co-operation agreement with Russia is a mistake. She asserted, "We have no business entering into an agreement with a country that has such a miserable record on proliferation." She argued that "we can't even verify" the extent of Russian proliferation activities.

In fact, she said she is dismayed by the entire approach to Russia: "How many concessions are we going to make?" She noted that she met last week with a high-ranking delegation from Georgia and expressed "my support for standing up to Russian aggression." Does she think we should provide defensive arms to Georgia, a move the Obama administration has refrained from making so as not to upset the Russians? She instantly responded: "Absolutely! It is what they want and what they need. They aren't the aggressors. I don't see why people think that's controversial." Well, those "people" might share the administration's preference for soft-peddling opposition to non-democratic regimes.

As we wrapped up, I asked her about Cuba, a country she fled from as a seven-year-old with her family. She remarked, " I hope this administration understands that freeing prisoners who should never have been incarcerated"

  • is not a sign of progress.

She observed that those "released" have been forced into exile. Moreover, she points to the case of Alan Gross, an American "imprisoned for over a year with no charges." She remarked derisively that the Obama administration makes concessions, and the Cuban response is, "OK, we'll jail Alan Ross." She also urged that we reinstitute democracy-promotion programs, so that Cuban activists do not "feel totally isolated and alone."

Ros-Lehtinen is not going to make life easy for the administration. It is not scandal or malfeasance that are likely to be the subject of her committee's work, but, rather true oversight. Are our policies working?

  • Have we gotten anything from our attempts to engage despotic regimes?

Unless the Obama administration can show some results, it promises to be a very uncomfortable two years for those who appear before her committee. But, for Georgians, Israelis, Cuban and Russian democracy advocates and others given short shrift by the administration, they now will, finally, have someone asking tough questions. It promises to be both enlightening and entertaining."


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve news-best contempt yet in Mayor Bloomberg intervention for Ground Zero mosque while a Church waits

News breaks Christmas Eve getaway day.
"They're emailing each other?

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that "Mayor Bloomberg's top deputies went to great lengths to help those trying to build a mosque at Ground Zero - even drafting a letter to the community board for them,
  • newly released documents show.
City Hall on Thursday released a flurry of emails between its brass and Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam pushing to build a mosque near the sensitive site, and his supporters."
  • It's worse than we imagined.
The release of these documents, emails and various exchanges between Mayor Bloomberg's office and the radical Imam Rauf and his motley crew of Islamic supremacists shows evidence of collusion, inappropriate political support for the Ground Zero mega mosque, and favoritism given to the project.

The newly released documents show that Mayor Bloomberg's office went to extraordinary lengths for the radicals trying to build a mega mosque at Ground Zero --
Is it any wonder that Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan were so confident at the hearings about whether the nineteenth-century building they're going to tear down to build the mega-mosque
  • should be designated a landmark?
At one of those hearings last May, those in opposition to the Ground Zero mosque were in the vast majority in the audience, and were having none of the nonsense being served up by the Community Board itself.
  • From the very beginning the board was only presenting pro-mosque speakers, from elected officials to board members - although I was allowed to speak early after writing on my card that I wanted to speak about "outreach."
After I spoke, they closed the public remarks down for about an hour. After the lopsided vote in favor of the mosque, printed remarks were distributed from the Manhattan Borough President congratulating the Board for its vote.

How did he know how the Board would vote? Was the fix in from the start? The newly released emails certainly give that impression.
  • Rauf is an open proponent of Islamic law, Sharia, with its oppression of women, stonings, and amputations. He is a prominent member of the Perdana organization, a leading funder of the jihad flotilla launched against Israel earlier this year by the genocidal Islamic terror group, IHH.
And he's a slumlord. Despite numerous citations for fire, building, and health code violations and reports of vermin and rat and roach infestations, the Imam left his tenants to live in abject squalor and filth.
  • He claimed he didn't have money to hire an exterminator, but he has the jiyza to build a $150 million Ground Zero triumphal mosque on hallowed ground?
Worse still, Rauf snagged more than $2 million in public financing to renovate low-income apartments. He took the money, never did the renovations, and forced good people to live with vermin and dilapidation.

So why did the Mayor apparently break ethical rules for a slumlord with radical ties,
  • whose buildings were placed in receivership in November?
Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the correspondence between Bloomberg's office and Rauf concerning the mosque months ago.
  • The Mayor failed to release these documents back in August.
It took an additional six months to get Bloomberg to comply with this request. Now we know why, and what he was hiding.
  • The emails between the Mayor's office and Rauf concerning the Ground Zero mosque show that Bloomberg more than once colluded with Rauf and his gang to make sure the mosque project
would sail through to get all the approval from various city offices that it needed.

Why did Bloomberg help the Cordoba Initiative write its letter to the New York City Landmarks Commission,
  • altering and making suggestions and revisions to Rauf's original letter?
Why did the city intervene on behalf of Rauf, to help him secure the permits from the building department for permission to assemble in a building
  • that had been destroyed in the 9/11 attacks?
The dotty, irrational Mayor has shown no such favoritism towards the rebuilding of the 96-year-old St. Nicholas church at Ground Zero. Completely destroyed in the 9/11 attacks,
  • it remains vanquished by Muslim terrorists,
despite a ten-year battle by Church officials who have been frustrated again and again in their attempts to rebuild by city officials.

The revelation of Bloomberg's ethics violations and collusion with the Islamic supremacists of the Ground Zero mosque project
  • ought to put an end to the Ground Zero mosque once and for all --
as well as to Bloomberg's political career."


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Obama to take over carbon regulation of Texas businesses


Update: 12/31/10, "Court blocks US from taking over Texas carbon emissions program," Bloomberg, Geimann, Schoenberg

  • "A federal appeals court temporarily blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking control of Texas’s carbon-emission rules..."
  • ####

(Not stated in the report is Bloomberg has financial interests in global warming and carbon trading via its New Energy Finance company, and that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made an international name for himself advocating for global warming. The article says the state of New York has joined with California in demanding Obama enact even stricter emissions regulations. Too bad considering CO2 endangerment does not exist, is infested with organized crime, and the 2007 Supreme Court 5-4 decision could be overturned if it were challenged. ed.)

12/23/10, "EPA-Texas feud escalates over new carbon regulations," Bloomberg, K. Chipman

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will take control of carbon-emission rules in Texas after Governor Rick Perry rejected new federal regulations intended to combat climate change. (Emphasis on 'combat' mine, ed.)

  • The EPA will decide directly on greenhouse-gas permits for companies seeking to build or upgrade power plants and oil refineries in Texas, the agency said today in a statement. The EPA’s nationwide carbon rules, imposed under the Clean Air Act, take effect Jan. 2.

Texas is the only state that has refused to implement the new rules. President Barack Obama is pressing ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass legislation capping carbon emissions. Perry, a Republican, calls the rules overreaching by the federal government that will cripple his state’s economy.

The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector,

  • threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Katherine Cesinger, a Perry spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement....

The EPA’s rules are set to start 13 months after the agency declared carbon-dioxide emissions a danger to public health and welfare. The EPA’s “endangerment finding” followed a Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that the agency has the authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Neil Carman, who studies air pollution for the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group in Austin, said the new rules won’t be costly to implement, comparing them to measures aimed at reducing acid rain in the 1980s. Businesses that opposed the rules at the time ultimately benefited from them, he said.

  • “There have always been these scare stories -- ‘the sky is falling,’” he said. “The sky isn’t going to fall.”

EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy said today that the the agency isn’t taking over Texas’s permitting program. She said its handling of carbon regulations was meant to supplement the existing permit process.

“All we are trying to do is ensure that Texas businesses that are applying for a Clean Air Act permit can get one and have somebody to apply to,” she told reporters on a conference call today.

Seven States

Most states are prepared to grant the permits starting Jan. 2, according to the EPA.

Texas emits about 11 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, more than any other state, according to Texas EPA spokesman David Gray. If Texas were a country it would be the world’s eighth-largest polluter, he said.

Texas, home to about a fourth of U.S. oil refining capacity, has more coal-fired electrical capacity than any state in the U.S.,

  • according to the San Francisco-based Sierra Club.

The EPA remains in talks with Texas and views federal control of greenhouse-gas permits in the state as a temporary arrangement, McCarthy said....

  • Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republicans and some Democrats in Congress are pushing to halt the EPA’s authority over greenhouse gases.

The agency announced today a plan to propose a second wave of greenhouse-gas regulations. The move was part of a lawsuit settlement with environmental groups and states, such as New York and California, that

  • pushed the Obama administration to go further to limit heat-trapping emissions.

Power plants and oil refineries are among the top three emitters of carbon dioxide in the country,” California’s Governor-elect Jerry Brown said in a statement. “While California has been aggressive in regulating such emissions, until recently, the federal government has not.”

The EPA will propose new standards for utilities by July and for oil refineries by December, McCarthy said today. Those rules will be made final for power plants by May 2012 and for refineries by November 2012, she said.

  • EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today sought to respond to concern that the rules will burden business with excessive new costs and hurt the economy.

“These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home,” Jackson said in the statement.

The EPA officials said today it’s too early to know what the new rules, known as “new source performance standards” for pollutants under the Clean Air Act, will entail."

George Bush was a big promoter of ethanol. He doesn't get enough credit as a friend of the 'climate' racket. His father is even responsible for the 'Clean Air Act' of 1990, emissions trading, said


US whines that Communist China isn't playing fair in the 'race' for 'green' business

12/23/10, "Obama's China wind power complaint backed by companies," Bloomberg News
"The case, filed at the World Trade Organization in Geneva yesterday, is the first by the U.S. over green technology after months of complaints about Chinese efforts to force manufacturers to make those products in the country....

The U.S. trade office said that China’s Special Fund for Wind Power Manufacturing violates WTO rules by
  • requiring recipients of aid to use Chinese-made parts and amounts to a subsidy, both of which violate WTO rules.

Aid under the program since 2008 could total several hundred million dollars, the U.S. said....

The WTO case filed yesterday was one slice of a complaint filed with the U.S. trade office on Sept. 9 by the United Steelworkers union. The union said

  • export credits,
  • preferences in bidding,
  • forced transfers of technology and
  • discrimination against firms outside the country
give Chinese producers of renewable-energy products an unfair advantage....

The complaint “appears to be an appropriate first step,” John Frisbie, the president of the U.S.-China Business Council in Washington, which represents investors such as General Electric Co., the biggest U.S.-based wind-turbine maker, said in a statement....

  • GE and and Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s biggest maker of the turbines, have invested in manufacturing in China under the country’s rules."...

Bloomberg article doesn't mention the issue of Communist Chinese monopoly of rare earth minerals necessary to make wind turbines. BBC says it was mentioned in the US Steelworkers complaint in September:

"The announcement follows a filing in September by the United Steelworkers Union (USW) which listed a number of industries it accused China of subsidising or otherwise distorting trade from non-nationals.

The trade representative announced no decision on that, but spokeswoman Nefeterius McPherson said the United States was

and could still file a case on that at the WTO."...

Our environmental rules and wages make it too expensive to extract here. We opted out of the "race" for green jobs. Most rare earths come from Communist China now. Rare earth smelting plant in

  • Communist China (picture below, reuters, 11/21/10)

  • I guess we thought if we were 'good' and didn't mine rare earths here the Communist Chinese would let us have some of theirs. ed.