Monthly Archives: June 2010

Markets Dives on Revised Growth in China and Falling US Consumer Confidence: Dow Jones loses 268 Points

Tuesday was a rough day for the markets worldwide and The Dow Jones loses 268 points or 2.7% of its value to 9,870.30 the lowest point since June 3rd. Standard and Poor’s 500 index fell 33.33 or 3.1% to 1,0401.24 on the News. The NASADQ dives to 85.47 or 3.9% to 2,1 35. 18.

The reason is three-fold: One, Conference Board  revise their economic growth down. China grows revise to 0.3%. Earlier the economic output for China was measure at 1.7% for the month of April 2010. That sent markets in Asia and Europe plunging. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 4.3% a 14 month low on the news.  The Nikkei Stock Exchange in Tokyo fell 1.3 %.

The slide escalated in Europe in addition to the news in China. Two, Workers in Greece went on strike again protesting the government austerity programs help set the European Bourses falling. The FTSE 100 fell 3.1%; Germany Zetra DAX drop 3.3%; and France’s CAC-40 index fell 4 %.

Third,Back at Home the news consumer confidence is not good. The Conference Board saw consumer confidence  revised down  from 62.7 to 52.9 in May. This is the biggest drop since February.

AP via Yahoo Finance News has more.

Blago Trial: Obama Calls Union Rep Go Between on Valerie Jarret

President-Elect Barack Obama were inquiring  from then Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about his friend and adviser Valerie  Jarrett  (who wanted )appointed to Senator to replace him if he won the election . He contacted Thomas Balanoff of S.E.I.U. as a go between him and Blagojevich.  From The Chicago Sun-Times:

Top union leader Thomas Balanoff said he was at dinner the night before the November Presidential election when he got a call that was blocked.
So he didn’t take it.

Later he listened to his messages: “I walked outside, listened to it and it was from President Obama,” Balanoff said.

“Tom, this is Barack, give me a call,” the soon-to-be President-Elect said on the message.

After Balanoff sent word through an Obama aide to call him back, Obama returned his call later that night.

Obama wanted Jarrett with him in the White House instead of the Senate:

“Tom, i want to talk to you with regard to the Senate seat,” Obama told him.
Balanoff said Obama said he had two criteria: someone who was good for the citizens of Illinois and could be elected in 2010.
Obama said he wasn’t publicly coming out in support of anyone but he believed Valerie Jarrett would fit the bill.
“I would much prefer she (remain in the White House) but she does want to be Senator and she does meet those two criteria,” Balanoff said Obama told him. “I said: ‘thank you, I’m going to reach out to Gov. Blagojevich.”

Chicago Sun-Times has the rest of the story.

Kagan Hearings Gets Interesting…Sen. Coburn Challenges Kagan on Commerce Clause

Senator Tom Coburn(R-OK) challenges former Obama Solicitor General Elena Kagan on the Commerce Clause the First Amendment. The Commerce Clause Article 1 Section 8 Clause 3 states Congress shall have power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes”.

Coburn  asks Kagan by asking If Congress passes a law that Congress required All American to eat vegetables. Does the government have the power to tell American’s what to Eat.

Kagan dances around without giving an answer.

She also dances around the issue of being a progressive.

From McClatchy News Service:

A poised Elena Kagan on Tuesday spent the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing fending off Republican efforts to paint her as a liberal activist, saying she’d be a fair, open-minded justice and refusing to call herself a “legal progressive.”

“I honestly don’t know what that label means,” she said.

However, when Kagan was asked later where she stood politically, she said she’d been a Democrat all her life and that ”my political views are generally progressive.”

Kagan looked comfortable most of the time Tuesday, as if she were among old friends, but there were times when she sat alert and even turned combative as Republicans hammered away at issues such as military recruiting at Harvard Law School while she served as its dean.

“I feel like she was not rigorously accurate in describing the whole nature of the circumstance, and so I’m disappointed in it,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama , the committee’s senior Republican member.

C-SPAN via Republican Senate Judiciary Committee You Tube Channel

McClatchy News Service via Yahoo News.

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) Longest Serving Senator Dies at 92

Robert Byrd, the long time senator from West Virginia has died was 92. Senator Byrd was a firebrand conservative who opposed the War in Iraq and in his earlier day as a member of the Ku Klux Klan who opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. From the Charleston Gazette:

“I am saddened that the family of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., tearfully announces the passing” of the senator, Jesse Jacobs, Byrd’s press spokesman, said in a statement.

Byrd died at 3 a.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., according to the statement.

Byrd was hospitalized over the weekend with dehydration and heat exhaustion. An announcement on Sunday said the senator “seriously ill.”

Byrd will best know for jobs (or pork projects) and the millions of dollars that he brought to the Mountaineer state; roads, bridges, government buildings were named after him.  Byrd nickname the Prince of Pork by his critics. He wore the phrase as a badge of honor:

Now, dozens of projects bear the senator’s name: the Green Bank radio telescope, the federal courthouses in Charleston and Beckley, the locks on the Ohio River at Gallipolis Ferry, a Clarksburg high school and numerous streets, libraries, health clinics, college departments — a seemingly unending list. There’s the Robert C. Byrd Freeway (Corridor G) and the Robert C. Byrd Highway (Corridor H), both part of the Robert C. Byrd Appalachian Highway System.

Byrd was election first to the House of Representatives in 1952 as a Dixiecrat by in 1958 he ran won election to the US Senate. Byrd never lost an election to national office.

Byrd held a variety of leadership posts: Senate Majority Whip, and  Majority Leader in the 1970’s Minority leader from 1981-1987. In 1989 he was named Appropriations Committee. It was then  Byrd brought pork projects back to  West Virginia in earnest in 1991 when the FBI fingerprint Processing center was selected for Clarksburg, W.VA.

Byrd took the title  Prince of Pork in stride and humor:

As he said in 2000, “West Virginia has always had four friends: God Almighty, Sears Roebuck, Carter’s Liver Pills and Robert C. Byrd.”

Byrd had a racist past:

Byrd’s political career was also dogged by his early membership in the Ku Klux Klan, which he said he joined mostly because of its anti-communist position and the political connections he could make there. But in a 1945 letter to a segregationist U.S. senator, Byrd wrote that he would never fight in the armed forces alongside blacks, and said he never wanted to “see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels.”

In 1964, Byrd filibustered against the landmark Civil Rights Act for more than 14 hours and voted against it. Forty years later, he said that was the one vote of his congressional career that he regretted most.

In his autobiography, Byrd wrote of his membership in the KKK: “It has emerged throughout my life to haunt and embarrass me and has taught me in a very graphic way what one major mistake can do to one’s life, career, and reputation.”

Indeed, Byrd could not fully escape his racist past. In his 1982 campaign, his opponent’s supporters presented Byrd with a Klan robe at a rally.

As late as 2001, Byrd used the phrase “white niggers” in a nationally televised interview. He later apologized and said, “The phrase dates back to my boyhood and has no place in today’s society.”

Byrd is survived by his daughters  and sons-in-laws Mona and Mohammad Fatemi and Marjorie and Jon Moore. Five grandchildren: Erik Fatemi, Darius Fatemi, Fredrik Fatemi, Mona Pearson and Mary Anne Clarkson and seven grand children.

Charleston W.VA Gazette looks at the life of Senator Robert Byrd.

My condolences to the Byrd family.

US Supreme Court Affirms the Second Amendment 5 to 4

The US Supreme Court rule five to four to upholding the Second Amendment;  The fundamental right of private citizens to own a gun. The ruling in the  case  McDonald v. Chicago weakens gun bans across  the country significantly. From The Washington Post:

The Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a long-sought victory for gun rights advocates.

The 5 to 4 decision does not strike down any gun-control laws, nor does it elaborate on what kind of laws would offend the Constitution. One justice predicted that an “avalanche” of lawsuits would be filed across the country asking federal judges to define the boundaries of gun ownership and government regulation.

But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for the court’s dominant conservatives, said: “It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”

Alito join by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

The decision extended the court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that “the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” That decision applied only to federal laws and federal enclaves such as Washington; it was the first time the court had said there was an individual right to gun ownership rather than one related to military service.

Monday’s decision might be more symbolic than substantive, at least initially. No cities have laws as restrictive as the handgun bans in the District and in Monday’s case from Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park. Although the court’s decision did not specifically strike down those laws, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said it will make the city’s 28-year-old law “unenforceable.”

Those who have fought for years for such an interpretation of the Second Amendment were ecstatic. The decision was “a great moment in American history,” said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, marking the occasion when “the Second Amendment becomes a real part of constitutional law.”

Outgoing justice John Paul Steven wrote the dissenting  opinion:

Stevens said the decision “invites an avalanche of litigation that could mire the federal courts in fine-grained determinations about which state and local regulations comport with the Heller right — the precise contours of which are far from pellucid — under a standard of review we have not even established.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer objected to the majority decision and read his dissent from the bench. He disagreed with the majority that it is a fundamental right, saying the court was restricting state and local efforts from designing gun-control laws that both fit their particular circumstances and save lives.

“In a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?” Breyer wrote. “What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?”

Joining Stevens and Breyer were Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Today was Stevens final day on the court  pay tribute to bow-tied senior justice :

Bow ties popped up on men and woman throughout the courtroom, a tribute to Justice John Paul Stevens, 90, who first came to work at the court 63 years ago as a clerk. He is retiring from the seat he assumed on Dec. 19, 1975, and said in a letter to his colleagues that “if I have overstayed my welcome, it is because this is such a unique and wonderful job.”

Justice Ruth Ginsburg remember her husband  who passed away:

Also on the bench was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose husband of 56 years, Martin D. Ginsburg, died on Sunday. Ginsburg, 77, looked directly ahead as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recounted Martin Ginsburg’s accomplishments as a renowned tax lawyer and university professor, and she smiled sadly when Roberts mentioned her husband’s skills as a “gourmet cook.”

The Washington Post has the rest of the story.

Kagan’s Senate Conformation Hearing Begins

President Barack Obama’s choice for the US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s Senate conformation hearing began. The former Solicitor General gave her opening statement stating that she will decide “every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle and in accordance with law” if she approved as Supreme  Court Justice. Kagan said, the court must ensure that “our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals.”

“But the court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people,” she said, adding that her past work in government public service has shown her that, in her words, “no one has a monopoly on truth and wisdom.”

“I will make no pledges this week other than this one — that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons,” she said. “I will listen hard, to every party before the court and to each of my colleagues.”

Democrats hail Kagan as a person ready to serve on the highest court in the land.  Senator Patrick S. Leahy, Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee say Kagan is  the mainstream of American Jurisprudence:

“I believe the fair-minded people will find her philosophy well within the legal mainstream,” Leahy said. “I welcome questions but urge senators on both sides to be fair. No one should presume that this intelligent woman who has excelled during every part of her varied and distinguished career, lacks independence.”

California Senator Dianne Feinstein(D) called Kagan:a “sterling reputation” and was “unquestionably qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court, calling her lack of judicial experience “refreshing.” And New York senior Senator Chuck Schumer(D) stated that Kagan: he’s confident Kagan will bring “both moderation and pragmatism” to the high court.

“You represent the best this country has to offer,” Schumer said of Kagan.

Republican concern with Kagan lack of record, are legal views care clouded and :”consumed more by politics than law.”

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) raking Republican on the Judiciary Committee said “Ms. Kagan certainly has numerous talents and good qualities, but there are serious concerns about this nomination,” he said.

Sessions noted that Kagan has “never tried a case before a jury” and “has associated herself with well-known activist judges.” He also maintained that she broke the law in denying military recruiters access to students at Harvard Law School, where she served as dean.

Senator Lindsey Graham(R-SC) concerned about Kagan views:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called some of the nominee’s past actions and writings “a bit disturbing,” and said that Kagan’s temporary ban on military recruiting at Harvard was “inappropriate.” Graham, however, said Kagan’s nomination wouldn’t change the balance of power on the court.

Republican will challenge Kagan issues including gun-rights, abortion, the US military:

The GOP is expected to grill Kagan on hot-button issues from guns to abortion to campaign finance, arguing that she’d bring liberal politics and an anti-military bias to the job of a justice.

Graham and other Republicans have cited several concerns, including her actions as a dean to restrict military recruiters on Harvard’s campus and her stated admiration for liberal Israeli judge Aharon Barak, former president of Israel’s Supreme Court.

Democrats say the GOP is on a witch hunt and they will come up short:

But Kagan’s supporters said the smoking gun just isn’t there. Before her nomination was announced, she was considered one of the least controversial potential picks, and Democrats said her would-be critics have been struggling ever since.

“It feels like we have an opposition in search of a rationale,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said on a conference call Friday.

Democrats have the votes to confirm her in the full Senate. The GOP may try filibustering the nomination.

Fox News has more.

Eleven Arrested Charged with Acting as Agents for Russia

The FBI arrested Eleven people on Sunday and charged on Monday with Acting as Agents for the Russian Federation.  The spies if you will lived in big cities and neighboring suburbs and on the surface look as normal as you and me. But in truth these people were gather information and the were to infiltrate: “American Policy Circles.” From the New York Times:

But on Monday, federal prosecutors accused 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American “policy making circles.”

An F.B.I. investigation that began at least seven years ago culminated with the arrest on Sunday of 10 people in Yonkers, Boston and northern Virginia. The documents detailed what the authorities called the “Illegals Program,” an ambitious, long-term effort by the S.V.R., the successor to the Soviet K.G.B., to plant Russian spies in the United States to gather information and recruit more agents.

The alleged agents were directed to gather information on nuclear weapons, American policy toward Iran, C.I.A. leadership, Congressional politics and many other topics, prosecutors say. The Russian spies made contact with a former high-ranking American national security official and a nuclear weapons researcher, among others. But the charges did not include espionage, and it was unclear what secrets the suspected spy ring — which included five couples — actually managed to collect.

After years of F.B.I. surveillance, investigators decided to make the arrests last weekend, just after an upbeat visit to President Obama by the Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, said one administration official. Mr. Obama was not happy about the timing, but investigators feared some of their targets might flee, the official said.

Criminal complaints filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday read like an old-fashioned cold war thriller: Spies swapping identical orange bags as they brushed past one another in a train station stairway. An identity borrowed from a dead Canadian, forged passports, messages sent by shortwave burst transmission or in invisible ink. A money cache buried for years in a field in upstate New York.

But the network of so-called illegals — spies operating under false names outside of diplomatic cover — also used cyber-age technology, according to the charges. They embedded coded texts in ordinary-looking images posted on the Internet, and they communicated by having two agents with laptops containing special software pass casually as messages flashed between them.

Read the Whole Thing.

I got one question if these folks are spies why did the FBI  decided to charge the eleven as agents of Russia  instead of espionage?  Just asking????