Government Money

 Right-Wing Makeover: The Spindoctor Behind the New Front National

Right-Wing Makeover: The Spindoctor Behind the New Front National

France’s right-wing populist party Front National stands to make significant advances in upcoming local elections and in the European vote in May. One reason for its current success is 32-year-old chief strategist Florian Philippot. It is a cold, icy day in winter and Florian Philippot is strolling through the streets of Forbach, the town where he would like to be… Read more →

John Podesta, key player in administration’s regulation drive, also helped UN develop radical new global agenda

470px-Emblem_of_the_United_Nations.svg
John Podesta, the former Clinton Administration chief of staff who is spearheading President Barack Obama’s aggressive strategy of government-by-regulation, has also been helping United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with an even more ambitious job: setting the stage to radically transform the world’s economic, environmental and social agenda.

That effort—a colossal and sweeping form of  global behavior modification–is supposed to get a new kick-start at a special U.N. summit of world leaders to be convened by Ban in New York City on September 25.

Its supporters hope that effort will end next year in a new international treaty that will bind all 193 U.N. members– including the U.S– to a still formless “universal sustainable development agenda” for the planet that will take effect in 2020.

“Developing a single, sustainable development agenda is critical,” says a report produced in May, 2013 by a 27-member “High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons”  hand-picked by Ban to help focus the discussion and frame the effort required to make the huge and lengthy project a success.

The high-level panel report was chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron and the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia. The sole American among the international luminaries, who spent nearly a year at their efforts and endorsed them through a process of consensus, was Podesta.

The question is, critical to what? And the answer, according to that panel, is pretty much everything, in what it called a series of “big, transformative shifts.”

Their report opens with the challenge to end “extreme poverty, in all its forms;” and declares, “We can be the first generation in human history to end hunger and ensure that every person achieves a basic standard of wellbeing. But it then adds:  “ending  extreme poverty is just the beginning, not the end.”

The new agenda is also intended to  bring  “a new sense of global partnership   into national and international politics”; must  cause the world to “act now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation;” and bring about a “rapid shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production,” to name just a few things itemized in the document.

Moreover, it apparently also must spark a planetary psychological sea-change: “The new global partnership should encourage everyone to alter their worldview, profoundly and dramatically,” the report declares.

CLICK HERE FOR THE REPORT

At the time he joined the high-level panel and helped to shape its radical and ambitious exhortations, Podesta was head of the Center for American Progress , a think tank that he founded in 2003.

The Center is closely supportive of the objectives of the Obama Administration and says its aim is to “provide long-term leadership and support to the progressive movement” and “shape the national debate” in the U.S. on a wide variety of issues, from energy to economic growth, national security and climate change.

In 2010, Podesta became one of the most high-profile exponents of the idea that the Administration could advance its agenda in the face of Congressional opposition from Republicans through executive action, when his staff authored a 54-page Center for American Progress paper on the topic.

“The ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through [executive]  powers should not be underestimated,” he wrote in a forward to the document.

Podesta  left the Center last month to take up his latest White House assignment.

The high-level panel, meantime, dissolved last fall, after delivering its report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban.

A so-called Open Working Group of the U.N. General Assembly is now currently hammering out specifics of the proposals that will be presented at the summit this upcoming September as  a series of Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, successors to the U.N.’s much-touted but unevenly successful Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, which expire in 2015.

Despite the fact that their headline feature is likely to be the  pledge to end all forms of “extreme poverty” around the globe by 2030, the  agenda that  Podesta and the rest of the high-level panel have urged the U.N. and its member states to produce is far more than a conventional  anti-poverty plan.

While even the broad outlines  they sketched are still in the formative stages of being turned into more concrete negotiating proposals, the process surrounding the eventual fulfillment of the SDGs, would undoubtedly require trillions of dollars of public and private spending on poverty and the environment, a radical reorganization of economic production and consumption, especially in rich countries, and more drastic efforts in the expensive war on climate change.

And now, having helped to frame the SDGs, Podesta may have a key role in setting the stage to accomplish them.  The main reason being that how nations meet the collective goals laid out in the SDGs, as the high-level panel underlines in its report, will be left up to each  individual nation.

Meaning, among other things, that many of the objectives that make up the SDGs –or, at least, the conditions for their fulfillment–will be  part of the regulatory agenda he is now helping to carry out.

Among other things, climate change—and especially the push to meet and even exceed ambitious targets on the suppression of carbon emissions –is said to be a cardinal focus of his job as a kind of super-coordinator of regulatory efforts to achieve Obama Administration goals—even though climate change got hardly a mention in the President’s State of the Union speech last month.

(A report last month by the Administration to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, indicated that the U.S. is a long way from meeting even its current target of a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels in U.S. carbon emissions, but fully intends to keep pushing to meet them.)

CLICK HERE FOR THAT REPORT

Nonetheless , as the U.N. high-level panel’s report points out, suppressing carbon emissions involves a cascading series of other activities, many of them already high on the agenda of Obama Administration agencies.

“The Panel is convinced that national and local governments, businesses and individuals must transform the way they generate and consume energy, travel and transport goods, use water and grow food,” it says among other things—pointing toward just one portion of an inter-related agenda covering a sprawling array of topics.

Another such area is attacking inequality, a theme that President Obama has increasingly struck as an objective for 2014. Among other things, the panel notes, “many countries are using public social protection programs and social and environmental regulations to bring down high levels of domestic inequality by improving the lives of the worst-off, while also transforming their economies.”

The report also strongly recommends that private businesses be harnessed to the new development effort, willingly if possible, but even if not so eager to do so.  “We embrace the positive contribution to sustainable development that business must make,” the report says. “But this contribution must include a willingness, on the part of all large corporations as well as governments, to report on their social and environmental impact, in addition to releasing financial accounts.”

It then suggests a mandatory policy of “comply or explain” for all companies worth more than $100 million, along with “sustainability certification” that will make it “easier for civil society and shareholders to become watchdogs, holding firms accountable for adhering industry standards and worker safety issues, and being ready to disinvest if they do not.”

Moreover, the report says, the “post 2015 development agenda must signal a new era for multilateralism and international cooperation”—lead, of course, by the U.N.

Among other things, the report suggests that a variety of U.N. agencies monitor the entire transformational process, and “would also recommend ways of implementing programs more effectively.”

In the end, however, the high-level panel concluded that “only U.N. member states can define the post-2015 agenda.”

And in the U.S. perhaps no-one is better positioned to oversee that definition than John Podesta.

 

This is a copy of the full article provided by Fox News
**Videos not in original article**

Vulnerable Dems wield the IRS as a weapon against Conservatives

Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.

In the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, the Democrats are publicly prodding the agency instead of lobbying them directly. They are also careful to say the IRS should treat conservative and liberal groups equally, but they’re concerned about an impending tidal wave of attack ads funded by GOP-allied organizations. Much of the funding for those groups is secret, in contrast to the donations lawmakers collect, which must be reported publicly.

One of the most powerful groups is Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. It has already spent close to $30 million on ads attacking Democrats this election cycle.

“If they’re claiming the tax relief, the tax benefit to be a nonprofit for social relief or social justice, then that’s what they should be doing,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D), who faces a competitive race in Alaska. “If it’s to give them cover so they can do political activity, that’s abusing the tax code. And either side.”

Asked if the IRS should play a more active role policing political advocacy by groups that claim to be focused on social welfare, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) responded, “Absolutely.”

 

The Hill has the full article

CBO director warns growing debt could lead to fiscal crisis

Scary 1929 market chart gains traction: If market follows the same script, trouble lies directly ahead

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (MarketWatch) — There are eerie parallels between the stock market’s recent behavior and how it behaved right before the 1929 crash.

That at least is the conclusion reached by a frightening chart that has been making the rounds on Wall Street. The chart superimposes the market’s recent performance on top of a plot of its gyrations in 1928 and 1929.

The picture isn’t pretty. And it’s not as easy as you might think to wriggle out from underneath the bearish significance of this chart.

I should know, because I quoted a number of this chart’s skeptics in a column I wrote in early December. Yet the market over the last two months has continued to more or less closely follow the 1928-29 pattern outlined in that two-months-ago chart. If this correlation continues, the market faces a particularly rough period later this month and in early March. (See chart, courtesy of Tom McClellan of the McClellan Market Report; he in turn gives credit to Tom DeMark, a noted technical analyst who is the founder and CEO of DeMark Analytics.)

One of the biggest objections I heard two months ago was that the chart is a shameless exercise in after-the-fact retrofitting of the recent data to some past price pattern. But that objection has lost much of its force. The chart was first publicized in late November of last year, and the correlation since then certainly appears to be just as close as it was before.

To be sure, as McClellan acknowledged: “Every pattern analog I have ever studied breaks correlation eventually, and often at the point when I am most counting on it to continue working. So there is no guarantee that the market has to continue following through with every step of the 1929 pattern. But between now and May 2014, there is plenty of reason for caution.”

Tom Demark added in interview that he first drew parallels with the 1928-1929 period well before last November. “Originally, I drew it for entertainment purposes only,” he said—but no longer: “Now it’s evolved into something more serious.”

Another objection I heard two months ago was that there are entirely different scales on the left and right axes of the chart. The scale on the right, corresponding to the Dow’s DJIA -0.16%  movement in 1928 and 1929, extends from below 200 to more than 400—an increase of more than 100%. The left axis, in contrast, represents a percentage increase of less than 50%.

But there’s less to this objection than you might think. You can still have a high correlation coefficient between two data series even when their gyrations are of different magnitudes.

However, what is important, McClellan said, is that the time scales of the two data series need to be the same. And, he stresses, there has been no stretching of the time dimension to make them fit.

One of the market gurus responsible for widely publicizing this chart is hedge-fund manager Doug Kass, of Seabreeze Partners and CNBC fame. In an email earlier this week, Kass wrote of the parallels with 1928-29: “While investment history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, it does rhyme.” And, based on a number of indicators rather than just this chart drawing the 1928-29 parallel, he believes that “the correction might have just started.”

DeMark is even more outspokenly bearish. If the S&P 500 SPX +0.03%  decisively breaks the 1762 level, he told me, then a major bear market will have only just begun.

You may still be inclined to dismiss this. But there were many more were laughing last November when this scary chart began circulating. Not as many are laughing now.

 

This is a copy of the full article provided by Market Watch

World War I and the Seeds of Hyperinflation

World War I and the Seeds of Hyperinflation

The current debt crisis in Europe evokes painful memories of the German hyperinflation. Price increases began with the start of World War I in 1914 and ended in disaster in 1923. The event still influences sentiment about monetary policy in the country today. There’s a number that illustrates the brutal dynamics of the hyperinflation of 1923 better than anything else…. Read more →

Bosnia unrest puts spotlight on broken peace accord

Bosnia unrest puts spotlight on broken peace accord

(Reuters) – Enver Mehmedovic spends his days behind an iron gate, guarding the factory he used to work in from its owner. Production lines that once produced ‘Dita’ detergent used in households up and down the former Yugoslavia now stand idle and Mehmedovic suspects that the tycoon from the Bosnian capital who bought the complex wants to sell off the… Read more →

Anti-Establishment Ben Sasse Surges to Virtual Tie in Nebraska GOP Senate Primary

After his YouTube video in which he blasted Obamacare and the Republican establishment in Washington for not combating it fiercely enough went viral late last year, conservative Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse has rocketed from obscurity to holding a virtual tie for the party’s Senate nomination.
A Harper Polling poll released Wednesday found that Sasse, the former Bush administration Health and Human Services Department official who is the country’s youngest president of a university (Midland), trails former Nebraska state Treasurer Shane Osborn by only one percentage point in the race to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns. Osborn is at 30 percent while Sasse is at 29. Both are within the poll’s margin of error of holding the lead. Two other candidates are running, and the winner of the May 13 primary will likely head to Washington.

Sasse’s campaign manager Tyler Grassmeyer said Sasse is gaining momentum because he is “THE anti-Obamacare candidate” who will “fight ObamaCare, and the worldview that goes along with it.”

“Ben is crisscrossing our state daily doing anti-ObamaCare town halls and attracting huge crowds,” he said. “Nebraska conservatives know we have to send the strongest, most conservative Nebraska voice to Washington.”

Last June, Sasse was at three percent in the same poll. He has since gained the endorsements of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Club for Growth and had more than $1 million cash on hand at the end of 2013. Osborn, a former Navy pilot, has been endorsed by FreedomWorks and Steve Forbes. He also has the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who clashed with Sasse last year after Sasse said that it was time for “every Republican in Washington, starting with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to show some actual leadership” in his anti-Obamacare video that the Drudge Report highlighted.

 

The Conservatives at Breitbart have the full article

Obamacare to cut work hours by equivalent of 2 million jobs: CBO

Obamacare to cut work hours by equivalent of 2 million jobs: CBO

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s healthcare law will reduce American workforce participation by the equivalent of 2 million full-time jobs in 2017, the Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday, prompting Republicans to paint the law as bad medicine for the U.S. economy. In its latest U.S. fiscal outlook, the nonpartisan CBO said the health law would lead some workers, particularly… Read more →

Global markets plunge

Global markets plunge

(Reuters) – World shares steadied after falling to a near four-month low on Tuesday as a bounce in battered emerging market currencies and a positive start for Wall Street helped lift some of the recent gloom. A weaker-than-expected report on U.S. factory activity had hit global equity markets and the dollar hard on Monday but European shares had clawed back… Read more →