Orange Jumpsuit Garlic Thieves?

This intrepid team of crooks swiped several truckloads of …Garlic! Now, I have to believe short of a Vampire infestation in the local town – stealing a truckload of freshly harvested Garlic is about as stupid as it gets…

These guys get BTx3’s – “Orange Jumpsuit of the Week Award”!

Cops Nab Thieves —With 9.5 Tons of Garlic

It’s a heist that didn’t exactly require sniffing dogs: Austrian police stopped three overloaded and sagging vans about to cross into Hungary from Austria today and found them packed to the roof with allegedly stolen garlic—about 9.5 tons of the pungent cargo. After questioning the five men—all Romanian nationals—in the vehicles they charged them on suspicion of receiving stolen goods.

Police say the garlic apparently came from Spain and estimate its value at $37,500. The Austrian Press Agency cites one officer as saying it was clear what the vans were carrying even before their doors were opened. “All three vehicles really stunk like garlic,” he says.

America…Sold Down the River on Debt Deal

Thanks President Obama – for selling America down the river…

Again.

All bow down at the altar of conservative intransigence.

What next? You going to cave on bringing back slavery?

To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal

There is little to like about the tentative agreement between Congressional leaders and the White House except that it happened at all. The deal would avert a catastrophic government default, immediately and probably through the end of 2012. The rest of it is a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists. It will hurt programs for the middle class and poor, and hinder an economic recovery.

It is not yet set in stone, and there may still be time to make it better. But in the end, most Democrats will have no choice but to swallow their fury, accept the deal, and, we hope, fight harder the next time.

For weeks, ever since House Republicans said they would not raise the nation’s debt ceiling without huge spending cuts, Democrats have held out for a few basic principles. There must be new tax revenues in the mix so that the wealthy bear a share of the burden and Medicare cannot be affected.

Those principles were discarded to get a deal that cuts about $2.5 trillion from the deficit over a decade. The first $900 billion to a trillion will come directly from domestic discretionary programs (about a third of it from the Pentagon) and will include no new revenues. The next $1.5 trillion will be determined by a “supercommittee” of 12 lawmakers that could recommend revenues, but is unlikely to do so since half its members will be Republicans…

This for you, President Obama. Buy your own damn gold frame…

Official President Obama Yellowback Donkey Award

Did Faux News Also Tap Phones in America? New Allegations…

The real question about the Rupert Murdoch media empire is whether the News of the World phone hacking scandal was a “one off” crime by a few bad folks…

Or whether it was the sort of illicit activity supported and promoted throughout the media empire by the senior management.

This report is about claims by a former Faux News Executive who claims that Faux News secretly financed, organized, and operated the same sort of back room secret operation committing illicit and illegal invasions of personal privacy through phone tapping, hacking, and other nefarious methods.

Of course about now, you have to figure most of the staff of this operation are on fast flights to Siberia for extended “vacations”…

But there still should be enough tracks here for sophisticated cyber-sleuths to check the veracity of the accusations.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News ran ‘black ops’ department, former executive claims

Dan Cooper, who helped launch Fox News as managing editor in 1996, said that a “brain room” carried out “counter intelligence” on the channel’s enemies from its New York headquarters.

He was threatened after it found out he spoke to a reporter, he claimed.

Another former senior executive said the channel ran a spying network on staff, reading their emails and making them “feel they were being watched”.

The channel, which has come under pressure amid allegations that outlets owned by Mr Murdoch might have attempted to hack the voicemail messages of September 11 victims, firmly denies all the allegations.

Mr Cooper, who left Fox News soon after its launch, provided a quote for a 1997 article about Roger Ailes, Fox News’s president, by the journalist David Brock in New York magazine.

The quote was not going to be attributed to him, but he alleges that before the article was published, Mr Cooper’s agent received a telephone call from Mr Ailes threatening to withdraw Fox’s business from all his clients.

“There are only two possible ways Ailes found out,” Mr Cooper said. “Either Brock told him or they got hold of Brock’s phone records and saw I spoke to him.”

He first alleged that the records were obtained by researchers in the “brain room” in 2005 in an article on his website about the launch of the channel.

“Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News,” he wrote. “I knew it also housed a counter intelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie.”

Mr Cooper said yesterday that he helped to design the high-security unit. “It was staffed by 15 researchers and had a guard at the door. No one working there would engage in conversation.”…

Another former Fox News senior executive, who did not wish to be named, said staff were forced to operate under conditions reminiscent of “Russia at the height of the Soviet era”.

“There is a paranoid atmosphere and they feel they are being watched,” said the former executive. “I have no doubt they are spying on emails to ensure no one is leaking to outside media.

“There is a unit of spies that reports up to the boss about who was talking to whom. A lot of people are scared that they’re going to get sidelined or even that they’re going to get killed.”…

 

Republican Candidates – Another One Bites the Dust

The best political comedy this year may well be the fleet of Republicans “running” for office hitting the wall…

Aristide Brought Back To Disrupt Elections In Haiti

This one is a set up by the same folks who brought back Baby Doc, and own Preval. There is really no reason for Aristide to come back at this point other than to throw some mud into the election process. Further, if he does come back, he likely is going to face criminal prosecution for corruption during his term…

Not sure what Glover is doing in the middle of this – but I guess using former American Republican elected officials, as in the case of Baby Doc didn’t work out as well as expected. With luck, Haiti will eventually get a decent government – of and by the people, instead of the corrupt few.

At which point they will hang this bastard, right next to Baby Doc and their financiers.

A supporter of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide holds a sign last month at a rally calling for Aristide's return.

Lawyer: Aristide returning to Haiti

After seven years in exile, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will be back in his homeland Friday, two days ahead of a highly anticipated election, his U.S. attorney said.

Aristide will board a plane Thursday night at the privately-owned Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, said lawyer Ira Kurzban who is accompanying Aristide back to Port-au-Prince along with actor Danny Glover, an Aristide supporter and critic of U.S. objections to his return.

He is scheduled to address reporters before he departs, Kurzban said. Continue reading

American Corruption and the Courts

Over there the corrupt wear military uniforms ...

... adorned with spiffy medals...

...Here they wear black robes

Those of you that know me have heard me talking abut working on the Haitian Reconstruction for a year now.  Now I’m not a politician, not a mover and shaker as far as changing the government or solving any of the myriad of political problems, nor do I claim to have a hall pass to see the High and Mighty as they come in, and go out of Haiti on any of their state missions.

But I have met some great people, and gotten to see, if not from the inside, at least close up what it takes to rebuild a failed state. And it isn’t as easy as just taking one guy out and replacing him.

One of the first steps in changing a country is an honest judiciary. If the Judiciary is corrupt – there isn’t ever likely going to be any solution to a country’s woes short of a “stand them up against the wall and shoot them and let God sort it out”  revolution.

Watching, second handed, some decent folks in perhaps the most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere struggle to end corruption and return the rule of law has made me take a hard look at what is, and has been going on in our own Judiciary.

Let’s take as an example an unnamed 3rd world dictatorship. In privatizing the former government owned telephone company the Government decides to take bids. Giant company #1, for whom the Dictator’s son works, wins the “hotly contested” bid to provide cell phone service. Within a month, the “Parliament” passes a law that international donors can make anonymous contributions to any charity they wish in the country, and the government has no right to ask where the money came from. 3 months later, the Dictator’s wife’s Charity, “Beautifying the Palace” receives an anonymous donation of $550,000 from “a major international donor”…

I think most folks would conclude, correctly – that the bribe was paid.

Unfortunately that isn’t an unnamed 3rd World Country – that is right here in the USA. With Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife being the beneficiary of the mysterious largesse of two anonymous donors for her work on conservative causes.

Quite frankly, our Judiciary is as corrupt as any 3rd World nation.  What started as a reasonable cause by conservatives to select conservative judges (which used to be called strict constructional) has turned into a circus of selecting judges for purely adherence to ideological whim – even if that means ignoring the Constitution.

Worse, the rot extends all the way up to the Supreme Court, with two of the justices, Scalia and Thomas serving as nothing but high paid whores to wealthy corporate and conservative interests. And thy are just the tip top of the iceberg.

President Obama said that one of his objectives was to root out corruption in this country. My question is – “How are you going to do that when the folks in charge of judging the guilty are as corrupt as the people you are prosecuting?”

The Battle For The Judiciary

What These Criminals Should Be Wearing at "Club Fed".

Yesterday, White House Counsel Bob Bauer said during an American Constitution Society panel that judicial nominees are caught in a “cold war” of obstructionism. If there is a war over the judiciary, the Constitution and other laws designed to protect ordinary Americans have too often been the casualties. Ever since President Bush turned corporate America’s top Supreme Court litigator into the Chief Justice, the Court has transformed into a wasteland where only the rich and the powerful can receive a fair hearing. In recent years, the Supreme Court stripped thousands of women and older workers of their right to be free from workplace discrimination. It has slammed the courthouse doors on millions of consumers and workers, and has given corporations a free pass to buy elections. Yet, for all his disregard of the law, Chief Justice John Roberts pales in comparison to the many radicals on the lower courts.

VINSONS EVERYWHERE: On Monday, Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson handed down a massively overreaching health care decision which wrote out an entire provision of the Constitutionbutchered constitutional history, heavily relied on a brief filed by an anti-gay hate group, and somehow determined that the Boston Tea Party renders the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. While Vinson’s tea partying opinion clearly places him at odds with the Constitution, he is not an extreme outlier. Last year, a Republican judge in DC declared all federal stem cell funding illegal — a position which even George W. Bush rejected. When a volcano of oil erupted in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, conservative judges were much more concerned with protecting the oil industry from regulation than they were with preventing another disaster from occurring. Three sitting U.S. Court of Appeals judges currently serve on the board of an infamous “junkets for judges” organization that treats federal judges to free trips to western resorts if they also attend seminars on how to decide cases in ways that corporations want. DC Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown once compared liberalism to “slavery” and Social Security to a “socialist revolution.” Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Enron and then wrote a key opinion reducing Enron’s taxes by $15 million when she sat on the Texas Supreme Court. In other words, Judge Vinson does not need to look far to find colleagues who share his twisted vision of the law, and these black-robed tea partiers are all working hard to write their agenda into the law.

Of Used Car Salesmen and Cell Phone Companies

Cell Phone companies are definitely the used car salesmen of the modern age. If it weren’t for banks, they would be the least trusted business in America. It is hard to find anyone, who at some time hasn’t had a billing “surprise” or an issue with their Cell Phone company over billing.

So it isn’t really a surprise that the big carriers get sued. What is unusual is when the litigant has the resources to make a case.

Lawsuit claims AT&T cheats iPhone, iPad owners on data

AT&T has “systematically” overcharged iPhone and iPad owners with capped data plans by inflating the amount of data they download and adding “phantom traffic,” a lawsuit claimed last week.

AT&T said it would “vigorously” fight the suit.

The complaint, filed by Patrick Hendricks in federal court in California, claims that a “significant portion” of AT&T’s $1.1 billion of wireless revenue gains last quarter came from the bogus charges and overbilling.

Hendricks’ lawyers asked a judge to grant the lawsuit class-action status, which if approved, would open up the case to millions of iPhone and iPadowners in the U.S.

Citing evidence obtained by a consulting firm hired by Henricks’ attorneys, the lawsuit said that AT&T regularly overstates incoming data between 7% and 14%, and in some cases by as much as 300%. Continue reading

Justice For Sale – Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Bribes…

One of the “abilities to rule by the law” of the conservative justices appointed by the Bushes is the wealth their family members suddenly came into when they were appointed to he bench. Need a vote in a critical case? Drop $500k in Virginia Thomas’ PAC. Hire a judges kids for a high paying job…

By all rights, Scalia and Thomas (and Roberts) should be removed from the bench and join the ranks of Orange Jumpsuited criminal politicians.

Clarence Thomas failed to report wife’s income, watchdog says

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife’s income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause said Friday.

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed.

A Supreme Court spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Friday. But Virginia Thomas’ employment by the Heritage Foundation was well known at the time.

Virginia Thomas also has been active in the group Liberty Central, an organization she founded to restore the “founding principles” of limited government and individual liberty.

In his 2009 disclosure, Justice Thomas also reported spousal income as “none.” Common Cause contends that Liberty Central paid Virginia Thomas an unknown salary that year.

Federal judges are bound by law to disclose the source of spousal income, according to Stephen Gillers, a professor at NYU School of Law. Thomas’ omission — which could be interpreted as a violation of that law — could lead to some form of penalty, Gillers said.

Then there is the relationship between Scalia and Thomas and Koch Industries. Koch Industries is the principal funder of the Tea Party, as well as the Federalist Society and a number of other right wing organizations… including millions to the Heritage Foundation which Virginia Thomas “worked” for..

Charles Koch’s invitation to their 2011 secretive retreat, to be held in Palm Springs, Ca., on January 30-31, states that the “action-oriented program brings together top experts and leaders to discuss – and offer solutions to counter – the most critical threats to our free society.” It added that past “meetings have featured such notable leaders as Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas,” along with a host conservative leaders and elected officials, like Glenn Beck, Haley Barbour and Jim DeMint.

Campaign finance ruling: Should Supreme Court justices have recused themselves?

Common Cause President Bob Edgar said the group has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to examine whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have stepped aside rather than vote in the Citizens United case.

The case, handed down a year ago on Friday (Jan. 21), struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that had barred corporate expenditures for political advertisements during campaign season.

Mr. Edgar said the justices were featured speakers at invitation-only retreats sponsored by Koch Industries, a private company whose officials have played an active role supporting Republican candidates and conservative causes.

He also said Justice Thomas may have had an undisclosed financial conflict of interest through his wife’s work as founder and CEO of a conservative advocacy group, Liberty Central. Edgar said the group stood to benefit from the Citizens United decision through easier fundraising and easier political spending. [Ms. Thomas has since stepped down as CEO of the group.]

Let’s not forget two anonymous doners’ largesse when Virginia Thomas formed her PAC “Liberty Central” - suddenly coming into $500,000 from a single un-named donor  before the Citizen’s United case

 

Judge Who Ruled Against Healthcare…On the Payroll

Dirty Money...Indeed!

Turns out the Judge who ruled against Obamacare was on the payroll…

Literally!

In a stunning case of courtroom malfeasance, turns out the Judge owns part of a company lobbying against Healthcare…

And which received money from Cuccinelli!

Hat Tip to HuffPo for spotting this one!

Henry Hudson, Judge In Health Care Lawsuit, Has Financial Ties To Attorney General Bringing The Case

The federal judge set to issue one of the first decisions on the Obama administration’s health care law has financial ties to both the attorney general who is challenging the law and to a powerhouse conservative law firm whose clients include prominent Republican officials and critics of reform.

This week, District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson is likely to render a procedural verdict on the Virginia Attorney General’s lawsuit which contends that the federal health care overhaul is unconstitutional. The Bush appointee has been hearing oral arguments in his Richmond courtroom dating back to March. His verdict could serve as an important template for more than a dozen other states following Virginia’s lead.

But with power comes scrutiny. And as judgment day approaches, a Democratic source sends over judicial disclosure forms Hudson filed that could raise questions about his impartiality. From2003 through 2008, Hudson has been receiving “dividends” from Campaign Solutions Inc., among other investments. In 2008, he reported income of between $5,000 and $15,000 from the firm. (Data from 2009 was not available at the Judicial Watch database.)

A powerhouse Republican online communications firm, Campaign Solutions, has done work for a host of prominent Republican clients and health care reform critics, including the RNC and NRCC (both of which have called, to varying degrees, for health care reform’s repeal). The president of the firm, Becki Donatelli, is the wife of longtime GOP hand Frank Donatelli, and is an adviser toformer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, among others.

Another firm client is Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia and the man who is bringing the lawsuit in front of Hudson’s court. In 2010, records show, Cuccinelli spent nearly $9,000 for Campaign Solutions services.

Campaign Solutions did not immediately return a request for information on the judge’s relationship with the company.

The nexus between the chief lawyer and the judge spurs questions about judicial objectivity. At the very least, it shows how tightly connected the legal and political worlds can be and how difficult it is to remove the partisan threads from the heath care related lawsuits.

Gawker goes further – and exposes that the Judge was paid between $32,000 and $108,000 for the firm’s work on behalf of anti-healthcare Republicans!

Dirty money? You bet!

The Virginia Congress should be investigating, and looking at impeaching the Kook.

The US Congress should be investigating and looking at impeaching Hudson.

The FBI should be investigating both these guys for fraud and money laundering.

 

The Cannon Fu Hustle

Lock and Load!

Chinese Farmer Fights Developers with Homemade Cannon

Land grabs by property developers in league with local governments are common in China. Yang Youye’s solution isn’t. The 56-year-old farmer has been using a homemade cannon fashioned from pipes, a wheelbarrow, and fireworks to fend off teams of thugs sent by developers, the Telegraph reports. “I only shot over their heads to frighten them,” he says. “I didn’t want to cause any injuries.”

Yang says he managed to scare off an eviction team of 30 people trying to force him off his land and demolish his home earlier this year with the cannon. Last month, a team of 100 arrived and Yang kept them at bay from a makeshift watchtower until police arrived. Yang says the officials trying to requisition his fields for development have offered him only a fifth of their value. “I only want a price that is in accordance with government policy,” he says.

Hmmmm… The Axe Gang Lives!

How Corruption Destroyed America

Corruption threatens “soul and fabric” of U.S.: FBI

BOCA RATON, Florida (Reuters) – Corruption, whether in the form of crooked officials, financial fraudsters or even philandering sports stars, is tearing at the fabric of U.S. society and is the country’s No. 1 criminal threat, a senior FBI agent said on Tuesday.

Corruption destroying the country

Addressing businessmen in Florida, where financial fraud cases jumped by 42 percent in the last year, FBI Miami Division Special Agent in Charge John Gillies said failures in personal ethics and integrity sowed the initial poisonous seeds of corruption in a society.

Gillies said transgressions by high-profile public servants and even perceived social role models, like top golfer Tiger Woods, currently embroiled in allegations that he had extramarital affairs, sent the signal to young Americans that cheating and stealing were acceptable.

“Where do our children learn this? They see us, their elected officials, their sports stars, they see how they act and they figure, ‘well it’s OK,'” he said, citing the case of Woods, whose early morning car accident in Florida last month triggered a storm of media questioning of his clean-living reputation. Continue reading

A Modern Day Heroine – Jackie Ramos

Meet Jackie Ramos, a former “customer advocate” from the collections department at Bank of America. “Former” as in fired…

For being honest. Hat Tip to Huffpo on this one.

Former Bank of America employee offers inside look at bank’s practices

While millions of credit card customers have been through the painful process of negotiating past-due or over-the-limit accounts, few have dealt with their credit company face-to-face. Usually, the conversation is with a customer-service representative in another city who cheerfully outlines the fees and penalties that the cardholder must pay, regardless of whether he or she can afford it.

Continue reading

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