Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘regulation’

Candidates Differ on Death Penalty: @BernieSanders & @HillaryClinton

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, October 30, 2015

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has long opposed Capital Punishment in the United States.

Speaking from the floor of the United States Senate Thursday, 29 October 2015, he said in part, “When we talk about criminal justice reform, I believe it is time for the United States of America to join almost every other Western, industrialized country on Earth in saying no to the death penalty.”

His Democratic contender Hillary Rodham Clinton has recently announced that she supports the Death Penalty.

Speaking in Manchester, New Hampshire Wednesday, 28 October 2015, she said in part, “I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in most states.”

For years, Read the rest of this entry »

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BIG OIL’s Corrupting Influence in American Politics: Propping up Corrupt Regimes to Prop Up Profits

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 7, 2014

Report

Slick Moves

The SEC could help tackle corruption in resource-rich countries around the world — but the oil industry is getting in the way.

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And American oil lobbyists are only making the situation worse: They are exploiting Angola by seeking to delay and weaken the implementation of a crucial U.S. transparency law.

That law, Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, also known as the Cardin-Lugar amendment, promises a breakthrough in preventing dirty deals and illicit payments being made for natural resources around the world, similar to the shady transaction recently uncovered by Foreign Policy. If implemented fully, the law would make U.S. oil and mining companies disclose the payments they make to governments across the world, including in Angola. However, oil lobbyists have been making misguided arguments that laws in Angola and three other countries prevent the required disclosures.

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig – MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Angolan officials secretly profiting from the country’s oil riches is not a surprise. It is only the latest episode in a sad history that goes back for decades. Global Witness, where we work, began exposing the complicity of the international oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war in our 1999 report A Crude Awakening. This was followed by our 2002 report All the Presidents’ Men, which called on the oil companies operating in Angola to “Publish What You Pay” (PWYP). Under this rallying call, Global Witness co-launched the PWYP campaign, which is now an international coalition of more than 790 civil society organizations in over 60 countries, including Angola, advocating for transparency laws such as Section 1504.

These efforts are intended to prevent scandals similar to the Trafigura deal covered in Foreign Policy, which provide a glimpse of the endemic corruption in Angola‘s oil industry. Only a few days before Foreign Policy published its story, media reports about leaked documents relating to other corruption claims caused the share price of SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil services company operating in Angola, to plummet 17.9 percent when markets opened. SBM released a statement challenging the validity of the leaked documents, saying that they are partial, taken out of context, contain outdated information, and are not representative of the facts. SBM had also already disclosed to its investors that it was conducting an internal investigation into questionable payments in Angola. However, the dramatic stock drop suggests that SBM investors had not anticipated the scale of the corruption risk exposure.

Another oil services company active in Angola, Weatherford International, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Switzerland, has recently pleaded guilty to violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including bribery of the executives of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company. It has agreed to pay fines of $253 million to settle the case, one of the largest FCPA settlements ever.

These cases illustrate the urgent need for transparency in Angola’s oil sector. The successful implementation of Read the rest of this entry »

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Georgia Wine Exportation Increases

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

While this story is about the nation known as Georgia, given the numerous convoluted and antiquated laws governing beverage alcohol in the Southern United States, it could very well be Georgia… Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, or Arkansas.

Something Old, Something New: Georgian Wines Adapt To Changing Market

April 17, 2013

by Glenn Kates

KISISKHEVI, Georgia — Seven years ago, Burkhard Schuchmann, a retired German railroad executive, arrived for the first time in this lush region, where the snow-capped Caucasian mountains cast a long shadow over the grapevines that line the low-lying fields.It was 2006 and Russia had recently imposed a crippling embargo on Georgian wine.Schuchmann decided to open a winery nevertheless.

“To see it from today’s point of view, Georgians can be lucky that the embargo came,” Schuchmann says. “Because then they were forced to [focus on] quality and to think about marketing. There was no need before.”

After mostly “satisfactory” inspections by Russia’s consumer-rights agency in February and March, Georgian wines will soon be sold in Russia again. But Russians, perhaps expecting the sweet, syrupy taste of years past, may be surprised by the changing nature of Georgian vintage.

Georgian makes new wine

Burkhard Schuchmann opened a winery in Georgia because he thought he could compete outside of Russia by modernizing the industry.

In 2005, Georgia exported 80 percent of its wine to Read the rest of this entry »

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The Theory of Everything

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 7, 2012

I’m elated to learn that there is a “Theory of Everything.”

As I delved further into it, I found that Read the rest of this entry »

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Booze News You Can Use: Cullman, Alabama city officials delighted with alcohol tax revenue

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For many years, Cullman, Alabama – a tiny town in Central North Alabama, founded by German immigrants in 1873 – had been “dry,” which is to say that there were no legal sales of beverage alcohol in the city.

In fact, the city had been dry for nearly half its existence, having experienced “wet” and dry periods aside even, from national Prohibition.

There had been various referendums in 2004, 2002, 1992, 1990, 1986 and 1984, with the closest vote in 1984, when alcohol sales were voted down by a mere 159 votes.

Cullman had also been the butt of national jokes & mockery because it had the only dry Oktoberfest in the United States. That all changed in 2011, and for the 30th celebration of Oktoberfest that year, celebrants were able to legally sell & enjoy the consumption of beer, wine & liquor.

What is particularly fascinating about this entire ordeal – local prohibition in small-town Alabama – is that it is representative of Read the rest of this entry »

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JPMorgan Chase CEO blames “Errors, Sloppiness & Bad Judgement” for $2B Credit Default Swap & Derivatives loss

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 10, 2012

Give particular attention to this sentence, which is found later in the article: “Bank executives, including Dimon, have argued for weaker rules and broader exemptions.”

Give attention also to the last paragraph of the second story: “Of course, this loss only goes to show how weak the Volcker Rule is: Dimon is adamant, and probably correct, in saying that Iksil’s bets were Volcker-compliant, despite the fact that they clearly violate the spirit of the rule. Now that we’ve entered election season, Congress isn’t going to step in to tighten things up — but maybe the SEC will pay more attention to Occupy’s letter, now. JP Morgan more or less invented risk management. If they can’t do it, no bank can. And no sensible regulator can ever trust the banks to self-regulate.”

Is there any remaining argument against deregulating banks?

Is there any remaining argument against re-instituting the Glass-Steagall Act (which separated Banks, Insurance & Wall Street and forbade them from commingling in each others’ businesses)?

Ahead of the Greek financial crisis – in which Goldman Sachs had a direct and unscrupulous role by hiding sales of financial vehicles from Greek, European & American regulators – German chancellor Angela Merkel said this at a March 5, 2010 press conference in Berlin with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, (ref: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a26n.U6qS6cU):

Credit-default swaps, where you insure your neighbor’s house just to destroy it and make money from it, that’s exactly what we have to curb.”  

Now, I wouldn’t expect you or the average reader to be knowledgeable about these things. Honestly, most folks aren’t. But that’s not a condemnation of you, dear reader. Rather, it is a statement acknowledging that banks, bankers, Wall Street types, and Insurance firms do not want to be regulated, and would rather operate free-willy-nilly – without any rules. You and I must  abide by rules. Why shouldn’t they? And as they have consistently demonstrated, they cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

For additional information on Goldman Sachs involvement in the Greek Debt Crisis, I refer you to this 02/08/2010 news item from German news magazine, Der Spiegel: “Greek Debt Crisis How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt,” By Beat Balzli.

JPMorgan Chase acknowledges $2 billion trading loss and ‘many errors’

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, May 10, 6:05 PM

JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, said Thursday that it lost $2 billion in the past six weeks in a trading portfolio designed to hedge against risks the company takes with its own money.

The company’s stock plunged almost 7 percent in after-hours trading after the loss was announced. Other bank stocks, including Citigroup and Bank of America, suffered heavy losses as well.

“The portfolio has proved to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than we thought,” CEO Jamie Dimon told reporters. “There were many errors, sloppiness and bad judgment.”

The trading loss is an embarrassment for a bank that came through the 2008 financial crisis in much better health than its peers. It kept clear of risky investments that hurt many other banks.

The loss came in a portfolio of the complex financial instruments known as derivatives, and in a division of JPMorgan designed to help control its exposure to risk in the financial markets and invest excess money in its corporate treasury.

Bloomberg News reported in April that Read the rest of this entry »

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Get government out of our daily lives!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 14, 2012

This morning, as I was going about my morning routine, it occurred to me in that process that I am Read the rest of this entry »

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Religion & Politics: Abundant Political Irony Examined – Sandra Fluke’s testimony supports Culture of Life

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I’m not sure if you ever saw the actual video taped testimony of Miss Sandra Fluke.

I did.

Several times.

Not once did she ever mention herself.

Not even once.

The transcript of her testimony may be downloaded via Google Docs here: http://j.mp/GK9nqY

Anywho… when you think about it, it’s a strange irony that Read the rest of this entry »

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Feds OK Big Business Tax Exemptions; No Regulations Allowed

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Note: In a later paragraph, the article’s author used the declarative and active voice, rather than the passive voice in reporting what the lobbyists claim. Thus, it made the clause seem as if the assertion WILL BE true, rather than reporting the concern as an opinion of those expressing the idea.

Companies using derivatives as hedge get exemption

By MARCY GORDON
The Associated Press, April 12, 2011, 4:00PM ET

WASHINGTON – Companies that trade derivatives solely to guard against volatile price swings won’t have to meet new federal collateral requirements.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission advanced the exemption Tuesday as part of new regulations for derivatives, investments whose value depends on the future price of some other investment.

The rules, which were included in last year’s financial regulatory law, require banks and businesses that trade derivatives to Read the rest of this entry »

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Human Breast Milk Ice Cream… now on sale in the UK

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 28, 2011

Those crazy Brits…

Oh well.

I’m surprised also that medical and other ethicists have not jumped on this issue – even that the government has allowed this, which is the sale of human tissue. Hair, however, is sold – but body parts, such as cornea, heart and/or valves, etc., are not. That, of course, is also entirely discounting that many medications are excreted in breast milk. For example also, what happens when the supply is gone?

Reckon what the LaLeche League thinks of this?

And then, there’s the inevitable humor that will result.

24 February 2011 Last updated at 13:40 ET

Breast milk ice cream goes on sale in Covent Garden

A restaurant in London’s Covent Garden is serving a new range of ice cream, made with breast milk.

The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Read the rest of this entry »

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Insurance costs and health-care reform: Are health insurers making huge profits?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, December 3, 2010

Are health insurers making huge profits?

Mar 5th 2010, 14:15 by M.S.

Warhol dollarYESTERDAY Barack Obama dropped in on Kathleen Sibelius‘s meeting with executives of America’s top five health insurers and read a letter from a constituent. Natoma Canfield, a self-employed house cleaner, had carcinoma 16 years ago; it has been in remission for 11 years. Last year Anthem Blue Cross, who provide her with a high-deductible ($2,500) individual plan, raised her premiums 25%, to $6,075. This year they’re raising them another 40%, to $8,500. Ms Canfield  closes her letter, “Please stay focused in your reform attempts as I and many others are in desperate need of your help.”

There’s no doubt that the Obama health-care reform bill would …Continue…

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Hog Wild in Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 26, 2010

“This bill helps somebody – and it’s not consumers in this state… particularly rural residents.”

What FURTHER PROOF do Alabamians need? I’m surprised they continue to elect those INCOMPETENT BOOBS year-after-year. Note to the pols: Just kiss ’em… ’cause you’ve already screwed ’em.

To whom will you turn if you have a disagreement with your bill, or if they fail to provide service, but still charge you?

Another word for “regulation” is “rules.” Ever play ANY game without them?

Ref.: Alabama legislators deregulate land line phone service in AL: The end game begins.

Alabama Phone Deregulation End Game Begins in House. Will Legislators Sell Us Out to AT&T? by: countrycat, Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 08:17:38 AM CDT

“The Alabama Senate passed a bill that Read the rest of this entry »

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“Why do you want to work for Huntsville Hospital?” A Lesson in (dis)honesty.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Honesty… is it ALWAYS the best policy?

Recently, I’ve found that some search engine terms which have led to this blog include this question “Why do you want to work at Huntsville Hospital“?

In Huntsville, Alabama – where I resided for many years – there are ONLY TWO hospitals in town.

One, Huntsville Hospital, is a public not-for-profit, and the other, a much smaller Crestwood Medical Center, is a private, for-profit hospital.

Many of the professors and instructors at the Nursing School from which I graduated have privately expressed their frustrations to their students, and to me, about Huntsville Hospital’s virtual monopoly on the hospital-based healthcare delivery in Huntsville, AL.

Part of that problem stems in large part from Read the rest of this entry »

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Two Numbers – ONE BIG, one small

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 17, 2009

$9,100,000,000,000

Nine TRILLION, one hundred BILLION…

Remember another number.

Two.

During the reign of King George W. Bush, just TWO of his failed policies have cost Americans $9,100,000,000,000.

What two failed policies are those?

The Bu$h tax cuts, and the creation of a Rx (prescription drug “benefit” written wholly by Big Pharmaceutical industry cronies.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s most current estimation of the population of the United States places 308,171,505 people in the United States as of December 17, 2009.

Put another way, that’s a cost of $29, 529 per person.

As a result of deregulation of the financial industries – banks, insurance and stock brokerages – thus creating one giant incestuous financial orgy, Americans have directly suffered under the thumbs of bankers and insurance companies, while their Wall Street cohorts, in conjunction with imaginative thieves, have twiddled and fiddled to create “investment derivatives” – essentially a Ponzi schemed fiscal fraud – out of thin air. That house of cards having collapsed, has revealed what was suspected all along. Outside the transparent dressing room of his glass house, the king had no clothes.

Driven by greed and an insatiable lust for more, …Continue…

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