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07/12/2010 - 12:00

Soros photoWhen George Soros invests $50 million to revolutionize the way Americans think about a certain issue, it would normally be deemed newsworthy. Not so with the formation of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). Three months after a summit in New York state last July, Soros pledged $50 million to INET, which promises “to promote changes in economic theory and practice” by “providing the proper guidance” to “the next generation.” 

Despite its name, its philosophy is nearly a century old. The group blames the economic crisis on free market capitalism and promotes a return to the theories of John Maynard Keynes. INET hosted its inaugural conference April 8-10 at King’s College, Keynes’ school, and called on economists to “apply the same Keynesian courage and innovation” to ending the worldwide recession.

8,053 reads
07/11/2010 - 14:04

Meeks photoOn Saturday, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) made the following statement:

Beginning at the height of the selection process for Aqueduct Racino development investors as I fought for local participation, and for the past several months, right-wing interest groups such as the National Legal and Policy Center and sensationalist media outlets have lodged unfounded attacks against me and other respectable members of the Queens community related to my family home and my involvement with New Direction Local Development Corporation.

3,741 reads
07/08/2010 - 15:09

money in trash canA significant portion of ShoreBank Corporation’s progressive vision is investment in “sustainability” and the creation of a “green” economy, which may be part of the reason the distressed lender is in need of a bailout, seeking millions of dollars from Wall Street firms so it will then qualify for funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

For example, ShoreBank has two sub-entities based in the Pacific Northwest: the FDIC-backed ShoreBank Pacific, and the nonprofit ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia. Both are institutions whose lending criteria are based upon progressively defined notions of “sustainability,” with the bank a partnership between ShoreBank Corp. and the environmental group Ecotrust. The bank’s mission is to “profitably assist businesses, and through them their communities, to be sustainable in economic, social, and environmental practices.” Here’s how they explain their lending criteria:

5,308 reads
07/08/2010 - 10:19

Meeks photoAccording to the New York Daily News today:

Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks made no payments for three years on a secret $40,000 personal loan - and repaid the cash only when the FBI started asking questions…

Meeks received a check for $40,000 from Queens businessman Ed Ahmad in January 2007 to finish paying off his new $830,000 home, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Meeks first disclosed the loan on his financial disclosure report that all members of Congress were required to file by May 17 for the preceding 2009 calendar year. Meeks filed late on June 15. Click here to download a 5-page pdf of the report. The Ahmad loan was made in 2007, meaning Meeks failed to disclose it on his 2007 and 2008 forms.

3,213 reads
07/02/2010 - 16:46

Maxine Waters photoSupporters call it "financial services reform." Yet one has to wonder what the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 is reforming or stabilizing. The House on Wednesday by a 237-192 margin passed the 2,300-plus-page conference bill designed to protect American households from predatory practices by banks, subprime lenders, brokerage houses and other intermediaries. But evidence suggests that if it becomes law, the bill instead will lay the groundwork for another major federal bailout. During House-Senate conference sessions, affirmative action zealots inserted a host of mandates to promote credit allocation by race.

5,091 reads
07/02/2010 - 13:11

Rules for RadicalsLast week the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois Finance Authority chairman Bill Brandt threatened “a firestorm” in the Windy City if the Federal Reserve did not follow through with a bailout of South Side-based ShoreBank. This followed some reported pressure applied by the Obama Administration on companies like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, GE Capital, Bank of America, and Chase, who were asked to kick in $20 million each to make politically-backed community lender appear eligible to receive TARP funds. 

Turns out the preference for Chicago-type coercion goes right to the top (and the origins) of the troubled bank itself.

4,801 reads
07/02/2010 - 10:50

Meeks photoRep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is one of 31 House conferees appointed by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) on the financial regulation bill. When he was named on June 9, Meeks claimed:

As conferee I plan to make sure that by having a strong presence of financial oversight and accountability in this legislation U.S. consumers will have the necessary financial protection and be as financially informed as possible.

But now Meeks is using “oversight” in a different context. You see, when he failed to disclose $55,000 in personal loans as required, he called it an “oversight.” This excuse sounded downright familiar to us. It is the same one cited by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) when he failed to report hundreds of thousands in income and assets.

3,989 reads
06/30/2010 - 17:03

Stalin bustJosef Stalin’s bust remains at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia despite mounting criticism. A chorus of voices is asking what Stalin had to do with D-Day, and why a mass murderer is being honored at all.

The National D-Day Memorial officially opened in June 2001. Congress authorized the small town of Bedford as the site of the memorial because it proportionally suffered the severest D-Day losses. Nineteen soldiers from Bedford’s town of about 3,200 died on D-Day.

4,064 reads
06/30/2010 - 12:06

Holland Tunnel, Port Authority-managed Daniel Hughes lived large, figuratively and literally. Now the former New York City-area union chieftain is facing a major downsizing in his lifestyle. Hughes, ex-president of Port Authority Field Supervisors Association Local 111-S, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court on June 16 to embezzling nearly $300,000 from the union over the course of a half-decade to finance his seemingly boundless appetite for hookers, gambling and gourmet meals. The union, whose roughly 250 members perform roadwork at Port Authority-managed bridges, tunnels and airports, is for the time being out of money. Hughes is trying to deal with a bigger dilemma: a prison sentence of between 46 and 57 months.

4,281 reads
06/25/2010 - 07:08

Shorebank logoIllinois Republican Rep. Judy Biggert on Wednesday inserted into the financial regulatory reform bill an amendment calling for an investigation of efforts to rescue ShoreBank. Meanwhile the White House issued denials that it pushed for a bailout of the politically-favored community lender. The Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday:

As Chicago's ShoreBank struggles to survive, the Obama White House issued a strong statement Wednesday denying that it is interfering in any way with federal regulators or influencing financial institutions willing to pump money into the bank.

3,830 reads
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