Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CEO pay soars while workers' pay stalls

CEO pay soars while workers' pay stalls -

The heads of the nation’s top companies got the biggest raises in recent memory last year after taking a hiatus during the recession.

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why Glenn Beck lost his Fox News show: 4 theories

Why Glenn Beck lost his Fox News show: 4 theories - The Week

The rumors are true — Glenn Beck is leaving his controversial daily program on Fox. What caused the breakup?

Glenn Beck will still be involved with Fox News on a variety of projects, but the conservative will no longer have his daily program.

Glenn Beck will still be involved with Fox News on a variety of projects, but the conservative will no longer have his daily program. Photo: Facebook/ Fox NewsSEE ALL 23 PHOTOS

Best Opinion: NY Times, Deadline, Daily Beast...

After months of speculation, Glenn Beck is officially leaving his controversial Fox News show. Beck's production company, Mercury Radio Arts, and the cable network announced that the daily 5 p.m. show will be phased out this year, even if Beck will still produce occasional specials for Fox. Though the doggedly provocative newsman has had a bumpy ride recently, his ratings remain the third highest in cable news. So why exactly is he moving on? Here, four theories:

1. Beck became toxic to advertisers
Crowing liberals believe this turn of events was inevitable, says Brian Stelter at The New York Times. They say Beck's outrageous pronouncements, such as calling President Obama a racist, made him undesirable to advertisers. Color of Change, a major Beck foe, spearheaded a boycott, and claims that 300 advertisers have abandoned the weepy host's show. The organization's executive director, James Rucker, says: "Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line."

2. Viewers just aren't into Beck anymore
Beck's penchant for spinning wild conspiracy theories is getting old, says Nellie Andreeva at Deadline. Proof: The show "has posted the biggest declines among all cable news programs for the past several months." Yes, he still pulls in an average of 2.2 million viewers, but his trajectory is drooping as he alienates "viewers both on the left and on the right." It's no surprise his contract is fizzling.

3. Fox just isn't into Beck anymore
Though some wonder how Fox will fare without Beck, says Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast, they needn't worry. The end of Beck's outrageous show will soothe those Fox anchors and reporters who were peeved that he was becoming the face of the network. "And whatever late-afternoon audience Fox loses will be partially offset by [the fact that it no longer has] to defend Beck’s most controversial utterances." This appears to be a breakup Fox was ready for.

4. Beck has bigger plans
Beck isn't moving out of weakness, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. The man is huge. That's why the most consistent rumor has been that he would strike out on his own to capitalize on his popularity, and launch his own network. "And if Oprah took 'OWN' for a name, I suppose Glenn could go with GBN." Indeed, Beck "will be fine," adds Kurtz at The Daily Beast. He has made more money from his Mercury Radio Arts, speeches and daily radio show than he ever did from his TV show.

Laurence Kotlikoff: Fiscal Meltdown in Spitting Distance

Laurence Kotlikoff: Fiscal Meltdown in Spitting Distance

By Laurence Kotlikoff

(Laurence Kotlikoff is professor of economics at Boston University, president of Economic Security Planning Inc., and author of “The Healthcare Fix.” The opinions expressed are his own.)

The two parties are having a heated debate over the Republican plan to slice $61 billion off Uncle Sam’s projected $3.6 trillion budget. If the Republicans get their way, the deficit will fall from 9.5 percent of gross domestic product to 9.1 percent. If they don’t, they’ll probably shut the government for a couple of days. Then they’ll compromise on, say, a $40 billion budget cut, having proved they gave it their best shot.

Arguing over lowering our deficit by just 0.4 percent of GDP when we need to run massive surpluses to deal with the baby boomers’ impending retirement is, pick your metaphor — rearranging the Titanic’s furniture, Nero’s fiddling, Custer’s Last Stand.

Is this malign fiscal neglect, or has Congress somehow missed what its own Congressional Budget Office is indicating? CBO’s baseline budget updates suggest the date for reaching what Carmen Reinhart, Kenneth Rogoff and other prominent economists believe is a critical insolvency threshold — a 90 percent ratio of federal debt held by the public to gross domestic product — has moved four years closer, in just nine months!

The CBO releases its realistic long-term forecast — the alternative fiscal scenario — every June. In between, it provides us with periodic updates of its unrealistic 10-year baseline scenario, based on “current law.” Congress, for political reasons, forces the agency to interpret current law in ways that generally make spending much lower and taxes much higher than is likely.

Take It Seriously

Read more: Laurence Kotlikoff: Fiscal Meltdown in Spitting Distance

Crisis All Around Us

WSJ/NBC Poll: A Donald Trump Surprise

WSJ/NBC Poll: A Donald Trump Surprise - Washington Wire - WSJ

By Jonathan Weisman and Scott Greenberg

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears to be the early front-runner in the largely unformed race for the Republican nomination for president, but real estate magnate Donald Trump may be a surprise contender, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Gaddafi asks Obama to end air war

Gaddafi asks Obama to end air war - Israel News, Ynetnews
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is appealing to President Barack Obama to halt the NATO operation to protect opponents of his regime. In a letter to Obama obtained by The Associated Press, Gaddafi implores Obama to stop what he called an "unjust war

Jesse Ventura "We Live In A 2 Party Dictatorship!"

Glenn Beck to Leave Fox News Program

Glenn Beck to Leave Fox News Program - TVNewser

Updated: Glenn Beck is out at Fox News Channel.

Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts and FNC have reached a deal which will see Beck “transition off of his daily program” later in 2011.

Beck’s much-reported troubles with the advertising community are believed to play a role in the decision.

Update on debtor’s prisons: Wall Street Journal confirms they are returning.

Update on debtor’s prisons: Wall Street Journal confirms they are returning. I say let my people go! « FarquharLaw – San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney

This practice is increasing with the deepening and lengthening of this recession. So just when people are hardest hit by job loss, high unemployment, higher commodity prices, and housing price collapse, they are also getting hit with being put in jail for owing purely private debts.

Some judges appear to be on board with this. One is quoted in the article saying “wish I could do it more” and “It’s often the only remedy to get people into court and paying their debts”. No matter to the judges if the debtors can’t pay because they have no money and no job.

Manipulating morals: scientists target drugs that improve behaviour

Manipulating morals: scientists target drugs that improve behaviour | Science | The Guardian

A pill to enhance moral behaviour, a treatment for racist thoughts, a therapy to increase your empathy for people in other countries - these may sound like the stuff of science fiction but with medicine getting closer to altering our moral state, society should be preparing for the consequences, according to a book that reviews scientific developments in the field.

Drugs such as Prozac that alter a patient's mental state already have an impact on moral behaviour, but scientists predict that future medical advances may allow much more sophisticated manipulations.

World Plantation with Travinyle1 with Karen Quinn-Tostado 04/06 by Commoncents Radio | Blog Talk Radio

World Plantation with Travinyle1 with Karen Quinn-Tostado 04/06 by Commoncents Radio | Blog Talk Radio

CFR Historian Carroll Quigley - Tragedy and Hope

Americans to protest against US wars

PressTV - Americans to protest against US wars
People across America are plan to stage massive demonstrations in east coast city of New York and the west coast city of San Francisco to protest against US-led wars abroad.

"This Saturday, April 9, there is an important national demonstration in New York and on Sunday April 10 in San Francisco against US wars and occupation focusing on the tens of thousands of US troops today waging a brutal occupation in Iraq, in Afghanistan, now in Pakistan and opposing the new US war on Libya," said Sara Flounders, national co-director of New York-based International Action Center, in an interview with Press TV's US Desk on Tuesday.

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Bernie Sanders Letter To Bernanke: Why Did The Fed Bailout The Central Bank Of Libya?

Bernie Sanders Letter To Bernanke: Why Did The Fed Bailout The Central Bank Of Libya? - Home - The Daily Bail

Read the Letter

WASHINGTON, March 31 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today questioned why the Federal Reserve provided more than $26 billion in credit to an Arab intermediary for the Central Bank of Libya.


Administration Paints Picture of Possible Government Shutdown

Administration Paints Picture of Possible Government Shutdown -

Belgium has had their central government shutdown for over a year and the local governments have provided

The Obama administration clarified the scope of the potential government shutdown saying that it would impact about 800,000 employees and stop services like IRS paper filling and returns, and close institutions like the Smithsonian.

A senior administration official also said that military personnel would continue to earn money, however they wouldn't actually receive it until the government is funded again. They'll be receiving full pay checks until April 8.

There are two areas that guide who will stay working. Government activities will stay open that:

1) Have alternative funding - like user fees or appropriations that aren't renewed every year.2) Are necessary for safety of life and protection of property.

Here's a snapshot of what else stays open and what closes during this potential shutdown:

• The official said the president doesn't want government shutdown, but they think from a "good government" perspective and for "good housekeeping," they need contingency plan.

• 800,000 federal employees (the same as 1995) the official says is the "vicinity" of workers who would be affected. What's changed since 1995 though is that the Veterans Affairs Department was largely closed during the last shutdown, but will be open now because it has multi-year appropriation. Plus the Department of Homeland Security didn't exist then, and many of their operations are necessary for safety and protection of property.

• Military members will continue get paid through April 8th, but after that are only earning and will get money when the government is funded again. Civilian members will be under same consideration about who stays and their pay situation will be largely the same. They expect a significant number of civilians to be furloughed.

• What services will be suspended? IRS filings with paper claims won't be processed and audits will also be stopped. Electronic claims will continue. Small business loans and Federal House Administration mortgages will also be halted. (The official noted that FHA had 12 percent of housing market in 1995, and now it's up to 30 percent)

• The National Institutes of Health will not be accepting new patients or starting new clinical trials

• The Environmental Protection Agency will cease facilities for air, land and water pollution, but keep up ones necessary for protection of life.

Read more:

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US to continue arming Yemeni govt.

PressTV - US to continue arming Yemeni govt.

The US has acknowledged that it has no plans to suspend its military assistance to Yemen despite the wave of anti-regime protests in the country.

"As far as I know, it has not been," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in response to a question whether the US administration was considering withholding military aid to stop the violence against demonstrators.

George W Bush 'invited son of Osama bin Laden to White House'

George W Bush 'invited son of Osama bin Laden to White House' - Telegraph

Omar bin Laden, the fourth son of the al-Qaeda leader, claims he received a visit from White House staff in January 2009 at his home in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

"They invited me to accompany them to the White House, offered to defend, help and protect me, on the condition that I helped them find my father," he told Spanish daily newspaper La Vanguardia, in an interview published on Monday.

mini Fukushima update, mini silver update, & bonus mini sinkhole at Gram...

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10 Reasons Obama is Just As Bad or Worse Than Bush

Activist Post: 10 Reasons Obama is Just As Bad or Worse Than Bush

George W. Bush was clearly a mentally-challenged puppet of the military/banking/oil elite. The policies put it in place at breakneck speed after 9/11 were provably predetermined by think tanks well in advance. Not that other presidents were any less controlled by this hidden agenda, but there was a noticeable in-your-face quickening of corporate-government tyranny under Bush.

These policies like wars of aggression, illegal surveillance of Americans, torture of detainees indefinitely held without formal charges, unfair "free trade" agreements, and bank bailouts rightfully enraged many progressives during the Bush years. Yet, not only have these policies accelerated under Obama, even more of the draconian playbook is unfolding.

After 8 years of Bush's reign that ended with a record low presidential approval rating in the low 20s, Obama's promise of hope and change inspired many beyond mainline progressives. His campaign speeches were so powerful that they landed him the Nobel Peace Prize without having done anything for world peace except to offer the idea in order to get elected. As a Constitutional law professor and attorney, Obama appeared to have a greater understanding of rights and the balance of power than did flunky Bush.

Although policies being implemented under Obama's leadership exhibit the continuation of Bush's tyrannical agenda, his stunning betrayal of populist and Constitutional principles in support of these actions makes him the ultimate hypocrite. Additionally, because Obama is a much more influential orator than Bush, his service to the puppet masters is far more dangerous to the American people he's supposed to serve.

There have been many articles written about Obama's unkept promises and outright lies, but here are 10 actions that prove Obama is just as bad if not worse than Bush:

Tax cheat Geithner
AFP image
Bank/Corporate Bailouts: Although the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), otherwise known as the bankster bailout, occurred on Bush's watch, Obama fully supported it as necessary. Obama then followed up this massive wealth grab with a gargantuan stimulus bill which has basically been absorbed by the financial crisis as well. All said, Bloomberg and others reported the taxpayer guarantees for Wall Street are upwards of $23 trillion. Additionally, the best part of Obama's cabinet and appointed czars are directly connected to big banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Furthermore, Obama and Democratic leaders gave the Federal Reserve even more regulatory power over the economy. The Administration hails the Financial Reform bill as a big political accomplishment, but the bill never addressed the three major problems: doesn't break up or reduce the size of too-big-to-fail banks, doesn't remove the massive government guarantees to the giant banks, and it won’t even increase liquidity requirements to prevent future meltdowns. The inmates are too clearly running Obama's asylum.

AFP image
Betrayal of the Poor: Bush never pretended to give a damn about the poor and the systematic mechanisms that keep them poor; openly calling the "haves and have mores" his "base." But Obama has been portrayed as different, mainly because the Democratic party is viewed as more empathetic to the poor. Obama promised affordable healthcare, to create new jobs, and to increase access to a college education. However, the mandated healthcare bill has proven to actually hurt the poor, the"jobs" bill HIRE was nothing but a smokescreen to pass capital controls, and college loans are increasingly worse than useless since record numbers of students can't find work to pay them off. So far he only seems to be helping the poor by extending food stamps to a record number of needy Americans -- which is currently on the spending cut chopping block by the way. Obama also extended Bush'stax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while the poor suffer the dramatic effects of inflation and the approaching austerity cuts demanded to prevent a government shutdown.

Expansion of Free Trade: Obama excoriated NAFTA, GATT and other so-called "Free Trade" agreements that were put in place under Clinton and Bush (with CAFTA). One of Obama's campaign mailers to Ohioans read "one million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA, including nearly 50,000 jobs here in Ohio." And Obama told unions that "he has always opposed NAFTA, and said the trade deal should be amended and renegotiated." It is abundantly clear that free trade agreements have not done well for American manufacturing and its workers (just like Obama told us during his campaign). These free trade agreements are designed to only help the multinational corporations who wrote them, and who Obama now works for. In contrast to being "opposed" to such agreements, the government moves forward with many new similar agreements.

EPA attempts to just raise what is considered "SAFE"radiation

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

For Immediate Release: April 5, 2010
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

RADIATION EXPOSURE DEBATE RAGES INSIDE EPA — Plan to Radically Hike Post-Accident Radiation in Food & Water Sparks Hot Dissent

Washington, DC — A plan awaiting approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in drinking water, food and soil after “radiological incidents” is drawing vigorous objections from agency experts, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At issue is the acceptable level of public health risk following a radiation release, whether an accidental spill or a “dirty bomb” attack.

The radiation arm of EPA, called the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA), has prepared an update of the 1992 “Protective Action Guides” (PAG) governing radiation protection decisions for both short-term and long-term cleanup standards. Other divisions within EPA contend the ORIA plan geometrically raises allowable exposure to the public. For example, as Charles Openchowski of EPA’s Office of General Counsel wrote in a January 23, 2009 e-mail to ORIA:

“[T]his guidance would allow cleanup levels that exceed MCLs [Maximum Contamination Limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act] by a factor of 100, 1000, and in two instances 7 million and there is nothing to prevent those levels from being the final cleanup achieved (i.e., it’s not confined to immediate response of emergency phase).”

Another EPA official, Stuart Walker of the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, explains what the proposed new radiation limits in drinking water would mean:

“It also appears that drinking water at the PAG concentrations…may lead to subchronic (acute) effects following exposures of a day or a week. In a population, one should see some express acute effects…that is vomiting, fever, etc.”

“This critical debate is taking place entirely behind closed doors because this plan is ‘guidance’ and does not require public notice as a regulation would,” stated PEER Counsel Christine Erickson. Today, PEER sent EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a letter calling for a more open and broader examination of the proposed radiation guidance. “We all deserve to know why some in the agency want to legitimize exposing the public to radiation at levels vastly higher than what EPA officially considers dangerous.”

The internal documents show that under the updated PAG a single glass of water could give a lifetime’s permissible exposure. In addition, it would allow long-term cleanup limits thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These new limits would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed.

PEER obtained the internal e-mails after filing a lawsuit this past fall under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) but the EPA has yet to turn over thousands more communications. “EPA touts its new transparency but when it comes to matters of controversy the agency still puts up a wall,” added Erickson, who filed the FOIA suit. “Besides the months of stonewalling, we are seeing them pull stunts such as ORIA giving us rebuttals to other EPA documents they have yet to release.”

Some Radiation-Tracking Air Monitors May Not Be Working Properly, EPA Says - Bloomberg

Some Radiation-Tracking Air Monitors May Not Be Working Properly, EPA Says

They are breaking meters that are detecting radiation

Eight of 18 air monitors in California, Oregon and Washington state that track radiation from Japan’s nuclear reactors are “undergoing quality review,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

A sufficient number of devices are working and can measure any changes in radiation levels from the damaged Fukushima Dai- Ichi reactors, said Ronald Fraass, director of the EPA’s National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory in Montgomery, Alabama.

Stop having children instead of bleating about conservation, says wildlife expert

Stop having children instead of bleating about conservation, says wildlife expert

Chris Packham, the BBC presenter, said the government should offer financial rewards to couples who opt to remain childless.

Setting out his radical approach, Packham said: "There's no point bleating about the future of pandas, polar bears and tigers when we're not addressing the one single factor that's putting more pressure on the ecosystem than any other - namely the ever-increasing size of the world's population.

Dish Network acquiring Blockbuster for $228M

Dish Network acquiring Blockbuster for $228M

NEW YORK—Dish Network Corp. said Wednesday that it won the auction for Blockbuster Inc. with a bid valued at $228 million in cash.

As of Tuesday, the satellite TV company, billionaire investor Carl Icahn and a group of debt holders were the three remaining bidders for the Dallas movie-rental chain, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.

Read more:Dish Network acquiring Blockbuster for $228M - The Denver Post
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Large Scale Terror Drill In New York Simulates Dirty Bomb Attack - 400 C...