New York City residents finally are digging out of a devastating post-Christmas blizzard, aided by unexpectedly warmer weather. But a growing number are sounding as if they want to use their shovels against union snowplow workers and their supervisors. Various news outlets have reported that leaders of the Service Employees-affiliated Sanitation Officers Association ordered their Teamsters-affiliated work crews to slack off as a protest against recent City Department of Sanitation budget cuts and demotions. The apparent work slowdown not only paralyzed traffic, but also led to two deaths and any number of commuters trapped overnight in subway cars. On the hot seat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has demanded, and is getting, a full investigation. Union leaders deny culpability, insisting fiscal austerity had reduced manpower. But evidence appears to undercut such claims.
The past few days have seen an approximate 7% rise in General Motors' Stock. Much of this gain is attributed to Wall Street investment banks initiating positive coverage on GM. A further review of the coverage reveals a wide divergence in opinion between big banks that are profiting from the GM IPO and analysts who did not.
Ethics groups are wondering whether the U.S. Department of Justice has become skittish when it comes to investigating members of Congress, after numerous congressional corruption investigations were closed without trial last year, reported the New York Times.
Since the department's case against the late Rep. Ted Stevens (R-AK) notoriously fell apart two years ago, officials have halted at least five other corruption investigations against high-profile congressmen, including Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), in photo.
Earlier this month corporate climateers including Nike and 3M were given awards -- supposedly "the equivalent of an Oscar for the climate change mitigation world" -- for their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions. The honors were bestowed by the Carbon War Room, which "harnesses the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change." The Virgin Group's Richard Branson is one of the nonprofit's co-founders.
Patronage and corruption at the U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is not exactly a well-kept secret. A widespread scam in a BIA loan program in Montana has brought home this reality with full force. And fully six persons have been sentenced as a result. On October 21, one of those persons, Dolly Diane Crowe, a former employee of the credit office at Fort Peck Indian Reservation, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana to two years in prison and three years of probation for theft and conspiracy to obstruct a federal audit. She also will have to make $143,120 in restitution, though the grand total of the scam was much higher. The details of the case underscore the necessity of better oversight at the BIA and indeed call into question why the agency should exist at all.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has formally opened a legal defense fund in an apparent acknowledgement of our accusation that he illegally used almost $400,000 in PAC funds for his legal defense. According to a statement Rangel made to Politics Daily:
The repeated filings of allegations, no matter how unsubstantiated, by the National Legal Policy Committee (sic), a politically-motivated right wing group dedicated to eviscerating civil rights and labor union protections, have led me to this action.
On November 29, we filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Rangel violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by using almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills related to the House Ethics Committee actions against him.
The scenario has a familiar ring. A country goes on a credit binge. Borrowers in large numbers receive approval for home mortgages and other loans that they can't afford to repay. A sharp upswing in defaults and foreclosures of these now-securitized loans helps trigger a world financial crisis. And a frantic government bails out investors to prevent a depression and defuse political chaos. That's Ireland we're talking about.
Earlier this month, General Motors made a $4 billion cash contribution to its UAW pension fund. Reports state that an additional $2 billion worth of GM common stock will be contributed to the fund. What is not being reported is where the stock is coming from.
In addition to public ownership since the IPO, GM common shares are currently held by the US Treasury, Canadian Government, the UAW and Motors Liquidation Company (creditors of Old GM). Unless the US Treasury is giving away taxpayer shares, new shares will have to be issued for an additional $2 billion worth of common shares to fund UAW pension plans.
One way to view Benjamin Louis King's situation is that it could be worse. That's because his total theft may have been good deal higher than the amount for which he was prosecuted. King, for three decades the chief of finance for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, along with an accomplice, Wendell Jackson, was sentenced in Baltimore federal court on December 14 for embezzling over $1 million from the bureau. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake gave King 30 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release; she gave Jackson 15 months in prison. Each also must make restitution. "Bennie King abused his position of trust for over a decade and stole more than $1 million through a longstanding fraud scheme," said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. "What makes the case even more offensive is that the $1 million would have paid for legal services for the poor.
General Motors has recently disclosed on more than one occasion that "we have determined that our disclosure controls and procedures and our internal control over financial reporting are currently not effective." It remains to be seen how this warning affects future earnings reports, but we can review GM's past to see how previous financial reporting internal control flaws played out.