Cindy Walsh for Mayor of Baltimore
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Cindy Walsh vs Maryland Board of Elections
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Cindy Walsh goes to Federal Court for Maryland election violations
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- Maryland Elections ---2016
June 20, 2013, 10:31 am
Senators Urge Additional Review of Smithfield’s Sale to Shuanghui
By MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED New York Times
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated PressSenator Debbie Stabenow is chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.11:53 a.m. | Updated
A bipartisan group of senators urged the Treasury Department on Thursday to strengthen a national security review of the $4.7 billion sale of Smithfield Foods to a Chinese meat processor by adding additional regulators to a panel of agencies considering the deal.
The group of 15 senators wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, who oversees the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, to add the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to the group.
The letter was signed by most members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led by its chairwoman, Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, and its ranking member, Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi.
The letter is the latest sign of political discomfort with the sale of Smithfield to Shuanghui International, one of China’s biggest meat processors. While both companies have said repeatedly that the transaction poses no national security risk to the United States – the merger being spurred by a desire to export more American pork to China, not the other way around – many lawmakers have remained skeptical that food safety standards here will not be compromised.
The deal is already under review by the committee, commonly known as Cfius, which is charged with ensuring that an investment by a foreign entity does not pose risks to American security. It has historically been considered tough in its consideration of transactions in industries like energy, technology and aerospace, but has little precedent in examining food deals.
But the senators wrote in their letter that the Smithfield deal required extra scrutiny.
“Any Cfius review of this transaction should look beyond any direct impact on government agencies and operations to the broader issues of food security, food safety and biosecurity,” the group wrote.
The senators also questioned how Cfius would review similar food deals in the future.
Smithfield said in a statement that it welcomes a full review of the transaction. The company has begun the national security review process, and has already met with Ms. Stabenow to address her concerns.
“We believe the proposed combination does not present any national security concerns, is good for U.S. farmers and agriculture and will advance U.S.-China relations,” the company said. “We will continue to provide Congress and CFIUS with all the information requested to allow a full and timely review of the combination.”
A spokesman for Shuanghui declined to comment.
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 18:47 Treasury Approved Bonuses and Raises for Wall Street Bankers Who Tanked Economy
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Treasury Department
During the Bush presidencies, we thought that DC had turned into a Republican version of the Yale Secret Society "Skull and Bones" (which the Bush's had a dynastic membership in), in which the few inside players in government and finance protect and enrich each other – not to mention remain unaccountable for illegal governmental actions.
But as BuzzFlash at Truthout has reported again and again, the Obama administration – through the Department of Justice (DOJ), Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, and assorted other executive branch agencies and departments – has frequently applied a double standard to the masters of the universe when it comes to the rule of law and financial gain.
If you are a member of the masters of the universe secret society – the smug, career opportunist, ultra-rich governing/corporate class – you have something akin to a bullet proof vest at your disposal, only it is a prosecution proof garment that keeps you from going to jail for financial misconduct, while the guy who cashes three bum checks gets life in prison in some states.
Now, we learn that the Treasury Department in the Obama administration had a complementary program to the DOJ's protection racket for banksters who used illegal and legal actions to nearly burn the US economy to the ground.
Top executives at firms that received taxpayer bailouts during the financial crisis continue to receive generous government-approved compensation packages, a Treasury watchdog said in a report released on Monday.
The report comes from the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bank bailout law passed at the end of the George W. Bush administration. The watchdog, commonly called Sigtarp, found that 68 out of 69 executives at Ally Financial, the American International Group and General Motors received annual compensation of $1 million or more, with the Treasury’s signoff.
All but one of the top executives at the failed insurer A.I.G. — which required more than $180 billion in emergency taxpayer financing — received pay packages worth more than $2 million. And 16 top executives at the three firms earned combined pay of more than $100 million.
“In 2012, these three TARP companies convinced Treasury to roll back its guidelines by approving multimillion-dollar pay packages, high cash salaries, huge pay raises and removing compensation tied to meeting performance metrics,” Christy Romero, the special inspector general, said in a statement. “Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers’ interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits.”
Please note the phrase "removing compensation tied to meeting performance metrics." Supposing you are a salesperson and you told your boss that you wanted a raise, but it didn't matter that your sales had dropped 75% in the last year. After all, you are a member of the insider's club and therefore you deserve a lavish increase in your salary plus a bonus just for being you. Do you think that you boss would grant your requsest or fire you?
The Obama administration – through its gross negligence in pursuing an aggressive investigation of financial criminal behavior at the top of Wall Street and its approval of bonuses and increases for individuals who don't meet performance goals – tarnish the notion of the rule of law and rewarding hard work that ends in success, not failure. It's an affront to both justice and the idea of financial gain being tied to competence.
In short, Obama, Geithner, Holder and others in the executive branch are sending a message that if you got enough dough and run banks too big too fail, you can break the law and hurt the economy for the average American, but you won't be held accountable – and they will allow you to be rewarded to boot. After all, for Geithner and Holder – and careerists such as Lanny Breuer – the people who benefit from their "see no evil" attitude will probably be their future colleagues and clients, as these same elitists were in the past.
The Washington Post similarly interpreted the TARP accountability report on bonuses:
Monday’s report evaluates Treasury’s actions since then, with stinging allegations of lax oversight and supervision….
“Treasury made no meaningful reform to its processes,” the special inspector said in the latest report. “Lacking criteria and an effective decision-making process, Treasury risks continuing to award executives of bailed-out companies excessive cash compensation without good cause.”
According to the report, Treasury approved total pay packages exceeding the 50th percentile by more than $37 million for nearly two-thirds of the top 25 employees of AIG, GM and Ally. The three firms combined received nearly $250 billion in TARP funds. Only AIG has fully repaid its $182 billion bailout."
The Obama administration is teaching a lesson about values and ethics to Americans that is precisely the opposite of the American narrative about the value of hard, honest and productive work.
It's like promoting a pilot who is drunk and crashes a plane, turning a blind eye to all culpability and giving him an increased salary in the process.
As for the injured and the dead, we guess the message is that they should have been pilots if they wanted immunity from prosecution and a nice raise and bonus to boot.
A members only club has its privileges.
Treasury’s Foreign Exchange Exemption Is an Unjustified Loophole Nov 16 2012 - 6:16pm Washington DC, November 16, 2012--
“Tonight’s decision by Treasury to exempt foreign exchange swaps and forwards creates a large unjustified loophole in derivatives regulation,” said Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, a nonprofit organization that protects the public interest in the financial markets.
“During the 2008 financial crisis, the market for foreign exchange swaps and forwards collapsed along with the other markets. This required the Federal Reserve Bank to bail out the foreign exchange markets with $5.4 trillion in the three months following the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy,” said Mr. Kelleher.
“This exemption is a loophole that Wall Street’s financial engineers will undoubtedly exploit. It is an early Christmas gift to Wall Street and a piece of coal to American taxpayers who will be at increased risk of having to fund yet more bailouts in the next crisis,” said Mr. Kelleher.
“Wall Street fought hard to convince Treasury to grant this loophole, which is unjustified by independent research. That may be why, after two years of consideration, the United States Treasury announced such an important financial regulation decision on a Friday night at 5PM when Congress is on recess and on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday. The goal of such a ‘Friday night special’ is to avoid media coverage and public attention. While it is all too common in Washington, DC, the American people deserve better,” said Mr. Kelleher.
About Better Markets
Better Markets is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes the public interest in financial reform in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets. Better Markets advocates for transparency, oversight and accountability with the goal of a stronger, safer financial system that is less prone to crisis and failure thereby eliminating or minimizing the need for more taxpayer funded bailouts.
WHAT WE ARE GETTING IN OBAMA'S SECOND TERM IS MORE CLINTON PEOPLE.....MEANING MORE PEOPLE WITH THE 3 MONKEY SYNDROME......SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL. IF LEW IS INSTALLED TO REPLACE GEITHNER, HE WILL CARRY ON JUST AS BEFORE WITH NO JUSTICE FOR THE PEOPLE AND PROFITS OVER PEOPLE. WHEN THE ARTICLE BELOW SAYS HE IS A TRUE LIBERAL......THAT IS THE NEW LIBERAL.......ALL GLOBAL/CORPORATE/WEALTH PROTECTION.
WE MUST FIELD AND ELECT A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE THAT SHOUTS LOUDLY AND STRONGLY AGAINST THESE STATUS QUO PEOPLE!!!! WE THOUGHT WE DID THAT WITH OBAMA OVER HILLARY CLINTON AND THEN HE HIRED ALL OF HILLARY'S PEOPLE!!! ANY ELITE GRAD WILL DO THIS.
At 57, Mr. Lew may be the most unassuming power broker in Washington. He is deeply religious (an Orthodox Jew, he leaves work each Friday before sundown) and is so strait-laced that his colleagues feel compelled to apologize when they curse in front of him. He brings his own lunch (a cheese sandwich and an apple) and eats at his desk.
With his owlish glasses and low-key manner, Mr. Lew may come off as just a policy nerd. But he is a fierce negotiator. When defending social safety net programs, particularly those like Medicaid that help the poor, he morphs into a warrior, Republicans say, though he has proved willing to make concessions.
“Jack is tough,” said Jim Dyer, a Republican and a former Capitol Hill aide who negotiated budget issues with Mr. Lew in the 1990s. “He can be argumentative, he’s smart as hell, he’s very political, he is a true liberal, he is loyal to his superiors, and he has a good grasp of budgetary and policy issues.”
“Fighting with him is exhausting,” Mr. Dyer added. “We yelled at each other a lot. We never came to blows. We walked away from the table perhaps happy to be away from each other for a while, but perhaps equally happy that we preserved a modicum of what each side wanted.”
Mr. Lew arrived in Washington in 1973, a skinny, bookish 18-year-old from Queens who got his first taste of Democratic politics at 12 while handing out fliers for Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign. Today, as a two-time former budget director (he also held the job under President Bill Clinton), he has an intricate understanding of budget policy.
THINGS ARE SO CORRUPT AND CRIMINAL IN THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY AND THE GOVERNMENT THAT REPORTERS ARE EMBARRASSED TO REPORT ON THE SITUATION. WE HAVE A PRIME PIECE OF THE FINANCIAL REFORM IN THAT A DEPARTMENT WAS FORMED TO ASSESS THE STABILITY OF THE US MARKETS AND THAT DEPARTMENT LOOKS TO BE RUN BY THE BANKS THEMSELVES. REMEMBER THAT IT IS THE FINRA........A SELF-POLICING AGENCY FOR BANKS BY BANKS THAT PROTECTS YOU AND I FROM BANK MISCONDUCT...... COURTESY OF OUR MARYLAND THIRD WAY POLS......
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!
Legal/Regulatory | The Trade November 28, 2012, 12:10 pm New York Times
Fledgling Monitor for Wall St. Risks an Early Compromise By JESSE EISINGER, ProPublicaJim Wilson/The New York Times
Ross Levine, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says that the Office of Financial Research can be an effective independent examiner. The financial industry is obsessed with President Obama’s second-term regulatory appointments. Who will be Treasury secretary? Who could head the Federal Housing Finance Administration? But hardly anyone is paying much attention to the Office of Financial Research.
This entity was created by the Dodd-Frank Act to conduct independent research on the sweeping risks to the financial system. Ah, right, another group of Washington wonks who will issue reports carrying vague warnings of risks looming sometime in the uncertain future. Yawn. I hadn’t paid much attention either.
But then I spoke to Ross Levine, an economist and specialist in regulation at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and I finally got it. The Office of Financial Research is a great idea. And as I grasped it, I felt a minor sense of horror, as when you see a precious ring slip off a finger in slow motion and go down the drain while you are powerless to stop it.
The office is looking as if it will be a tool of the financial services industry, instead of a check on it. Its main role is to serve the Financial Stability Oversight Council, providing the systemic risk overseer with data and analysis of where the nukes are buried.
But the Office of Financial Research was hobbled from the get-go by a poor design. It is housed in the Treasury Department, while ostensibly being independent of it. It has a small budget. And it has to report to the very regulators it is supposed to report on.
This month, it announced its advisory committee. Thirty big names charged with giving the fledgling operation direction and gravitas. But these same people have also compromised it.
By my count, 19 of the 30 committee members work directly in financial services or for private sector entities that are dependent on the industry. There are academics, but many of them have lucrative ties to the financial services industry. I noted only one financial industry critic: Damon A. Silvers, the policy director for the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
“Academics with a history of challenging regulators are not there,” said Anat R. Admati, a finance professor at Stanford and the co-author, with Martin Hellwig, of the forthcoming call to arms, “The Banker’s New Clothes” (Princeton University Press). She was among several prominent banking critics who had applied but didn’t make the cut.
The Treasury Department sees it differently.
“We were not looking for critics or proponents. That wasn’t the goal,” said Neal S. Wolin, the Treasury deputy secretary. “We were looking for people with a range of perspectives who understand keenly the systemic risks in the financial system.”
Mr. Wolin said that the office would be independent despite its home. The argument for being housed in the Treasury Department is that if it were all by its lonesome, brand new and small, it would much easier be squashed like a bug.
Maybe. But it’s not as if there isn’t a precedent for creating a better advisory council: Sheila Bair did it for another regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That panel, the Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee, has Professor Admati; Paul A. Volcker; John S. Reed, the former co-chief executive of Citigroup and now a prominent banking apostate; and Simon Johnson, the former head economist for the International Monetary Fund and outspoken banking nemesis.
Perhaps Professor Admati and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Volcker were busy. The world is teeming with expert critics of Big Banking; they just aren’t heard from much in the halls of Washington. The Federal Reserve Banks of Kansas City and Dallas have candidates. The economist Joseph Stiglitz would make a good choice. The Bank of England houses two prominent banking critics, Andy Haldane and Robert Jenkins. Outfits like Better Markets or Demos could nominate people who would give Jamie Dimon some indigestion.
Certainly, financiers are not a monolithic lot. Investors often have differing interests from those of banks, and investment banks from commercial banks, and the small from the large. Even in big institutions, there are secret sharers of anti-Wall Street sentiment. And obviously, an advisory committee requires a certain number of experts with real-world experience.
Clearly, there is a place for finance professionals. But shouldn’t the balance of the committee be tilted in the opposite direction and give greater voice to the critics and the banking skeptics? This is a panel that is supposed to identify giant risks in the system that bankers ignore in their pursuit of profit and bonuses and to spot flaws in regulations that could cost the public and economy trillions.
It’s not as if the poor bankers don’t have a voice in Washington, after all. The bankers have the resources. And they are focused. Bankers are in the trenches all day, fighting regulation. The public only glances at these battles.
So why does yet another Washington advisory panel of worthies matter? Mr. Levine has a subtle and fascinating answer. He starts by pointing to the mystery of the home-team advantage in sports, which has long puzzled researchers.
It turns out that umpires are biased toward the home team not out of conscious or recognizable bias. Rather, they subconsciously gravitate toward their immediate “community” — in this case, the home-field crowd, especially at crucial moments in a game. (Researchers will next study how this appears to have no effect whatsoever on the New York Jets.)
To minimize the bias, you can tell the umpires that they are being monitored. Introduce instant replay. With that, you have expanded the community that is watching the umpires to an audience far beyond the home crowd.
Mr. Levine believes that the Office of Financial Research could do the same for regulators. If it independently examined and publicized not just systemic risks, but — crucially — the flaws in how the regulators were approaching those risks, that could have the effect of expanding the regulators’ community. Regulators, he said, “operate within financial services industry. They are surrounded by it.”
“That means that the home-field crowd is the financial services industry,” he said. “The public, if it has a ticket at all, is way up in bleachers, and its voice can’t be heard.”
The Office of Financial Research is well on its way to barring the gate.
Before the crisis, the consensus was that the Office of Thrift Supervision was the regulator most in the pocket of Big Banking. For its efforts, it got shut down as part of the postcrisis regulatory overhaul.
“Now, the title of ‘Most Captured’ is up for grabs,” Mr. Johnson said. “And I think we have a contender.”
Jesse Eisinger is a reporter for ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Eisingerj