Trilateral Commission member Lucas Papademos, an unelected career central banker with decades of experience, is taking over the Greek government after being sworn in as Prime Minister last week. His main priority will be to keep Greece in the crumbling euro-zone he helped erect by raking in more bailout money from European taxpayers.
“Our membership in the euro is a guarantee of monetary stability and creates the right conditions for sustainable growth,” Papademos claimed after rising to power. “Our membership of the euro is the only choice.”
Other reforms at the top of his agenda include chipping away at what little remains of national sovereignty in Europe and instituting better Brussels “oversight” of member states. He also hopes to expand the emerging bailout regime — which critics have referred to as a “dictatorship” — by giving it more “firepower.”
"Dealing with Greece's problems will be more difficult if Greece is not a member of the euro-zone," Papademos alleged in parliament on November 16. "We must take more radical measures to deal with the crisis which include ... boosting the resources and the flexibility of the [European Financial Stability Facility bailout machine] and creating a stronger framework of economic governance in the euro-zone."
This weekend, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, will premiere at a theater near you. The quirky fictional romance about an ordinary teenager named Bella Swan, who moves to Forks, Washington and falls for a vampire named Edward Cullen (who looks seventeen but was born in 1901), also features Jacob Black, a shape-shifting teen who can transform himself into a wolf and who loves Bella.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is backing a controversial component of an existing computer fraud law that makes it a crime to use a fake name on Facebook or embellish your weight on an online dating profile such as eHarmony. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 25-year-old law that mainly addresses hacking, password trafficking, and computer viruses, should enforce criminal penalties for users who violate websites’ terms of service agreements, alleges the Justice Department.
In a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, federal officials deliberated over cyber threats to the country’s infrastructure and a perplexing interpretation of the law that makes lying on the Internet a crime. During the hearing, titled "Cyber Security: Protecting America’s New Frontier," the DOJ’s deputy computer crime chief Richard Downing addressed Congress, asserting that the CFAA law must allow "prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provide[r]."
"Businesses should have confidence that they can allow customers to access certain information on the business's servers, such as information about their own orders and customer information, but that customers who intentionally exceed those limitations and obtain access to the business's proprietary information and the information of other customers can be prosecuted," said Downing’s prepared remarks.
The hits just keep on coming from Occupy Wall Street. Since The New American last reported on the 204 crimes the nationwide OWS movement has been charged with committing, the movement has added another 50 or so to the list, including a rape in the city of Brotherly Love. As well, the death toll in or near the squalid OWS camps is now seven. Late last week, a man was found dead in his tent at the Occupy Salt Lake City protest.
Though the radical left, led by President Obama, has repeatedly said the OWS movement is merely a manifestation of the same concerns as the Tea Party Movement, the level of criminality and danger associated with the protests suggests otherwise.
During the defense of Bataan in 1942, an American chaplain, Fr. William T. Cummings, is reported to have declared, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.” But if one Army intelligence officer has his way, there will soon be chaplains to serve those atheists when they are not in foxholes. Capt. Ryan Jean is seeking to become a military chaplain who will serve his fellow atheists in the Army — an ironic course of action which raises fundamental questions about the role and purpose of the military chaplaincy.
The increase in federal subsidies for clean energy development from $17 billion in 2007 to $37 billion in 2010 has resulted in a “gold-rush mentality” among developers, according to the New York Times. One of the primary beneficiaries of the rush to feed at the golden trough is David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, who exclaimed that this was a once-in-a-generation opportunity: “We intend to do as much of this business we can get our hands on. I have never seen anything … in my 20 years in the power industry that involved less risk than these projects. [We are] just filling the desert with [solar] panels.”
Crane was joined by Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, another company enjoying federal subsidies, who said, “It is like building a hotel, where you know in advance you are going to have 100 percent room occupancy for 25 years.”
NRG Energy’s massive solar panel development, California Valley Solar Ranch, consists of nearly one million solar panels that will, according to proponents, produce enough electricity, on clear days, to power 100,000 homes (at least for a couple of hours each day when the sun is near its peak, and if those numbers aren't being gamed). It also consists of massive subsidies from the federal government, the state of California, and, naturally, increased rates for the taxpayers. According to the Times, nearly all of the $1.6 billion project is being subsidized through loans, grants, subsidies, tax abatements, and forced purchases of the electricity by public utilities at higher prices than energy produced by coal or natural gas.
Not long ago, factions on both sides of the political aisle — from Republican Senator Charles Grassley in 1994, to liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in 2008 — viewed allegations of massive prying by government agencies, which purportedly tracked the personal information and activities of private citizens, as lunatic-fringe alarmism. But in the aftermath of United States v. Jones last week, even former skeptics are worried that the proverbial boat has sailed.
The Obama administration’s latest effort in its "We Can’t Wait" jobs strategy is a $1-billion grant program for organizations to hire, train, and deploy new healthcare workers. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday that the department will disperse the grant money over three years to generate jobs which enhance healthcare through innovation. "Both public and private community organizations around the country are finding innovative solutions to improve our health care system and the Health Care Innovation Challenge will help jump-start these efforts," Sebelius affirmed in a statement.
The initiative, called the Health Care Innovation Challenge, will award grants of from $1 million to $30 million next spring to medical providers, nonprofit organizations, community groups, local government agencies, and other organizations serving patients in federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. While the funding stems from Obama’s healthcare overhaul, the program is an appendage to the President’s "We Can’t Wait" campaign, a political ploy by the White House to pressure congressional Republicans into supporting Obama’s jobs plan.
The program is designed to find "the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program," a White House announcement disclosed. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, established as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will administer and monitor the program.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on world leaders Monday to collaborate in financing a multibillion-dollar fund to combat global warming. Speaking at a conference in Bangladesh’s capital, Mr. Ban said global efforts must be taken to establish a $100 billion Green Climate Fund dedicated to taming the "damaging" effects of climate change, and that the global economic crisis should not hinder such efforts.
"The aim of this conference is to get the nations who are disproportionately affected by climate change, the most vulnerable nations, to come together and speak with one voice," asserted Bangladesh's environment secretary Mesbah ul Alam. "Climate change is real and it is affecting us now — we live with floods, with climate refugees, with rising salinity in our coastal areas and with the impact of rising sea levels."
Newt Gingrich's lucrative $300,000 consulting contract with mortgage giant Freddie Mac in 2006 — during the height of the housing bubble it was fueling — was geared toward stopping Republican support for new restraints on the guarantee of sub-prime mortgages, according to a November 15 report by Bloomberg News.
The controversy went public again during the CNBC debate November 9, when CNBC Host John Harwood asked Gingrich: "Your firm was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac in 2006. What did you do for that money?"
Gingrich responded by denying he'd been a paid "lobbyist":
I have never done any lobbying. Every contract was written during the period when I was out of the office, specifically said I would do no lobbying, and I offered advice. And my advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, "We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that's what the government wants us to do," as I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.
Of course, Harwood hadn't accused Gingrich of lobbying, and had only asked what he had done to earn the $300,000 contract. By knocking down the lobbying straw-man argument, Gingrich hoped to end the issue. But his "historian" remark only made those in the press more curious about what he'd done to earn this very substantial paycheck.