Tag Archives | Scandals

Obama’s Legacy: A Government That Makes Paranoid Conspiracy Theories Seem Possibly Sane

192px-President_Barack_ObamaGlenn Harlan Reynolds, Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and owner of the Instapundit blog, writes in USA Today of a “weaponized” IRS and the even more scandal-ridden NSA as sure signs that the Obama administration is the least trustworthy since the Nixon era:

At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, “On a scale of 1-10 … how damaging is the current IRS scandal?”

His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it “awful,” and said that it has done “tremendous damage.”

I think that’s right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn’t the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it’s much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.

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The News That Isn’t: How We Are Fed False Stories Driven By Missing Information

300px-IRSThe news is coming to us hot and heavy these days. There is scandal after scandal, outrage after outrage. The media playbook treats it all as a way to build audience,  and raise ratings (and revenue) by polarizing opinion.

Conflict sells.

Here’s what the Republicans say; here’s how the Democrats respond.  Obama is good; Obama is bad. So and so says this; so and so fires back Its mostly heat, not light.

There are rarely any other views, or ways of understanding events presented.

News programs are the new wrestling shows, a noisy battleground, in the morning, on the Sunday shows, and all day long on cable networks. The goal is not to explain, probe, or ask questions.

No, its to squeeze a repetitive and narrow narratives into a morality play that provokes as much emotion as possible.

Its been said we live in an era of “missing information” and the news is the best arena that defines it—not by what’s being reported, but how its being reported, and mostly by what’s not being reported.… Read the rest

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Vatican Gay Priest Network Linked To Pope’s Resignation

Second Vatican Council by Lothar Wolleh 008More and more intrigue plagues the Vatican since the shock resignation of Pope Benedict. John Hooper reports on the discovery of ‘blackmailed gay clergy’ in the Guardian:

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

The pope’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called “Vatileaks” affair.

Last May Pope Benedict’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting.

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British Horsemeat Scandal Now An ‘International Conspiracy’

Scandalized British carnivores conned into eating horses rather than cows are now being told by their government that there is an “international conspiracy” and “the horsemeat contamination in Beef Lasagne was not accidental,” reports Sky News:

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has told Sky News an “international conspiracy” could be at the centre of the horsemeat scandal, and police might begin an investigation.

He made the comments following an emergency meeting with food producers, leading supermarkets and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in central London.

Mr Paterson said it had been agreed that there would be “a very rapid analysis of current products”, with results by the end of next week, to understand “the extent of this problem which is either caused by gross incompetence or what I suspect is actually an international criminal conspiracy”.

“If there’s a criminal act we will work with the authorities wherever they are to ensure the appropriate measures are taken,” he said.

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DSK And The French Sexual Libertines

Dominique Strauss-Kahn - Strauss-Kahn meeting in Toulouse for the 2007 French presidential election 0032 2007-04-13 croppedDominique Strauss-Kahn, a/k/a DSK the French politician who fled New York after allegedly sexually abusing a hotel worker, can’t keep off the front page of the New York Times, which today entertains its readers with tales of swinger parties held for DSK where the main man would have sex with multiple partners, often including prostitutes:

More than a year after resigning in disgrace as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is seeking redemption with a new consulting company, the lecture circuit and a uniquely French legal defense to settle a criminal inquiry that exposed his hidden life as a libertine.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 63, a silver-haired economist, is seeking to throw out criminal charges in an inquiry into ties to a prostitution ring in northern France with the legal argument that the authorities are unfairly trying to “criminalize lust.”

That defense and the investigation, which is facing a critical judicial hearing in late November, have offered a keyhole view into a clandestine practice in certain powerful circles of French society: secret soirees with lawyers, judges, police officials, journalists and musicians that start with a fine meal and end with naked guests and public sex with multiple partners.

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LIBOR Pains: Why Do These Stories Always Seem to Break in Britain?

Probably not because their regulators are any smarter or scrupulous than those in the U.S. – more likely because they’re relatively powerless to conceal them. From Caroline Salas Gage and Joshua Zumbrun at Bloomberg:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was aware of potential issues involving Barclays Plc (BARC) and the London interbank offered rate after the financial crisis began in 2007, according to a statement from the district bank.

“In the context of our market monitoring following the onset of the financial crisis in late 2007, involving thousands of calls and e-mails with market participants over a period of many months, we received occasional anecdotal reports from Barclays of problems with Libor,” New York Fed spokeswoman Andrea Priest said in an e-mailed statement.

“In the spring of 2008, following the failure of Bear Stearns and shortly before the first media report on the subject, we made further inquiry of Barclays as to how Libor submissions were being conducted,” the statement said.

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Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises

I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. No doubt Mitt Romney will be quick to turn this into an anti-Obama attack ad. Writes Zach Carter at the Huffington Post:

A critical document from President Barack Obama’s free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.

The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration’s trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.

“The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch in a written statement…

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The Pope’s Butler Arrested In Vatileaks Case

800px-Pope_Benedict_XVI

Photo: Marek.69 (CC)

Why, in such instances, is it always the trusted butler? Pope Ratzinger’s close confidante could be imprisoned in the Vatican for 30 years for revealing financial cronyism to the world. Via the Telegraph:

Vatican police have arrested Pope Benedict XVI’s personal butler following an investigation into the leaking of sensitive church documents as the Vatican still tries to recover from the priest sex abuse scandal. [It is] the first time in years the Vatican jail had been used.

The butler, identified as Paolo Gabriele, 40, was held by gendarmes after a special commission of three top senior cardinals had been appointed by the Pope to identify the source of the leaks. Mr Gabriele, who has been at the Pope’s side for six years, is one of the German born pontiff’s closest members of his inner circle which totals just four lay people and four nuns.

The documents show how contracts were awarded to favoured companies and individuals and also highlight allegations of internal power struggles with the Vatican’s bank known as the Institute for Religious Works…

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The Real GSA Scandal: Playing Politics With Big Business

GSA VP Jeffrey Neely enjoying himself at the taxpayers' expense.

GSA VP Jeffrey Neely enjoying himself at the taxpayers' expense.

Elliott Rosenfeld writes in the Washington Post:

As more details about wasteful spending and outright fraudulent practices at the General Services Administration are emerging, it becomes clearer every day that there is a far deeper, government-wide contracting problem plaguing the nation.

News of the scandal broke two weeks ago, when GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned following the agency inspector general’s report claiming that more than $800,000 of federal spending on a GSA employee conference held in Las Vegas in 2010 was “excessive, wasteful, and in some cases, impermissible.”

Of particular concern to small-business advocates, the IG’s report found that the GSA allegedly awarded “a $58,000 contract to a large business in violation of small-business set-asides.”

This problem of large companies receiving federal contracts that are reserved by law for small businesses is a decades-old scandal of corrupt federal spending and undue corporate influence over politics.

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Blackwater ‘Gone Wild’ in Iraq: ‘The Warrior Class’ (Videos)

Blackwater Xe AcademiVia Harper’s:

The April 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine includes “The Warrior Class,” a feature by Charles Glass on the rise of private-security contractors since 9/11. The conclusion to the piece describes a series of videos shown to Glass by a source who had worked for the private-security company Blackwater (now Academi, formerly also Xe Services) in Iraq. Clips and photos from the videos are shown below, introduced by Glass’s descriptions:

The first [video], identified as “Baghdad, Iraq, May–­September 2005,” showed Blackwater convoys racing through town. Suddenly, the door of a Blackwater SUV opened and a rifle fired at passing traffic. “They opened the door,” my companion said. “You should never break the seal.”

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