With bin Laden’s “elimination”, the US announced a “withdrawal” of troops from Afghanistan. Now President Obama has revealed a new national strategy for counter-terrorism.
The focus is al-Qaeda and it’s affiliates, as well as Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas on the list of enemies.
Susan Lindauer, a former CIA asset who covered Libya for nearly 10 years, is speaking to RT on what that exactly means.
Neo Libs will attempt to Use Constitutional “Nuclear Option” to increase Debt Ceiling (AKA 14th Amendment)
Ed Note: Isn’t it wonderful how politicians hate the Constitution just to the point that it can be used against liberty? What part of “Shall not be construed” (9th Amend) do you not get O’bomba?
Could Obama ignore Congress if they refuse to raise the debt ceiling? Yes, and he should, some experts say
As both major parties debate their conditions for raising the nation’s debt ceiling, some Senate Democrats and constitutional scholars are questioning whether the limit is constitutional in the first place.Delaware Sen. Chris Coons told The Huffington Post this week that he’s part of a group of lawmakers now examining whether, in the case that debt negotiations fail, the Treasury could ignore Congress and continue paying its bills on time.
“This is an issue that’s been raised in some private debate between senators as to whether in fact we can default, or whether that provision of the Constitution can be held up as preventing default,” Coons told Huffington Post reporters Ryan Grim and Samuel Haass. “[I]t’s going to get a pretty strong second look as a way of saying, ‘Is there some way to save us from ourselves?’ ”
Critics of the debt limit cite the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states: “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” ( Ed Note: Does printing money, bailing out banks, funding terrorism, or military interventions, or building a police state…. fit this description? Uh huh….)
Of course, the Fourteenth Amendment is open to wide, and varying, interpretation and debate. The most basic question here is, does a limit on debt “question” the “validity” of the debt? ( Ed note: YES – as the founder and authors of the Constitution would’ve never imagined that we could be so frivolous and stupid with our “money”!)
Legal scholar Garrett Epps, writing in The Atlantic in April, said that a case could easily made for simply ignoring the congressionally mandated debt limit.
(then why have one at all?)
“This provision makes clear that both the monies our nation owes to bondholders, and the sums promised in legislation to those receiving pensions set by law from the federal government, must be paid regardless of the political whims of the current congressional majority,” Epps wrote. (Epps fails to understand that this ONLY would cover employees of the Federal Govt!)
In essence, Epps argues that Obama should stand before Congress and say, Tough luck–the Constitution says we can’t default. Epps argued that in the event that Congress does not act, Obama should (and could) instruct the Treasury Department to issue “binding debt instruments on the world market sufficient to cover all the current obligations of the United States government, even in default of Congressional action to meet those obligations.”
President Obama’s own views on the subject, however, are unclear. During his press conference Wednesday, Obama dodged a question about the debt limit’s constitutionality, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd: “I’m not a Supreme Court justice, so I’m not going to put my constitutional law professor hat on.”
Obama understandably didn’t want to show his cards by hashing out a plan for how he would act in the event Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. But some observers have already outlined how he could–and still get away with it.
Writing in the Financial Times in April, Former Reagan adviser and Treasury official Bruce Bartlett said the Obama administration could justify ignoring Congress to ensure the nation pays its debts. (Justifying doesn’t make it right!)
“The president would be justified in taking extreme actions to protect against a debt default. In the event that congressional irresponsibility makes default impossible to avoid, he should order the secretary of the Treasury to simply disregard the debt limit and sell whatever securities are necessary to raise cash to pay the nation’s debts. They are protected by the full faith and credit of the United States and preventing default is no less justified than using American military power to protect against an armed invasion without a congressional declaration of war,” Bartlett wrote. “Under those circumstances, when default is the only possible alternative, I believe that the president and the Treasury secretary would be justified in taking extraordinary action to prevent it, even if it means violating the debt limit.”
However, if Obama were to follow that route, it’s still unclear how the courts would rule. (or how we the people will respond!)
Grim and Saass point to the 1935 Perry v. U.S Supreme Court ruling, which determined that the language in the Fourteenth Amendment does apply to the national debt. What’s more, they observe, according to the majority opinion on the case, no act of Congress can undermine promises of debt payment from the federal government.
“To say that the Congress may withdraw or ignore that pledge is to assume that the Constitution contemplates a vain promise; a pledge having no other sanction than the pleasure and convenience of the pledgor,” wrote Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who presided over the case.
Even with that precedent, however, the specific debt limit as we know it today has not yet seen its day in court. Should the White House’s negotiations with Congress on the debt ceiling fail, it will be up to Obama (actually his puppet masters!) to decide whether he wants to start that fight, which would no doubt require years-long court battles to settle.
I saw that some Philly activists were holding an ETF flash mob protest in Philadelphia on June 22nd so Xander and I decided to hold a last minute End The Fed rally on Wall St. When we got there about 40 police were waiting for us. www.TheEconomicCrisisWasAnInsideJob.com
Army Corps Of Engineers Intentional Flooding Of America’s Heartland! – This Is Selective Bankruptcy!
Doug Owens of Blacklistednews covers the intentional flooding in the midwest in order to make it more environmentally feasible.
Feds buying up farmland they flooded; Soros in on it
The Purposeful Flooding of America’s Heartland
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Intentionally Flooded Farmland, Now Offering to Buy It
Exclusive: Getting used to life without food: Wall Street, BP, bio-ethanol and the death of millions – By William Engdahl
Ed Note: William sent this to me yesterday… I am not sure if or where else it might be posted. Please send to people via this link for now, but make sure to give credits to Mr Engdahl, and add info about his books please. ~ Jack Blood
© copyright by F. William Engdahl, author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation *
29 June 2011
My late grandfather, a man of sturdy Norwegian-American farm stock, who later became a newspaper editor and political activist during the First World War, used to say, ‘A man can get used to pretty much anything with time, except dying…and even that with some practice.’ Well, as fate has it, it seems we, the vast majority of the human race, are about to test that adage in regard to the availability of our daily bread itself.
Food is one of those funny things it’s hard to live without. We all tend to take it for granted that our local supermarket will continue to offer whatever we wish, in abundance, at affordable prices or nearly so. Yet living without adequate food is the growing prospect facing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of us over the coming years.
In a sense it’s a genuine paradox. Our planet has everything we need to produce nutritious natural food to feed the entire world population many times over. This is the case, despite the ravages of industrialized agriculture over the past half century or more.
Then, how can it be that our world faces, according to some predictions, the prospect of a decade or more of famine on a global scale? The answer lies in the forces and interest groups that have decided to artificially create a scarcity of nutritious food. The problem has several important dimensions.
Eliminating emergency reserves
The ability to manipulate the price of essential foods worldwide at will — almost irrespective of today’s physical supply and demand for grains — is quite recent. It is also scarcely understood.
Up until the grain crisis of the mid-1970s there was no single “world price” for grain, the benchmark for the price of all foods and food products.
From the time of the earliest traces left by Sumerian civilization some two thousand years before Christ, in the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in today’s Iraq, almost every culture had the practice of storing a reserve stock of a grain harvest – right up to the most recent times. Wars, droughts and famines were the reason. When properly stored, grain can be safely stored over a period of about seven years, enabling reserve stocks in case of an emergency.
After the Second World War, Washington created a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to serve as a wedge to push free trade among major industrial nations, especially the European Community. During initial negotiations, agriculture was deliberately kept off the table at the insistence of the Europeans, especially the French, who regarded political defense of Europe’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and European agriculture protections as non-negotiable.
Beginning in the 1980s with the political crusades of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the extremist free market views of Chicago’s Milton Friedman became increasingly accepted by leading European power circles. Step-by-step the resistance to the Washington agriculture free trade agenda dissolved.
After more than seven years of intense horse-trading, lobbying and pressure, the European Union finally agreed in 1993 to the GATT Uruguay Round, requiring a major reduction of national agriculture protection. Central to the Uruguay Round deal was agreement on one major change: national grain reserves as a government responsibility were to be ended.
Under the new 1993 GATT agreement, formalized with the creation of a World Trade Organization to police the agreements with enforceable sanctions against violators, ‘free trade’ in agriculture products was for the first time an agreed priority of the world’s major trading nations, a fateful decision to put it mildly.
Henceforth, grain reserves were to be managed by the ‘free market,’ by private companies, greatest among them the US Grain Cartel giants, the behemoths of American agribusiness. The grain companies argued that they would be able to fill any emergency gaps more efficiently and save governments the cost. That ill-advised decision would open the floodgates to unprecedented grain market shenanigans and manipulations.
ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Continental Grain, Bunge and the primus inter pares, Cargill—the largest privately-held grain and agribusiness trading company in the world—emerged the great winners of the WTO process.
The outcome of the GATT agriculture talks was very much to the liking of the people at Cargill. That was no surprise to insiders. Former Cargill executive Dan Amstutz played the key role in drafting the agriculture trade section of the GATT Uruguay Round.i In 1985 D. Gale Johnson of the University of Chicago, a colleague of Milton Friedman, co-authored a seminal report for David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission that was the blueprint for what they called “market-oriented” agricultural reform. It provided the framework for the US position in the coming GATT Uruguay Round negotiations. The Rockefeller group and its think tanks were the architects of ‘agricultural reform,’ as with so much in our post-1945 world.
The process of eliminating government grain reserves in major producing countries took time, but with the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill, the US had virtually eliminated its grain reserves. The EU followed soon after. Today, among major agriculture producing countries, only China and India still hold to a strategic security policy of nationally held grain reserves. ii
Wall Street smells blood
The elimination of national grain reserves in the USA and EU and other major OECD industrial countries set the stage for the next step in the process—elimination of agricultural commodity derivatives regulation, allowing unbridled unchecked speculative manipulations.
Under the Clinton Treasury (1999 – 2000) the elimination of grain reserves was formalized by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)—the government body charged with supervising derivatives trade in exchanges such as the Chicago Board of Trade or NYMEX— and in legislation drafted by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers at Treasury. As will be shown below, it was no accident that Wall Street pushed Geithner, former President of the NY Federal Reserve, to become Obama’s Treasury Secretary in 2008, amid the worst financial debacle in history. Something to do with having foxes guard henhouses.
When Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State in 1972-1973, acting in league with the Department of Agriculture and major US grain trading companies, he orchestrated an unprecedented 200% jump in the price of grain. The price hike was triggered at that time by the US signing a three-year contract with the Soviet Union that had just gone through a disastrous harvest failure.
The US-Soviet deal hit amid global drought and severely reduced harvests worldwide, hardly a prudent time to sell the entire US grain cupboard to an ostensible Cold War opponent. The sale took place amid a major world grain harvest shortfall leading to the explosive price rise. Critical voices in US press at the time appropriately dubbed it the Great Grain Robbery. Kissinger had even arranged for much of the cost of shipping US grain to the Soviets to be paid by US taxpayers. Cargill and company laughed all the way to the bank. iii
Around the same time, the big American grain companies—Cargill, Continental Grain, ADM, Bunge—began what would be a twenty-year process of transforming world grain markets into venues for controlling essential human and animal nutrition by manipulating grain prices regardless of supply.
The twenty-year process of the US’ gaining control of world grain markets and prices took a giant leap forward in the 1980s with the advent of financial commodity index trading and other derivatives.
The Summers-Geithner-Wall Street new versoin of the earlier grain robbery especially after 2006 would eventually pale anything Kissinger and friends had engineered in the 1970s.
In 1999, at the urging of major Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase Manhattan and Citibank, the Clinton Administration drafted a statute that would fundamentally alter grain-trading history. It was called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and was made law in 2000.
The two key architects of Clinton’s new law were a former Goldman Sachs consultant and Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and his Assistant at Treasury Tim Geithner, friend of Wall Street and today Obama’s Treasury Secretary. Secretary Summers was also a key player in preventing efforts to regulate financial derivatives in commodities and financial products.iv
The Summers-Geithner recommendations were contained in a November 1999 Report to Congress from the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the infamous “Plunge Protection Team.” v
At the time, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) proposed also to deregulate trading in derivatives between major banks or financial institutions, including derivatives of grain and other agricultural commodities.vi
The historic and unprecedented deregulation opened a massive hole in Government supervision of derivatives trading, a gaping hole that ultimately facilitated the derivatives games leading to the 2007 financial collapse. It also formed the deregulation free-for-all that is behind much of the recent explosion in grain prices.
Some years earlier in 1991 Goldman Sachs had rolled out its own commodity “index,” which was to go on to become the global benchmark for derivatives trading of all commodities, including food and oil. The Goldman Sachs Commodity Index or GSCI was a new derivative that tracked the prices of some 24 commodities — from corn to hogs to coffee to wheat to precious metals and energy. From the point of view of Wall Street, the idea was brilliant. It let speculators gamble on the future price of an entire range of raw materials in one step, a kind of Wall Street version of a “one-step” gambling mall…
With the CFTC deregulation of commodity trading in 1999 Goldman Sachs was positioned to reap sweet financial rewards with its GSCI. Now bankers and hedge funds and other high-profile speculators were able to take huge positions or bets on the future grain price with no need to take delivery of actual wheat or corn at the end.
The price of grain was now run by the new casino masters of grain supplies — from Wall Street to London and beyond — who traded grain futures and options in Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City. No longer was future price a form of hedging limited to knowledgeable active participants in the grain industry, whether farmers or millers or large grain end-users – the individual traders who had relied on futures contracts for more than a century to insulate themselves from risks of harvest failure or disasters.
Grain had become a new speculative field for anyone willing to risk investors’ capital, high stakes gamblers such as Goldman Sachs or Deutsche Bank or high-risk offshore hedge funds. Grain, like oil before it, had now been almost entirely decoupled from everyday supply and demand in the short term. The price could be manipulated for brief periods through rumor rather than fact. vii
Unlike directly involved parties like millers or farmers or large restaurant chains, speculators neither produced nor took delivery of the corn or wheat they gambled with. They could hardly take delivery of 10 tons of hard red winter wheat and store it. Their game was a complex new form of arbitrage where the only rule was to buy low and sell high. Derivative instruments and US Government laissez faire regulatory negligence allowed the players’ potential profits from the game to be leveraged often many-fold.
But there was another perverse twist: Goldman Sachs’ GSCI was structured so that investors could only buy the contract. It was, as the industry calls it, “long only.” No one could bet on a fall in grain prices with it. You only stood to profit from an ever-rising grain price and that happened as ever more innocent investors were suckered into high-risk commodity speculation creating a kind-of self-fulfilling prophesy.viii
That long-only feature was done to encourage bank clients to leave their money with the bank or fund for the long term and let the bankers play with other people’s money, with huge potential windfall profits to the bankers — while any losses fell to the clients.
The fatal flaw was that the GSCI structure did not allow “short selling” that would force prices down in times of grain surplus. Investors were lured into a system that required them to buy and keep buying once grain prices rose for whatever reason. Soon other banks, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Pimco, JP Morgan Chase, AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, floated their own commodity index funds.ix For the first time, high-risk commodity investing — including into grain and other agriculture products — became a financial product for the “little man” who knew little if anything about what he was getting into, just that his banker or fund adviser was urging him to invest in it. The banks as usual played with “other people’s money” – at the expense of ‘other people.’
In a detailed analysis of the grain price bubble of 2007-2008, Olivier de Schutter, a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, recently concluded that “a significant portion of the increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble.” x The timing of that bubble was notable as it conveniently offset huge losses of those same mega-banks that were under water with their excesses in securitized home mortgages and other Wall Street casino madness. Schutter added,
In particular, there is a reason to believe that a significant role was played by the entry into markets for derivatives based on food commodities of large, powerful institutional investors such as hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks, all of which are generally unconcerned with agricultural market fundamentals. Such entry was made possible because of deregulation in important commodity derivatives markets beginning in 2000. xi
Following the collapse of the dot.com stock bubble in 2000, as Wall Street and other major financial players began seeking alternatives, commodities and high-risk derivatives based on baskets of commodities became a major speculative investment theme for the first time.
Since 2000 the totality of dollars invested in various commodity index funds –Goldman Sachs’ GSCI being the largest — has risen from some $13 billion in 2003 to a staggering $317 billion during the oil and grain speculation bubble in 2008. This was documented in a study by Lehman Brothers shortly before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made them a sacrificial lamb in order to bail out his Wall Street cronies.xii
Since 2008 with some fluctuation, investor funds have continued to pour into various commodity funds, keeping food prices high and rising. From 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent — and has kept rising. In the period from May 2010 through May 2011 the price of wheat rose again some 85%. “It’s unprecedented how much investment capital we’ve seen in commodity markets,” said Kendell Keith, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, in a recent interview. xiii
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that since 2004, world food prices on average have soared by an unprecedented 240%. The offering of food commodities as a speculative alternative by the large banks and hedge funds exploded in 2007 when the US sub-prime financial tsunami first hit. Since then, speculation in food commodities has only gathered more momentum as other investments in stocks and bonds became highly dangerous. One result has been a predictably rapid rise in starvation, hunger and malnutrition in poorer populations around the world.
The FAO calculates that food-deficit countries will be forced to spend fully 30% more on importing food — with a world value of a staggering $1.3 trillion. Three decades ago, that international market was tiny; today it is overwhelmingly dominated by a small handful of US agribusiness giants. Agribusiness, like military exports, is a core US strategic sector, long supported to extraordinary lengths by Washington. It is part of a larger and rather private agenda shaped decades ago under the aegis of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and their eugenics advocates. xiv
Importing food is today the rule rather than the exception as cheap, globalized agribusiness products, often under IMF pressure, are being forced onto populations across the developing world, including formerly self-sufficient food-producing societies now rendered dependant on imported food. This is done in the name of ‘free trade’ or what is often called ‘market-oriented agriculture.’ Left unsaid is that the so-called ‘market’ is colossally inefficient and unhealthy, literally and financially. Imported food dependency is artificially created by huge multinational conglomerates such as Tyson Foods, Smithfield, Cargill or Nestle, corporate giants whose last concern seems to be the health and well-being of those of us who must consume their industrial food products.
The cheap agribusiness imports often undercut the prices of locally grown crops, driving millions from their land into overcrowded cities in desperate search of jobs.
Today the price of wheat derivatives, or ‘paper wheat,’ controls the price of real wheat as speculators like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Barclays or numerous offshore hedge funds — with little interest in grains other than as a profit source — now outnumber bona-fide agriculture industry hedgers four-to-one.
That is a complete reversal of the situation that dominated grain prices for the past hundred years or more. For some 75 years, the CFTC had imposed limits on how much of certain agricultural commodities — including wheat, cotton, soybeans, soybean meal, corn, and oats — can be traded by non-commercial players who are not part of the food industry. So-called ‘commercial hedgers,’ like farmers or food processors, previously could trade unlimited amounts in order to manage their risk. Not so with pure speculators.
Those limits were designed to prevent manipulation and distortion in what are relatively small markets. With the passage of the Summers-Geithner Commodity Modernization Act of 2000 and the infamous ‘Enron Loophole’ — allowing exemption from government regulation — the fast and loose trading in energy derivatives was rapidly expanded to include food commodities. The dam broke in 2006 when Deutsche Bank asked for and was granted CFTC permission to be exempt from all trading limits. The regulatory authorities assured them that there would be no penalties for exceeding the limits. Others followed, lemming like. xv
For some two billion people in the world who spend more than half of their income on food, the effects have been horrifying. During the speculation-driven grain price explosion in 2008, more than a quarter billion people became what the UN terms “food insecure,” or a total of one billion human beings, a new record. xvi
That need never have occurred had it not been for the diabolical consequences of the US Government deregulating grain speculation, with support from the US Congress over the past decade or more. By early 2008, upwards of 35% of all US arable land was being planted with corn to be burned as biofuel under the new Bush Administration incentives. In 2011 the total is more than 40%. Thus, the stage was set for the slightest minor market shock to detonate a massive speculative bubble in grain markets, as was then being done by the use of the same GSCI index games as are played with oil.
Agribusiness as a long-term strategy
The record rise in grain and food prices in recent years is not a mere Wall Street profit gimmick, although obscene profits are being made. Rather, it is apparently an integral part of a long-term strategy whose roots go back to the years just after World War Two when Nelson Rockefeller and his brothers tried to organize the global food chain along the same monopoly model they had used for world oil. Food would henceforth become just another commodity like oil or tin or silver whose scarcity and price could ultimately be controlled by a small group of powerful trading insiders.
At the same time the Rockefeller brothers were expanding their global business reach from oil to agriculture in the developing world through their technology-driven Green Revolution scheme after the war, they were also financing a little-noticed project at Harvard University. The project would form the infrastructure for their plan to globalize world food production under the central control of a handful of private corporations.
Its creators gave it the name ‘agribusiness,’ in order to differentiate it from traditional farmer-based agriculture — the cultivation of crops for human sustenance and nutrition. The push to place world national governments’ emergency grain reserves into private hands was merely a logical expansion of the original Rockefeller agribusiness strategy, as was their highly mis-represented “Green Revolution” which at day’s end merely promoted a huge sale of US agriculture products from John Deere tractors (using large volumes of Standard Oil Rockefeller products) to US chemical fertilizers made by other companies in the Rockefeller orbit—forcing a trend to large scale farming and forcing millions off the land into cities where they former a cheap labor pool for large multinationals. The highly-touted harvest yields turned out to be actual losses after several harvests. xvii
Agribusiness and the Green Revolution went hand-in-glove. They were part of a grandiose strategy which included Rockefeller Foundation financing of research for development of genetic alteration of plants a few years later.
John H. Davis had been Assistant Agriculture Secretary under President Dwight Eisenhower in the early 1950s. He left Washington in 1955 and went to the Harvard Graduate School of Business, an unusual place for an agriculture expert in those days. Davis had a clear strategy. In 1956 he wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review in which he declared, “the only way to solve the so-called farm problem once and for all, and avoid cumbersome government programs, is to progress from agriculture to agribusiness.” He knew precisely what he had in mind, though few observers had a clue back then.xviii
Davis, together with another Harvard Business School professor, Ray Goldberg, formed a Harvard team with Russian-born economist Wassily Leontief, who was then mapping the entire US economy, in a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. During the war, the US Government had hired Leontief to develop a method of dynamic analysis of the total economy that he referred to as ‘input-output’ analysis. Leontief worked for the US Labor Department as well as for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA.xix
In 1948 Leontief got a major four-year $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to set up the Harvard ‘Economic Research Project on the Structure of the American Economy.’ A year later the US Air Force joined the Harvard project, a curious engagement for one of the prime US military branches. The transistor and electronic computers had just been developed along with methods of linear programming that would allow the processing of vast amounts of statistical data on the economy. Soon the Ford Foundation joined in to fund the Harvard project.xx
The Harvard project and its agribusiness component were part of a major attempt to revolutionize US and later, global food production. It was to take four decades before it dominated the food industry. Professor Goldberg later referred to the agribusiness revolution and the development of genetically-modified agribusiness as ‘changing our global economy and society more dramatically than any other single event in the history of mankind.’ xxi He just might have been right as we are now likely about to witness over the coming decade.
As Ray Goldberg boasted years later, the core idea driving their agribusiness project was the re-introduction of ‘vertical integration’ into US food production. By the 1970s most Americans had forgotten that bitter battles had been fought before World War I and during the 1920’s to pass laws in Congress to prohibit vertical integration by giant conglomerates, and to break up trusts such as Standard Oil, in order to prevent them from monopolizing whole sectors of vital industries.
It wasn’t until the David Rockefeller-backed Presidency of Jimmy Carter in the late 1970’s that US multinational business was able to begin the rollback of decades of carefully constructed US Government regulations of health, food safety and consumer protection laws, and open the doors to a new wave of vertical integration of agriculture. The vertical integration process was sold to unaware citizens under the banner of ‘economic efficiency’ and ‘economy of scale.’ xxii
A return to vertical integration and the accompanying agribusiness were introduced amid a publicity campaign in mainstream media and from industry claiming that government had encroached far too much into the daily lives of its citizens and had to be cut back to give ordinary Americans ‘freedom.’ The war cry of the campaigners was ‘deregulation.’ Of course, de-regulation by government merely opened the door to private control – another form of regulation — by the largest and most powerful corporate groups in any given industry. That was certainly the case for agriculture — the big four grain cartel companies dominated world grain markets from the 1970s to today. They worked hand-in-glove with big Wall Street derivative players such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup.
By the latter part of 2007, trading in food derivatives was fully deregulated by Washington, and US government grain reserves gone. The way was clear for dramatic food price rises.
The speculative machine that had been put into place by Wall Street and its banker friends was creating the potential for significant, long-term food inflation. But the inflation needed a major ‘venting’ to get the ball really rolling. That was to come from George W. Bush.
The Killer Punch—BP, Bioethanol and Genocide
In 2007, just as the US real estate crisis was causing the first tsunami shock waves through Wall Street, the Bush Administration made a major public relations push to convince the world that the US had turned into a “better steward of the environment.” Too many fell for the hype.
The center of the Bush program, announced in his January 2007 State of the Union Address, was something called ’20 in 10’—cutting US gasoline use 20% by 2010. The official reason given to the public was to “reduce dependency on imported oil,” as well as cutting unwanted “greenhouse gas” emissions. That wasn’t the case, of course, but it made good PR. Repeat it often enough and maybe most people will believe it. Maybe they won’t realize that their taxpayer subsidies are being used to grow ethanol corn instead of feed corn and are also driving the price of their daily bread through the roof.
The heart of the Bush plan was a huge taxpayer-subsidized expansion of the use of bio-ethanol for transport fuel. President Bush’s first plan required production of 35 billion gallons (about 133 billion liters) of ethanol a year by 2017. Congress had already mandated, via the Energy Policy Act of 2005, that corn ethanol for fuel must rise from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012.
To make certain it would happen, farmers and big agribusiness giants like ADM were given generous taxpayer subsidies to grow corn for fuel instead of for food. David Rockefeller’s corporate farms were one of the largest recipients of US Government agriculture subsidies. Currently ethanol producers in the US get a subsidy of 51 cents per gallon of ethanol. The subsidy is paid to the blender, usually an oil company, that blends it with gasoline for sale. In the 2011 harvest year, an estimated 40% of all corn acreage in the United States is expected to be grown for biofuel.
As a result of these generous US Government subsidies to produce bio-ethanol fuels, and the new legislative mandate, the US refinery industry has been investing big time in building special new ethanol distilleries, similar to oil refineries, except they produce ethanol fuel. The number currently under construction exceeds the total number of oil refineries built in the US over the past 25 years. When finished in the next 2-3 years, the demand for corn and other grain to make ethanol for car fuel will double from present levels.
Not wanting to be left behind, the EU bureaucrats in Brussels — no doubt generously encouraged by the likes of BP, Cargill, ADM and the major biofuel lobby — came up with its own scheme for “10 in 20” or a mandate that 10% of all road fuel in the EU by 2020 be from biofuel. Shockingly, they did so despite the existence of a report by the same EU Commission on the damaging impact of such a massive turn to subsidized biofuels. The London Times reported,
A study by the Commission on the land use implications of sourcing only 5.6 per cent of Europe’s transport fuel from biofuels concluded that any significant rise beyond 5.6 per cent would ‘rapidly’ increase carbon emissions and ‘erode the environmental sustainability of biofuels’… Like most political diktats, the figure of 10 per cent was plucked out of the air and no one at the Commission had a clue, when the policy was adopted, how the fuel industry was to meet the one in ten mandate without a huge rise in biofuel planting in the tropics. xxiii
In short, the use of farmland worldwide for bio-ethanol and other biofuels—burning the food product rather than using it for human or animal feed—is being treated in Washington, the EU, Brazil and other major centers as a major new growth industry. The impact on human beings, however, is quite the opposite.
The United States today is far and away the world’s largest producer of ethanol biofuel for transportation fuel. In 2010 the US produced 13 billion gallons (US) or 50 billion liters of ethanol biofuel, amounting to near 60% of the world’s total. The EU added some 6% to the global total as number three behind Brazil in a macabre contest to see which country can destroy the most food by burning toxic biofuels. xxiv
The most alarming aspect of the entire biofuel scam is the fact that three full years after the grain price explosion of 2008 was demonstrated to be directly tied to the biofuels removal of millions of acres of US farmland — from corn for feed to corn for fuel — no action has been taken either in the US Congress or in the EU or anywhere else to reverse that insane policy. The stunning inaction seems testimony to the political power of the biofuels lobby. Who are they? Not surprisingly, they are the same agri and oil giants behind US and EU food and energy policy. Major players include BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ADM, Cargill and the like. It is a powerful lobby and sees a goose that can literally lay multiple golden eggs in the form of mandated biofuels requirements of the EU and USA and elsewhere.
This January the Institute for European Environment Policy (IEEP), an independent body, issued a report on the role of bioenergy in EU governments’ “renewable energy action plans.” Recent proclamations by the German government that renewables will replace nuclear electric generation by 2020, and similar pledges by other EU governments, all rely on a fantastic delusion that the electriic power being generated by large nuclear plants can come from biodiesel. The January IEEP study notes that:
More than half of the renewable energy which EU Member States expect to consume annually by 2020 will consist of bioenergy, e.g. biomass, bioliquids and biofuels. This is revealed in a first evaluation of the proposed scale of deployment of bioenergy by the EU Member States in the period to 2020 as forecast in their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs)…A significant increase in absolute consumption of bioenergy is anticipated. In the 23 plans examined, bioenergy will thus remain the main contributor to the renewable energy sector. Overall, the bioenergy contribution to final energy consumption is expected to more than double, from 5.4% in 2005 to almost 12% (124Mtoe) in 2020. Bioenergy will have a quasi-dominant role in the renewable portion of the EU heating and cooling sector, and is foreseen to contribute more than 80% to the sectoral target. In the electricity sector the bioenergy share will be relatively low but in the transport sector it is expected to reach nearly 90% of total renewable energy by the year 2020. xxv
The IEEP conducted an analysis of required land acreage needed for the cultivation of such a huge increase of biofuels by 2020. They estimated, after all factors are properly calculated, that an additional “4.1 to 6.9 million hectares” in the European Union will be needed for biofuel, acreage more than three times the entire state of Kansas.
Further, belying the EU myth that biofuels give a reduction of CO2 (even were CO2 a problem — which is highly contested among serious scientists), the IEEP calculates that the enormous rise in biofuel use will lead to more CO2 emissions from vehicles, equivalent to adding as many as 26 million additional vehicles on European roads. xxvi
Biofuels are highly undesirable for countless reasons, as many serious environmental organizations have begun to realize. The corn ethanol industry has grown, largely due to powerful corn and oil lobbies. High demand will likely increase corn ethanol and gas prices as corn ethanol is mixed with gasoline.
Ethanol energy gets poor fuel-economy with standard engines. And most importantly, it simply is not possible to produce the amount of corn required to make the fuel a viable alternative to oil or a serious supplier of energy. xxvii
New Global Dustbowls?
What biofuels and their pushers—from BP to agribusiness, combined with the mad decisions of governments from Washington to Berlin to Paris and beyond – have accomplished is the elimination of grain security reserves worldwide. This has been vigorously mixed with a cocktail of deregulated free commodity derivatives trading to create the ingredients for the worst potential food crisis in human history.
The testing of that hypothesis may unfortunately already be underway at the hands of forces far beyond the ability of man to control. At the recent annual meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, scientists from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) presented results of studies of recent solar flare activity, by far the greatest factor influencing climate change on Earth. Flares occur in periodic cycles such as 11-year, 22-year and longer ones. The solar studies indicate that the Earth is now at the beginning of what might be a decade or longer period of greatly reduced solar activity.
Reduced solar sunspot activity means a less active sun. As Dutch physicist Gijs B. Graafland puts it, “It will affect severely the evaporation of ocean water and by that the amount of rain. This results in lower water for agriculture and therefore in less growth and more severe blowing away of dry fertile top soil layers which gives a decade of high food prices.” xxviii
Translated to us, that could mean climate catastrophes, harvest failures, droughts and dust storms — such as those that swept the US Midwest during the Great Depression of the 1930s — in fertile regions across the planet, not just once but over a span of years. If the solar physicists as well as earlier Russian astrophysicist, Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia who predicted similar onset of a new “Little Ice Age”xxix beginning 2014, are right, we may soon face a food crisis on a scale our planet never in history has faced. xxx
* F. William Engdahl is author of Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century; A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order and Full Spectrum Dominance : Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. He may be contacted via his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net. Reproduction of all or significant parts of this article, as well as foreign translations, require the author’s prior permission.
ii Sophia Murphy, Strategic Grain Reserves In an Era of Volatility, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, October 2009.
iii Anon., Another Soviet Grain Sting, Time, November 28, 1977, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919164,00.html#ixzz1NMsb5yQY
iv PBS, The Warning, Public Broadcasting System, October 20, 2009, accessed in http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/#morelink.
v Lawrence Summers et al, Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets and the Commodity Exchange Act: Report of The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, Washington, D.C., November 1999.
vii Frederick Kaufman, How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis, Foreign Policy, April 27, 2011, accessed in http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/27/how_goldman_sachs_created_the_food_crisis.
viii Amine Bouchentouf, et al, Investing in Commodities via the Futures Markets, accessed in http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/investing-in-commodities-via-the-futures-markets.html#ixzz1PdYxiCqD.
x Olivier de Scheutter, Food Commodities Speculation and Food Price Crises, Briefing Note 02, September 2010, accessed in http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/20102309_briefing_note_02_en_ok.pdf
xii Frederick Kaufman, The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it, July 2010, Harper’s Magazine, pp. 32, 24.
xiii Frederick Kaufman, How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis, Foreign Policy, April 27, 2011, accessed in http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/27/how_goldman_sachs_created_the_food_crisis
xiv Neena Rai, et al, High Food Prices Pose Threat to Poor Nations, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2011.
xv Global Labour Institute, Food Crisis—Financializing Food: Deregulation, Commodity Markets and the Rising Cost of Food, Geneva, June 7, 2008, accessed in http://www.globallabour.info/en/2008/07/financializing_food_deregulati.html
xvii See F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, 2007, Montreal, www.GlobalResearch.ca, pp.123-151 for a more detailed analysis of the fraud of the Green Revolution and its so-called “wonder wheat“ from Norman Borlaug, himself a product of the Rockefeller research organization.
xx Current Biography, 1967, Wassily Leontief; and Ray Goldberg.
xxi Ray Goldberg, The Evolution of Agribusiness, Harvard Business School Executive Education Faculty Interviews: www.exed.hbs.edu/faculty/rgoldberg.html. W. Leontief, Studies in the Structure of the American Economy, 1953. International Science Press Inc., White Plains, New York. In its 1956 Annual Report, the Ford Foundation noted the following grant: ‘Harvard Economic Research Project:’ In addition to these over-all programs, a grant of $240,000 was made to support the activities of the Harvard Economic Research Project over a six-year period. This center, under the direction of Professor Wassily Leontief, was engaged in a series of quantitative studies of the structure of the American economy, focusing mainly on inter-industry relationships and the interconnections between industry and other sectors of the economy. Equal support was contributed by the Rockefeller Foundation. See also Ray Goldberg, The Genetic Revolution: Transforming our Industry, Its Institutions, and Its Functions, an address to The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA). Chicago, June 26, 2000. Goldberg founded and headed the IAMA as well as holding seats on the boards of agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland, Smithfield Foods and DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred. He practiced what he preached.
xxii F. William Engdahl, op. cit.
xxiii Carl Mortished, We’re on a green road to hell, The London Times, April 10, 2010.
xxv IEEP Study, The Role of Bioenergy in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans: A First Identification of Issues and Uncertainties, January 31, 2011, accessed in http://www.ieep.eu/topics/climate-change-and-energy/energy/bioenergy/.
xxvi IEEP Press Release, New Report Concludes that Indirect Impacts of EU Biofuel Policy will Create Major Environmental Pressure, November 8, 2010.
xxvii P. Gosselin, German Ethanol Requirement Turns Into A Debacle, March 4, 2011, accessed in notrickszone.com/2011/03/04/German-Ethanol-Requirement-Turns-Into-A-Debacle.
xxviii Gijs B. Graafland, Effects of low sunspot levels on evaporation…, May 9, 2011, private email to the author.
xxix Jerome R. Corsi, New Ice Age to begin in 2014–Russian scientist to alarmists: ‘Sun heats Earth!’, May 17, 2010, WorldNetDaily.
xxx Solar Science Staff Writers, Major Drop In Solar Activity Predicted, June 15, 2011, Boulder Colorado, accessed in http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Major_Drop_In_Solar_Activity_Predicted_999.html
By RICHARD ESPOSITO, LISA STARK nd KEVIN DOLAK
June 30, 2011
The arrested foreign national who allegedly flew from New York to Los Angeles last week with a stolen boarding pass and ID card is a self-proclaimed “storyteller, strategist and designer who is passionate about reaching the world for Jesus,” according to one of the many websites with which he is affiliated.
Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, 24, a Nigerian-born man who was found with the stolen ID and up to 10 old boarding passes containing various names, was arrested Wednesday after attempting to board a flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta; five days after passing through layers of airport security at New York’s JFK airport to board a plane with a day-old boarding pass, federal authorities said.
Also known as Seun Noibi, the man claims to have an office on Chicago’s southwest side and to be a frequent air traveler in comments that are posted under his various identities. He also says he is affiliated with the University of Michigan.
In one post on a social media website, Noibi comments about his plans to travel and his commitment to God.
“3 days, 3 cities, Chicago, Detroit and NOw i can spy with my little eye New york city from this Sheraton at Liberty Int’l Airport in NJ,” he said. “When i told God to use me i didn’t know he’ll take me serious. Here I am. Use more of me. Meetings right into my birthday on sunday and then back in las gidi…for the Diko and Friends in Concert and Album Launch. It can only be God.”
Noibi is also reportedly the founder of the “Unleash Abel Institute,” said to be located in Chicago. The organization claims to have been “introducing students (8-12th graders and college bound) to professional careers in business, technology, and the sciences.”
He also is listed as a principal executive of Unleash Media Inc. and Unleash 9JA, described as “a movement of independent thinkers, artist, musicians and filmmakers propagating the african experience,” according to one website.
Noibi was charged with being a stowaway aboard an aircraft, according to FBI Special Agent Kevin R. Hogg. He is being held at a Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center and is expected to be in court Friday.
Noibi allegedly managed to get through every layer of security with a fake ID and numerous boarding passes, at least one of which came from another passenger’s pocket, ABC News has learned.
The arrest came after Noibi allegedly boarded a plane Saturday under similar circumstances at JFK and travel to Los Angeles. Noibi boarded Virgin America flight 415 at JFK bound for L.A., according to an FBI affidavit.
He was found on the plane after it had taken off and was in flight, in a seat in the aircraft’s “main cabin select” area. When asked for his boarding pass, Noibi produced a boarding pass and ticket for a Friday flight that was not in his name, authorities said.
On that pass was the name of a man with the initials M.D. After tracking down and interviewing him, the FBI learned that M.D. had lost his home-printed boarding pass from his back pocket, which had been folded into fourths, once he arrived at JFK via subway Friday, officials said. Once he discovered it missing, he obtained a new boarding pass from a ticket kiosk and boarded flight 413.
On flight 415 Saturday — the day after M.D.’s flight had already taken off — a similarly folded home-printed boarding pass with M.D.’s name on it was found on Noibi, officials said.
t is unclear how Noibi managed to get through security at both airports, and whether he left the L.A. airport once flight 415 landed last week and when he attempted to board Delta Airlines flight 46 to Atlanta Wednesday, although he claims to have cleared security.
“Noibi … said that he spent the night of June 28, 2011 at LAX Gate 51B, which I know is in the secure portion of the airport,” agent Hogg said in the affidavit. “Noibi claimed he was able to go through passenger screening by obtaining a seat pass and displaying his University of Michigan identification and a police report that his passport had been stolen.”
Hogg was at the Los Angeles airport with tactical Flight Officer Edward Becerril Wednesday when Noibi approach a Delta Airlines departure gate counter, according to the affidavit. Becerril overheard Noibi respond that he had missed his flight the day before, and that “they” told him he could just go to the gate, according to the affidavit. The Delta agent told Noibi “no” twice, and Noibi kept trying to hand her the boarding pass.
Hogg and Becerril then approached Noibi and said that when they searched his bags, they found more than 10 boarding passes in various individual’s names.
The Transportation Security Administration said it “cannot comment on the specifics of the case given the ongoing FBI investigation.”
Generally speaking, though, the TSA said in its statement, “Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint. TSA’s review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening.
“It is important to note that this passenger was subject to the same physical screening at the checkpoint as other passengers.”
A spokesman for Virgin America said the airline doesn’t comment on security issues.
It is unclear why Noibi was arrested Wednesday and not when he was discovered last week as a stowaway on Flight 415.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Timberlake apparently wasn’t satisfied with just playing a social media impresario in the movies, so now he’s becoming one in real life.
The pop star, who played Napster co-founder Sean Parker in “The Social Network,” a movie about Facebook, has joined Specific Media in buying its downtrodden rival, MySpace, from News Corp. in a deal that closed Wednesday.
Timberlake will have an office at MySpace’s Beverly Hills headquarters and a staff of about a half dozen people working for him “around the clock” developing his ideas for the site, said Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook.
The partners are set to unveil their plans for reviving the flagging site in a couple of months.
“When we met with Justin and we discussed what our strategy was, we hit a chord with him,” Vanderhook told The Associated Press. “One of his passions is he really enjoys helping other artists and creating a community for people to really express themselves. I think we were blown away that we were able to get someone like Justin to be so excited about what we were doing.”
The deal is for $35 million, mostly in Specific Media stock, according to a person familiar with the matter. That’s a small fraction of the $580 million that News Corp. paid for the site six years ago. The sale resulted in the layoff of about half of the site’s remaining 500 workers, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
As part of the exchange, News Corp. received a private equity stake in Specific Media and less than a 5 percent stake in MySpace.
With Timberlake’s help, the buyers hope to revitalize MySpace and transform it into a destination for original shows, as well as bolster its already available video content and music. Vanderhook said the revamp will include additional investment in technology and maintain the right to stream music through the joint venture it has with major recording companies, MySpace Music.
“There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect,” Timberlake, an Emmy and Grammy winning artist, said in a statement. “MySpace has the potential to be that place.”
The sale closed a day before the end of News Corp.’s fiscal year, meaning it was able rid itself of about $250 million in losses, estimated Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente.
Over the last 11 quarters, News Corp. had cumulatively lost about $1.4 billion on the business segment that houses MySpace. It was a disastrous performance by a company that CEO Rupert Murdoch had predicted would reach $1 billion in annual revenue. It never reached that goal.
Walking away from the site was “the right decision,” said Standard & Poor’s equity analyst Tuna Amobi. “It’s something that they should put behind them and kind of move on.”
MySpace CEO Mike Jones, the last member of a three-member executive team appointed to fix the site in April 2009, said in a memo to staff Wednesday that he would help with the transition for two months before departing.
MySpace launched in 2003, founded by entrepreneurs Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, who is every MySpace user’s first friend. It became a popular Internet destination and a key way for little-known musicians to market themselves and interact with their fans.
But MySpace lost its footing over the years as the fun of customizing one’s profile began to bore its users and heavy use of banner advertisements slowed the speed at which pages load. Meanwhile, Facebook, founded in 2004, limited what users and advertisers could do, but kept pages clean, and freshened them with its “news feed” of updates, a feature that MySpace later copied.
MySpace peaked with 76 million monthly U.S. visitors in October 2008. Advertisers and musicians who once relied on it for promotion fled the site for other hotter social networks like Facebook and, more recently, Twitter.
When Facebook a few years ago began allowing apps, including music functions and addictive games like “FarmVille,” MySpace was left in the dust.
Less than half of MySpace’s monthly visitors are now in the United States, where its visitor count dropped by half in May to 35 million, according to tracking firm comScore Inc. Facebook now has more than 700 million monthly visitors worldwide, it said.
“Apps were the breaking point and MySpace could never recover from that,” said Charlene Li, a social media analyst and founder of Altimeter Group.
Rohit Kulkarni, an 18-year-old member of the San Jose, Calif. pop punk band Four O’Clock Heroes, said his group once exclusively used MySpace to reach fans with their music, but they haven’t checked the site in months. They opened their Facebook band page last year.
“Most of our following was already on Facebook anyways,” Kulkarni said. “Nowadays, people use Facebook over MySpace because it’s integrated into almost everything, like all your mobile phones. I’m guessing that’s why it became more popular.”
Even “FarmVille” game-maker Zynga has taken a role promoting music, as shown recently when Lady Gaga unveiled her new album there.
Timberlake’s involvement is a clear sign that MySpace will try to reconnect with its musical roots. Tim Vanderhook said that the acquisition is about returning MySpace “to what it was supposed to be.”
Specific Media, based in Irvine, Calif., brokers the sale of ads to websites and has dabbled in creating original programming and matching it with sponsors. The company was founded in 1999 by brothers Tim, Chris and Russell Vanderhook.
At $35 million, Specific Media gets an Internet property for a price that Altimeter’s Li called “ridiculously low” and values each monthly U.S. visitor at about $1 each. Its new owners should be able to recoup their investment if the company gets each user to click on about 20 ads over their lifetime, she said.
(CNN) — A man grabbed French President Nicolas Sarkozy by his shoulder and pulled him up against a barricade Thursday before being tackled by security officers.
The incident came as Sarkozy visited the town of Brax in southwest France.
Television footage showed the man being wrestled to the ground by four bodyguards.
The suspect, who is 32 and works at a local music school, was taken into custody and questioned by police who were already present for security reasons, a police spokesman said. He is now being held at Agen police station, the spokesman added.
Sarkozy appeared to have been seized by the shoulder of his jacket as he shook hands with members of the public lined up behind a metal security barrier in the town, near Agen.
The president was due to attend a meeting of local mayors during his visit to the Lot-et-Garonne region, according to local media reports. Earlier, he was to tour a local factory.
France sets date for presidential elections
Sarkozy, who was elected president in 2007, is expected to seek re-election next year.
MSNBC suspended journalist Mark Halperin after Halperin used strongly worded language to criticize President Obama’s performance at Wednesday’s press conference.
“Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers,” the network said in a statement. “We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.”
In the MSNBC statement Halperin repeated his earlier apology and agreed with the channel’s decision.
“I completely agree with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark. I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate,” he said. “Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it.”
During a spot on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Halperin, the co-author of “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime” was asked by host Joe Scarborough what he thought of the president’s strong criticism of Republicans during Wednesday’s press conference.
“I thought he was kind of a d*ck yesterday,” Halperin said.
Soon after, while still on the air, Halperin apologized.
A few hours later MSNBC announced that Halperin had been “suspended indefinitely.”
Halperin’s comments and the fallout came a day after Obama castigated Republicans for refusing to agree to increase taxes on the wealthy, as well as rebutting arguments by some Republicans that the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling was not real.
The Senate on Wednesday defeated an amendment in a 44-55 vote that would have prevented the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from using $108 billion in U.S. monies to bail out foreign nations.
The author of the amendment, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), said he is concerned that the IMF is using U.S. funds to rescue irresponsible nations and banks. He said the U.S. can no longer afford to offer such aid.
“There is no excuse for us giving away money around the world when we cannot even keep our promises here in America today, promises we have made to our seniors, promises we have made to our veterans,” said DeMint.
DeMint also referred to allegations that emerged after the arrest of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn that the organization is poorly managed.
“We cannot afford to let the IMF, who we found in the last month has some questionable management practices, to access $100 billion more than they already have of our money,” said DeMint.
Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the IMF last month after he was charged in New York with sexual assault. Christine Lagarde of France was named his replacement on Tuesday.
The Senate amendment would have ensured that nominees to the IMF Board of Governors would still require confirmation by the full Senate.
Following that vote, the Senate passed by unanimous consent a Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) amendment to ensure that certain military comptrollers would have to continue to be confirmed under the Senate’s full confirmation process.
The underlying Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 is a time-saving measure designed to eliminate the need for executive nominees for minor posts in the government to be confirmed by the Senate as a whole. Instead it would allow the process to be dealt with on a committee level.