The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What’s really at stake

[SEE: Competing Wisconsin protests draw thousands]

The Coming Shutdowns

By Robert Reich

The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What’s really at stake.

isconsin is in a showdown. Washington is headed for a government shutdown.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won’t budge. He insists on delivering a knockout blow to public unions in his state (except for those, like the police, who supported his election).

In DC, House Republicans won’t budge on the $61 billion cut they pushed through last week, saying they’ll okay a temporary resolution to keep things running in Washington beyond March 4 only if it includes many of their steep cuts – among which are several that the middle class and poor depend on.

Republicans say “we’ve” been spending too much, and they’re determined to end the spending with a scorched-earth policies in the states (Republican governors in Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey are reading similar plans to decimate public unions) and shutdowns in Washington.

There’s no doubt that government budgets are in trouble. The big lie is that the reason is excessive spending.

Public budgets are in trouble because revenues plummeted over the last two years of the Great Recession.

They’re also in trouble because of tax giveaways to the rich.

Before Wisconsin’s budget went bust, Governor Walker signed $117 million in corporate tax breaks. Wisconsin’s immediate budge shortfall is $137 million. That’s his pretext for socking it to Wisconsin’s public unions.

Nationally, you remember, Republicans demanded and received an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. They’ve made it clear they’re intent on extending them for the next ten years, at a cost of $900 billion. They’ve also led the way on cutting the estate tax, and on protecting Wall Street private equity and hedge-fund managers whose earnings are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. And the last thing they’d tolerate is an increase in the top marginal tax rate on the super-rich.

Meanwhile, of course, more and more of the nation’s income and wealth has been concentrating at the top. In the late 1970s, the top 1 percent got 9 percent of total income. Now it gets more than 20 percent.

So the problem isn’t that “we’ve” been spending too much. It’s that most Americans have been getting a steadily smaller share of the nation’s total income.

At the same time, the super-rich have been contributing a steadily-declining share of their own incomes in taxes to support what the nation needs – both at the federal and at the state levels.

The coming showdowns and shutdowns must not mask what’s going on. Democrats should make sure the public understands what’s really at stake.

Yes, of course, wasteful and unnecessary spending should be cut. That means much of the defense budget, along with agricultural subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare.

But America is the richest nation in the world, and “we’ve” never been richer. There’s no reason for us to turn on our teachers, our unionized workers, our poor and needy, and our elderly. The notion that “we” can no longer afford it is claptrap.

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including “The Work of Nations,” “Locked in the Cabinet,” “Supercapitalism” and his latest book, “AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” His ‘Marketplace’ commentaries can be found on and iTunes.


Failure To Compromise By Deadline Threatens Federal Shutdown on Mar. 4

“There is a growing danger the federal government will close down on March 4 if a compromise short-term spending deal cannot be struck.”

US shutdown looms as budget war rages

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warns that the Republican Party’s deal to slash budget by $61bn will hit the economy’s fragile recovery

President Obama has already pledged to veto the aggressive cuts
By Philip Sherwell

Fears over the strength of the US economic recovery were growing last night after a highly unusual all-night session of the Republican House of Representatives agreed to slash the federal budget by $61bn by the end of September.

The deal, thrashed out in the early hours, was immediately condemned by US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who said the cuts would hit the fragile economy.

It now appears there will be a potentially damaging stand-off between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders with a possible shut-down of the federal government if agreement cannot be reached in the next fortnight.

“The continuing resolution as passed by the House would undermine and damage our capacity to create jobs and expand the economy,” Mr Geithner said at the G20 summit in Paris yesterday.

President Obama has already pledged to veto the aggressive cuts. The proposal must now be debated by the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, where Democrats hold a slim majority. There is a growing danger the federal government will close down on March 4 if a compromise short-term spending deal cannot be struck between the White House and two houses of Congress. Such paralysis is likely to damage US economic prospects and therefore the chances of continuing global recovery.

Mr Obama is likely to push for a budget extension freezing spending at 2010 levels while deeper cuts are negotiated. The multi-billion dollar cuts package reveals the big division between US political parties on how to support growth. Republicans say the deficit must be brought under control if America is to experience a strong recovery.

The House Speaker, John Boehner, said the legislation was part of Republican efforts “to liberate our economy from the shackles of out-of-control spending”. But Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, said the Republican-backed bill would damage the economy.

“They have made matters worse – passing a spending bill that destroys jobs, weakens the middle class, hurts schools and young adults, eliminates assistance to homeless veterans, and diminishes critical investments in our future,” she said. Republicans crushed the Democrats in November’s mid-term elections after a campaign mainly fought on government spending. Emboldened by that win and with their ranks buoyed by fiscal conservatives from the Tea Party movement, the Republicans insist cuts must be made immediately.

The vote paves the way for fiscal policy clashes up to the 2012 presidential election. Republicans have vowed to cut the size of government, a direct challenge to the Keynesian economics pursed by the White House as the US struggles with the deepest downturn since the Great Depression eight decades ago.

“The American people have spoken,” said Republican congressman Tim Huelskamp, saying that the people wanted Washington to stop its out-of-control spending now.

Congress is in recess this week after tomorrow’s President’s Day holiday, leaving five working days to forge a deal before the current budget expires on Friday, March 4.

If no compromise can be reached, the government will be forced to close – the so-called “nuclear option”. That last happened in 1995 in a budget row between President Bill Clinton and House speaker, Newt Gingrich. With several states also embroiled in battles over cuts, Wall Street is watching the current clashes over the deficit nervously.

US stocks continued their steady upward progress last week on all the major market indices. But against a backdrop of turmoil in the Middle East, the sovereign debt crisis in some European economies, stubbornly high US unemployment and now the federal and state budget showdowns in the US, some analysts are predicting a retrenchment.

The IMF has previously predicted that US gross public debt would nearly double from 62pc of GDP in 2007 to 111pc by 2015.

Lukashenko Threatens International Meddlers, “Chechnya in the West,” In Order To Survive

Tetyana Melnychuk

Russian Service of BBC, Minsk

Александр ЛукашенкоAlexander Lukashenko threatens enemies – until the words

President and Chief of the Armed Forces of Belarus has threatened its neighbors, “Chechnya in the West,” and said that he could use the army to restore order in the country.

A series of “offensive” statements, Alexander Lukashenko, made by visiting the second engineer brigade of the armed forces of Belarus.

“If the situation is turned around so that over the country were in grave danger, I would not stop before going to use the armed forces. If it was under the threat of the ten millionth people. But, thank God, we do not have to involve the army,” – said Lukashenko , speaking about developments in Belarus following the presidential elections on 19 December last year.

In the elections, according to official figures, Lukashenko has supported almost 80% of voters. However, the opposition and rival for the presidency was named the official results were falsified. In the evening on election day in central Minsk Protest protest, in which, according to various sources, participated from 25 to 40 thousand people.

The use of force against participants in peaceful protest and the subsequent mass arrests of opposition provoked condemnation from the West. EU and U.S. imposed visa sanctions against a hundred Belarusian officials, including Lukashenko and his older sons.

“Pohlesche than Kosovo”

Judging by statements made by Belarusian President Lukashenko fears that the use of sanctions may have recourse, and Russia.

I do not saber-rattling, but this stuff we have enough

Alexander Lukashenko
President of Belarus

“Now we are under pressure, scare economic sanctions. If someone wants to have in our environment in Belarus, Chechnya, the West, it is not a problem. It will be more complicated than Chechnya. I think it’s anybody is not necessary. If someone wants to have here pohlesche than Kosovo, I think this is not a problem, “- said Alexander Lukashenko, speaking to the military.

“If someone wants to try an economic war with Belarus, it will cost so dearly” – promised the head of state.

Lukashenko is sure that no one is given the right to “decide for us how to live.” “We do not want to be in Belarus, someone was talking to a position of strength and the language of ultimatums, and then never know, we will be able to respond in kind” – quoted Lukashenko’s official news agency has learned.

“I’m not to escalate the situation, a situation not in now. But if it arises, and we will act appropriately – added the President. – I do not saber-rattling, but that’s good enough for us.”

In the ring of enemies

According to analyst Alexander Klaskovsky Minsk, the Belarusian president’s offensive rhetoric primarily designed to maintain “the image of strong-arm the country.

No one can believe anyone can not rely only on themselves

Alexander Lukashenko
President of Belarus

“In the eyes of European leaders, Lukashenko is seeking to increase their bets. He demonstrates an aggressive style that, during the political bargaining with the West have the opportunity to maneuver and roll back” – notes Klaskouski.

Experts in Minsk noted that after the presidential election, Alexander Lukashenko, shows an image of “fortress surrounded by enemies.”

Arguing on the causes of the revolutionary crisis in northern Africa and the “plot” of the West against the official Minsk, Lukashenko reiterated: “No you can not believe anyone can not rely only on themselves.”

Chief of the Belarusian armed forces said, however, that “despite some difficult moments in recent years, the military cooperation between Belarus and Russia is developing successfully.”

As head of the Presidency of the CSTO, Lukashenko believes that “must be activated study the mechanism of the Organization of Collective Security Treaty in crisis situations.”

The Scout for the Imperial Revolution Sizes-Up Turkmenistan

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Blake arrives in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan


From 14 to 19 February 2011 will be the visit of Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, according to U.S. Department of State. Mr. Blake will lead an interagency delegation and attend the annual bilateral consultations.
February 16 in Ashgabat, the Deputy Secretary of State will review the annual bilateral consultations and meet with representatives of government, business and civil society in Turkmenistan. 17-18 February, Mr. Blake will represent the U.S. side in Tashkent at the second annual bilateral consultations. Business delegation, which included representatives of leading U.S. firms, will accompany Mr. Blake on the Uzbek-American Business Forum to be held on February 18. Deputy Secretary of State will also meet with government representatives and civil society.

United States began to hold annual bilateral consultations with the countries of Central Asia in 2009, the purpose of these meetings is to discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including issues of strategic cooperation, human rights, economic issues and regional challenges.

Only Songs Which Glorify Fearless Leader Are Allowed In Turkmenistan

[The cult of personality is reviving the police state in the former Soviet satellite.  The only permissible songs are those which glorify the great leader of Turkmenistan?  Berdymukhamedov may find himself in Mubarrak’s condition, if he keeps this up.]

During the performance of songs about love – under arrest!

Chronicles of Turkmenistan

Police regime, officially referred to as a “new Renaissance”, prohibits the execution of any songs, except for glorifying the country’s president.

Jan. 28 young Turkmen singer Maksat Kakabaeva living in Ashgabat, was summoned to the 2nd Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and planted for 15 days only for the fact that he was interviewed by Turkish television.

After the interrogation caused everyone who starred with him in music videos, and forced to write explanations. The raid struck the singers, working abroad. Did not spare even located “in an interesting position” Gozel Annamuhamedovu . “Let the house singing!” – Clearly summed up the police chief, were detained Kakabaeva.

People familiar with the situation believe that the excesses of police followed the next day after the announcement by President severe reprimand Minister of National Security Charymuradu Haman. DHS often uses the police to their advantage.

Sudden disgrace to singers called the initiative, Vice-Premier Mays Yazmuhamedovoy. She did not like that the Turkish television channel TMB interviewed a young talented artist Maksat Kakabaeva, which included the invitation of Turkish singer to sing along your favorite song of the Turkmen.

Parents and relatives of the singers and musicians in complete bewilderment. “What crime was committed by our children, brothers and sisters? – They asked. – The children sing songs about love, shot in the clips in beautiful clothes, all well, seems to be no frills does not allow you? ”

Police regime, officially referred to as a “new renaissance”, prohibits the execution of any songs, except for glorifying the country’s president. Apparently, now a criminal offense, any initiative, observers say. Behind the scenes in the country, there are lists of “objectionable” performers. They – the already mentioned Gozel Annamuhamedova, Murat OvezovKerim KurbanalievBilbil OrazovEnesh RejepovLachin Mamedov . And because lists tacit happen different incidents. So, to the surprise of many, New Year’s Eve Turkmen television showed video disgraced Lachin Mamedova. Measures followed immediately: immediately after the holiday guide channel was severely reprimanded.

Musical artists of any status, by their own admission behind the scenes in Turkmenistan do not believe in people. Strict state pressure closes them any chance of creative development. Sang the wrong song (not the head of state) or not there is about to close a stage career. It is appropriate to recall the event in the life of Honoured Artist of Turkmenistan Gulyar Baltaevoy . In October last year after participating in a foreign concert by private invitation, singer and teacher, was dismissed from the National Conservatory.

But she, like many other artists of pop and classical repertoire, gladly accept a job abroad.However, in this case, they need to leave their country and become displaced. If the singers are sent disks with their clips and they begin to turn on the radio and television abroad, particularly in Turkey, they have at home there is a threat to life and health. But if by good fortune avoided prison bars, the list of “restricted to leave the citizens” they can not escape. A withdrawal from virtually none. Annual arithmetic progression list shows the official zeal security officers, crowd out the list of real professional activity department.

According to experts, the pressure on the representatives of the musical art was the logical continuation of the pursuit of creative people in Turkmenistan. Police regime has destroyed journalism, literature, visual arts, dance, music remained mute, although official government boasts of opening a new music channel. But in Turkmenistan, it almost does not look and do not listen, because there’s sound archive recordings or performers of “Hallelujah” president.

All of the above cases of civil rights violations caused public outrage in Turkmenistan. This, however, mostly relatives, acquaintances. They were asked to publish this information in the hope that the Turkish television channel, after learning about the consequences that affect the lives of Turkmen citizens, unable to speak on their behalf. The general public does not know about suffocating lawlessness perpetrated by the power structures of Turkmenistan. And encourages them to none other than the President. Declared “strogacha” for “unsatisfactory performance of official duties”, Minister of MNS, apparently now satisfied.

Meanwhile, many categories of citizens of the country there is an accumulation of negative energy, ascertain the observers. Coglasno laws of physics, it does not disappear but turns into another form.

Source:: Chronicles of Turkmenistan

‘Rot in hell,” you old bastard! Heartbroken Mom Confronts Criminal Judge

‘Rot in hell!’ Heartbroken mom whose son committed suicide confronts crooked judge (VIDEO)


Sandy Fonzo of Wilkes-Barre, right, confronts former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., as he leaves a courthouse after being convicted of racketeering. <b>VIDEO BELOW</b>


Sandy Fonzo of Wilkes-Barre, right, confronts former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., as he leaves a courthouse after being convicted of racketeering. VIDEO BELOW

Mark Ciavarella and another judge were accused of collecting $2.6 million in kickbacks from private, for-profit juvenile detention facilities to keep the centers' bunks full of juvenile offenders.


Mark Ciavarella and another judge were accused of collecting $2.6 million in kickbacks from private, for-profit juvenile detention facilities to keep the centers’ bunks full of juvenile offenders.

A crooked judge who was convicted of taking bribes from private juvenile detention centers received a tongue-lashing outside court from a heartbroken mom whose son committed suicide after the judge unfairly threw the book at him.

Mark Ciavarella, a former juvenile court judge in Luzerne County, Penn., was convicted Friday of sentencing hundreds of kids convicted of minor offenses to harsh, for-profit detention centers in exchange for millions in kickbacks from the centers’ owners.

The jury convicted Ciaverella, 61, of 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, in one of the most stunning cases of judicial corruption in the state’s history.

Ciaveralla was booted off the bench in Luzerne County two years ago after prosecutors first accused him and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of running the “cash for kids” scandal.

The two judges were accused of taking $2.6 million in bribes to send children to PA Child Care LLC, a juvenile lock-up in Wilkes-Barre, and another center for minor or first-time offenses, including stealing change from cars, joyriding and possessing drug paraphernalia.

As he was leaving court in Scranton, Ciaverella was confronted by Sandy Fonzo, whose son, Edward Kenzakoski, killed himself last year after the twisted judge’s decision to put him away for a minor drug offense sent the boy’s life spiraling out of control.

“My kid’s not here anymore. He’s dead! Because of him!” Fonzo shouted at the judge and his lawyer as they talked to reporters on the courthouse steps.

“He ruined my f—— life! I’d like him to go to hell and rot there forever!” she shouted.

As guards attempted to restrain her, Fonzo reached out and touched the ex-judge on the arm, shouting, “Do you remember me?”

“Do you remember my son? An all-star wrestler? He’s gone, he shot himself in the heart, you scumbag!”

Kenzakoski was 17 and expecting to receive a college wrestling scholarship when he was busted for possession of drug paraphernalia and landed in the ex-judge’s court.

Ciavarella, who was known as “Mr. Zero Tolerence,” sentenced him to fours months in book camp and 30 days at the youth jail for the offense, which was his first.

As a result of the bust, the boy didn’t get the scholarship he expected and fell into a life of crime and depression, his mom said.

He developed anger issues and was convicted of aggravated assault as an adult, Wilkes-Barre’s Times Leader reported.

He shot himself last June, at the age of 23.

Edward Kenzakoski shot himself last year. His life spiraled out of control after the ex-judge sent him away for a minor drug offense. (CNN)

Fonzo said after the confrontation that she went after Ciavarella because she was angry that he had been allowed to go home pending sentencing instead of being sent to prison.

“My son was my life, that’s all I had, and now it’s gone. I don’t have that same life. I don’t exist right now,” Fonzo told CNN.

[Ciavarella] took everything from me, and I’ll never forgive him,” she said.

The ex-judge said he was innocent throughout the trial, saying he “never took a dime to send a kid anywhere.”

Ciavarella is free until his sentencing. He could face up to 157 years in prison.

Conahan agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges and will serve 87 months in prison.

With News Wire Services
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Davis was providing security for a CIA team-tracking militants: Report

[This report would seem to confirm that the “diplomat” was one of the Taliban hunters in Pakistan, who were Blackwater/XE, and that Davis and friends were providing protection to the Blackwater Predator teams.  Another report from Dawn, that Davis had one or more of the microchip tracking units in his possession, adds further evidence that the spy was in the business of hunting humans.  The murders in Lahore had to be tied to the assassination program, as well.  Davis may simply have been trying to eliminate ISI agents dogging him, as he left for another unauthorized trip to Peshawar or Wana, or it could have been something far more sinister, something we haven’t a clue about yet.]

Davis was providing security for a CIA team-tracking militants: Report

Karachi, Feb 22 (ANI): US national Raymond Davis, who has been accused of murdering two Pakistani citizens, was assigned to protect a CIA team tracking militants in Pakistan, according to a British newspaper.

On January 27, Davis was familiarising himself with a “sensitive area” of Lahore when he shot dead two Pakistanis.

The Guardian said in its report quoted US officials as confirming that CIA agent Raymond Davis had worked for the private security contractor Xe, formerly known as Blackwater.

The officials also disclosed that Davis had been providing security for a CIA team-tracking militants, Dawn reports.

Davis was attached to the CIA’s Global Response Staff, whose duties include protecting case officers when they meet with sources, the report said.

The US media outlets said they had been aware of Davis’ status but kept it under wraps at the request of US government officials who said they feared for his safety if involvement with the CIA was to come out.

US officials further claimed that Davis was at risk in the Lahore prison. (ANI)