Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some questions for Timothy Geithner on Greece

By Bill Wilson

Today, on March 20, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be testifying the House Financial Services committee on the state of the international financial system.

This is an opportune moment for members to ask tough questions about U.S. taxpayers’ role in propping troubled sovereigns in Europe via the International Monetary Fund (IMF), especially with the Fund’s newly approved to $36.7 billion of loans to Greece. This will raise taxpayers’ stake in Greece to $13 billion, and Europe as a whole to $20.9 billion.

Particularly, in light of recent amendments 22 U.S.C. 286 et seq. in H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank financial legislation, the IMF’s U.S. executive director Meg Lundsager needed to have developed an evaluation for lending further resources to Greece. The law requires such an evaluation take place prior to approval, as Greece’s debt was well in excess of its GDP, and needed to show the Hellenic nation would not default on its new loans.

In addition, the law requires the Secretary to “report in writing” within 30 days of the loan’s approval to your committee “assessing the likelihood that loans made pursuant to such proposals will be repaid in full”.
This is particularly important because Greece just defaulted on about €105 billion debt ($138 billion) of its €340 billion debt ($447 billion). Of course, not even that saves the Secretary from having to provide the evaluation to Congress, because Greece’s remaining €235 billion debt ($309 billion) most certainly still exceeds its GDP, which for 2011 was €215 billion ($283 billion).

So far, it is not known whether this evaluation occurred or not. The House committee chaired by Rep. Spencer Bachus is charged with ensuring that the Secretary has complied with the law in full, a thorough evaluation was prepared prior to the loan’s approval, and that said analysis is delivered to Congress in a timely fashion.
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The thin veneer of democracy

By Rick Manning

America’s democratic republic depends upon the basic belief by the governed that those who represent them were elected through fair and honest elections.

While the losing side in an election contest can be disappointed, if they know that they lost “fair and square” then that disappointment is tempered by thoughts of what they could have done better, or how they might work harder in the next go-around.

However, if the voter and opposition party believe that the outcome is as straight as San Francisco’s Lombard Street, the very heart of democracy is ripped out.

Voter fraud is as old as the very act of voting has existed, and history is replete with examples of dubious election outcomes ranging from Kennedy’s victory over Nixon in 1960 to the Bloody 8th Congressional District in Indiana in 1984, where Republican Rick McIntyre won a recount by 484 votes only to have the results overturned by the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, to the Washington state governors race in 2004, when Christine Gregoire’s team forced multiple recounts until they finally got into the lead and could secure the victory.

And who could forget local Florida officials desperately trying to interpret voter intentions and hanging chads in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election.

Through all of these isolated instances, however, the basic principle that voting counted and the outcomes were not pre-determined has held by a thread.

In other countries this is not the case. In 1984, while travelling in Mexico, my tour guide asked what I did for a living. I replied in my best Spanish, that I ran political campaigns for a living. The tour guide, steeped in Mexican politics, replied, “Why bother, it is all fixed. They should just give the money to the farmers.”
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Feds to investigate shooting death of FL teen (VIDEO)

ORLANDO – 7:09 a.m. – Following protests calling for the arrest of a Florida neighborhood watch captain who fatally shot an unarmed black teen, the U.S.Justice Department says it will investigate the case.
George Zimmerman, 28, claims he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense during a confrontation in a gated community. Police have described Zimmerman as white; his family says he is Hispanic and not racist.

Zimmerman spotted Martin as he was patrolling his neighborhood last month and called the police emergency dispatcher to report a suspicious person. Against the advice of the dispatcher, Zimmerman then followed Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store with a bag of candy in his pocket.