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SBA Spokesman Terry Sutherland’s Halloween Costume Is The Invisible Man

By: Lloyd Chapman Friday October 31, 2014 11:35 am

SBA Press Office Director Terry Sutherland has become invisible to the press in one of the biggest whirlwinds of fraud and controversy the SBA has faced in quite some time.

Over the last few months the SBA has been hit with one bad story after another and yet Terry Sutherland who admitted he was “assigned” to take over the SBA Press Office is nowhere to be found. As one of the Pentagon’s top public relations executives for over two decades, Sutherland was likely selected to do damage control on the widely reported diversion of billions of dollars in federal small business contras to Fortune 500 firms and hundreds of the largest corporations in the world.

Sutherland did not accompany SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet in a congressional hearing where members of the House Small Business Committee lambasted her for including billions in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Chevron.

Sutherland has also had no response for journalists after SBA Inspector General uncovered that the SBA significantly inflated their small business goal statistics by including billions of dollars’ worth of contracts to ineligible firms.

Terry Sutherland had no comment on a story published by the Washington Post titled, “How 8,500 large companies will become small businesses overnight.”

In August, the SBA was forced to release over 2000 of Sutherlands emails after they were requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the American Small Business League (ASBL). Sutherland’s emails seem to indicate he actually works out of his home and not SBA headquarters and is still closely associated to the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. The ASBL intends to intensify their FOIA campaign to uncover more information on Terry Sutherland, the SBA Press Office and other SBA executives. We expect to uncover evidenced the SBA Press Office is working to discourage journalists from reporting on the rampant fraud that has been uncovered at the Pentagon in a wide variety of SBA managed programs.

I am confident once we receive all of Sutherland’s emails and phone records we will likely prove the SBA Press Office has also launched a major campaign in conjunction with one or more of the largest public relations firms in Washington to keep journalists from reporting on the ASBL’s successful campaign to expose fraud and abuse in federal small business programs primarily at the Pentagon and do everything possible to keep me off national television.

I have heard first hand accounts from journalists how the SBA Press Office will use a wide variety in tactics such as conference calls to intimidate and threaten journalists and their tactics to kill stories on the rampant fraud that has been uncovered by the SBA’s own Inspector General, the GAO and virtually every television news channel such as NBCCBSABCRTTVCNNMSNBCCNBC and Fox News.

Several journalists has published stories agreeing with me that there is a definite plan to quietly close the SBA by combining it with the Department or Commerce or by raising small business size standards to such a high level that federal small business programs will essentially be dismantled and legitimate small businesses will be driven from the federal market place.

My goal is to get enough information on the SBA under the Freedom of Information Act to get the FBI and the General Accounting Office to conduct a thorough investigation of the SBA to find the specific individuals that have been responsible for cheating American small businesses out of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts for over 15 years.

Thousands of people in Washington like Terry Sutherland think of they are automatically American heroes just because they were in the military. My goal is to educate all the flag waving Pentagon types that cheating the American people out of the trillions of dollars in federal contracts they should be receiving by law is anything but patriotic.

Stories about fraud, waste and missing trillions at the Pentagon have become common. Like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on September 10, 2001, when he described how America’s real enemies are not outside our borders, “The adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. Not the people, but the processes. Not the civilians, but the systems. Not the men and women in uniform, but the uniformity of thought and action that we too often impose on them.”

My guess is even after Halloween is over Terry Sutherland is going to try and stay invisible. I’m going to continue to use the Freedom of Information Act to make sure Terry and everything at the SBA and the Pentagon are as transparent as possible.

 

Louisiana health officials deserve a Darwin Award for catastrophic stupidity

By: Masoninblue Friday October 31, 2014 11:28 am

Cross posted from the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Friday, October 31, 2014

Good morning:

I nominate Louisiana health officials for a Darwin Award. In what has to be one of the most insanely stupid, anti-science and fear driven decisions ever made, Louisiana health officials have decided to sabotage the world’s best hope for the discovery of a cure for Ebola and other hemorrhagic and tropical diseases as well as the development and implementation of practical and effective policies for dealing with outbreaks of those diseases.

Yes, I kid you not. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is scheduled to have its annual conference at the Sheraton New Orleans this weekend, but the researchers who have spent time in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone studying the outbreak recently will not be attending the conference because, if they do, the Louisiana health officials are going to quarantine them in their rooms for 21 days.

NPR reports,

Dr. Piero Olliaro had big plans for the conference.

“This is the place to be,” says Olliaro, a researcher at Oxford University who specializes in setting up clinical trials to test drugs in the developing world. “It’s once a year. This is where you get to meet all the others.”

Olliaro was going to present several papers on his recent work involving treatments for malaria and river blindness. But two weeks ago he was in Guinea for the World Health Organization scouting a site to test an experimental Ebola medication.

Yesterday Olliaro got a letter from the Louisiana health department saying that anyone who’d been in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea in the past 21 days would be quarantined.

The letter goes on to say, “We see no utility in you traveling to New Orleans simply to be confined to your room.”

Fear is the mind killer.

We will never know, but the inspiration for a cure to Ebola that might have come from the cross-fertilization of ideas that occurs at meetings like this one will not happen for another year.

Meanwhile, the catastrophic suffering and loss of life will continue to increase exponentially.

In Case You Were Wondering What Folks Who Rate Subprime MBS as AAA Think of the Creditworthiness of the U.S. Government

By: Dean Baker Friday October 31, 2014 5:53 am

The Washington Post has the answer. It devotes an article to Moody’s assessment of the financial situation of the U.S. government.

Most people probably know of Moody’s as one of the credit rating agencies that were paid tens of millions of dollars to rate mortgage backed securities as investment grade during the housing bubble years. It’s not clear when its assessment of creditworthiness supposedly became more credible.

Anyhow, the ostensible good news is that Moody’s says we don’t have anything to immediately worry about, the debt to GDP ratio is coming down for now.

“But — and you knew this was coming — there are dark clouds on the horizon. By 2018, the ratings agency expects annual deficits once again to surpass 3 percent of the size of the economy and to keep getting bigger. By 2030, debt held by outside investors is on track to rise from the current 75 percent of the size of the economy to 88 percent, an alarming increase that ‘likely would bring negative pressure’ on the nation’s sterling AAA credit rating.”

Moody’s then gives us a number of suggestions that include cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits in order to avert this rise in the debt to GDP ratio to 88 percent. If you were wondering how bad it is to have a debt to GDP ratio of 88 percent, it is not a difficult question to answer. It turns out that there are many countries who already have debt to GDP ratios that are higher than the ratio that Moody’s is warning we could hit in 2030 if we’re not good.

There is Italy with a debt to GDP ratio of 136.7 percent and Spain with a debt to GDP ratio of 98.6 percent, according to the I.M.F. Even worse, we have Japan with a debt to GDP ratio of 245.1 percent. Even our good friends across the pond in the United Kingdom have a debt to GDP ratio of 92.0 percent.

Needless to say the markets are punishing these countries for their fiscal recklessness. As of October 30th, Spain had to pay an interest rate of 2.16 percent on its 10-year bonds, profligate Italy paid 2.46 percent. The United Kingdom had to pay 2.23 percent and Japan, hold your breath, had to pay 0.47 percent interest.

Look, we have real problems. Millions of people still can’t find jobs and the weak labor market is redistributing income upward. And we should be worried about global warming. This stuff about long-term budgets is just brought to you by Jeff Bezos and his Wall Street friends because they want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

No one should be taking economic advice from folks who rate subprime mortgage backed securities AAA.

#FixEurope Autumn Campus: Nourishing Ideas

By: GREYDOG Friday October 31, 2014 5:50 am

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Activists and young intellectuals from across Europe came from all directions and gathered in the heart of Europe, at a centuries-old castle near Berlin, Schloss Wartin, for the #FixEurope Autumn Campus. European Alternatives, who organized the meeting, set up the agenda to discuss problems that Europe faces and find possible “solutions” that might bring about a better future for all of us. We shared, we learned, we explored, and most importantly, we discussed all kinds of issues that Europe is facing today.

Dozens of people gathered around a table of vegetarian grill raised their glasses to a better future in the hopes of a more complete Europe. People seemed eager to discuss matters that they think are vital for the future of the continent, and suddenly it seemed to become much easier to solve any problem the old continent might have. Once the path to discussion and dialogue is open, rational people should be able to find a way to overcome whatever problems are affecting the whole area and be able to give an answer to those who claim that there can never be an answer.

When participants were asked to simply note down the things they think need fixing in Europe, the list just went on and on. The list was getting almost as long as the history of the castle. Yet in fact this should not discourage any Europhile. It is merely an opportunity to see what happens when there is a very unilateral understanding of integration and of the European unification plan.

Our delightful host’s food was served in the main hall, and as we waited impatiently while enjoying tunes from the piano, one wondered at how many new ideas were popping up in everyone’s head at that moment. Every single minute was inspirational among this group of creative and impressive people in a calm and quiet atmosphere, without an Internet connection. Ideas actually got jotted down and new ones spread around on the tables – faster than the circulation of the food, I must say.

Issues that are swept from attention, things that people perhaps had not paid enough attention to previously, were brought up on the agenda. For once we could spare all the time in the world for a few days, as there was no WiFi zone to bring us the distraction of the “unread 666 messages.” Glasses and bottles clinked, new ideas kept popping up right in the middle of the sounds of nature. Much-needed peace and tranquility surrounded the activists. In the darkness and cold of the night, old projects were talked of, bringing about new project proposals.

The premiere of the Transeuropa Caravan took place at the castle with the participation of all the activists on the campus. There’s no need to add that it was inspirational, revealing certain local problems that parts of Europe experience and that most other parts would not even hear of were it not for such initiatives for bringing Europe closer to all its citizens.

We had gathered in Berlin with one major aim: to target and tackle problems that affect Europe in general. We left Schloss Wartin with thousands of new ideas and a great deal of inspiration and motivation to get to work. The end of the Campus was a joyful ride back to the Berlin city center, where we had the chance to attend a conference at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, which opened with a keynote speech by Saskia Sassen. She talked about all the crisis moments that we can see very clearly all around us, especially the housing bubble and gentrification tactics in most major cities. Sustainability has become one of the primary topics for us all.

After all the talks and discussions, we the activists of European Alternatives at the #FixEurope Campus meeting, can agree with the slogans of the streets “this is still the beginning…”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Over Easy: The “War” over Apple Pay

By: msmolly Friday October 31, 2014 4:55 am

Apple Pay is a mobile payment service that lets a shopper use the newest iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad Mini 3, and (in early 2015) the Apple Watch, to make payments both at brick-and-mortar stores and online checkout systems. Using Apple Pay, these devices communicate wirelessly with point of sale systems, using a near field communication (NFC) antenna and a “Secure Element” internal chip that stores encrypted payment information, together with Apple’s Touch ID and Passbook. Apple Pay keeps customer payment information private from the retailer, and creates a dynamic security code that is generated for each transaction. Apple says they will not track usage, which will occur privately between customers, vendors, and banks.

Here’s how it works: You add a credit card from your iTunes account, or add a different card using the iPhone’s built-in iSight camera. Once your credit card is on file with Apple Pay, you can use your phone to check out at participating vendors — both brick and mortar and online — by authenticating with the Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone. In a store, you’ll hold your iPhone in front of a reader and place your finger over the fingerprint sensor to confirm the payment. Within an app, you’ll select Apple Pay as your payment method and confirm with Touch ID.

No, this is not an Apple commercial, although I am dying to get my geeky hands on it! Since the introduction of Apple Pay, a “war” of sorts has broken out, and it has implications for how stores use our information to track our purchases.

We all are aware that retailers track us relentlessly, both online and in person, using all sorts of mechanisms, from those pesky loyalty cards to the enticements to provide our email addresses. I’m sure you remember the father who learned his unmarried daughter was pregnant from the junk mail Target sent to her based on her purchases. Now some retailers have actually shut off the ability of their NFC readers to accept Apple Pay in their stores, specifically because it detours around their ability to track us.

Last weekend, drugstore chains Rite Aid and CVS stopped accepting Apple Pay, although they had done so for a week. Rite Aid offered a vague explanation that, “We’re still in the process of evaluating our mobile payment options.” CVS refused to comment. But the truth is that a Walmart-led group of retailers (that includes CVS and Rite Aid) has been busily creating their own mobile payment system called CurrentC, which cuts out the credit card companies and their fees AND builds in all the tracking and spying features of store loyalty cards, making the data available to all of the merchant partners. Apple Pay, by contrast, lets people remain anonymous.

An article in the NYT explains, (emphasis mine)

[D]isabling acceptance of Apple Pay was a way to favor a rival system that is not yet available but is being developed by a consortium of merchants known as Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX. Rite Aid and CVS are part of that consortium, not part of the group of retailers that had teamed up with Apple on its payment system.
[snip]
A great deal is at stake. MCX’s payments system helps merchants keep track of customer shopping habits across the dozens of merchants who plan to accept the payment product. That is a potential treasure trove of data for retailers, who wish to better target consumers with deals and loyalty programs.

This also gives retailers the potential ability to cut credit card companies out of the payments process entirely. MCX’s system, CurrentC, will be linked to a consumer’s debit account, according to the company’s description of the product. By bypassing credit card companies, MCX merchants could potentially save money on the fees they pay per transaction.

So CurrentC lets merchants eliminate credit card transaction fees all while scooping up even more and more data on our shopping habits. And MCX tries, and fails, to explain why its merchants are blocking Apple Pay.

On Apple Pay’s first day, seven times more people added Chase cards to Apple Pay than signed up for new credit cards, according to a Bloomberg interview with Avin Arumugam, Chase’s digital executive director. Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard — which teamed with Apple on its new system — said Rite Aid and CVS made the wrong decision. “We think consumers should have the ability to pay any way they want.”

I wonder how long it will take the MCX retailers to cave in? They won’t do it without a fight, but they’re picking on the wrong giant. A record 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units were sold in the first three days of launch. I, for one, will be delighted to use Apple Pay instead of handing over my Chase credit card to the retailers’ tracking.

Hmmmm….now where do I get the money for that new iPhone 6?

12 Ways Jim Crow Is Winning In 2014

By: solartopia Thursday October 30, 2014 11:37 pm

Twelve Ways Jim Crow is Winning in 2014

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Freepress.org

Jim Crow is already the big winner in this year’s election.

The corporate elite needs him to gouge the planet, wage perpetual imperial war and rule the rest of us.

So the voting rights of millions of student, elderly, black, Hispanic and other citizens are being lynched.

Which may now decide control of the US Senate, many state legislatures…and the White House in 2016.

The corporate-Christian right has long used the drug war to disenfranchise millions of citizens of youth and color. Gay and reproductive rights, feminism and the politics of hate have mobilized Christian crusaders to flood the polls for the GOP.

But we have turned the corner on the culture war.  With the winding down of marijuana prohibition, widespread gay rights victories and more, Republicans now need the outright destruction of democracy itself to win an election:

1.        The Corporate Cash Tsunami: The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allows gargantuan sums of corporate money to shape this election. It’s now the norm for unlimited cash to buy air time, fake “news” reports, billboards, phony astro-turf campaigns, and key election officials in charge of counting the ballots.

2.        Killing Voter Registration: With a wide range of tactics, corporate/GOP functionaries are restricting access to the polls. In Ohio and elsewhere millions of citizens have been stripped of their voter registration rights, almost all in dense-packed urban areas that lean heavily Democratic. “Golden Days” when voters can both register and vote have been eliminated. Voter registration organizations like ACORN have been destroyed and strict restraints have been placed on others, all with the focused agenda of making it increasingly difficult for grassroots, non-millionaire citizens to vote.

3.        Denying and Destroying Absentee Ballots: More than 40,000 absentee ballots are now “missing” in Georgia, as they were in Ohio 2004. Georgia’s critical US Senate race may well be decided by fewer votes than were “lost” in the mail, and we expect parallel outcomes elsewhere.

4.        New Poll Taxes: Despite the 24th Amendment abolishing the poll tax, voter ID and other requirements put targeted restrictions on who can vote. Citizens registered at the same address for decades are being turned away at the polls. At least 500,000 Texas voters may be disenfranchised by ID laws aimed at students, the elderly and people of color, more than enough to turn most key elections in the state, including the widely watched governor’s race.

5.        Discriminatory ID Demands: Student IDs are being rejected in Texas and elsewhere, with the obvious impact of denying young people the vote. Gun owners’ permits are being accepted as valid voter ID.

6.        Electronic Vote Theft: Easily manipulated electronic voting machines were key to Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 victories for George W. Bush. They have spread far and wide.  The easy electronic flipping of entire elections has obvious appeal to hugely funded corporate players throughout the US.

7.        Suppressing Electronic Dialog: But the Democratic Party generally refuses to even discuss electronic vote theft, apparently fearful the mere dialog will scare away voters. The Daily Kos website has banned numerous election protection bloggers (us included), apparently for just that reason. But without hand-counted paper ballots, anti-corporate campaigns are mere exercises in futility.

Reflections on Halloween

By: Ohio Barbarian Thursday October 30, 2014 4:54 pm

When I was a little kid in San Antonio in the 1960′s, Halloween was a huge holiday. Scores of kids would dress up in costumes, walk around local neighborhood blocks, and trick or treat, with the emphasis always on the treat part. Just about everybody participated, and those who didn’t were thought of as antisocial tightwads, too cheap to give candy to the kids.

After the kids got home, many adults would pawn them off on babysitters who had to endure sugar-high kids while they went to costumed Halloween parties where alcohol and all kinds of food flowed freely. Many took off work the next day if it was a weekday. Then, in the 1970′s, at least in Texas, things began to change.

Southern Baptist and Pentecostal ministers railed against “The Devil’s Holiday,” fueled by reaction to New Age paganism and movies showing that the Devil might just be real, such as The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen. Wild rumors circulated about evil people putting razor blades in apples and poisoning candy. There were a couple of such incidents nationwide, but really few and far between, and always between family members, not between strangers. But much of the media jumped on board, whipping up fear for higher ratings and newspaper sales.

By the time Reagan took office, in my part of the world back then Halloween was essentially dead. Fewer and fewer people displayed any Halloween decorations, and fewer and fewer kids went trick-or-treating. A couple of weeks before Halloween, solemn local newscasters would start warning of the dangers of allowing one’s children to trick-or-treat. It was sad. Years later, I moved to Colorado and found much the same thing going on there and more. Once church in Arvada even went so far as to have a haunted house where they graphically pantomimed abortions and the Devil gleefully waiting in hell to torment women who had them for All Eternity. I understand that eventually Children’s Services got it shut down because they found the Bible-thumping parents who dragged their kids to it every year guilty of psychological child abuse.

Then we moved to northeast Ohio. Halloween’s HUGE here. Weather permitting, hordes of kids flock through the streets trick-or-treating and there are Halloween parties all over the place. It’s great fun, like it should be, IMHO. Maybe it’s Ohioans’ love of celebrating seasons, or of feasting, or both. Maybe it’s something cultural. Whatever, I like it. I have yet to see any fearmongering on local news, or hear many  Christian types railing against Halloween because it’s the Devil’s Holiday, though there is a smidgeon of the latter. Most people here dismiss them as being handicapped by having no sense of fun.

There are haunted cornfields and mazes in the country. There are haunted houses aplenty, complete with costumed folks brandishing chainsaws. There are lots of parties. It’s nice to see what was probably once a Celtic harvest festival with deep religious meaning millennia ago still living on, no matter what form it takes. For that matter, there are real, live pagans and Wiccans here who try to celebrate old Samhain in their best approximation of the ancient rites. There’s ceremony and music and dancing and a lot of fun.

It’s a pity that there are still plenty of people in this country who take after the Puritans and try to ban what is for most just a chance to have some fun, eat some sweets, and maybe swill a bit o’ brew. Funny, you never see them call for a boycott of commercialized Christmas.

Anyway, Happy Halloween! I just finished carving my now traditional Vampire Jack o’ Lantern. Gives the little kids a fun fright, it does. What do you do for Halloween?

Give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

By: wendydavis Thursday October 30, 2014 3:37 pm
vallen_illegal-770x740

(from Creative Resistance, CC)

but mainly those with an H1-B-eee 

(Yes, this post is long, but I consider it a  Labor of Love, and I hope you will, too, and read it.  These are things I believe we need to know.)

‘A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

~ Emma Lazarus

No, no; not so much those nameless deportees that came here to escape the depredations and murderous dangers in the global south, so many of which were aided and abetted by US policies and activities.  They might be carrying ebola.leprosy.drugs.alqaedacards.unbornbabbies.bedbugs.lice.whathaveyou.

Wsws.org  writes that Obama deported a record 438,421 people last year, the highest number of annual deportations in US history, and that number is on track to escalate, of course, especially with the reported 60 or 70,000 unaccompanied minors that came over the summer and created the ‘crisis on the border’.  I know you remember reading about it; it was the talk of the nation for a few news cycles.