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Bailout Wall Street, Locate Homeless Shelter and Keep Selling Weapons

September 24, 2008

Business as usual for US arms sales By Frida Berrigan

The chief executive officer of a weapons manufacturer has plenty of chances to rub elbows with deputy secretaries of defense, officials from Homeland Security, retired military personnel, and the best and brightest of the defense establishment almost any week of the year.

One such opportunity occurred at the ComDef 2008 conference, which wrapped up at the National Press Club in Washington on September 3. Sponsored by weapons giants like Boeing, Raytheon and BAE Systems, the day-long conference was organized around the theme of “Defense Priorities in an Age of Persistent Conflict“. It featured presentations from a US Navy under secretary, a deputy director at the Pentagon, several weapons manufacturers and defense representatives from France, the Netherlands, Canada and elsewhere. With this high-powered lineup, the conference probably delivered on the promise of its catch line: “Where the international defense cooperation community gets down to business.”

The weapons industry’s concern about belt-tightening notwithstanding, the military budget is likely to continue its dramatic growth. The Defense Department’s base budget, which does not include funds for nuclear weapons or the $12-billion-a-month “war on terror” has grown by nearly 70% – from $316 billion in 2001 to a request for more than $515 billion for 2009’s fiscal year (which begins in October).

Despite the fact that these figures represent close to what the rest of the world combined devotes to the military, neither Obama nor McCain has adopted reducing military spending as part of his national security plan. In fact, as both of them talk about modernizing the military for the 21st century and expanding the size of the armed forces, the billions add up.

Bad news for them: Good news for us?
A multi-billion-dollar trade, a world bristling with weapons, and a well-organized and powerful industry committed to keeping it that way: these factors make the arms trade big news. Whoever assumes the presidency in January will have to choose between continuing President George W Bush’s policy of arming the world or setting a new course against strenuous objections from the military-industrial complex.

As executives, retired generals and Pentagon officials flit from one industry-underwritten conference to another, bemoaning imagined cutbacks and belt-tightening, the real bad news for their business would be good news for everyone else – namely peace, diplomacy, democracy and human rights. [entire article]

Shady deals in Iraq’s arms bazaar

By Pratap Chatterjee, SAN FRANCISCO – Clandestine gun suppliers, funded by the United States and Iraqi governments, have flooded Iraq with millions of weapons since 2003, charges a new Amnesty International investigation. Because of faulty or non-existent government tracking systems, many of those guns have gone missing, and some have turned up in the hands of insurgents.

Contracts with one of these companies, Taos Industries, account for almost half of the US$217 million Baghdad and Washington have officially spent to arm the Iraqi army, police and security forces employed by various Iraqi ministries.   [read more]

Bush Boosts Defense Spending in $3.1 Trillion Budget (Update6)

For the Defense Department, which accounts for about a fifth of the budget, the administration is asking for $70 billion to carry out military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan until the new president takes office on Jan. 20, 2009.

Gregg said defense costs “are totally understated.”

Program Cuts

The proposal includes freezes or cuts to popular domestic programs that are likely to rile congressional Democrats. It would cut discretionary spending by the Department of Health and Human Services by more than 2 percent in part by freezing the budget of the National Institutes of Health, which heads the government’s medical research efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, would take a 6.2 percent reduction. The Health Resources and Services Administration, which helps the poor receive medical care, would be cut by 15.8 percent.

While some education programs face cuts, the Education Department’s overall budget would rise 3.5 percent as the president pushes for more spending for his No Child Left Behind initiative and increases in Pell grants for college students.

Bush also called for reducing or eliminating 151 programs for a savings of $18 billion in 2009, including $1.1 billion in grants to states to subsidize technical education, a $32 million program for counseling on alcohol abuse, and a scholarship program honoring Senator Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat and Bush critic.

User Fees

The budget proposes $4.5 billion in new or expanded user fees, many of which have been rejected by lawmakers in previous years. Among them: a new generic-drug review fee at the Food and Drug Administration; higher premium charges for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which insures private pensions; higher airline-passenger security fees; and new transaction fees on commodity futures contracts to fund the industry’s regulatory agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

There won’t be much time to focus on the budget before the elections. The House is scheduled to be in session 104 days through November, down from 164 days last year, according to the schedule set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

CFTC Statement Regarding Today’s Trading in Crude Oil, September 22, 2008

CFTC Statement Regarding Barclays Purchase of Lehman Futures Business, September 20, 2008

Goin' to the grocery store ...

CFTC Update on Efforts Underway to Oversee Markets, September 19, 2008

Testimony Concerning Turmoil in U.S. Credit Markets: Recent Actions Regarding Government Sponsored Entities, Investment Banks and Other Financial Institutions

Testimony by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on GSE Initiatives before the Senate Banking Committee

Bernanke’s testimony to Senate Banking Committee

This is a hard sell, now that the light bulb finally went off in congress.  The idea of shifting so much money into a magic box, trust me,  that makes gypsy scams look like scripture.  Now you see it … now you don’t.  Oh my, its gone!  This is a sleight of hand that has been planned for months by the Bush Administration.  After mean old Russia interrupted plans for that pre-emptive strike against Iran.  Hey, Russia is proud of that one.  Maybe we should thank them, maybe not … they have some old KGB ideas up their sleeves. Meanwhile, Bush must dust off ‘Plan B’ and screw up the economy before he goes.  This is a real crisis, because King George and his minions of would be kings want to squeeze that last bit of green blood out of Americans before they slither off into the sunset. European players like France and Germany are snickering at the pathetic situation America finds itself in.  Google Merkle and Sarkosy recent news quotes, about how they warned Bush about no market regulations in the US.  America should be embarrased and very angry by now, but no, we are mesmerized by the drama unfolding before our eyes and having nightmares about how long our savings accounts will float us.  Read those mortgage contracts, quick, any loopholes in your favor?  Probably not.  In some ways this is an employer’s dream, people are desparate to hold on to their jobs, no matter how crappy.  They pray that their company doesn’t go belly up.  The new loyalty will be short lived when the government runs out of money.  Even the Presidential Candidates are watching their promises go up in smoke,  promises take money, too.  When both “Peter and Paul” have been robbed, check your kid’s piggy bank.  My nightmare sees an old photo of Germany after the global market collapse . Hail Mary passes are great fun in football and basketball, but a Hail Mary pass on Wall Street is NOT. Who exactly will pay for the middle income American whose company must cut back or go under?  This is a fragile domino that could fall and take everyone with it.  If you are desparate enough, maybe this is how King George plans to recruit for the Armed Forces … after all, there are still wars to be fought and guns to make.  The military will be the only paying job around.

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