Thursday, February 19, 2009

Will Obama cave on Bush-Cheney terror policies?

I don't know why many people should worry about this. We all know that Obama would be different from Bush. However, I don't think Obama would change anything that involves the jews right. America is controlled by Israel and the jews anyway, and even Obama cannot do anything. Read this news.

The New York Times' Charlie Savage is a great reporter, and those are worrisome revelations about the way the Obama administration may continue Bush policies on detaining and treating terror suspects in his Wednesday story. (As always, Glenn Greenwald has the best overview today.) But as I said on "Hardball" this afternoon, these moves are still in the realm of maybe.

Obama may continue extraordinary rendition. He may continue to indefinitely detain suspects accused of helping terrorists who are captured outside war zones, keeping them under so-called battlefield law -- even though they weren't war combatants. Savage surfaced some worrisome testimony from CIA Director Leon Panetta as well as Solicitor General Elena Kagan on all those issues. We also learned from Jane Mayer in the New Yorker this week that the administration may endorse a form of preventive detention in the troubling al-Marri case, where a terror suspect has been held without charges or trial, in isolation, for five years.

Again, though, these are all things that might happen; there have been no decisions yet. What's more worrisome, of course, are a couple of moves Obama has already made -- his Department of Justice used the same Bush administration "State Secrets" defense in two important civil liberties cases, one having to do with warrantless spying and the other with five detainees who are trying to sue the U.S. claiming they were tortured. In both cases, the DOJ is arguing the trials shouldn't proceed because they would reveal state secrets that would damage national security. I don't think that's the sort of change Obama-supporting civil libertarians expected. The president campaigned to restore the rule of law, and to diminish the expanded and dangerous executive powers claimed by Bush and Cheney. Now he seems to be embracing some of them. It's disturbing.

It's worth remembering the good things Obama has already done: pledging to close Guantánamo, banning the CIA's black sites, halting military commission trials, guaranteeing the Red Cross access to detainees, and limiting CIA interrogation techniques. With enough pressure, these possible cave-ins on extraordinary rendition and indefinite detention without charges or trial may never occur. But Obama's FISA betrayal last summer was a signal that he isn't the civil liberties warrior many of us hoped this constitutional law professor would be.

Obama has also appeared to resist any kind of formal investigation into Bush-era interrogation and detention policies, saying he prefers to look forward, not backward. But Abu Ghraib investigator Gen. Anthony Taguba, former FBI Director William Sessions, Amnesty International and the National Institute of Military Justice, along with other diverse groups, have banded together to call for a commission to investigate those abuses. No word from Obama yet on the Taguba proposal.

It's hard to know exactly why Obama and his team are sending such mixed signals on these crucial issues. Democrats always worry about looking soft on terror and defense, but Obama can make a clear case about the way our abusive detention and interrogation policies have in fact made the U.S. less safe. In Tom Ricks' book "The Gamble," I was struck by the way Gen. David Petraeus and his colleagues came to believe that the asshole-cowboy approach to Iraq -- from Abu Ghraib to the Haditha massacre to detentions for no apparent reason, husbands and fathers and sons who simply disappeared one night -- helped our enemies, not our troops. Ricks quotes insurgents who cited those abuses as the reason they began killing Americans. So returning to the rule of law, in the way we run the war in Iraq and elsewhere, contributes to national security, it doesn't weaken it. Obama's smart enough to know that. Isn't he?

In other only vaguely related news, I enjoyed watching Chris Matthews give Hillary Clinton his "Hardball Award" today. Just a few days late for Valentine's Day! She deserves it, he said, for her "moxie, savvy, basic street smarts" and for her fast start picking a stellar State Department team, "no more letting the world drift toward division." Matthews confessed the award was "long overdue," adding, "I never gave Hillary Clinton the credit she deserved to run for the Senate." He finished, "I salute you!"

I wonder if that will get Clinton in the hot seat on "Hardball" any time soon?

Are Lefties Luxier?

I think this fact are hilarious. It all depends on your hardwork and not because you are left handed or right handed. Sometimes, those who research are too sarcastic and i mean STUPID!!. If you are left handed, but you are lazy + stupid, you cannot go far. Hardwork and smart work are two factors that determine your success. Read this fact though, you may laugh if you want

Lefties earn more than righties, but comprise only 10% of the population, according to a recent Johns Hopkins University and Lafayette College study.

They found that left-handed men who graduate college earn 21% more than their righty counterparts! The report also discovered a disproportionate number of the world's most creative people throughout history were left-handed, but offered no definitive explanation.

President Obama is left-handed -- as were past Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan -- George W. Bush was a righty. Famous flush southpaws include Bill Gates (world's 3rd richest person), Oprah Winfrey (highest-paid TV star), Angelina Jolie (highest-paid actress), Brad Pitt, billionaire author J.K. Rowling, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, Sting, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.


'American Idol' selects first 3 finalists

Finally, I can see the first 3 finalists but the sad thing is Tatiana will not be in the finals. I cannot wait to see another few finalists being chosen.Do not be sad tatiana, you still got your chance but i will prefer Ricky Braddy to go into the final. You can read the news below

LOS ANGELES – Tatiana Del Toro had something else to cry about. The emotional 28-year-old crooner from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was one of nine "American Idol" semifinalists sent packing Wednesday. Del Toro, whom judge Simon Cowell called a "drama queen" after her performance Tuesday, bawled after she wasn't selected to continue in the "Fox" singing competition.

"It's up to America," she told host Ryan Seacrest before the results. "It's up to the power of love."

No tears were shed by the first three finalists of season eight: Alexis Grace, the soulful 21-year-old single mother from Memphis, Tenn.; Michael Sarver, the beefy 27-year-old oil rig worker from Jasper, Texas; and Danny Gokey, the spikey-haired 28-year-old church music director from Milwaukee. The trio received the most viewer votes.

Recent widower Gokey overwhelmed the judges with Mariah Carey's "Hero" at the conclusion of Tuesday's ho-hum performance episode. They were also impressed with Grace's take on Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man," comparing her to first "Idol" Kelly Clarkson. Sarver, who sang Gavin Degraw's "I Don't Wanna Be," received a mixed reaction from the panel.

"I think if you get through, it's because people like you," Cowell told Sarver on Tuesday.

Next week, 12 more semifinalists will vie for three spots in the competition's top 12, but Del Toro and the other dismissed semifinalists, such as Anoop Desai and Ricky Braddy, may have another chance. After the first nine finalists are selected by viewer votes, the judges will pick the last three finalists following a wild card round March 5.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama throws $75 billion lifeline to homeowners

He's a new president, but he is already taking action. That is Obama. As you can see, he threw a $75 billion just to help the americans . We cannot see this from Bush right? This is one of his effort to show that he care for America. Unline Bush who talks a lot but never did any good. Bush only want war,war and war. We can just hope this obama is different. Read the news below.

MESA, Ariz. – President Barack Obama threw a $75 billion lifeline to millions of Americans on the brink of foreclosure Wednesday, declaring an urgent need for drastic action — not only to save their homes but to keep the housing crisis "from wreaking even greater havoc" on the broader national economy.

The lending plan, a full $25 billion bigger than the administration had been suggesting, aims to prevent as many as 9 million homeowners from being evicted and to stabilize housing markets that are at the center of the ever-worsening U.S. recession.

Government support pledged to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is being doubled as well, to $400 billion, as part of an effort to encourage them to refinance loans that are "under water" — those in which homes' market values have sunk below the amount the owners still owe.

"All of us are paying a price for this home mortgage crisis, and all of us will pay an even steeper price if we allow this crisis to continue to deepen," Obama said.

The new president, focusing closely on the economy, in his first month in office, rolled out the housing program one day after he was in Denver to sign his $787 billion emergency stimulus plan to revive the rest of the economy. And his administration is just now going over fresh requests for multiple billions in bailout cash from ailing automakers.

Wall Street has shown little confidence in the new steps, declining sharply on Tuesday before leveling off after Wednesday's announcement. The Dow Jones industrials rose 3 points for the day.

Success of the foreclosure rescue is far from certain.

The administration is loosening refinancing restrictions for many borrowers and providing incentives for lenders in hopes that the two sides will work together to modify loans. But no one is required to participate. The biggest players in the mortgage industry temporarily had halted foreclosures in advance of Obama's plan.

Complicating matters, investors in complex mortgage-linked securities, who make money based on interest payments, could still balk, especially those who hold second mortgages or home equity loans. Their approval would be needed to prevent many foreclosures.

"The obstacles have not gone away," said Bert Ely, a banking industry consultant in Alexandria, Va.

Another cautionary note came from John Courson, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"It seems to offer little help to borrowers whose loan exceeds their property value by more than 5 percent," he said, noting that that requirement would limit the plan's success in some of the hardest-hit areas in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona and parts of the East Coast.

Indeed, Obama himself said, "This plan will not save every home."

The goal is to lower many endangered homeowners' payments to no more than 31 percent of their income. But that depends on a high degree of cooperation by lenders who have been increasingly wary of new lending as the crisis has deepened.

Still, the Obama administration, after talking with mortgage investors, appears confident that it is providing the right mix of incentives and penalties to make sure mortgage companies take part. Obama said he backs legislation in Congress to allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of primary home loans — an idea ardently opposed by the lending industry.

"Taken together, the provisions of this plan will help us end this crisis and preserve, for millions of families, their stake in the American Dream," Obama said. Yet, he also added: "We must also acknowledge the limits of this plan."

He called on lenders, borrowers and the government "to step back and take responsibility" and said: "All of us must learn to live within our means again."

There's broad economic anxiety across the nation, an Associated Press-Gfk poll indicated.

Nearly three in four people say they know someone who has lost a job in the past six months as a result of the tough economic conditions, according to the poll, released Wednesday. And more than half say they worry about being able to pay their bills and about seeing their retirement investments decline. So far, Obama's job approval rating still is high, at 67 percent, and he is scoring strong marks for his handling of the economy.

The president unveiled his housing plan at a Phoenix-area high school in a state with one of the country's biggest foreclosure rates.

Nationally, Moody's says that of the nearly 52 million U.S. homeowners with mortgages, about 13.8 million, or nearly 27 percent, owe more than their homes are worth after many months of declining prices.

How soon will the new plan show results?

"You'll start to see the effects quite quickly," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told reporters in Phoenix, noting that rules governing the changes will be published March 4.

In theory, homeowners facing foreclosure or borrowers owing more on their homes than their mortgages are worth would have more opportunities to refinance their loans so that they have lower monthly payments. Lenders would voluntarily participate in the government programs.

The $75 billion Homeowner Stability Initiative would provide incentives to mortgage lenders to cut monthly payments in an effort to persuade them to help up to 4 million borrowers on the verge of foreclosure. The goal: cut monthly mortgage payments to sustainable levels, using money from the $700 billion financial industry bailout passed by Congress last fall.

Another part would specifically help people with dwellings whose market value has sunk below the principal still owed on the mortgages. Such mortgages have traditionally been almost impossible to refinance. But the White House said its program will help 4 million to 5 million families do just that — if their mortgages are owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

To boost confidence, the Treasury Department said it would double its support to the two mortgage giants that the government essentially took over last fall.

It said it would absorb up to $200 billion in losses at each company by using money Congress set aside last year and will continue purchasing mortgage-backed securities from them. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are projected to need a combined government subsidy of about $66 billion, well short of the new promise of up to $400 billion.

Obama emphasized that his plan focuses on helping families who have "played by the rules" stay in their homes.

But, he said, it will do nothing to help "the unscrupulous or irresponsible." He cited so-called speculators who took out risky loans on multiple properties to make money by selling them during the housing boom, lenders who took advantage of naive buyers by glossing over the fine print, and people who willingly bought homes that were way beyond their means.

"This plan will not save every home," Obama said.

UBS to pay $780M, open secret Swiss bank records

Swiss bank is not secret anymore? Well thanks to the so called banking giant UBS. Swiss Bank client information should be secret all the time. That is the purpose of why people are using their banking service. I do not know UBS should care about all the complaints. They should just ignore all those stupid complaints from those greedy government.

WASHINGTON – Banking giant UBS has agreed to pay $780 million and turn over once-secret Swiss banking records to settle allegations it conspired to defraud the U.S. government of taxes owed by thousands of American clients.

As part of the deal struck in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., UBS has made the unprecedented step of agreeing to immediately turn over to the U.S. government account information for U.S. customers of the bank's cross-border business.

In doing so, federal authorities have struck a big crack in Switzerland's vaunted bank secrecy laws.

UBS will pay $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution for conspiring to create sham accounts to hide the assets of U.S. clients from the U.S. government.

The financial hit on UBS is more than double the penalty imposed by federal authorities just last month on a different international bank, Lloyds TSB Bank PLC, for helping its clients skirt U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Iran and Libya.

"We accept full responsibility for these improper activities," Peter Kurer, chairman of Swiss-based UBS AG, said in a statement. He added that the bank was determined to abide by the terms of the deal with U.S. criminal and securities officials.

"Client confidentiality, to which UBS remains committed, was never designed to protect fraudulent acts or the identity of those clients, who, with the active assistance of bank personnel, misused the confidentiality protections," he said Wednesday.

About 17,000 American clients concealed their UBS accounts from the IRS, hiding total assets of roughly $20 billion, U.S. officials said.

According to U.S. officials, when an acquisition in 2000 of a U.S. company brought UBS a host of new, American clients, the bank set about to evade new reporting requirements for those clients. To do so, UBS executives helped U.S. taxpayers open new accounts in the names of sham entities.

Prosecutors contend that UBS executives used encrypted software and other counter-surveillance techniques to prevent anyone from detecting that they were actively marketing such Swiss bank secrecy — and tax evasion — to American taxpayers.

The clients, in turn, filed false tax returns that omitted the income they earned in their Swiss accounts, according to the court papers.

Federal officials said they had pulled aside a veil of secrecy that hid a corrupt international banking practice.

"This was not a mere compliance oversight, but rather a knowing crime motivated by greed and disrespect for the law," said Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for southern Florida.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman warned U.S. taxpayers hiding money overseas that it was time to come clean with Uncle Sam.

"People who have hidden unreported income offshore need to get right with their government. They should come forward and take advantage of our voluntary disclosure process," Shulman said.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has estimated that abusive tax shelters and hidden offshore accounts cost the U.S. government nearly $100 billion a year in lost tax revenue.

Prosecutors are still hunting for UBS executive Raoul Weil, who was indicted in November 2008 on charges he conspired to defraud the government when he was managing the bank's cross-border business.

After the UBS settlement was announced Wednesday, Weil's lawyer Aaron Marcu said the charges should have been dropped against his client as part of the deal.

"Mr. Weil is an innocent victim of a political dispute between the United States and Switzerland over Swiss bank secrecy," Marcu said.

In June 2008 former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld pleaded guilty to a similar charge.

If UBS fails to turn over the clients' information, or stops cooperating with authorities, federal prosecutors could refile charges against the bank.

Under the deal, UBS also will completely stop engaging in the type of cross-border banking business that got them into trouble.

Clinton seeks to improve US image with Muslims

So, this Hillary wants to improve US images with Muslims. What the f**k, it's Obama time now, world doesn't need another clinton. Checkout this latest news. I do not know what does she up to, but certainly nobody can accept clinton or any US diplomat right now. Maybe Obama is an exception, because he lived there before though.What are your motives by coming to Indonesia Hillary?

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged a new American openness to ideas from abroad, especially the Muslim world, during a visit Wednesday to Indonesia.

Anti-U.S. protests were held in several cities, with some Islamic hard-liners setting tires on fire and others throwing shoes at caricatures of Clinton, but the rallies were small and scattered.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is the second stop in Clinton's inaugural overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat. She said that was "no accident," with the trip designed to show support for the country's hard-won democracy as well as its efforts to fight terrorism while respecting human rights.

Steps were already being taken to improve relations, she said, announcing at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda that Peace Corps operations were expected to resume here after a long absence.

Peace Corps volunteers last served in Indonesia from 1963 until 1965. They were expelled after leftists accused them of being spies.

Clinton also indicated that more development aid was on the way.

Indonesia, often held up as a beacon of Islamic democracy and modernity, has personal ties for President Barack Obama, who spent four years here as a child. Among those who turned out at the airport to welcome Clinton were 44 children from his former elementary school, singing traditional folk songs and waving Indonesian and U.S. flags.

Clinton smiled and swayed to the music.

"I bring greetings from President Obama, who has himself said and written about the importance of his time here as a young boy," Clinton said. "It gave him an insight into not only this diverse and vibrant culture, but also the capacity for people with different backgrounds to live harmoniously together."

Wirajuda agreed, saying, "We have proven here democracy, Islam and modernity can go hand in hand."

Though most of the country's 190 million Muslims practice a moderate form of the faith, public anger ran high over U.S. policy in the Middle East and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration, fueling a small but increasingly vocal fundamentalist fringe.

The militant group Jemaah Islamiyah has carried out a series of suicide bombings targeting Western interests in Indonesia since 2002, killing more than 240 people, many of them foreign tourists. But experts say a crackdown has severely weakened the movement; the last attack occurred more than three years ago.

Security was tight for Clinton's visit, with 2,800 police deployed in the capital along with members of the army, according to local police. Witnesses saw scattered protests and at least five people were detained by police following a rowdy rally by 200 Muslim university students in front of the U.S. Embassy.

Some protesters sets tires on fire in a city on the capital's outskirts and others screamed "Hillary is terrorist."

One of Clinton's goals in Indonesia is to stress the growing importance of a region that often felt slighted by the Bush administration.

She visited the Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretariat on Wednesday, where she signaled U.S. intent to sign the regional bloc's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

Clinton also plans to pledge to attend the group's annual regional security conference, U.S. officials said. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice skipped the ASEAN Regional Forum twice during her four years in office, to the dismay of the region.

Development, climate change, the Iranian nuclear dispute and the war in Afghanistan were also on the agenda during Clinton's meetings with Indonesian leaders.

During Clinton's first Asia stop, in Japan, her two days of talks focused mostly on North Korea's belligerent rhetoric and threats of a missile test, and on the global financial crisis. After Indonesia, she travels to South Korea and China, where North Korea is again likely to dominate her meetings.