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A Look Into The Wonderful World Of Government Money Disbursement

A California venture capitalist whose affiliated companies have received more than $100 million in tax credits from the government has given a rare glimpse into how Washington distributed money to green energy firms.

In a video recently posted to YouTube from 2009, investor Paul Holland described — in an off-color anecdote — the reaction when a Department of Energy official attended a meeting with other investors to announce he was dispersing billions in federal funds. In doing so, he pulled back the curtain ever so slightly on the first steps the Obama administration took to distribute the money.

Holland said: “He came in to do his talk and opened his talk with, ‘I’m Matt Rogers I’m the special assistant to the Secretary of Energy and I have $134 billion I have to disperse between now and the end of December.’

“So upon hearing that I sent an email to my partners that said Matt Rogers is about to get treated like a hooker dropped into a prison exercise yard.”

Rogers prefaced the remark by saying it’s a “little bit off color.” The crowd laughed anyway.

But the Republican National Committee, which posted the video to YouTube, didn’t think it was so funny.

“As we learn more about the Obama administration’s penchant for rewarding campaign donors with millions in taxpayer dollars meant to stimulate the economy and create jobs, it’s clear Obama doesn’t value our tax dollars,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told FoxNews.com.

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ICE Officials Claim DREAM Policy Getting Abused

Union heads representing thousands of America’s immigration agents slammed the Obama administration Thursday over a policy they claim is forcing officials to ignore the law and allowing illegal immigrants to exploit the system.

In a startling allegation, the president of the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers claimed illegal immigrants are “taking advantage” of a new directive allowing some undocumented residents who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country. Union boss Chris Crane said the policy ends up allowing illegal immigrants to avoid detention without any proof — particularly so-called “dreamers,” or those illegal immigrants who would benefit under the “DREAM Act” proposal, which Congress has not passed but the administration has partially implemented.

“Prosecutorial discretion for dreamers is solely based on the individual’s claims. Our orders are if an alien says they went to high school, then let them go,” he said at a press conference with GOP senators. “Officers have been told that there is no burden for the alien to prove anything. … At this point we don’t even know why DHS has criteria at all, as there is no requirement or burden to prove anything on the part of the alien.

“We believe that significant numbers of people who are not dreamers are taking advantage of this practice to avoid arrest,” he said.

Crane cited one case in which, he said, an immigrant facing criminal charges was let go under the policy. Further, he complained that officers are “under threat of losing their jobs” if they defy the policy.

ICE didn’t respond to those allegations directly but said allegations of fraud and abuse will be investigated.

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B. Frank: Bank Breakups A Bad Idea

Bank breakups must be a great idea…

Now’s not the time to talk about breaking up the banks, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Thursday. Frank was responding to former Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill’s call on Wednesday to separate commercial banks from investment banks.

Since the economy is still recovering and Europe is dragging us down, Frank said, “The notion that at this point we would do something drastic to a major part of the U.S. economy is not a very good idea.”

On Wednesday, Weill, who was the architect of the financial supermarket in the 1990s, told CNBC that it’s now time to break up the big banks to prevent a repeat of the huge taxpayer bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis.

“You can accomplish much of what Sandy Weill says he’s now for with the Volcker Rule,” Frank said. The Volcker Rule (Volcker Rule explained) says that banks should not be involved in certain trading and other non-lending activities, he said.

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REVEALED: Corzine’s MF Global Was Client of Eric Holder’s Law Firm

Those wondering why the Department of Justice has refused to go after Jon Corzine for the vaporization of $1.6 billion in MF Global client funds need look no further than the documents uncovered by the Government Accountability Institute that reveal that the now-defunct MF Global was a client of Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s former law firm, Covington & Burling.

Read the rest here.

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Obama Talks (Ignorantly) About Firearms

Before you get all preachy on me – the CO gunman had a semi-automatic, small caliber rifle outfitted with a cheap high capacity magazine. How are we talking about AK-47’s?

Fully automatic weapons are already pretty heavily controlled in the US. And I can’t think of a single gunman who’s used an automatic weapon in a civilian setting. Feel free to point out I’m wrong, if you have dates and facts.

The closest you can get to an AK-47 through standard channels is a semi-automatic variation – which capabilities-wise is probably closer to a hunting rifle than a military rifle.

So we’re going to have a war against any guns that look scary? Sounds reasonable…

(CNN) – Days after the Colorado movie theater massacre, President Barack Obama on Wednesday forcefully spoke out against gun violence, making perhaps some of his strongest comments yet as president on the issue.

While the president said he stands by the Second Amendment and recognizes the traditions of hunting and gun ownership in the country, he told a crowd at a gathering for the National Urban League in New Orleans that there is work left to be done in tackling the problem.

“I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals,” Obama said. “That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.”

The president has largely steered away from talking about gun laws. While he visited the families of victims in Aurora, Colorado on Sunday, he did not wade into the political debate over gun legislation that dominated national dialogue over the weekend.

Talk of gun rights was also largely absent from Obama’s speech in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 and after then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot in Tucson, Arizona, last year. The president mentioned gun safety only in passing after the Tucson shootings to describe the polarizing nature of the issue.

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House Passes Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ Bill

“A bill introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to audit America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, passed the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly Wednesday afternoon by a 327-98 vote.

Paul’s ongoing efforts to call for increased transparency in the Federal Reserve have become a hallmark of his tenure in Congress and of his current campaign for the presidency. ”

Full article

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Bloomberg Might Be Coming for New Yorkers’ Booze Next

via NYPOST.com

The next city health-care crackdown: alcohol abuse.

Having attacked smoking, trans fats and sugary drinks, the Bloomberg administration is ramping up its campaign against alcohol abuse, The Post has learned.

The city Health Department will be conducting a massive, 50-question telephone survey of New Yorkers to get a better handle on the level of alcohol abuse in the city.

“We routinely conduct surveys about important health issues to learn more about them, and underage and excessive drinking are serious health issues,” said Health Department spokesman Sam Miller.

Typically, the department asks a handful of questions about drinking and drugs as part of an annual survey that queries residents about many other medical issues.

But this poll will put a heavy emphasis on booze, along with some questions on drug use, indicating the city is delving deeper into the drinking problem.

“Issues to be explored include behavior patterns around unhealthy alcohol consumption and awareness of existing alcohol-related laws and standards,’’ the department told bidders hoping to conduct the poll.

The poll, which should be completed by the end of September, will “oversample” young adults to make comparisons between 18- to 20-year-olds and 21- to 29-year-olds, health officials said.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/nanny_mike_next_target_real_boozy_6khvdPpGlJlwVgazASV5lJ#ixzz21eRpVhnW

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Geithner to Warn Congress on Threats to U.S. Recovery

“WASHINGTON—Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will warn Congress Wednesday that the euro-zone debt crisis and the political divide over fiscal policy in Washington pose threats to the U.S. economic recovery, issuing a pointed warning of the twin risks he believes are holding back growth.

Mr. Geithner will warn the House Financial Services Committee, according to a draft of his testimony reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that “a severe crisis in Europe would necessarily have very substantial, adverse effects on the United States.” He will say the continuing fight in Europe over how to deal with the region’s debt problems is hurting global growth and exacerbating a slowdown.”
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Obama Administration Announces Solar Energy Projects

Because opening federal land in the Western states to increased oil and gas drilling is such a gamble.

The Obama administration will open public lands in six Western states to more solar projects as part of a solar energy road map it publicized Tuesday.

The Interior Department set aside 285,000 acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah for the initiative. Firms can apply for waivers to develop projects on an additional 19 million acres.

Read the article here.

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How Iran Silences Its Citizens on the Web

via mashable.com

Chris DeVito is the director of Iran180, a nonprofit seeking to change the Iranian government’s treatment of its citizens. His writing and analysis has appeared in major news outlets, including Foreign Policy and The Huffington Post.

Imagine you live in a country where there is heavily restricted access to the Internet. Websites deemed objectionable are blocked. Even when government censors don’t directly vet content, writers practice a high degree of self censorship. The few publications that deviate from this standard are regularly shut down, and those responsible for producing them face potentially serious legal repercussions.

This is the daily reality for citizens of Iran, where access to the Internet has been limited since the presidential elections in 2009, when Twitter and YouTube users informed the world about what was happening on the ground in Tehran. As the government in Iran faces increasing external pressure from a range of international actors, it is clearly grasping for any and all tools to assert its authority at home. This has meant cracking down on all online activity. The abuses fall into four distinct categories.

  • 1. Censorship: The basis of censorship in Iran, both overt and self-imposed, lies in the law. The constitution makes clear that “publications and the press have freedom of expression, except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of [the state and religion].” Furthermore, writings “critical of the government and not in the best interest of the community” are illegal. Violating these provisions can be considered a capital offense. These standards are so broad, that any and all speech, including speech on the web, can easily be categorized as a violation.
  • 2. Monitoring the Web: The Iranian government makes monitoring web activity an important element of its authoritarian toolkit. The government makes explicit use of web monitoring software, and actively tracks usage manually from public access points. It collects passwords, login details, and other information from individuals, and tracks social network usage.
  • 3. Tampering with the Architecture: The Iranian government poses tremendous challenges to those seeking to transmit information online or even conduct a basic Google search. The government requires all internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain licenses. All ISPs must purchase their bandwidth via government controlled access service providers. These effectively government-controlled ISPs are also required by law to deploy filtering systems targeting content deemed “objectionable.” ISPs are then held liable if any “illegal” content ends up on a site. An inter-agency panel of political appointees determines what is acceptable. In Iran, home internet connections operate at a snail’s pace, with a maximum speed of just 128 kilobytes per second, and 56 kilobytes on average.
  • 4. Distributing False or Counter Information: On top of all this, the few websites Iranians can view without obstruction feature content produced by government entities. The purpose of this effort is to make it clear to Iran’s citizens that the government’s authority extends everywhere, even cyberspace. Regime officials have claimed to sponsor more than 10,000 blogs.

These challenges are becoming more significant. In recent months, the government has announced that it intends to pursue a national intranet, which some believe is meant to replace the world wide web. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei also said that he intends to create a Supreme Council of Virtual Space to monitor and oversee internet policy, and digital rights activists have uncovered software designed to track Iranian dissidents.


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Why Theater Gunman’s Online Ammo Purchases Went Unnoticed

via mashable.com

Government officials do not have the hardware or the authority to collect and analyze the artillery receipts, health records and other data that could have signaled a threat was headed toward an AMC movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last week, former federal officials said.

Nor do Americans have the stomach to grant the government such intrusive powers, they added.

Experts point to a review of the FBI’s handling of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas massacre, which was released hours before the Colorado shooting. The report revealed the FBI did not have the technology to perform the kind of analytics that could have raised red flags about Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the psychiatrist charged with murdering 13 soldiers and civilians at the Army’s most populous military base in November 2009.

Both Hasan and the suspected theater shooter, James Holmes, a neuroscience graduate student, were trained to save lives, not take them. On the surface, they seemed unlikely criminals.

There were signs of abnormal behavior in Holmes before he allegedly murdered at least 12 moviegoers. CNN reported that Holmes bought online more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, a Blackhawk urban assault vest, a Blackhawk Omega Elite triple pistol magazine, a Blackhawk Omega Elite M16 magazine pouch and a Blackhawk Be-Wharned silver knife.


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U.S. Leads the World in Cutting CO2 Emissions…With Help from Fracking and Poor Economy

“Quietly, the United States has reduced carbon emissions to their lowest levels in six years. But the reasons for this success may be keeping the Obama administration from touting this accomplishment.

Since 2006, the U.S. output of greenhouse gases has gone down 7.7%. That’s the biggest drop of any country in the world during this time.
So why isn’t Obama talking up this achievement?”

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Too Funny: Dan Rather Talking About “Trust” In Media, Vetting Process

I’m sure some or most of what he’s saying here is true. But his own background is pretty black on the subject of careful research. And that’s why it’s nice to have multiple news networks that hate each other, at polar positions. I guarantee Fox isn’t going to hold back on Obama, and CNN, MSNBC (or whatever it’s called now), etc. will not be giving Romney his choice of the pie.

(CNN) — A New York Times front-page article Monday detailed a new phenomenon in news coverage of the presidential campaign: candidates insisting on “quote approval,” telling reporters what they can and cannot use in some stories. And, stunningly, reporters agreeing to it.

This, folks, is news. Any way you look at it, this is a jaw-dropping turn in journalism, and it raises a lot of questions. Among them: Can you trust the reporters and news organizations who do this? Is it ever justified on the candidate’s side or on the reporter’s side? Where is this leading us?

As someone who’s been covering presidential campaigns since the 1950s, I have no delusions about political reporting. Candidates bargaining access to get the kind of news coverage they want is nothing new. The thicket of attribution and disclosure deals is a deep maze reporters have been picking their way through even before my time. But this latest tactic by candidates revealed by the Times gives me, to say the least, great pause. It should give every citizen pause.

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Obama Chicago Campaign Finds Abundant Source Of Potential Voters

Hahaha, sorry I couldn’t help it.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — For $10, identity thieves can access the full name, Social Security number and other personal information of a dead person through a list of millions of deceased Americans, known as the Death Master File.

The Social Security Administration created the file to help financial institutions and businesses prevent identity theft, by using the file to cross-reference applicants or customers to make sure they are not using a deceased person’s identity. But Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said the agency is “inadvertently facilitating tax fraud” by allowing any member of the general public to look up personal details about anyone who has passed away and potentially steal their identity.

In a letter to the commissioner of the Social Security Administration and the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget on Thursday, Casey called for restrictions to be placed on access to the Death Master File.

“Identity theft creates a significant hardship for many American families, and robs our Nation of taxpayer dollars at a time when we face serious fiscal challenges,” Casey wrote. “Preventing the widespread publication of deceased citizens’ vital records is an important first step.”

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Former ACORN Institutional Component Charged With Tax Violation

The former Texas ACORN chapter has a new name and a scheme to collect donations and divert them for political use in a way that abuses tax laws governing charitable organizations, according to a Washington-based public interest group.

Cause of Action, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog, charged in a letter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that the tax-exempt Texas Organizing Project (TOP), formed from the ashes of scandal-ridden ACORN, is using money funneled to it by a closely associated group called the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund for political activity.

The fund gave nearly 80 percent of its revenues — approximately $640,000 — to the advocacy group in 2010, leading Cause of Action officials to believe its reason for being is to raise charitable donations to send to TOP, which is permitted to fund political activity. TOP has used its website to solicit support for Mary Ann Perez, a Democrat running for state representative.

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Battleground States Bombarded With Political Attack Ads

Behind newspaper headlines and TV news chatter about Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital and President Barack Obama’s record on managing the economy is a heavy bombardment of attack advertising.

At mid-summer, more than a month before either major party stages its nominating convention, each side’s message can be summarized simply.

Republicans cast Obama as an old-style politician who has traded “hope and change” for harsh attacks in order to mask his incompetence in turning around the economy. Democrats cast Romney as the personification of what’s wrong with the economy in the first place – a financial wizard whose expertise is not at creating jobs but rather at reaping dubious profits at the expense of middle-class workers.

Those advertisements aren’t seen in vast areas of the country, including huge population centers such as California and New York whose leanings in the presidential race don’t appear in doubt. Instead, they air principally in a handful of swing states that the Obama and Romney campaigns are battling over, including Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Harry Reid Complains About Campaign Finance Law

Because the law of diminishing returns is apparently not something he understands, here’s Harry Reid to tell you why you’re too stupid to not be controlled by ad money purchasing bad commercials that you’ll probably mute.

Washington (CNN) — When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, pronounced this week that “17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they’ve just bought the country,” after the elections, he echoed the distaste many Americans feel at the secrecy surrounding the flood of money pouring into campaigns.

Political experts estimate $6 billion will be spent during the 2012 presidential elections — a large chunk of it via anonymous donors thanks to a Supreme Court ruling which allows unlimited corporate campaign donations. That’s enough money to give 6/7ths of the world’s population $1 each. Politicos and even comedians have made much ado about the influence of anonymous super rich donors and well heeled super PACs, groups that can raise money from a number of sources and spend unlimited amounts independent of and in support of political campaigns.

Democrats on Capitol Hill bemoaned failed efforts this week at forcing out of the shadows political campaign donors who give more than $10,000 to independent groups. Republicans called Democratic efforts a disingenuous attempt to silence critics by going “after the microphone instead, by trying to scare off the funders,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, long an advocate of campaign donations as a form of free speech.

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