Archive for September 13, 2011
News footage from 2007 mixed with other video that documents the origin of the modern day Tea Party movement and those responsible for it.
It was started in 2007 from the grassroots by Ron Paul supporters for his 2008 Presidential Campaign. After gaining momentum it was co-opted by certain Republicans with help from Fox News and other corporate entities. It’s no longer the spontaneous decentralized movement that it once was though Ron Paul’s message of limited government and a return to the Constitution is still at it’s core.
- Waterbury, CT, USA
Authorities said that the TSA officers — two in Florida and one in New York — were paid to help drug couriers move pills and the stacks of cash they generated through airport screening systems. One of the police officers — a Florida state trooper — took drug money to travel to Connecticut, where he provided “protection” to a courier selling thousands of pills to a dozen or more lower-level dealers, authorities said.
“In these times, no one needs to be reminded about how dangerous it is when officers who have sworn to uphold the law accept money to ‘look the other way,’ ” said Connecticut U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, whose office is prosecuting the case.
His office has “zero-tolerance for corrupt law enforcement officers and corrupt federal employees, and anyone who violates his or her oath and breaks the law will soon find him or herself in a federal courtroom, before a federal judge, answering to federal charges,” Fein said.
Oxycodone is a powerful, prescription narcotic, the abuse of which has become a growing law enforcement problem.
The investigation, called “Operation Blue Coast,” was put together by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. In legal papers unsealed Tuesday at U.S. District Court, drug agents said that the ring began operation when two Florida drug dealers — one recently arrived from Connecticut — agreed in the summer of 2010 to join forces and profit from the price differential for oxycodone between low-price Florida and high-price Connecticut.
Both dealers have become cooperating government witnesses and were not identified by authorities when arrests in the case were announced Tuesday. But an affidavit filed in court by a DEA agent said that the two arranged to obtain the drug in Florida, drive it or fly it north on commercial airlines and move it through a network of distributors known to the Connecticut dealer, most of them in Waterbury.
The drug couriers flew from West Palm Beach, Fla., to White Plains, N.Y. One of the dealers who organized the ring said that he gave cash and gift cards worth $50 to $100 to the TSA officers who screened him, according to a DEA affidavit.
The dealer said he made payments totaling $20,000 to a Westchester County police officer assigned to the airport there in order to be permitted to carry — without being questioned — large quantities of cash back to Florida, according to a DEA affidavit.
While in Florida, the dealer said he paid a state trooper and the trooper’s fiancée in return for safe passage while driving drugs and money through the central part of the state. The same trooper flew north to provide protection for at least two oxycodone transactions in Connecticut, according to the affidavit.
After the ring had been in operation for months, the DEA began disassembling it when an informer reported that a large quantity of oxycodone was about to move from West Palm Beach to Stamford by courier.
DEA agents apprehended the courier — who turned out to be one of the dealers who had hatched the scheme the preceding summer — at a Stamford hotel. He was carrying 6,000 pills and quickly agreed to cooperate. Following the trail of drugs and money, authorities rolled up the network over the ensuing months, according to the affidavit.
Fein said that those charged in the case were:
* Christopher Allen, 45, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., a TSA officer based at Palm Beach International Airport.
* John Best, 30, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., a TSA officer based at Palm Beach International Airport.
* Brigitte Jones, 48, of the Bronx, N.Y., a TSA officer based at Westchester County Airport.
* Michael Brady, 36, of New York, a Westchester County Department of Public Safety police officer.
* Justin Kolves, 28, of Florida, a Florida State Highway Patrol trooper.
* Jessica Douglas, 28, of Florida. Douglas is Kolves’ fiancée.
* Sami Naber, 51, of Yonkers, N.Y., who police said rented vehicles to transport the drugs and exchanged cash.
* Emmanuel Babe, 38, of Mount Kisco, N.Y., who police said transported drugs and cash.
* Wilner Castelin, 42, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who police said transported drugs and cash.
* Bruce Yazdzik, 28, of Waterbury; David Gaudiosi, 26, of Waterbury; and Patrick Serafine, 26, of Waterbury, who authorities said bought large quantities of oxycodone and distributed it to street dealers.
* Marivette Alicea, 21, of Waterbury; Christopher Roderick, 31, of Canterbury; Steven Stopper, 46, of Naugatuck; and Kevin Lund, 38, of Naugatuck, who were involved with buying and distributing the drugs, authorities said.
* Bernard Famiglietti, 49, of Waterbury, and Sandra Canfield, 30, of Waterbury, also were charged with possession with intent to distribute oxycodone.
Phone customers paid more to Uncle Sam than the telecom giant Verizon.
Phone customers paid more to Uncle Sam than the telecom giant
CEO compensation: $18.1 million
U.S. federal income taxes: $705 million refund
Verizon received a massive tax refund last year – despite earning $11.9 billion in pre-tax U.S. profits – the highest among the 25 firms highlighted in this report.
Quite a feat for then Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg. In effect, every Verizon phone customer paid more in federal telephone excise taxes than Verizon paid in federal income taxes.
Verizon also has a heavy political presence in Washington. Last year alone, the telecom giant spent $16.7 million on lobbying — and deducted these outlays off its taxes.
Despite its hefty profits, Verizon last year announced 13,000 job cuts, the year’s third-highest corporate layoff total.
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It all looked so easy. Just hire lobbyists who have access to the right public officials, make strategic campaign contributions, and finance a front for women to carry your message.
This wasn’t a typical advertising campaign to sell the new vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus), called Gardasil, by repetitive commercials on the television network evening newscasts. The real money to be made from this drug depends on government mandating and funding it for all girls.
Marketing costs of inducing state governments to require all teenage girls to be given this vaccine would be just pennies compared to the billions of dollars that would flow to Merck. The profits could even be enough to bail out Merck from its potential billion-dollar liabilities on Vioxx (which is why some say that HPV stands for Help Pay for Vioxx).
So Merck hired Texas Governor Rick Perry’s former chief-of-staff to carry the ball. On the slowest news day of the year in Texas, the Friday before the Super Bowl, Governor Perry issued an Executive Order requiring young girls to receive Merck’s HPV vaccine in order to enter the sixth grade.
The Associated Press reported, based on documents, that Perry’s current chief-of-staff Deidre Delisi discussed Merck’s HPV vaccine with aides on Oct. 16. On the very same day, Merck’s political action committee donated $5,000 to Perry’s reelection campaign plus an additional total of $5,000 to eight Texas lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Merck financed a new “Women in Government” organization, composed of women state legislators, to push for the vaccine. Does it evade regulations against lobbying if women legislators are merely “educating” each other?
Recently released staff emails reveal that Governor Perry’s aides were themselves shocked by his mandate. Commenting on the first draft of his Executive Order, one aide said, “that first line sounds almost like a Merck commercial.”
Perhaps Perry’s rush to put a mandate in place was to preempt the Texas legislature from holding hearings that would expose how senseless this mandatory vaccination of 11-year-old girls would be. Hearings would reveal that this vaccine has not been shown to prevent a single case of cancer.
“I believe that their timing was a little bit premature so soon after [the vaccine's] release, before we have a picture of whether there are going to be any untoward side effects,” says Dr. Anne Francis. She chairs the usually pro-vaccination American Academy of Pediatrics committee.
Merck’s HPV vaccine was approved by the FDA only eight months ago, based on minimal testing (including few tests with young girls), and it has largely unknown risks and benefits. Even in the best case scenario, it would protect against only some strains of HPV, leaving girls vulnerable to many other sexually transmitted diseases.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the Texas Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics do not support this vaccine mandate. State legislatures in Michigan, Indiana and Maryland have declined to make this vaccine mandatory.
Governor Perry is so far unapologetic. He wrapped himself in a new version of Hillary Clinton’s “for the children” excuse, arguing that his mandate is “for young ladies who are dying of cancer.”
But the average age of diagnosis of cervical cancer is 48. Not even Merck claims that inoculating an 11-year-old girl will protect her against sexually transmitted diseases five, ten, twenty and thirty years later.
“I got hammered in church this morning on the Merck thing, and it was just Saturday,” Perry’s Chief Clerk Greg Davidson emailed the day after the Executive Order was issued. “Do we have any talking points or stats or anything that can help me fight through Sunday. This is brutal.”
No list of talking points can justify forcing this vaccine on schoolchildren for a disease that is not contagious in the classroom environment. Follow the money.
The HPV vaccine requires three shots priced at $360, not counting the costs of separate doctor visits and administrative expenses. Sexual abstinence costs zero dollars and, unlike the vaccine, is 100 percent protective against sexually transmitted diseases.
The U.S. government spends billions of dollars to promote teenage abstinence from illegal drugs, and forces the tobacco companies to spend billions to promote teenage abstinence from smoking. Why not put a fraction of the government’s proposed vaccine costs into promoting teenage abstinence from sex?
Instead, the Perry mandate would force the vaccine on good girls who don’t engage in premarital sex and don’t need the vaccine. At the same time, girls who receive the vaccine will be given a false sense of security that will be even more costly to them than the high-priced vaccine is to the public.
The backlash against the mandate caused Merck to announce that it is suspending its lobbying campaign to make this vaccine compulsory, and the Texas Legislature is trying to cancel Perry’s Executive Order. Stay tuned; Merck’s lobbying campaign has to shift gears, but it isn’t going away because too much money is involved.
Last week, Next Media Animation, the Taiwan-based producers of surreal CGI-animated news re-enactments, released a unique take on the life of Rick Perry (complete with a pole dance by Abraham Lincoln). This week, they tackled another Texan: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside.
Perhaps the video’s most striking feature is the prevalence of newborn babies flying through the air — a reference to the more than 4,000 infants Paul is said to have delivered as an obstetrician. The video insinuates that, in this way, Paul essentially brought his own loyal political base to life.
Other frequent Paul themes, such as his distaste for the Fed and the lack of attention he receives from the media, are also on display. Non-Texan presidential candidates have also had the pleasure of starring in a Taiwanese animation, including Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann.
Here’s the Paul video:
A new poll shows that 73% of Americans think our country is on the wrong track.
Are you one of the seventy-three percenters?
The poll from Reuters/Ipsos Public Relations was conducted between August 4 and August 8. Given the turmoil over the federal government “debt deal,” the downgrade of federal government debt, and the dramatic shifts in the global stock markets during this period, it’s not surprising that the “wrong track” figure leaped ten percentage points – up from 63% – compared to the same poll conducted exactly one month prior.
What was a bit surprising, however, was that this relatively high percentage of Americans reported “wrong track” status for the country, despite the fact that there were slightly more registered Democrats surveyed than there were registered Republicans. Given that Democrat ideology rules the U.S. Senate and the White House, it would make sense that registered Democrats in America would be more pleased with the leadership of their fellow Democrats who hold elective office.
But if the United States is on the wrong track – if our nation has truly lost its way – then a couple of other questions should follow: A) what is the “right track” for America? And B) How will we know when we’re “on” it?
Rather than try to quickly answer these two questions, I’m suggesting that we all should first contemplate several other questions. As the title of a famous sales training book once noted, “questions are the answers” – so here are a couple that can help move the process forward:
Who manages wealth the best – private individuals and groups, or politicians and government bureaucrats? For most of my adult life – that is, since the days of the Reagan presidency – the United States federal government has been fairly respectful of every American’s right to create, and possess monetary wealth, and has mostly avoided being punitive towards the wealthiest in society.
Additionally, our government’s leadership has been fairly accepting of the notion that when Americans are permitted to keep more of their own wealth, rather than less of it, they usually do productive things with it that ultimately benefit the overall economy. Even Democrat President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors noted in 1994 that “It is undeniable that the sharp reduction in taxes in the early 1980s was a strong impetus to economic growth.”
Yet today our nation is afflicted with a terrible philosophical malaise – I call it “the politics of envy.” With a President who campaigned on a pledge to “spread the wealth around,” many Americans today make the assumption that the wealthiest among us achieved their earnings by questionable if not immoral means and deserve to have ever-increasing portions of it taken from them in the form of “higher taxes.” Likewise the assumption is made that when individuals possess large sums of wealth they only do “selfish” things with it, whereas politicians can force wealthy people to expand their businesses and “create jobs” and can spend people’s money in ways that benefit “everyone.”
This esteemed view of government seems terrific – but is it really accurate? The agenda of President Obama and his Democrat party has helped create an environment where roughly half of the population pays no income taxes, so presumably the President has spread at least some wealth “around.” But have the new controls and mandates and regulations placed on businesses – all in the name of the “collective good” – really been beneficial to anybody? As Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, LTD recently noted, “those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President…” Indeed treating business owners and “the wealthy” as though they are something less than dignified respectable human beings has produced a stagnant economy, and the constant threat from the President to raise taxes on the wealthy makes matters worse not better.
And here’s another soul-searching question for a nation that is on the “wrong track:” is America strengthened when growing portions of its citizens are content to live off of the largess of others? According to the Congressional Budget Office, the signature domestic agenda item of our current President – “Obamacare,” if you will – has led many of our fellow Americans to believe that they simply no longer need to work for a living because of all the “free” assistance they can get from our government.
This is not just political “spin” or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O. It was none other than Mr. Elmendorf himself who noted in late 2010 that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda will be in the labor market as the program incentivizes people to not work. Is this really something that puts America on the “right track?” It may be helping to bring down the unemployment rate, but it is certainly not leading our country to prosperity and productivity.
The pain of a stagnant economy and high unemployment is quite evident, while the flaws of bad government policy are not always so obvious. Americans should be contemplating these, and lots of other questions, as we seek to get our nation back on course.