Burma: Rice Matters More Than Rights

30yadana In a report to be released today, a human rights group says that Burmese soldiers guarding a Chevron Corp. pipeline have killed nearby villagers while ordering others to serve as forced labor.

Drawn from interviews with villagers as well as Burmese refugees in Thailand, the report by EarthRights International accuses the Burmese military of terrorizing people who live near the Yadana pipeline. A spokesman for San Ramon’s Chevron called the report’s accusations baseless.

Chevron co-owns the pipeline, along with French oil giant Total and a Burmese company. Total runs the project, while the other companies act mainly as investors. EarthRights does not accuse Chevron or its partners of committing any human rights abuses themselves.

Instead, the EarthRights report calls on the companies to shut down the pipeline as a way of placing pressure on Burma’s military rulers, whose deadly crackdown on pro-democracy activists last year provoked international condemnation.

“No one’s saying Chevron could single-handedly bring human rights and democracy to Burma,” said Marco Simons, EarthRights’ legal director and an author of the report. “But if they’re employing security forces that are committing abuses, they have a moral responsibility to do everything in their power to stop those abuses.”

The report argues that the Yadana project has become the single largest source of income for the Burmese government, bringing in an estimated $969 million each year and undercutting international sanctions designed to isolate the regime.

Chevron came under intense pressure from human rights activists and politicians to pull out of Burma after last year’s crackdown.

A Chevron spokesman said Monday that the company had not received the new report and could not comment on most of its accusations… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <San Francisco Chronicle>

Why has there been no more than lip service from the US over this issue?  The Reich would answer that there are sanctions against Burma in place, and fail to mention the one exception.  I’ve discussed this before on October 4, and the reason remains unchanged.  Athough Yadana provides majority of the junta’s revenue, and shutting it down could bankrupt the Burmese government, Chevron remains the exception to the sanctions.  Why?  Rice matters more than rights, and we’re not talking about food.

30chevronrice Condoleezza Rice was a Chevron Director from 1991 until January 15, 2001 when she was transferred by President George Bush Jr. to National Security Adviser. Previously she was Senior Director, Soviet Affairs, National Security Council, and Special Assistant to President George Bush Sr. from 1989 to 1991.

Another Chevron Corporation giant in the Bush administration is Vice President Dick Cheney. Vice President Cheney was Chairman and Chief Executive of Dallas based Halliburton Corporation, the world’s largest oil field services company with multi-billion dollar contracts with oil corporations including Chevron. Lawrence Eagleburger, a seasoned Bush counselor who held top State Department posts under George Bush Sr., is a director of Halliburton Corporation… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Aztlan.net>

For Bush, McConJob and the GOP, killing innocent villagers and using them as slave labor is fine, ac long as CondiCorp continues to earn record profit.  McConJob has proposed more tax cuts for corporations like this.

Krugman: Bush Made Permanent

As the designated political heir of a deeply unpopular president — according to Gallup, President Bush has the highest disapproval rating recorded in 70 years of polling — John McCain should have little hope of winning in November. In fact, however, current polls show him roughly tied with either Democrat.

In part this may reflect the Democrats’ problems. For the most part, however, it probably reflects the perception, eagerly propagated by Mr. McCain’s many admirers in the news media, that he’s very different from Mr. Bush — a responsible guy, a straight talker.

But is this perception at all true? During the 2000 campaign people said much the same thing about Mr. Bush; those of us who looked hard at his policy proposals, especially on taxes, saw the shape of things to come.

And a look at what Mr. McCain says about taxes shows the same combination of irresponsibility and double-talk that, back in 2000, foreshadowed the character of the Bush administration.

The McCain tax plan contains three main elements.

First, Mr. McCain proposes making almost all of the Bush tax cuts, which are currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2010, permanent. (He proposes reinstating the inheritance tax, albeit at a very low rate.)

Second, he wants to eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which was originally created to prevent the wealthy from exploiting tax loopholes, but has begun to hit the upper middle class.

Third, he wants to sharply reduce tax rates on corporate profits.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the overall effect of the McCain tax plan would be to reduce federal revenue by more than $5 trillion over 10 years. That’s a lot of revenue loss — enough to pose big problems for the government’s solvency.

But before I get to that, let’s look at what I found truly revealing: the McCain campaign’s response to the Tax Policy Center’s assessment. The response, written by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former head of the Congressional Budget Office, criticizes the center for adopting “unrealistic Congressional budgeting conventions.” What’s that about?

Well, Congress “scores” tax legislation by comparing estimates of the revenue that would be collected if the legislation passed with estimates of the revenue that would be collected under current law. In this case that means comparing the McCain plan with what would happen if the Bush tax cuts expired on schedule.

Mr. Holtz-Eakin wants the McCain plan compared, instead, with “current policy” — which he says means maintaining tax rates at today’s levels.

But here’s the thing: the reason the Bush tax cuts are set to expire is that the Bush administration engaged in a game of deception. It put an expiration date on the tax cuts, which it never intended to honor, as a way to hide those tax cuts’ true cost.

The McCain campaign wants us to accept the success of that deception as a fact of life. Mr. Holtz-Eakin is saying, in effect, “We’re not engaged in any new irresponsibility — we’re just perpetuating the Bush administration’s irresponsibility. That doesn’t count.”

It’s the sort of fiscal double-talk that has been a Bush administration hallmark. In any case, it offers no answer to the principal point raised by the Tax Policy Center analysis, which has nothing to do with scoring: the McCain tax plan would leave the federal government with far too little revenue to cover its expenses, leading to huge budget deficits unless there were deep cuts in spending.

And Mr. McCain has said nothing realistic about how he would close the giant budget gap his tax cuts would produce — a gap so large that eliminating it would require cutting Social Security benefits by three-quarters, eliminating Medicare, or something equivalently drastic. Talking, as Mr. Holtz-Eakin does, about fighting waste and reforming procurement doesn’t cut it.

Now, Mr. McCain isn’t unique in making promises he has no way to pay for — the same can be said, to some extent, of the Democratic candidates. But Mr. McCain’s plan is far more irresponsible than anything the Democrats are proposing, and the difference in degree is so large as to be a difference in kind. Mr. McCain’s budget talk simply doesn’t make sense.

So what are Mr. McCain’s real intentions?

If truth be told, the McCain tax plan doesn’t seem to embody any coherent policy agenda. Instead, it looks like a giant exercise in pandering — an attempt to mollify the G.O.P.’s right wing, and never mind if it makes any sense… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

The only responsible way to proceed on Bush tax cuts is to eliminate them for Americans making over $200,000.  That will recover 90% of the revenue.  The only responsible way to proceed on the AMT is to raise the income level at which it kicks in, index it for inflation, and raise the alternate rate for the richest of the rich to recover the lost revenue.  The only responsible way to proceed with corporate taxes is to close the myriad of tax loopholes that allow these multi-national giants to avoid paying their fair share and to end subsidies, unless those subsidies directly benefit the poor and middle classes.

Four years of McConJob would spell economic disaster for the US.  Let the graphic be your guide.  McConJob is McSame as Bush!

Meltdown of U.S. Dollar Underway as China Dumps the Currency

19dollar Comments by China that it intends to move away from its reliance on the dollar triggered a sharp drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and heightened worldwide fears about the U.S. currency’s stability. Chinese Central Bank Vice Director Xiu Jian said that his country is planning to shift much of its $1.4 trillion national currency reserve from dollars to more stable currencies, such as the euro or Canadian dollar. After these comments, the dollar fell to record lows relative to other currencies — the lowest ever against the euro, the lowest in a generation against the British pound, and the lowest in 57 years against the Canadian dollar.

“The big issue on any currency is if its rate of depreciation is so fast that it scares away all capital, and the announcement that we heard from China sort of feeds those fears,” said Larry Smith, chief investment officer at Third Wave Global Investors.

China is the world’s largest investor in U.S. Treasury bonds and securities, holding more U.S. debt than any country but Japan. Because China’s currency is linked to the dollar, the country also maintains a massive reserve of the currency.

But this policy had already begun to shift at the time of Xiu’s comments. China has divested approximately 5 percent of its $400 billion holdings in the U.S. Treasury and established a $200 billion fund to help diversify its investments in equities and stocks around the world… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Natural News>

It will not be long before other nations follow suit. The mismanagement of our economy for the last seven years has been so profound that our currency is now a riskier investment than most nations will want to take. McFool plans to make our deficit and foreign debt even larger through more tax cuts for the rich.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

McCain’s Con Job on Taxes

mccain_bush_hug Sen. John McCain reported income of $405,409 last year, but the money he spent on charitable contributions, wages to household staff, alimony and taxes ate up most of that — showing how his wife, Cindy, helped support a wealthy lifestyle.

McCain on Friday released his 2007 and 2006 tax returns, but not those of his wife, whose income from ownership of a beer distributor far exceeds $1 million, according to financial disclosure statements filed previously in the Senate.

McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has never before released his tax returns. Outside groups estimate the McCains’ combined wealth to be between $28 million and $100 million.

Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama filed joint returns with their spouses, providing a clearer picture of their finances. Those returns, dating to 2000, were recently released.

John McCain’s lack of transparency is troubling and raises questions about what he’s hiding,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said in a statement Friday.

John and Cindy McCain,married since 1980, file separate tax returns and hold a wide range of assets separately. The McCain campaign said Cindy McCain would not release her tax returns in “the interest of protecting the privacy of her children.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <LA Times>

McConJob would have you believe that he’s the least wealthy of the candidates still running for the presidency, but don’t believe it.  He’s Mc’Full’o’Crap.  He undoubtedly has conflicts of interest in his wife’s portfolio.  His personal net worth is about $40 million, up $18 million since 1999, so the GOP No Millionaire Left Behind program has gushed up for him, instead of his promise of downward trickle.  His wife’s net worth is well over $100 million.

The Pennsylvania Debate

17debate To my dismay, instead of showing it live, ABC News delayed the debate coverage three hours on the West Coast, showing it at 8 PM local time.  Since I start my daily research at 11 PM, that’s right in the middle of my sleep time, so I didn’t watch it.  In order to give you the best possible coverage, I’ve watched several news broadcasts, read over a dozen articles, and viewed several clips.

It appears I missed very little, as ABC turned the event of an infotainment media circus.  Here are comments from ABC’s website:

Reflecting what seemed to be the main consensus of the night – that ABC botched this debate, big time – Charlie Gibson tells the crowd there will be one more, superfluous commercial break of the night and is subsequently jeered.

“OH…” he declares, hands raised in defense. “The crowd is turning on me, the crowd is turning on me.”

Off camera, observers let out their frustrations….

…Visitors to ABC’s site weren’t much kinder. Here’s a sampling on page 1:

…This is AWFUL. Thank goodness for Jon Stewart and Comedy Central. He does a better job of interviewing and asking relevant questions of his guests in 5 minutes than these 2 yahoos have in more than an hour. ABC should be ashamed. George should be ashamed. Charlie should be ashamed. This isn’t a debate. This is a hit job.

…Asinine questions – abysmal debate. Fire these silly moderators NOW. They insult the intelligence of the American people.

…I haven’t watched ABC “news” in a few years. I see I haven’t been missing much! MORE THAN half the debate turned over to Bittergate, Rev Wright, the Weathermen, Tuzla, FLAG LAPEL PINS? Most of the televised debates I’ve seen this campaign season have been lame, but this one takes the prize. Either you guys are morons or you think that we are. Either way, I’m glad to have seen the last of you. Really, really bad.No winners in this debate, but a definite loser: ABC “NEWS”

This is the WORST debate I have ever watched. Never in my life have I been more disenchanted with the news media as a whole, especially a news organization such as ABC that I believed to have some sense of purpose to bring substantive information and perspective to the American people. Americans are tired of the snipping between the candidates and the lack of discussion about what each candidate will do to help the country. ABC News should be ashamed for presenting such a failure of a debate.

…Are you kidding me? “We don’t have much time left. Let’s have a MINUTE to talk about gas?” Charlie and George, you need a crash course on the distinction between “issues” and an “agendas.” Hint: The candidates have the former; you have the latter.

…ABC News . . you should be ashamed of this debate. Where did you get these questions?? Where are the ISSUES. We have heard enough about Rev Wright and what Hillary did or didn’t do in Bosnia. Let’s hear about issues that matter such as the cost of Health Care, the war in Iraq, the Energy Crisi, the Crisis in Our Schools, and THE ECONOMY, STUPID!!

Geoirge and Charlie= narcissistic elite “journalists” trying to score a rating point, but asking questions that would yield a “F” in middle school journalism. This debate may be used for years in journalism classes, on how to not run a debate. Disney-who owns ABC- get better cartoon characters to run a debate. Elmer Fudd would do much better… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Nuff said?

In the tiny portion of the debate that did cover issues, Clinton and Obama both acknowledged that the other is electable.  This could be problematic for Clinton, because she has based her campaign for super delegates on the supposition that Obama is not.  Now she either has to abandon that focus, or she will smell worse than my cat-box on a hot day.

Both committed unequivocally to withdraw from Iraq, and both pledged that they will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on people making less that $250,000 annually.  The latter is great ammo to diffuse McConJob’s tax lie.

Here’s a video on the debate from Keith Olbermann with Chuck Todd:

On the whole, I’m glad I missed it.

Gordon Smith: Payback

Smith-Gordon That’s what Tax Day is for Gordon Smith’s special interest contributors. It’s the day they can tally up how many billions Gordon Smith is saving them in return for the millions they have contributed to his campaigns.

A couple examples. In each example, Smith cancelled out the vote of Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Ron Wyden.

Smith Helped Protect $5 Billion In Big Oil Tax Breaks.

Tax loopholes that save the oil industry $5 billion were removed from the original Senate version of the GOP tax reconciliation bill in February 2006, but after heavy lobbying by the industry, Congressional negotiators reinserted them into the final bill. The $5 billion tax break for Big-Oil could have been used instead to partially offset the increase in middle class taxes. Gordon Smith voted for the final tax bill with the Big-Oil tax breaks.

[Republican Policy Committee, 2/7/06; Washington Post, 4/26/06; Joint Tax Committee, 5/9/06; Vote 118, 5/11/06]

Smith Opposed Efforts To Lower Drug Prices For Seniors.

Smith voted against an amendment to allow the federal government to negotiate volume discounts for seniors the way it does for military personnel and veterans.

[Senate vote #60, 3/17/05]

How did these industries earn Smith’s votes?

With checks to his campaigns.

The Say Anything Senator has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Pharmaceutical and Health Products Industry over the last several years.

Smith has raised nearly $1.5 million from Big Oil and the other special interests who control his reckless environmental votes against reducing greenhouse gases and lowering fuel standards.

“Gordon Smith’s record clearly shows he’s a vending machine for votes,” DPO Chair Meredith Wood Smith said. “Special interests insert money and Gordon Smith produces corporate tax breaks, overpriced prescription drugs and anything else they want.”… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Stop Gordon Smith>

When Smith pretends to be a progressive moderate, don’t believe his lies. He is go-to Gordon for GOP goose-stepping.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

McCain’s Gas Tax Ploy and Tax Lies

mccain3 John McCain wants the federal government to free people from paying gasoline taxes this summer and ensure that college students can secure loans this fall, a pair of proposals aimed at stemming pain from the country’s troubled economy.

At the same time, the certain Republican presidential nominee says Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton would impose the single largest tax increase since World War II by allowing tax cuts pushed to passage by President Bush to expire.

“Both promise big ‘change.’ And a trillion dollars in new taxes over the next decade would certainly fit that description,” McCain said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday. “All these tax increases are the fine print under the slogan of ‘hope:’ They’re going to raise your taxes by thousands of dollars per year — and they have the audacity to hope you don’t mind.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Yahoo News>

BigOil How could anyone disagree with a gas tax holiday? It sounds pretty good to me, until I stop to think about it. First, the lost revenue has to come from somewhere. You can bet that it won’t come from bailouts for the super rich, so it will come cuts for the poor and middle classes. Second, assume he did it. The immediate reaction from Big Oil would be to raise prices, so all it would accomplish is shift money out of entitlements to the greedy pockets of Big Oil. Third, note that he did not say he would implement this were he to be elected. It’s for THIS summer. He does not have the power to implement it. The cuts in entitlements would not make it through the house. the GOP would filibuster any attempt to recover the lost revenues from the rich, so it WILL NOT HAPPEN, and McConJob knows it. He’s just blowing smoke up your… never mind.

On the taxes, McLiar is McLying. His $10 trillion figure assumes that the Bush/GOP tax cuts are rolled back across the board. No Democrat has proposed this. Democrats have proposed to roll them back only for those with incomes of $250,000 plus. The only other Democratic proposal for tax increase is to tax super rich hedge fund managers at standard tax rates instead of 15%. So when McLiar says Democrats are about to raise your taxes, unless you are quite rich, he’s McFull’o’Crap!

Cross-posted from Politics Plus