Friday, October 31, 2008
Posted: 4:16 PM Oct 30, 2008
Last Updated: 9:22 PM Oct 30, 2008
Reporter: Alex Denis
A | A | A
A recent study by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel shows thousands of ineligible voters registered to vote in Florida.
Statewide voting rolls contain names of dead people, duplicates, and convicted felons. The study even found voters registering from Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, a mental institution for the criminally insane.
According to several election officials, Florida isn't the only state that has names of ineligible voters on their rosters. It's a national problem. Several supervisors of elections have said the lists are outdated almost as soon as they're printed because people continuously move, register in another county, or change their name, and it takes time for that information to be circulated between agencies.
Florida has nearly 11 million registered voters with 67 counties responsible for keeping track of them. Walton County Supervisor of Elections Bobby Beasley says that's a challenging task when people don't update the Supervisor of Election’s Office.
Bobby Beasley said, "There are thousands of scenarios. Voters who have moved, voters who are convicted felons, voters who have had their rights restored. But bottom line, it's the voter themselves, it's their responsibility to let us know this. If they don't let us know this, we have no way of guessing."
Beasley says he keeps a close eye on the Walton County numbers and tries to contact unverified voters, but state law says he can't remove a voter's name until several attempts to contact the person fail over a four-year period.
"If we have no activity and two returned pieces of mail through that four-year period of two general elections, we put them on our inactive list, but we can't purge a voter 90 days before a general election."
Voting officials can also remove a name when notified by the state. Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen says he relies on this type of information.
Mark Andersen said, "There's a number of issues that could go on with the voter registration record. They could pass away and then we have to make sure a certificate. If they have passed then we have to have a copy of that, or the division tells us to remove them. We don't remove anyone without some type of proof of information."
Beasley thinks a lot of the confusion could be avoided if SSN were used as voter's identification.
"If people registered with a SSN, it's unique to each person. It would be easier to track these people."
Election officials say they expect thousands of names to be purged next year because there's no general election and more time to track down information.
Senator Barack Obama wins a temporary delay in the court system but has yet to prove in a court of law that he is constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States
by Jake, the Champion of the Constitution
Originally published October 29, 2008 at http://www.nolanchart.com/article5315.html
Until quite recently, Senators Obama and McCain both had civil suits brought against them alleging they were constitutionally ineligible to serve as President. McCain chose to cooperate with the courts, produced his documents, and was ruled constitutionally eligible. However, the question for Obama is still open. He has not produced documentation in a court of law proving that he is eligible. For a full background of the events so far, please read “THE SAGA CONTINUES - John McCain and Barack Obama - Can They Even BE President?“. This is also a helpful though biased blog page on the topic from an anti-Obama law student, you can see from the links on the right of the webpage he is following along closely.
On page 36 in this court ruling, Obama’s case was “dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction” by U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick on October 24. Converted into layman’s terms, the judge ruled that the plaintiff, Philip Berg (a constitutional Democrat), had no right to bring a lawsuit against Mr. Obama. This is the equivalent of telling all citizens in the United States that they have no right to challenge constitutional wrongs in the US District Court.
Berg will not be denied. He already planned for the eventuality long before the trial and will appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals first, and if failing, to the United States Supreme Court.
On the Michael Savage Show on October 23, Berg stated that he has in his possession a verified translation and recording of Obama’s Kenyan grandmother, who is still alive, stating she was present at little Barack’s birth in Kenya.
It is undisputed that Obama’s father was a Kenyan national, and it is undisputed that if Obama was actually born in Kenya he is not eligible to be POTUS. Obama maintains he was born in Hawaii. Berg also states that even if Obama was born in Hawaii, he has in his possession school records that Obama was registered as a schoolchild with Indonesian citizenship in Jakarta, Indonesia, during the 1960s after his American mother’s second marriage. If this allegation is true, a court would need to decide on Obama’s eligibility to be President or even a Senator.
The Associated Press with its often negligent style of journalism titled its short seven-sentence blip of an article “Judge tosses lawsuit challenging Obama citizenship” on October 25. However, in their last sentence they did state the truth. “Surrick ruled that Berg lacked standing to bring the case, saying any harm from an allegedly ineligible candidate was “too vague and its effects too attenuated to confer standing on any and all voters.”"
Although his motion to dismiss was perfectly legal, one now has to wonder. What does the man termed “the Messiah” or “The One” have to hide? For someone who supports physical searches performed on your person in public places on the strange supposition that everyone could be a terrorist, should We the People not have the right to search his person if he wants to take our highest office?
A lifetime liberal Democrat, Berg has said, “I am doing this for the Constitution.”
Well, so am I.
Jake, the Champion of the Constitution
PS I am biased, but I would say the same about anyone who refuses to prove he is constitutionally eligible. For being a constitutional law professor, Obama seems determined to follow it his way - the Socialist way. Here is a 2001 radio recording of how Obama will redistribute the riches of the wealth to the poor, to each according to his/her needs.
PPS Remember the POTUS is not selected on November 4th. Congress will not count the votes of the Electoral College until January 6, 2009. “No Constitutional provision or Federal law requires electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote in their States.”
PPPS - One more and I will shut up. While the rest of America looks forward to November 4th, I will just “Remember, Remember the Fifth of November.” Read the whole Guy Fawkes Day poem here ” FDIC Gives Alpha Bank the Axe!”
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
As always, unlike the NFL, the author grants full permission to allow any accounts of, rebroadcasts, retransmissions, repostings in part or full of this article to your blog or anywhere else in order to promote the Restoration of our Republic.
Veritas numquam perit. Veritas odit moras. Veritas vincit. Truth never perishes. Truth hates delay. Truth conquers.
Cossiga says Italian government should “do what I did” under Operation GLADIO - infiltrate protest groups with agent provocateurs
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga has offered a solution to the Italian government in dealing with widespread demonstrations by students and teachers over a cut in state funding of education - use agent provocateurs to start riots and then have the police “beat the shit out of the protesters”.
Cossiga, former Italian President, Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, and one of the founders of the Operation GLADIO covert intelligence unit, encouraged Silvio Berlusconi and current Minister of the Interior Robert Maroni to “do what I did when I was Minister of the Interior,” namely infiltrate what so far have been relatively peaceful demonstrations, radicalize them, start riots, then engender public support for a heavy-handed police response.
Cossiga’s full statement translated reads as follows.
“Maroni should do what I did when I was Minister of the Interior. University students? Let them do what they want. Withdraw the police from streets and universities, infiltrate the movement with provoking agents ready for anything ["agenti provocatori" is the Italian term] and let them devastate shops, put fire to the cars and put cities to the sword for ten days.
Then, strengthen by people’s support, the sound of the sirens from ambulances will have to overwhelm that from the police and carabinieri [italian military police]. Law enforcement officers should pitilessly beat the shit out of protesters and send them all to the hospital. They should not arrest them since the courts would free them immediately, but they should beat them savagely, and they should beat savagely as well those teachers that incites them: not old professors, just the young school teachers.”
Cossiga is essentially describing the problem-reaction-solution dialectic that he exploited when he was in government. Under the banner of Operation GLADIO, which was unveiled after parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland and Belgium, NATO sponsored secret armies committed acts of violence and terrorism and blamed the attacks on left-wing political movements, allowing far-right governments to seize power in numerous European countries.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game,” right-wing terrorist and GLADIO agent Vincezo Vinciguerra explained the so-called “strategy of tension” in sworn testimony.
“The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.”
GLADIO-orchestrated false flag terror attacks, such as the Bologna train bombing in 1980 which killed 85 people, were revealed during the Italian parliamentary investigation as having been overseen by elements of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. At the very least, U.S. intelligence sat on prior knowledge of bombings and allowed them to go ahead.
Cossiga’s call to infiltrate protest groups and provocateur violence, giving the police public backing to “beat the shit” out of them, is a false flag tactic that has been employed numerous times during major protest events around the world.
Indeed, the scenario Cossiga is describing is exactly what happened at the violent 2001 Genoa G8 summit, during which Italian police planted bombs in headquarters being used by protest groups as an excuse to conduct raids and “beat the shit” out of peaceful demonstrators.
A similar tactic was also attempted during last year’s SPP summit protest in Quebec Canada. Canadian police were caught dressed up as rock-wielding anarchists intent on causing riots. Peaceful protesters identified the agent provocateurs and the police later had to admit the fact despite going to the lengths of publicly staging the arrests of their own officers.
Last year, Cossiga drew on his first-hand personal experience in conducting false flag terror operations to declare that 9/11 was an inside job and that this fact was “common knowledge” amongst global intelligence agencies.
McCain wins easily among Americans in Israel
American voters in Israel supported John McCain over Barack Obama by a margin of more than 3 to 1.
The poll surveyed 817 voters who attended U.S. election events in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv organized by VFI, combined with on-line surveys. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
More than half the respondents listed foreign policy as the most important factor influencing their vote.
Votefromisrael.org estimates that more than 45,000 Americans have cast ballots from the Jewish state.
More Breaking News from JTA
If you reached this page via email, click here to go to the JTA web site.
Bad economy, Obama trigger gun sales rise
Fredrick Kunkle / Washington Post
Americans have cut back on buying cars, furniture and clothes in a tough economy, but there's one consumer item that's still enjoying healthy sales: guns. Purchases of firearms and ammunition have risen 8 percent to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data.
Several variables drive sales, but many dealers, buyers and experts attribute the increase in part to concerns about the economy and fears that if Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois wins the presidency, he will join with fellow Democrats in Congress to enact gun controls. Obama has said he believes in an individual right to bear arms but that he also supports "common-sense safety measures."
"Even though (Obama) has a lot going for him, he's not very pro-gun," said Paul Pluff, a spokesman for Smith & Wesson, which has reported higher sales.
Gun owners haven't been especially thrilled about the prospect of Sen. John McCain in the White House, either. Still, they see the Arizona Republican as less of a threat than Obama.
Gun purchases have also been climbing because of the worsening economy, which fuels fears of crime and civil disorder, industry sources and specialists said.
"Generally, we know that hard economic times always result in firearm sales," said James M. Purtilo, who publishes the Tripwire Newsletter.
Law enforcement reports show that guns are selling well this year. In 2008, there were 8.4 million background checks from Jan. 1 to Sept. 28, compared with 7.7 million in the same period last year, a 9 percent increase, according to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
When you read this, do it carefully. The guy's a master of deception. And if I can find the quote, I'll post it here because he said he doesn't feel Americans should have guns in the home for self defense.
Barack Obama on Gun Control
Democratic Jr Senator (IL)
Q: Is the D.C. law prohibiting ownership of handguns consistent with an individual's right to bear arms?
Ok for states & cities to determine local gun laws
A: As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can't constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it.
Q: But do you still favor the registration & licensing of guns?
A: I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets. We can make sure that criminals don't have guns in their hands. We can make certain that those who are mentally deranged are not getting a hold of handguns. We can trace guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers that may be selling to straw purchasers and dumping them on the streets.
Obama was being misleading when he denied that his handwriting had been on a document endorsing a state ban on the sale and possession of handguns in Illinois. Obama responded, "No, my writing wasn't on that particular questionnaire. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns."
FactCheck: Yes, Obama endorsed Illinois handgun ban
Actually, Obama's writing was on the 1996 document, which was filed when Obama was running for the Illinois state Senate. A Chicago nonprofit, Independent Voters of Illinois, had this question, and Obama took hard line:
35. Do you support state legislation to:
a. ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns? Yes.
b. ban assault weapons? Yes.
c. mandatory waiting periods and background checks? Yes.
Obama's campaign said, "Sen. Obama didn't fill out these state Senate questionnaires--a staffer did--and there are several answers that didn't reflect his views then or now. He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire, but some answers didn't reflect his views."
Q: You said recently, "I have no intention of taking away folks' guns." But you support the D.C. handgun ban, and you've said that it's constitutional. How do you reconcile those two positions?
Respect 2nd Amendment, but local gun bans ok
A: Because I think we have two conflicting traditions in this country. I think it's important for us to recognize that we've got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets. And cracking down on the various loopholes that exist in terms of background checks for children, the mentally ill. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people's traditions.
Q: When you were in the state senate, you talked about licensing and registering gun owners. Would you do that as president?
Provide some common-sense enforcement on gun licensing
A: I don't think that we can get that done. But what we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement. The efforts by law enforcement to obtain the information required to trace back guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers. As president, I intend to make it happen. We essentially have two realities, when it comes to guns, in this country. You've got the tradition of lawful gun ownership. It is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot. Then you've got the reality of 34 Chicago public school students who get shot down on the streets of Chicago. We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets.
Obama sought moderate gun control measures, such as a 2000 bill he cosponsored to limit handgun purchases to one per month (it did not pass). He voted against letting people violate local weapons bans in cases of self-defense, but also voted in2004 to let retired police officers carry concealed handguns.
2000: cosponsored bill to limit purchases to 1 gun per month
Obama voted for a bill in the Illinois senate that allowed retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons. If there was any issue on which Obama rarely deviated, it was gun control. He was the most strident candidate when it came to enforcin and expanding gun control laws. So this vote jumped out as inconsistent.
Concealed carry OK for retired police officers
When I queried him about the vote, he said, "I didn't find that [vote] surprising. I am consistently on record and will continue to be on record as opposing concealed carry. This was a narrow exception in an exceptional circumstance where a retired police officer might find himself vulnerable as a consequence of the work he has previously done--and had been trained extensively in the proper use of firearms."
It wasn't until a few weeks later that another theory came forward about the uncharacteristic vote. Obama was battling with his GOP opponent to win the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Q: How would you address gun violence that continues to be the #1 cause of death among African-American men?
Stop unscrupulous gun dealers dumping guns in cities
A: You know, when the massacre happened at Virginia Tech, I think all of us were grief stricken and shocked by the carnage. But in this year alone, in Chicago, we've had 34 Chicago public school students gunned down and killed. And for the most part, there has been silence. We know what to do. We've got to enforce the gun laws that are on the books. We've got to make sure that unscrupulous gun dealers aren't loading up vans and dumping guns in our communities, because we know they're not made in our communities. There aren't any gun manufacturers here, right here in the middle of Detroit. But what we also have to do is to make sure that we change our politics so that we care just as much about those 30-some children in Chicago who've been shot as we do the children in Virginia Tech. That's a mindset that we have to have in the White House and we don't have it right now.
I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manfuacturer's lobby. But I also believe that when a gangbanger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels someone disrespected him, we have a problem of morality. Not only do ew need to punish thatman for his crime, but we need to acknowledge that there's a hole in his heart, one that government programs alone may not be able to repair.
Keep guns out of inner cities--but also problem of morality
KEYES: [to Obama]: I am a strong believer in the second amendment. The gun control mentality is ruthlessly absurd. It suggests that we should pass a law that prevents law abiding citizens from carrying weapons. You end up with a situation where the crook have all the guns and the law abiding citizens cannot defend themselves. I guess that's good enough for Senator Obama who voted against the bill that would have allowed homeowners to defend themselves if their homes were broken into.
Bush erred in failing to renew assault weapons ban
OBAMA: Let's be honest. Mr. Keyes does not believe in common gun control measures like the assault weapons bill. Mr. Keyes does not believe in any limits from what I can tell with respect to the possession of guns, including assault weapons that have only one purpose, to kill people. I think it is a scandal that this president did not authorize a renewal of the assault weapons ban.
Ban semi-automatics, and more possession restrictions
- Principles that Obama supports on gun issues:
- Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.
- Increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
- Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms.
A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others. Voting YES would:
Voted NO on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
- Exempt lawsuits brought against individuals who knowingly transfer a firearm that will be used to commit a violent or drug-trafficking crime
- Exempt lawsuits against actions that result in death, physical injury or property damage due solely to a product defect
- Call for the dismissal of all qualified civil liability actions pending on the date of enactment by the court in which the action was brought
- Prohibit the manufacture, import, sale or delivery of armor piercing ammunition, and sets a minimum prison term of 15 years for violations
- Require all licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers who engage in the transfer of handguns to provide secure gun storage or safety devices
Fear of new restrictions boosts U.S. gun sales
Dealers in the Valley say people are stocking up on assault weapons and ammunition.
Got guns? Sali and Minnick do
Democratic candidate Walt Minnick leads Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Sali by a 7-to-5 margin in one of the most telling polls of Idaho's 1st Congressional District race: a tally of the two rivals' personal firearms.
In Idaho, gun ownership - especially in tight elections - can be a way for candidates to communicate shared values with residents, many of whom hunted before they could watch PG-13 movies.
Minnick owns seven guns: three pistols, a .22-caliber rifle, two Remington shotguns and a pellet gun he's used to teach his children to shoot. Sali, who in 2006 helped fight off an Army National Guard effort to restrict shooting in a Snake River raptor preserve, owns two shotguns and three rifles.
Now Minnick and Sali are dueling over who would best stick up for Second Amendment rights. Sali won an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association on a questionnaire; Minnick got a D+.
Meanwhile, Minnick, a former business executive who tied for the highest score in his 1970 U.S. Army class's marksmanship test, was endorsed by a rival group, the American Hunters and Shooters Association, which says the NRA backs candidates for partisan reasons.
"I think guns are part of our American culture," Minnick said earlier this month. "There is no one more opposed to gun control than I am."
Sali, a lawyer from Kuna, retorted, "He believes it's OK to go out and shoot a deer, but not a criminal intruder in your own home."
The Associated Press
BY BRAD TALBUTT - firstname.lastname@example.org
Edition Date: 10/31/08
Gun sellers in the Treasure Valley say sales are increasing because of fears that Sen. Barack Obama will back new gun control laws if he is elected president.
"Sales are definitely up," said Larry Livesay, owner of Larry's Sporting Goods, 704 2nd St., Nampa. "People are buying more guns and ammo because they are afraid of Obama."
Livesay said gun sellers are just as worried as their customers.
The concern is nationwide. The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported 8.4 million checks nationally through Sept. 28. That's a 9 percent increase over the same period last year.
And the National Shooting Sports Foundation cited federal tax data that showed the sales of firearms and ammunition have increased about 10 percent this year compared to last year, though some gun shop owners say a desire for self-protection in the weakening economy is part of the reason.
Obama says he supports an individual's right to bear arms but that he also believes in "common-sense safety measures."
In a speech at Boise State University in February, Obama told Idahoans, "We got a lot hunters in the state of Illinois, and I have no intention of taking away folks' guns."
He does have a history of support for gun restrictions, though.
Factcheck.org says Obama endorsed a ban on handguns during his 1996 bid for an Illinois state Senate seat. Obama has denied supporting an "all-out ban on handguns" but favors allowing city and state governments to pass their own gun control laws.
Gun sellers say customers don't have to voice their concerns out loud for sellers to sense them. One Boise firearm retailer, who asked not to be identified, said, "It's easy to tell what a guy is thinking when he buys 10 or 15 guns and a couple boxes of ammo for each. You can tell he's worried that prices will go up and availability will go down."
Jason Hopper, vice president of Boise Gun Co. at 4105 Adams in Garden City, said he hears grumbling about Obama's policies from customers several times a day.
"The first thing people are worried about is a reintroduction of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines," Hopper said. Sales of those products are up in his store, Hopper said.
Ryan Horsley, manager of Red's Trading Post in Twin Falls, says sales of assault-type rifles, such as military-style AR-15s, have jumped, far outselling traditional, bolt-action hunting rifles.
"It's really unpopular to say you are not a fan of the Second Amendment, so what you have to look out for are the 'buts,' " Horsley told The Times-News. "What you often hear is a candidate saying something like, 'I support the Second Amendment, but we need to ban certain guns.' "
Sen. John McCain voted against a ban on assault-type weapons but favors requiring background checks at gun shows.
Brad Talbutt: 672-6737.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Here's what I got today from Bill's billboards at Casa d'Ice.
What 2 Senators have in common
N. Versailles Pa. 15137
You've received this email because you signed up at our web site (www.casadice.com) and asked to be notified when updates are posted.
Casa D' Ice
1901 Lincoln Highway
North Versailles, PA 15137
For more than 50 years I have looked for some way to motivate the people in my church and community to vote. The key word here is "motivate", but I must confess that I have been tempted to "intimidate", even try to "scare" people into voting. There is a big sign beside Interstate Highway 65 between Montgomery and Birmingham,Alabama that reads: "If you do not go to church the devil will get you!". That is not the kind of tactic I was taught to use in the ministry of trying to get people to church, but I must confess that in times of pastoral frustration with careless Christians, I have been tempted to use it. (When I was an active pastor I would sometimes remind my Methodist constituency that I made an "A" in Guilt 101 in seminary.) In my better moments, however, I remember that "fear" is the lowest and most unstable form of motivation.
What can I ethically and effectively say to those of you, who are gracious and patient enough to read this column, to get you to take time out of your "busy schedule" to go to the polls and vote??!! I do not want to tell you "how" to vote, even though I might consider giving you some sage advice on the subject if you were to ask. I am just asking you to vote.
There is no one thing of which I can think which is more basic to a functional and effective democracy than the informed vote of individual citizens. If you have ever thought your vote does not count, look for a moment at how just a few votes out of millions determined the last two presidential elections. Several years ago one of my friends won a county-wide election by one vote. He was never thereafter able to shake the sobriquet: "Landslide". Your vote counts whether it determines the outcome of the election or not. If you do not vote, you should not complain about who is elected.
It is a real shame for any citizen to fail to vote, but let me tread for a moment on slippery ground and address two particular groups.
Women! Do you remember the hard-fought battle of less than 100 years ago for women's right to vote? How could you forget?! Shame on you if you forget the sacrifice that was made to give you that right. Let your husband fix his own lunch while you go vote - or let him do without if he is too lazy.
African-Americans! Do you remember the violence and bloodshed in this country, in what surely is a "remember history", that made it possible for African-Americans to vote? The right to vote came at great cost. Do not dishonor your parents and grandparents (and a few white people here and there) who made it possible for you to go to the polls and vote without fear of intimidation.
Some say: "I do not like either of the candidates, so I will not vote". That is a "cop-out". There are almost always several people I had rather vote for than the available candidates, but that is not an option. Pick somebody, by some method you can live with, then go vote.
In closing, let me stoop to borrow the concept of the anonymous soul who put up the roadside sign between Montgomery and Birmingham,Alabama. "Vote or the devil will get you". And if he/she does not, I will, if I can find you.
God bless America!
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Thursday, October 30, 2008
Banks to Continue Paying Dividends
Bailout Money Is for Lending, Critics Say
By Binyamin Appelbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008; A01
U.S. banks getting more than $163 billion from the Treasury Department for new lending are on pace to pay more than half of that sum to their shareholders, with government permission, over the next three years.
The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don't serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from participating in the voluntary program.
Critics, including economists and members of Congress, question why banks should get government money if they already have enough money to pay dividends -- or conversely, why banks that need government money are still spending so much on dividends.
"The whole purpose of the program is to increase lending and inject capital into Main Street. If the money is used for dividends, it defeats the purpose of the program," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has called for the government to require a suspension of dividend payments.
The Treasury plans to invest up to $250 billion in a wide swath of U.S. banks in return for ownership stakes, which the government will relinquish when it is repaid.
Among other restrictions, participating institutions cannot increase dividend payments without government permission. They also are barred from repurchasing stock, which increases the value of outstanding shares.
The 33 banks signed up so far plan to pay shareholders about $7 billion this quarter. Companies generally try to pay consistent dividends and, at the present pace, those dividends will consume 52 percent of the Treasury's investment over the initial three-year term.
"The terms of our capital purchase program were set to encourage participation by a broad array of financial institutions so they strengthen their financial positions," Treasury spokeswoman Michele Davis said.
The Treasury's approach contrasts with decisions by foreign governments, including Britain and Germany, to require banks that accept public investments to suspend dividend payments until the government is repaid. The U.S. government similarly required Chrysler to suspend its dividend payments as a condition of the government's 1979 bailout.
The legislation passed by Congress authorizing the Treasury's current bailout program is silent on the issue.
The first nine participants were major banks, some running short on capital, that were told by Treasury officials earlier this month to sign on to the program for the good of the country. Their major shareholders are primarily institutional investors, such as pension funds and mutual funds, although a few wealthy individuals hold large stakes, such as Warren Buffett in Wells Fargo and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in Citigroup.
Several banks are on pace to pay more in dividends than they get from the government. The Bank of New York Mellon got $3 billion from the government on Tuesday. It will pay out $275 million to shareholders this quarter, and a projected $3.3 billion over the next three years. A spokesman declined to comment.
At least a few banks have committed to reduce dividend payments at the same time they accepted government investments. SunTrust of Atlanta, which accepted $3.5 billion from the government, cut its quarterly dividend payments to about $188 million each quarter from about $272 million. The company described the cut in a statement as "the responsible thing to do."
Zions Bancorp, which accepted $1.4 billion from the government, reduced its dividends by about 26 percent to $34 million.
"This modification to our dividend will allow us to further strengthen our capital base," said chief executive Harris Simmons.
Other banks participating in the government program said that they will not use the Treasury's money to pay dividends. They said dividends will be paid from other capital, primarily from their new profits in each quarter.
Washington Federal, a Seattle thrift, accepted $200 million from the government. The company will pay its shareholders about $18 million in dividends this quarter, which puts it on pace for $216 million over the next three years.
Chief executive Roy Whitehead said the company pays dividends from its quarterly profits, rather than its capital reserves. He said there was only one exception in the past three decades. Last quarter, he said, the company used $11 million in capital to maintain a consistent dividend payment.
Still, Whitehead said "categorically" that the company would not use the government's investment to make dividend payments.
Some experts questioned the distinction drawn by Whitehead between profits and capital.
"Thinking of them as separate things is kind of a spurious argument. It's all capital," said David Scharfstein, a finance professor at the Harvard Business School who has called for the government to require banks to suspend dividend payments. "Money that goes out the door is money that isn't available to shore up the banks' balance sheet."
Scharfstein and others said that many banks clearly need to buttress their balance sheets. Large losses on mortgage-related investments have drained capital, and investors no longer have much interest in giving more money to banks. But several of the institutions accepting government money have continued to pay dividends in recent quarters even as they post large losses.
Scharfstein said many banks should suspend dividend payments voluntarily. Some industry analysts, however, say that cutting dividends will make it even harder for banks to find new investors.
Capital is basically the money a company keeps in its vaults. A dividend is a distribution of some of that money to shareholders. Companies typically pay dividends four times each year.
The stability of dividend payments is important to investors. Some treat dividends as a source of regular income, others as a barometer of corporate health. As a result, companies generally try to match or raise their dividends each quarter. Some banks entered the current crisis with unblemished dividend histories dating back 30 years and more.
The resistance to dividend cuts in part reflects the reality that the Treasury program is serving at least two purposes. In some cases, the money is going to companies that need help to survive. In other cases, the government is helping healthy companies to expand.
Ed Yingling, chief executive of the American Bankers Association, said he was increasingly hearing from banking executives who feel they should not be forced to accept money with so many strings attached. He said these banks don't need the money, but they are willing to use it to increase lending, so long as they are not punished for doing so.
"The government really needs to make up its mind what this program is," Yingling said.
I'm going to do some digging tonight and tomorrow, and I'll post what I find, IF I can find anything.
A Democrat-controlled Congress, bankers, brokers, Greenspan, Bernanke and some Republican sleazebag lawmakers. They knew, they knew and they didn't stop it. If this is true, those responsible have to be punished.
Be careful who you vote for, America! You already know who they want for our President.
Qaeda wants Republicans, Bush "humiliated": Web video
DUBAI (Reuters) - An al Qaeda leader has called for President George W. Bush and the Republicans to be "humiliated," without endorsing a party in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, according to an Internet video posting.
"O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the Worlds, degrade and defy him," Abu Yahya al-Libi said at the end of sermon marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, in a video posted on the Internet.
Libi, a top al Qaeda commander believed to be living in Afghanistan or Pakistan, called for God's wrath to be brought against Bush equating him with past tyrants in history.
The remarks were the first from a leading al Qaeda figure referring, albeit indirectly, to the U.S. elections. Muslim clerics often end sermons by calling on God to guide and support Muslims and help defeat their enemies.
Terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence Group said in a report on Wednesday that militants on al Qaeda-linked websites have for months been debating the significance of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama or Republican John McCain.
Some posters have also argued over the merits of trying to attack the United States before the election or waiting until later, the report said.
But SITE said it did not expect al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or deputy Ayman al-Zawahri to openly favor a candidate.
"To support a particular candidate would debase al-Qaeda's long-standing argument that the United States government is a corrupt institution no matter who is at the helm," SITE director Rita Katz said in the group's November newsletter.
In 2004 bin Laden issued his first video in more than a year just days before the U.S. elections. It derided Bush and warned of possible new September 11-style attacks.
Bin Laden made little mention of Bush's Democratic challenger, John Kerry, telling Americans: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe."
Kerry has attributed his loss in part to the video's high-profile reminder of the terrorism issue.
In 2006, after Democrats captured Congress, Zawahri issued an audio message saying all Americans remained al Qaeda's enemies regardless of party, SITE said.
SITE said militant postings on al Qaeda-linked websites typically discuss Obama in terms of his race, or his religion and foreign policy. Some forecast a racial crisis dividing the United States if he wins. Others say his planned phased withdrawal from Iraq would be a boon to al Qaeda's affiliate and give it a base for Middle East expansion.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain has been portrayed as likely to allow "the continuation of Republican control and aggressive policies toward the Islamic world."
(Additional reporting by Randall Mikkelsen in Washington; editing by Chris Wilson)
Maybe we should tell them to "bail us out".
Complaints surge as bill collectors get tough
- Story Highlights
- More than 85,000 people have filed complaints of harassment from collectors
- Collectors allowed to be aggressive but cannot curse, lie, threaten, make up figures
- Regulators say most serious complaints aimed at companies that buy up old debts
- Trade association for debt collectors attributes increase to America's growing debt
- Next Article in U.S. »
NEW YORK (AP) -- After several years in which Americans were buying stuff on credit they couldn't afford, a rapidly increasing number are complaining about getting harassed and abused by bill collectors.
An increasing number of Americans are complaining about getting harrassed by bill collectors.
Nearly 71,000 people filed such complaints with the Federal Trade Commission last year, roughly double the number in 2003. In addition, more than 14,000 complained to the Better Business Bureau. Thousands more lodged grievances with state and city officials.
"And it is going to get worse," warned David Polino, a Better Business Bureau expert on collection agencies and president of the BBB chapter in upstate New York. "With the recession, with the horrible credit problems, this is going to be off the charts."
Regulators and consumer groups say the rise in complaints reflects the rapidly increasing number of Americans who took on more debt than they could handle during the free-spending, easy-credit days that preceded the current economic crisis. The complaints are also being attributed to the explosive growth in the number of companies that buy up bad consumer debt at a discount and try to collect whatever they can.
U.S. law allows creditors to take aggressive steps to collect a debt, including going to court to freeze a debtor's bank accounts. But there are also rules: They may not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They may not repeatedly use the phone to annoy you. They cannot curse or threaten to have you arrested. They cannot lie about the likelihood of legal action, or tack on unwarranted charges.
People who owe money are often themselves rude and abusive to bill collectors, use obscene language and hurl death threats. But under the law, bill collectors are not allowed to respond in kind.
Nearly 39 percent of the people who complained to the FTC last year accused an agency of either demanding a larger payment than legally allowed, or seeking money they didn't owe at all.
Bob Silvers of San Jose, California, said a company called Bay Area Credit Service has been hounding him over a disputed $60 ambulance bill from 2002 by bombarding him with calls that begin early in the morning and sometimes continue all day.
"I get between three and nine calls a day, six days a week," said Silvers, who claims the agency has ignored his demands to stop calling. "It's just constant harassment."
A spokesman for Bay Area Credit said he was unfamiliar with Silvers' dispute, but said it is against company policy to use the telephone to browbeat people.
West Virginia's attorney general sued a Florida company this month, accusing it of trying to intimidate people into paying delinquent cell phone bills by falsely threatening them with arrest, harassing their relatives and contacting their employers.
One 72-year-old retiree targeted by the company, Florence Gifford of Gypsy, West Virginia, said she didn't believe she owed anything, but forked over $304 anyway after collectors used foul language and threatened to send a sheriff's deputy to her door.
In New York, authorities said one collector was recently disciplined for threatening to have immigrant debtors deported.
"We're starting to see more of the more serious types of harassment," said Jonathan Mintz, New York City commissioner of consumer affairs. His office investigated 1,277 complaints last year, up from 508 in 2004.
The collection industry is quick to point out that complaints don't necessarily equal improper conduct.
The company being sued in West Virginia, Charles Howell and Associates, denied its collectors had used bad language or threatened anyone with arrest.
"There's no lick of any sort of proof," said the company's president, Gregory Wells. "The only thing they have is the word of someone who owes money and is trying to get out of paying."
Rozanne Andersen, general counsel of ACA International, a trade association for debt collectors, chalked up much of the increase in complaints to America's growing debt problem.
According to the Federal Reserve, American consumers now owe around $969 billion in revolving debt -- the type of debt that people have on their credit cards -- compared with $770 billion in 2003.
Some 4.5 percent of all bank-issued consumer credit cards were delinquent in the second quarter of 2008, versus 2.4 percent in 1990, according to the American Bankers Association.
"There has been a tremendous increase in the volume of bad debts," Andersen said. "That is not an excuse, because we do take these complaints very seriously. But some of these complaints involve consumer misunderstanding of the law, or just frustration."
Regulators say many of the most serious complaints seem to be aimed at a particular type of debt collection agency: companies that specialize in buying old accounts that have defied all previous attempts at collection. There are hundreds of such companies, compared with as few as a dozen a decade ago.
These companies pay pennies on the dollar to acquire portfolios of "zombie debt" from phone companies, banks, health care providers and stores.
"We've seen people being pursued over debts that are 8, 9 or 10 years old," said Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.
Those attempts to collect on older debts that have changed hands several times can be problematic, said the BBB's Polino. Some of the record-keeping on those accounts is so slipshod, he said, that collectors find themselves hounding the wrong people, or chasing accounts that were paid off long ago.
Swanson sued an Illinois debt-collection agency, AFNI Inc., in July, accusing it of failing to verify that old bills were legitimate before going after debtors. AFNI's vice president Jim Hess defended the company's efforts to verify debts and blamed some of the problems on an increase in identity theft.
Ernestine Williams, a 55-year-old widow in Morristown, New Jersey, walked into her bank over the summer to make a deposit, only to learn that her account had been frozen at the request of a company that purchased her delinquent Pep Boys repair bill.
The company is demanding $2,135 immediately to unfreeze her account -- an amount that includes about $400 in fees and interest on top of her original debt. Williams said she has had financial problems since her husband died and needs more time to pay.
"It's ludicrous," Williams said. "I'm trying to get back on my feet so I can pay my bills. It's embarrassing. I've already pawned all my jewelry. I don't have anything."
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