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Posts Tagged ‘government’

Feds: Government can’t push BP aside on oil spill

Posted by Admin on May 25, 2010

Feds: Government can\'t push BP aside on oil spill

By GREG BLUESTEIN and ERICA WERNER | Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 11:28 pm

The Obama administration’s point man on the oil spill rejected the notion of removing BP and taking over the crisis Monday, saying the government has neither the company’s expertise nor its deep-sea equipment.

“To push BP out of the way would raise a question, to replace them with what?” Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who is heading the federal response to the spill, said at a White House briefing.

The White House is facing increasing questions about why the government can’t assert more control over the handling of the catastrophe, which unfolded after a BP offshore drilling rig blew up April 20.

All of BP’s attempts to stop the leak have failed, despite the oil giant’s use of joystick-operated submarine robots that can operate at depths no human could withstand. Millions of gallons of brown crude are now coating birds and other wildlife and fouling the Louisiana marshes.

BP is pinning its hopes of stopping the gusher on yet another technique never tested 5,000 feet underwater: a “top kill,” in which heavy mud and cement would be shot into the blown-out well to plug it up. The top kill could begin as early as Wednesday, with BP CEO Tony Hayward giving it a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.

Allen said federal law dictated that BP had to operate the cleanup, with the government overseeing its efforts.

“They’re exhausting every technical means possible to deal with that leak,” he said. “I am satisfied with the coordination that’s going on.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggested over the weekend that the government could intervene aggressively if BP wasn’t delivering. “If we find that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately,” he said.

But asked about that comment Monday, Allen said: “That’s more of a metaphor.”

Allen said BP and the government are working closely together, with the government holding veto power and adopting an “inquisitorial” stand toward the company’s ideas. The commandant also said the government has the authority to tell BP what to do, and such orders carry the force of law.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also took a more measured tone at a news conference Monday in Galliano, La., with Salazar and six U.S. senators who had flown over the coast to see the damage. “We continue to hold BP responsible as the responsible party, but we are on them, watching them,” she said.

BP said it is doing all it can to stop the leak. Its chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, made the rounds of network morning news shows to say that the company understands people are frustrated.

“Clearly Secretary Salazar is telling us that we need to do this as expediently as we can,” Suttles said. “And of course we are.”

Hayward, BP’s chief executive, walked along oil-soaked Fourchon Beach and said he had underestimated the possible environmental effects.

“I’m as devastated as you are by what I’ve seen here today,” Hayward told reporters after he spoke with cleanup workers in white overalls and yellow boots, some shoveling oily sand into garbage cans. “We are going to do everything in our power to prevent any more oil from coming ashore, and we will clean every last drop up and we will remediate all of the environmental damage.”

Mark Kellstrom, an analyst with Summit, N.J.-based Strategic Energy Research, said time might be running out for BP to continue calling the shots. “The rhetoric is growing up in Washington for the politicians to kick out BP and let the government take over,” Kellstrom said, though he added that it would be a mistake.

BP had hoped to try a top kill earlier but needed more time to get equipment into place and test it. A top kill has worked on aboveground oil wells in Kuwait and Iraq but has never before been attempted so far underwater.

Suttles said the biggest technical challenge is that the fluid must be pumped in very quickly, and engineers need to make sure it goes into the well, not out through the leaking pipe, which could make the leak worse.

A containment device is on the seafloor, ready to be put in place if the top kill fails or makes the leak worse. It is a smaller version of a 100-ton box that BP lowered several weeks ago in hopes of capturing much of the oil. But it got clogged with icy crystals, and BP was forced to abandon it.

Engineers are working on several other backup plans in case the top kill doesn’t work, including injecting assorted junk into the well to clog it up, and lowering a new blowout preventer on top of the one that failed.

The only certain permanent solution is a pair of relief wells crews have already started drilling, but the task could take at least two months.

In another source of tension between BP and the government, the company was still using a certain chemical dispersant Monday to fight the oil despite orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to employ something less toxic.

“If we can find an alternative that is less toxic and available, we will switch to that product,” Suttles said. “To date, we’ve struggled to find an alternative either that had less risk to the environment or that was readily available.”

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called BP’s response “insufficient.”

Others have blamed the administration for not doing enough, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who said Sunday on Fox News that Obama was being lax in his response to the spill.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the criticism ill-informed and suggested Palin needed a blowout preventer, the technical term for the device intended to prevent an oil spill from becoming a full-scale catastrophe. The phrase has entered the political vernacular since the one on the Gulf well failed.

“You’ve got to have a license to drive a car in this country, but regrettably you can get on a TV show and say virtually anything,” Gibbs said.

___

Werner reported from Washington. Associated Press Writers Kevin McGill and Alan Sayre in Louisiana and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.

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Financial Crisis: The Next Big Bank Bailout is on the Way

Posted by Admin on March 24, 2010

Financial Crisis: The Next Big Bank Bailout is on the Way

by Mike Whitney

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Global Research, March 17, 2010

Information Clearing House – 2010-03-16

Housing is on the rocks and prices are headed lower. That’s not the consensus view, but it’s a reasonably safe assumption. Master illusionist Ben Bernanke managed to engineer a modest 7-month uptick in sales, but the fairydust will wear off later this month when the Fed stops purchasing mortgage-backed securities and long-term interest rates begin to creep higher. The objective of Bernanke’s $1.25 trillion program, which is called quantitative easing, was to transfer the banks “unsellable” MBS onto the Fed’s balance sheet. Having achieved that goal, Bernanke will now have to unload those same toxic assets onto Freddie and Fannie. (as soon as the public is no longer paying attention)

Bernanke’s cash giveaway has helped to buoy stock prices and stabilize housing, but market fundamentals are still weak. There’s just too much inventory and too few buyers. Now that the Fed is withdrawing its support, matters will only get worse.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped the folks at Bloomberg from cheerleading the nascent housing turnaround. Here’s a clip from Monday’s column:

“The U.S. housing market is poised to withstand the removal of government and Federal Reserve stimulus programs and rebound later in the year, contributing to annual economic growth for the first time since 2006. Increases in jobs, credit and affordable homes will help offset the end of the Fed’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities this month and the expiration of a federal homebuyer tax credit in April. Sales will rise about 6 percent this year, and housing will account for 0.25 percentage point of the 3.6 percent growth, according to forecasts by Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist for Barclays Capital in New York…“The underlying trend is turning positive,” said Bruce Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York.”

Just for the record; there has been no “increases in jobs”. It’s baloney. Unemployment is flat at 9.7 percent with underemployment checking-in at 16.8 percent. There’s no chance of housing rebound until payrolls increase. Jobless people don’t buy houses.

Also, while it is true that the federal homebuyer tax credit did cause a spike in home purchases; it’s impact has been short-lived and sales are returning to normal. It’s generally believed that “cash for clunker-type” programs merely move demand forward and have no meaningful long-term effect.

So, it’s likely that housing prices–particularly on the higher end–will continue to fall until they return to their historic trend. (probably 10 to 15% lower) That means more trouble for the banks which are already using all kinds of accounting flim-flam (“mark-to-fiction”) to conceal the wretched condition of their balance sheets. Despite the surge in stock prices, the banks are drowning in the losses from their non performing loans and toxic assets. And, guess what; they still face another $1 trillion in Option ARMs and Alt-As that will reset by 2012. it’s all bad.

The Fed has signaled that it’s done all it can to help the banks. Now it’s Treasury’s turn. Bernanke will keep the Fed funds rate at zero for the foreseeable future, but he is not going to expand the Fed’s balance sheet anymore. Geithner understands this and is working frantically to put together the next bailout that will reduce mortgage-principal for underwater homeowners. But it’s a thorny problem because many of the borrowers have second liens which could amount to as much as $477 billion. That means that if the Treasury’s mortgage-principal reduction plan is enacted; it could wipe out the banks. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Financial Times which explains it all:

“A group of investors in mortgage-backed bonds dubbed the Mortgage Investors Coalition (MIC) recently submitted to Congress a plan to overhaul the refinancing of underwater borrowers by writing down the principal balances of both first and second mortgages. The confederation of insurers, asset managers and hedge funds hope to break a logjam between Washington DC and the four megabanks with the most exposure to writedowns on second lien mortgages, including home equity lines of credit.

The private sector initiative coincides with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank’s open letter dated 4 March to the CEOs of the banks in question – Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo – urging them to start forgiving principal on the second lien loans they hold.

But the banks are unlikely to take action until they get new accounting guidance from regulators that would ease the impact of such significant principal reductions on their capitalization ratios.”

(Ed.–“Accounting guidance”? Either the banks are holding out for a bigger bailout or they’re looking for looser accounting standards to conceal their losses from their shareholders. Either way, it’s clear that they’re trying to hammer out the best deal possible for themselves regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.)

Financial Times again: “The four banks in question collectively own more than USD 400bn of the USD 1trn in second lien mortgages outstanding. BofA holds USD 149bn, Citi holds USD 54bn, JP Morgan holds USD 101bn and Wells Fargo holds USD 115bn, according to fourth quarter 2009 10Q filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

As proposed, the MIC’s plan entails haircuts to the first and second lien loans to reduce underwater borrowers’ loan to value ratios to 96.5% of current real estate market prices, according to two sources close.

For the program to work, HAMP would place principal balance forgiveness first in the modification waterfall. The associated second lien would take a principal balance reduction but remain intact through the process – ultimately to be re-subordinated to the first lien, the sources close said.

A systemic program to modify second lien mortgages called 2MP does exist but Treasury has stalled on implementation because the banks that hold them can’t afford it, six buyside investors said. The sources all said implementation of the program, called 2MP, would result in “catastrophic” losses for the nation’s four largest banks, which collectively hold more than USD 400bn of the USD 1trn in second lien mortgages outstanding.” (“Mortgage investors push for banks to write down second liens”, Allison Pyburn, Financial Times)

Hold on a minute! Didn’t Geithner just run bank “stress tests” last year to prove that the banks could withstand losses on second liens?

Yes, he did. And the banks passed with flying colors. So, why are the banks whining now about the potential for “catastrophic” losses if the plan goes forward? Either they were lying then or they’re lying now; which is it?

Of course they were lying. Just like that sniveling sycophant Geithner is lying.

According to the Times the banks hold $400 billion in second lien mortgages. But –as Mike Konczal points out–the stress tests projected maximum losses at just “$68 billion. In other words, Geithner rigged the tests so the banks would pass. Now the banks want it both ways: They want people to think that they are solvent enough to pass a basic stress test, but they want to be given another huge chunk of public money to cover their second liens. They want it all, and Geithner’s trying to give it to them. Wanker.

And don’t believe the gibberish from Treasury that “they have no plan for mortgage principal reductions”. According to the Times:

“Treasury continues to tell investors that any day now they will be out with a final program and they will be signed up”….“The party line continues to be they are a week away, two weeks away,” the hedge fund source said. ”

So, it’s not a question of “if” there will be another bank bailout, but “how big” that bailout will be. The banks clearly expect the taxpayer to foot the entire bill regardless of who was responsible for the losses.

So, let’s summarize:

1–Bank bailout #1–$700 billion TARP which allowed the banks to continue operations after the repo and secondary markets froze-over from the putrid loans the banks were peddling.

2–Bank bailout #2–$1.25 trillion Quantitative Easing program which transferred banks toxic assets onto Fed’s balance sheet (soon to be dumped on Fannie and Freddie) while rewarding the perpetrators of the biggest financial crackup in history.

3–Bank bailout #3–$1 trillion to cover all mortgage cramdowns, second liens, as well as any future liabilities including gym fees, energy drinks, double-tall nonfat mocha’s, parking meters etc. ad infinitum.

And as far as the banks taking “haircuts”? Forget about it! Banks don’t take “haircuts”. It looks bad on their quarterly reports and cuts into their bonuses. Taxpayers take haircuts, not banksters. Besides, that’s what Geithner gets paid for–to make sure bigshot tycoons don’t have to pay for their mistakes or bother with the niggling details of fleecing the little people.

The next big bailout is on the way. Prepare to get reamed! Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Mike Whitney

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World’s biggest coal company brings U.S. government to court in climate fraud

Posted by Admin on February 22, 2010

World’s biggest coal company brings U.S. government to court in climate fraud

John O’Sullivan

Feb. 17, 2010

The world’s largest private sector coal business, the Peabody Energy Company (PEC) has filed a mammoth 240-page “Petition for Reconsideration,” a full-blown legal challenge against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The petition must be answered and covers the entire body of leaked emails from ‘Climategate’ as well as those other ‘gate’ revelations including the frauds allegedly perpetrated under such sub-headings as ‘Himalayan Glaciers,’ ‘African Agricultural Production,’ ‘Amazon Rain Forests,’ ‘Melting Mountain Ice,’ ‘Netherlands Below Sea Level’ as well as those much-publicized abuses of the peer-review literature and so called ‘gray literature.’ These powerful litigants also draw attention to the proven criminal conduct by climate scientists in refusing to honor Freedom of Information law (FOIA) requests.

Peabody is, in effect, challenging the right of the current U.S. federal government to introduce cap and trade regulations by the ‘back door.’ In this article we summarize Peabody’s legal writ.

PEC has pulled out all the stops to overturn the EPA findings ‘Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act’ made on December 7, 2009. Those findings were in turn premised on the Supreme Court decision of April 2, 2007 of Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), where the court ruled that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act.

PEC argues inter alia that the law requires that the federal agency must articulate a “rational connection between the facts found and the choice made” as per the case of Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of the United States, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983).

The PEC arguments are based primarily on the release of email and other information from the University of East Anglia (“UEA”) Climatic Research Unit (“CRU”) in November of last year. Their civil action lists most of the principle scientists such as Professor Phil Jones, of the UK’s Climatic Research Unit, who recently admitted there has been no ‘statistically significant’ global warming for 15 years and agreed the Medieval Warm Period may have been just as warm, if not warmer than current global temperatures.

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Monsanto has limited involvement

Posted by Admin on February 11, 2010

Thursday February 11, 02:45 AM Source: Indian Express Finance

Monsanto has limited involvement in Bt Brinjal

By fe Bureau

Global seed giant Monsanto on Wednesday said it was not responsible for the development of Bt Brinjal, a day after the Centre deferred commercial introduction of the genetically modified crop. In a statement, the US-based company said the crop has been indigenously developed by Indian seed and biotech company Mahyco, with the crucial gene accessed from Monsanto. The company said its association with Mahyco is restricted to the minority financial stake of 26%, through Monsanto Holdings Pvt Ltd a 100% subsidiary of Monsanto Company, USA. “Monsanto will continue to conduct research in our focus crops cotton, corn and vegetables, in compliance with the Regulatory protocols. Monsanto believes better seed, biotech-enhancements, and improved agronomic practices hold the long-term solution to increasing crop productivity sustainably,” the company said. Mahyco has independently conducted Bt brinjal research for over nine years in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety; making Bt brinjal the most rigorously tested vegetable with 25 environmental biosafety studies.

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Chapter Six: UFOs and Electrogravity Propulsion

Posted by Admin on February 5, 2010

Chapter Six

UFOs and Electrogravity Propulsion

Did Tesla Discover the Secrets of Antigravity?

Nikola Tesla has been credited for the creation of much of the technology that we take for granted today. Without the genius of Tesla we would not have radio, television, AC electricity, Tesla coil, fluorescent lighting, neon lighting, radio control devices, robotics, x-rays, radar, microwaves and dozens of other amazing inventions.

Because of this, it is no surprise that Tesla also delved into the world of flight and possibly, antigravity. In fact, his last patent in 1928 (#1,655,114), was for a flying machine that resembled both a helicopter and an airplane. Before he died, Tesla reportedly devised plans for the engine of a spaceship. He called it the anti-electromagnetic field drive or Space Drive.

William R. Lyne writes in Occult Ether Physics, that a lecture Tesla prepared for the Institute of Immigrant Welfare (May. 12, 1938), dealt with his Dynamic Theory of Gravity. Tesla said in his lecture that this was:

“One of two far reaching discoveries, which I worked out in all details in the years 1893 and 1894.”

While researching Tesla’s statements, Lyne discovered that more complete statements concerning these discoveries could only be gleaned from scattered and sparse sources, because Tesla’s papers are concealed in government vaults for national security reasons.

When Lyne specifically asked for these papers at the National Security Research Center (now the Robert J. Oppenheimer Research Center) in 1979, he was denied access because they were still classified. In his 1938 lecture, Tesla said he was progressing with the work, and hoped to give the theory to the world very soon.

The two great discoveries to which Tesla referred, were:

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