George Will Promotes Plan to Grant President Legislative Powers
Written by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
In an April 9 opinion piece published in the Washington Post, commentator George Will praises the Goldwater Institute’s Compact for America and its component calling for an Article V constitutional convention.
Will points out a few of the proposal’s “benefits,” insisting that the balanced budget amendment (BBA) that it aims to enact “delivers immediate benefits to constituents.” Unfortunately, Will’s analysis of the Compact for America ignores several of its distinctly unconstitutional provisions.
First, before state legislatures vote for an Article V con-con proposal such as the Compact for America that could cause real and radical damage to our Constitution, they should first consider whether a balanced budget amendment is necessary and whether it would actually repair the damage already done by a Congress committed to ignoring the constitutional limits on its power.
The fact is that determined citizens and state legislators could rescue the United States from its financial peril without resorting to opening up the Constitution to tinkering by 38 or more state-appointed delegates, many of whom would be bought and paid for by special interests and corporations.
Imagine for a moment the brand of “conservative” delegates that might be chosen by state partisans to represent them at an Article V convention. It isn’t unlikely that Arizona might choose John McCain, Jan Brewer, or Sandra Day O’Connor. New York might send Michael Bloomberg. South Carolina could appoint Lindsey Graham. Similar selections could be predicted in every state.
Next, there is no historical proof that a balanced budget amendment would drive Congress back to within its constitutional corral. Even the most conservative estimates indicate that about 80 percent of expenditures approved by Congress violate the U.S. Constitution. That fact wouldn’t change by adding an amendment to the Constitution.
Whether these bills spend our national treasure on unconstitutional and undeclared foreign wars, billions sent overseas in the form of foreign aid, expanding the so-called entitlement programs, or redistributing wealth via corporate and individual welfare schemes, none of these outlays is authorized by the Constitution.
And don’t forget, a committed, concerned, and constitutionally aware citizenry can balance our budget more quickly than any balanced budget amendment and without the danger of letting the wolves of special interests and their political puppets into the constitutional hen house.
Third, rather than forcing Congress to adhere to spending money in only those areas specifically permitted by the Constitution in Article I, the Compact for America’s Balanced Budget Amendment specifically allows Congress to spend money on anything, no matter how unconstitutional, so long as the amount does not exceed the limits set in Section 2 of their BBA. If approved, the CFA’s BBA would do nothing to break Congress of its unconstitutional spending habits, habits that have nearly ruined the economic might of this Republic.
In fact, under the CFA’s budget-balancing scheme, Congress could continue spending on projects and programs not authorized by the Constitution.
Section 3 of the CFA’s BBA explicitly authorizes an increase in the federal debt limit to 105 percent of the actual debt level on the effective date of this amendment. That hardly sounds like a balanced budget and is not something true conservatives should support as a remedy to a runaway federal government.
Or Adding A National Sales Tax To The Income Tax?
The gap between what this BBA pretends to do – and what it actually does – is enormous. It has nothing to do with “balancing the budget” – it is about slipping in a new national sales tax or value-added tax in addition to the existing federal income tax.
We have become so shallow that we look no further than a name – if it sounds good, we are all for it. We hear, “balanced budget amendment”, and think, “I have to balance my budget; they should have to balance theirs.” So we don’t read the amendment, we just assume they will have to balance theirs the same way we balance ours – by cutting spending.
But that is not what the BBA does. In effect, it redefines “balancing the budget” to mean spending no more than your income plus the additional debt you incur to finance your spending. To illustrate: If your income is $100,000 a year; but you spend $175,000 a year, you “balance” your budget by borrowing the additional $75,000. See?
Under the BBA, Congress may continue to spend whatever it likes and incur as much new debt as it pleases – as long as 26 States agree. And since the States have become major consumers of federal funding, who doubts that they can’t continue to be bought? Federal grants make up almost 35% of the States’ annual budgets! The States are addicted to federal funds – who thinks they won’t agree to get more money?
The BBA enshrines Debt as a permanent feature of our Country; gives it constitutional approval; does nothing to reduce spending or “balance the budget”; authorizes a new national tax; and wipes out the “enumerated powers” limitation on the federal government.
Let’s look at the BBA, section by section, using plain and honest English. And then let’s look at how our Framers wrote our Constitution to strictly control federal spending.
Compact for America’s BBA
Section 1 says the federal government may not spend more than they take from you in taxes or add to the national debt. [Yes, you read that right.]
Section 2 accepts debt as a permanent feature of our Country – the “Authorized Debt”. This is the maximum amount of debt the federal government may incur at any given point in time.
- Initially, when the Amendment is ratified, the “authorized debt” may not be more than 105% of the then existing national debt. So! If the national debt is $20 trillion when the Amendment is ratified, the federal government may not initially add more than 105% of $20 trillion [or $1 trillion] to the national debt.
- After that initial addition to the national debt, the “authorized debt” may not be increased unless it is approved by State Legislatures as provided in Section 3.
Section 3 says whenever Congress wants, it may increase the national debt if 26 of the State Legislatures agree. [Yes, you read that right.]
Section 4 says whenever the national debt exceeds 98% of “the debt limit set by Section 2”, the President shall “impound” sufficient expenditures so that the national debt won’t exceed the “authorized debt”. And if the President doesn’t do this, Congress may impeach him!
This is a hoot, Folks! I’ll show you:
- No debt limit is set by Section 2! The national debt can be increased at any time if Congress gets 26 State Legislatures to agree. Can 26 States be bought?
- Section 6 defines “impoundment” as “a proposal not to spend all or part of a sum of money appropriated by Congress”. Who believes Congress will impeach the President 2 for failing to “impound” an appropriation made by Congress?
Section 5 says any new or increased federal “general revenue tax” must be approved by 2/3 of the members of both houses of Congress.
Now pay attention, because this is a monstrous trick to be played on you: Section 6 defines “general revenue tax” as “any income tax, sales tax, or value-added tax” levied by the federal government.
And when you read the first sentence of Section 5 with the definition of “general revenue tax” in place of “general revenue tax”, you see that it says:
“No bill that provides for a new or increased income tax, sales tax, or value-added tax shall become law unless approved by a two-thirds roll call vote…”
Do you see? This permits Congress to impose a national sales tax or value added tax in addition to the income tax, 3 if 2/3 of both houses agree. [Yes, you read that right.]
- Balanced Budget Amendments (BBA) Gut Our Constitution And Don’t Reduce Spending
- How to Balance the Budget
- Constitution Restrains Obama Spending Authority
- The Federal Debt Lunacy in Real Life Terms
- DeMint: Tax Hikes and Debt Isn’t ‘Rocket Science’
Q: How are amendments to the federal Constitution made?
A: Article V of our Constitution provides two method of amending the Constitution:
- Congress proposes amendments and presents them to the States for ratification; or
- When 2/3 of the States apply for it, Congress calls a convention to propose amendments.
Q: Which method was used for our existing 27 amendments?
A: The first method was used for all 27 amendments including the Bill of Rights which were introduced into Congress by James Madison. 3
Q: Is there a difference between a constitutional convention, con con, or Article V Convention?
A: These names have been used interchangeably during the last 50 years.
Q: What is a “convention of states”?
A: That is what the people pushing for an Article V convention now call it.
Q: Who is behind this push for an Art. V convention?
A: The push to impose a new Constitution by means of an Article V convention (and using a “balanced budget” amendment as justification) started in 1963 with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. 1 Today, it is pushed by:
- Hundreds of progressive (Marxist) groups listed at https://movetoamend.org/organizations
- George Soros
- Michael Farris, Esq., of “Convention of States” (COS), and author of the “parental rights” amendment which delegates power over children to the federal & state governments.
- Nick Dranias, Esq., of the Compact for America, Inc., whose “balanced budget” amendment imposes a new national sales or VAT tax on the American People.
- Former law professor, Rob Natelson.
- Nullification denier and law professor, Randy Barnett, who proposes an amendment which delegates to Congress the power to regulate “emissions” [EPA now exercises usurped powers].
- Nullification denier and birther denier, Mark Levin, Esq., whose “balanced budget” amendment legalizes Congress’ unconstitutional spending and does nothing to control the debt.
Q: Why do they want an Article V Convention?
A: The only way to get rid of our existing Constitution and Bill of Rights is to have an Article V convention where they can re-write our Constitution. Jordan Sillars, Communications Director for Michael Farris’ “Convention of States”, said:
“… 3. I think the majority of Americans are too lazy to elect honest politicians. But I think some men and women could be found who are morally and intellectually capable of re-writing the Constitution…” [boldface mine].
Q: How can they impose a new constitution if ¾ of the States don’t agree to it?
A: Only amendments require ratification by ¾ of the States (see Art. V). But a new constitution would have its own new method of ratification – it can be whatever the drafters want. For example, the proposed Constitution for the Newstates of America is ratified by a referendum called by the President.
Q: Can a convention be stopped from proposing a new Constitution?
A: No. Once the delegates are duly appointed & assembled, they are acting under the inherent authority of A People to alter or abolish their form of government [Declaration of Independence, 2nd para]; and have the sovereign power to do whatever they want at the convention.
Q: Is this what happened at the Federal Convention of 1787?
A: Yes. Pursuant to Article XIII of The Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress resolved on February 21, 1787 (p 71-74) to call a convention to be held at Philadelphia “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”. But the delegates ignored this limitation and wrote a new Constitution. Because of this inherent authority of delegates, it is impossible to stop it from happening at another convention. And George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton won’t be there to protect you.
Q: Did the delegates at the Convention of 1787 introduce a new mode of ratification for the new Constitution?
A: Yes. The Articles of Confederation required the approval of all 13 States for amendments to the Articles to be ratified. But the new Constitution provided it would become effective if only 9 of the 13 States ratified it (Art. VII, cl. 1, U.S. Constitution).
Q: Who would be delegates at a Convention?
A: Either Congress appoints whomever they want; or State governments appoint whomever they want.
Q: Who would be chairman at a convention?
A: We don’t know. But chairmen have lots of power – and George Washington won’t be chairman.
Q: But if the States appoint the delegates, won’t a convention be safe?
A: Who controls your State? They will be the ones who choose the delegates if Congress permits the States to appoint delegates. Are the people who control your State virtuous, wise, honest, and true? [Tell PH if they are, so she can move there.]
Q: But aren’t the States the ones to rein in the federal government?
A: They should have been, but the States have become major consumers of federal funding. Federal funds make up almost 35% of the States’ annual budgets. The States don’t want to rein in the feds – they don’t want to lose their federal funding.
Q: Did Thomas Jefferson say the federal Constitution should be amended every 20 years?
A: No! In his letter to Samuel Kercheval of July 12, 1816, Jefferson wrote about the Constitution for the State of Virginia, which he said needed major revision. And remember James Madison’s words in Federalist No. 45 (3rd para from the end):
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which … concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” [boldface mine]
The powers delegated to the feds are “few and defined” – what’s to amend? All else is reserved to the States or the People – so State Constitutions would need more frequent amendments. Do you see?
Q: Did Alexander Hamilton say in Federalist No 85 (next to last para) that a convention is safe?
A: No! He said, respecting the ratification of amendments, that we “may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority”. But today, our State legislatures don’t protect us from federal encroachments because:
- We have been so dumbed down by progressive education that we know nothing & can’t think;
- State legislatures have been bought off with federal funds; and
- Our public and personal morality is in the sewer.
Q: Did Our Framers – the ones who signed The Constitution – think conventions a fine idea?
- Mr. Pinckney said on September 15, 1787:
“Conventions are serious things, and ought not to be repeated.”
- History Does not Agree with the Article V Apologists
- Article V Constitutional Convention Bills in South Dakota Legislature
- Let the End be Legitimate
- Propaganda And The Conspiracy Against Our Constitution
- The ‘Convention of the States’ Scam
Image Source : Sodahead.com
Interesting how Americans standing their ground and fighting back against an out of control government and their jackboot thuggery are violating the law.
Yet the Politicians with their L.E. thugs who lie, steal , cheat and abuse the American People everyday are law abiding ?
Perhaps it is time to teach these self aggrandized public servants what Americans are capable of and just who they truly work for!!
You are right about one thing Mr. Reid, this is definitely not Over……..
War on the West: Why More Bundy Standoffs Are Coming
Written by William F. Jasper
The federal government’s over-the-top police action against the Bundy family ranch is an ominous portent of more to come, as rogue agencies and their corporate/NGO partners attempt to “cleanse” the West of ranchers, farmers, miners, loggers, and other determined property owners.
On Saturday, April 12, the federal bureaucrats backed down. Faced with hundreds of men and women on horseback and on foot who were armed with firearms and video cameras — as well as local television broadcast stations and independent media streaming live video and radio feeds across America — the Obama administration called off the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) operation to confiscate hundreds of cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy, the current patriarch of a respected pioneer family that has been ranching in Nevada’s Clark County since the 1800s.
Supporters from all across the United States had converged on the Bunkerville, Nevada, area in support of Bundy, who is the
“last rancher standing” in Clark County, due to a decades-long campaign by federal agencies and allied enviro-activists to drive all ranchers off of the range. After a tense standoff, orders came down from above for the surrounded and outnumbered federal agents to “stand down” and turn loose the Bundy cattle that had been corralled.
On Saturday, before the resolution of the standoff, The New American talked to Richard Mack, the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, and founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), as he headed from a meeting of public officials to a press conference at the Bundy Ranch. He was very grave and worried at the time that the situation could spin out of control, and that federal agents might open fire on citizens. He also expressed his exasperation at Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Clark County Sheriff Douglass Gillespie. “If Governor Sandoval and Sheriff Gillespie were doing the jobs they were elected to do, they would have stopped this from getting to a dangerous point,” Sheriff Mack said. “There are lots of things they could have done to defuse this situation, including telling the Feds to ‘stand down,’ and to assert their own jurisdiction and force the federal authorities to obey the law, including the Constitution and the laws of the state of Nevada,” he noted. “I have a very bad feeling about this,” he continued, adding that he hoped the tensions would be deescalated and a peaceful outcome negotiated.
Fortunately, most likely due to the national attention that the Bundy situation was receiving, federal officials backed off, the demonstrators and supporters remained peaceful, and a violent confrontation was averted. However, that does not end the affair. Members of the Bundy family and supporters, such as Sheriff Mack, expressed concerns that the evacuation of the federal police force might be a feint, and that there may be plans for them to return the following day, or as soon as the supporters and television crews had departed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose personal financial stake in the Bundy eviction has been called into question, let it be known that he wants to see the matter pursued.
“Well, it’s not over,” Reid told NBC’s Nevada affiliate KRNV on Monday, April 14. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”
Senator Reid, Nevada’s senior senator, is very incensed when the American people, i.e., ordinary citizens, “violate the law” — as he puts it — but he says nothing about the more serious violations of the laws and the Constitution by public officials, such as himself or the BLM officials.
This is the same federal BLM that Chief Judge Robert C. Jones of the Federal District Court of Nevada last year ruled had been engaged in a decades-long criminal “conspiracy” against the Wayne Hage family, fellow ranchers and friends of the Bundys. Among other things, Judge Jones accused the federal bureaucrats of racketeering under the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations) statute, and accused them as well of extortion, mail fraud, and fraud, in an effort “to kill the business of Mr. Hage.” In fact, the government’s actions were so malicious, said the judge, as to “shock the conscience of the Court.” Judge Jones granted an injunction against the agencies and referred area BLM and Forest Service managers to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Has Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuted any federal officials for criminal activity and violation of the Hage family’s constitutionally protected rights? No. Has Sen. Harry Reid denounced this lawlessness and criminal activity by government officials and call upon President Obama and Attorney General Holder to protect the citizens of his state from the depredations of federal officials under their command? No.
Huge Federal Footprint: And a Boot on Every Neck
With attitudes such as those expressed above by Sen. Harry Reid, it is almost a certainty that the recently defused Bundy Ranch standoff will be replayed again — and in the not-too-distant future. And the outcome could be much less amicable for all concerned.
And this is but one of many incidents that can be expected, because the Bundy family are not the only victims in the federal crosshairs. The BLM, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and other federal agencies own and/or control hundreds of millions of acres of the 12 western states. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not as large a landlord as some of these bigger agencies, but it exercises enormous regulatory clout over both private and public lands, air, and water. And while the EPA’s draconian, arbitrary, and costly regulations affect the entire country, they fall especially hard on the states in the West, where the federal impact is already massive due to the outsized footprint of the federal agencies.
As the accompanying map graphically demonstrates, there is a striking difference between the federal government’s claim to physical real estate in the states of East and the Midwest versus those of the West. In Maine, for instance, federal agencies occupy only 1.1 percent of the state’s land area; in New York it’s a mere 0.8 percent. The federal government claims only 1.8 percent of Indiana, 1.6 percent of Alabama, and 1.7 percent of Ohio. But in the Western states, the federal footprint covers from nearly one-third to over four-fifths of the area of the states.
Former Texas Rep. Ron Paul was on “Your World” this afternoon to discuss the battle between a Nevada rancher and the federal government.
The federal government says Cliven Bundy owes $1 million in grazing fees, and authorities seized many of his cattle. Bundy then declared a “range war” on the government, prompting a standoff between Bundy’s supporters and the government. The government has since pulled back.
Paul said the government could come back with more force because it doesn’t give up power easily, citing the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians’ compound in Waco, Texas. He said this issue poses the question of who should own the land.
Paul said Bundy has virtual ownership of the land because his family has been using it for so long.
“I think land should be in the states, and I think the states should sell it to the people,” he said. “You need the government out of it.”
Hear more of Paul’s thoughts in the video above.
Read more on the Nevada ranch standoff:
Sheriff Mack travels with other CSPOA members to stand with Nevada rancher against the BLM
State Senate President Andy Biggs and House of Reps Speaker Dave Livingston have both agreed that Arizona should be involved in supporting CSPOA and Oath Keepers in going to Bunkerville, NV to support the movement for freedom there with the Cliven Bundy family. State Senators Al Melvin, Chester Crandall, and Kelly Ward along with State Reps Brenda Barton, Bob Thorpe, Kelly Townsend and Warren Peterson are all planning to be at the Bundy ranch by Sunday morning. Furthermore, they all plan to attend the Press Conference Monday afternoon with the CSPOA and Oath Keepers along with the Bundys and other sheriffs and public officials from across the country.
We hope you understand how HUGE this is, that state senators and reps are supporting the CSPOA and the Oath Keepers! We are not alone!
A Delegation of state legislators, lead by Washington State Representative Matt Shea, along with a delegation of current serving Sheriffs, lead by Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and military and police members of Oath Keepers, are converging on the site of a stand-off between federal law enforcement and Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy, to prevent bloodshed and to stand in defense of hardworking rural Americans who are under assault by a runaway federal government.
LAS VEGAS, NV, April 10, 2014
The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA.org), led by retired Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, and the Oath Keepers organization (oathkeepers.org) are assisting Washington State Representative Matt Shea in organizing a delegation of current serving Western state legislators and Sheriffs to travel to the site of a tense stand-off between Bunkerville, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The delegation is traveling to Nevada to support a coalition of current serving Nevada legislators being organized by Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, of Las Vegas, to stand vigil at the Bundy ranch to prevent Federal Government provocation of violence resulting in another Ruby Ridge or Waco type incident. They also hope that their example of oath-sworn public servants defending the rights of the people will prompt Clark County, Nevada Sheriff Douglas Gillespie and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to honor their oaths of office by taking real action to defend the rights of the Bundy family, the rights of all Nevadans, and the sovereignty of the State of Nevada.
Yesterday, April 9, 2014, Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore served the first watch in this vigil shortly after Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, was tazered by BLM “Rangers” during a heated confrontation. [The video of that confrontation can be seen with the full article on the Oath Keepers web site, www.oathkeepers.org]:
The courage and resolve displayed by Ammon Bundy and his relatives is inspiring, and may well go down in history as a watershed moment – a turning of the tide. But the above video also amply demonstrates the heavy-handed behavior of the BLM that risks escalating an already volatile situation into open bloodshed, that, once begun, may spiral out of anyone’s control.
It is necessary that current serving public servants step in-between the protesters and the BLM, to protect the rights of the people and to prevent violence against them by the militarized federal law enforcement that are massing near the ranch to continue the forced confiscation (theft) of Bundy’s cattle, while they also restrict all access to huge tracts of public land, and attempt to restrict the free speech of protesters with their absurd “First Amendment Area” (which the protesters are ignoring, to their honor).
The Oath Keepers organization, comprised of 40,000 current serving and former military, police, and first responders, is also calling on its members and all other patriotic Americans to join the vigil at the Bundy ranch under the leadership of the current serving legislators and sheriffs. The goal is to have at least one current serving state legislator and at least one sheriff on the ground at all times until this is over. And they will be backed by a large number of military and police veterans, as well as dedicated patriotic Americans from all walks of life, to interpose and defend the rights of the protesters and to keep an eye on the actions of the BLM and any other federal law enforcement present, to prevent a recurrence of the horrid abuses seen at Ruby Ridge and Waco, and to hopefully pressure the Clark County Sheriff and the Nevada Governor to step up and do their constitutional duty.
Regardless, please tell everyone you know to be praying for a peaceful resolution to this situation and for the safety of the brave patriots headed there and on the ground there right now.
US ambassador to Kosovo hired by construction firm he lobbied for
- The Guardian, Monday 14 April 2014 11.53 EDT
A US ambassador to Kosovo, who lobbied for the construction of a $1bn road through the war-torn country, has taken up a post with the American construction giant that secured the lucrative contract.
Christopher Dell, a career diplomat nominated by Barack Obama to represent the US in Pristina, was employed by the Bechtel Corporation, which he helped win a contract to build a highway to neighbouring Albania.
Dell took on a role as an African country manager with Bechtel late last year, months after ending a three-decade career at the State Department.
His employment at Bechtel, America’s largest engineering and construction firm, has ignited a debate over the controversial road-building project, named the “Patriotic Highway”.
Pieter Feith, the senior EU diplomat in Kosovo when the contract was secured, criticised the way the US ambassador pushed through the deal, and has called for an inquiry. Feith accused Dell of withholding information about the Bechtel contract, and lobbying Kosovo to agree to what he describes as an ill-advised deal with a US company, which placed enormous pressure on the fledgling country’s budget.
It is routine for western ambassadors to push the business interests of companies from the countries they come from. But it is unusual for a former diplomat to land a job with a major corporation after using their sway to secure lucrative government contracts.
After he was appointed ambassador in 2009, Dell had huge influence in Kosovo, where the US is widely viewed as a supervising power and is feted for its role in securing independence for the tiny Balkan state. A statue of President Clinton adorns the capital, Pristina, and boulevards are named after George W Bush and other US officials.
As the International Civilian Representative in Kosovo between 2008 and 2012, Feith was the other major figure in the country, entrusted with wide-ranging powers by the US and EU, including the ability to overrule Kosovan officials. For several years, Feith and Dell served side by side, the two most senior foreign officials supervising Kosovo’s campaign for recognition as a sovereign state following the 1999 war.
At the time Dell was encouraging Kosovo’s government to sign the highway contract, Feith said he had grave concerns about awarding the enormous contract to a consortium consisting of Bechtel and its partner, Turkish firm Enka. Feith believed the deal risked undermining Pristina’s finances.
Feith said he clashed with Dell over the logic of an impoverished, nascent country undertaking such a huge infrastructure project, and instead argued that the money should be spent on tackling Kosovo’s unemployment rate, which stood at 40%.
Feith also said he asked to see details of the contract, which he believed was part of his mandate, but was denied access by the US embassy. “Information was withheld, and all of a sudden we were presented with a fait accompli of this contract being concluded and being a liability on the budget,” he told the Guardian.
The Bechtel-Enka deal was signed in April 2010, despite concerns from the IMF, the World Bank, EU diplomats, Feith, and the Kosovan government’s own legal adviser. Dell and the State Department declined requests for comment. Bechtel defended its employment of the former ambassador and said any suggestion that his appointment was improper was “unfair and offensive”.
But Andrea Capussela, who served as head of Feith’s economic department in Kosovo and was a vocal critic of the road-building scheme, said: “Ambassador Dell’s employment at Bechtel raises a rather serious question mark over the whole project.”
“This contract was irrational for Kosovo, and caused considerable damage to it,” he added. “The State Department would do well to investigate this.”
Feith declined to comment on Dell’s employment at Bechtel. However, he did say a wider inquiry into the probity of the highway deal was warranted, although he did not specify which organisation would conduct such an investigation.
“We have been involved in the fight against corruption in Kosovo, and anything that can help, ex-post, to clarify, elucidate or provide transparency about what has happened is beneficial for the future of the young state,” he said. “If there is an investigation, I would welcome it.”
The government in Pristina argues that the Patriotic Highway has connected northern Albania and Kosovo, replacing crumbling mountain roads with a four-lane highway, and will provide an economic injection into the region. However, critics point out that its costs have more than doubled from the original estimate.
The initial offer was to complete the Kosovo section of the highway for $555m (€400m). The price subsequently rose to $916m (€660m), to pay for 102km of road. In the end, the project cost $1.13bn (€820m) for what turned out be only a 77km stretch of highway. By comparison, Kosovo’s total government budget in 2012 was €1.5bn.
Bechtel Delivers Second Stretch of the Kosovo Motorway Ahead of Schedule and Within Budget
Completion Marked With Launch of Motorway Safety Campaign
By Marketwired . July 13, 2012 02:48 PM EDT
LONDON — (Marketwire) — 07/13/12 — Bechtel and its joint venture partner, Enka, have completed an additional 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) of the Kosovo motorway bringing the total distance completed to 26.4 miles (42.5 km). The new section, which opened today, connects to the stretch of motorway delivered in November 2011 which goes from Morinë at the border with Albania to Suhareka. The motorway now extends to the Dule interchange in Northern Kosovo. The latest stretch of motorway was built in less than a year, ahead of schedule and within budget.
“Each day we are getting closer to our dream of achieving the Kosovo motorway, thanks to Bechtel-Enka. The motorway is already making a huge difference to the lives of Kosovans with reduced journey times but people should drive safely too,” said Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi.
To mark the opening of the new motorway section, Bechtel and Enka, together with the Kosovo government, launched a new safety campaign along the Kosovo motorway with the slogan: “Yes to Safety, No to Speed.” The week-long campaign aims to encourage responsible driving on Kosovo’s first motorway and includes postcards and promotional cars along the route displaying the safety message.
“Safety is one of our core values. We hope our motorway safety awareness campaign will make drivers think twice about driving safely and not speeding on the new motorway,” said Mike Adams, president of Bechtel’s civil infrastructure unit.
When complete, the full 63.4-mile (102-km) motorway will extend from Morinë to the north of Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, and will serve as the centerpiece of Kosovo’s national transport system, helping to promote trade and economic development in Kosovo and throughout the region. The motorway is scheduled for completion in 2013.
Reports: Company Tied to Reid’s Son Wants Land in Bundy Standoff
Sunday, 13 Apr 2014 08:48 PM
The Nevada rancher who forced the federal Bureau of Land Management to back down last week may have been targeted because a Chinese solar company with ties to Sen. Harry Reid’s son wants the land for an energy plant, several websites report.
A report on Godfatherpolitics.com, says Chinese energy giant ENN Energy Group wants to use federal land as part of its effort to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel-building plant in the southern Nevada desert. Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is representing ENN in their efforts to locate in Nevada.
Part of the land ENN wants to use was purchased from Clark County at well below appraised value. Rory Reid is the former Clark County Commission chairman, and he persuaded the commission to sell 9,000 acres of county land to ENN on the promise it would provide jobs for the area, Reuters reported in 2012.
In addition to the county acreage, the federal Bureau of Land Management at one time was looking at BLM property under dispute with cattle rancher Cliven Bundy. The BLM is headed by former Harry Reid senior policy adviser Neil Kornz.
According to BizPac Review, BLM documents indicate that the federal property for which Bundy claims grazing rights were under consideration by a solar energy company. Those documents have since been removed from BLM’s website, but BizPac quotes from one of them:
“Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.”
Federal Land Grab In Nevada To Benefit Chinese Solar Farm
Consumer alert: GMO labeling to be outlawed by ‘Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act’ introduced today in Congress
(NaturalNews) A proposed new federal law just introduced by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (a Democrat) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (a Republican) would outlaw state-enacted GMO labeling laws. The new law, ridiculously called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, is actually an last-ditch, desperate effort by the biotech industry and the GMA to forever bury the truth about GMOs so that consumers don’t know they’re eating poison.
According to mainstream media reports (1), the bill would require the FDA to mandate GMO labeling only if those foods “are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without biotech ingredients.”
Because the FDA and USDA have already decided, against all scientific evidence, that GMOs are “safe” and “not materially different” from other foods, this requirement is nothing but sheer sleight of hand and a pandering to idiocy. In truth, this new bill, if passed into law, would allow food companies to permanently and insidiously hide GMOs in all their products forever, nullifying the numerous state-based GMO labeling laws which are on the verge of passing.
The Environmental Working Group calls this proposed new law the “DARK Act” (Denying Americans the Right to Know), saying:
After two states have passed GE labeling bills and more than 30 others are poised to consider similar labeling bills and ballot initiatives, the food and biotech industry have goat-roped some members of Congress into introducing legislation to block state GE labeling laws.
Push for GMOs run by criminally-minded organizations
GMOs have already been restricted or banned in over 60 countries (2), and Americans are very close to achieving victory in state-based GMO labeling campaigns. The very idea that American consumers might find out they’ve been eating GMO poisons in most of their favorite foods is so horrifying to the biotech industry (and the processed food front groups) that its enforcers are now seeking this “nuclear option” to legally deceive consumers about GMOs with the complicity of the FDA.
U.S. bill seeks to block mandatory GMO food labeling by states
(Reuters) – A Republican congressman from Kansas introduced legislation on Wednesday that would nullify efforts in multiple states to require labeling of genetically modified foods
The bill, dubbed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” was drafted by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, and is aimed at overriding bills in roughly two dozen states that would require foods made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled as such.
The bill specifically prohibits any mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.
“We’ve got a number of states that are attempting to put together a patchwork quilt of food labeling requirements with respect to genetic modification of foods,” said Pompeo. “That makes it enormously difficult to operate a food system. Some of the campaigns in some of these states aren’t really to inform consumers but rather aimed at scaring them. What this bill attempts to do is set a standard.”
Consumer groups have been arguing for labeling because of questions they have both about the safety for human health and the environmental impacts of genetically modified foods, also called GMOs.
Ballot measures in California in 2012 and last year in Washington state narrowly lost after GMO crop developers, including Monsanto Co., and members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) poured millions into campaigns to defeat the measures.
The companies say the crops are safe and cite many scientific studies back those claims. Pompeo on Wednesday reiterated those claims, stating GMOS are safe and “equally healthy” and no labeling is needed.
“It has to date made food safer and more abundant,” said Pompeo. “It has been an enormous boon to all of humanity.”
But there are also many scientific studies showing links to human and animal health problems, and many indicating environmental damage related to GMO crops.
Congress considers blocking GMO food labeling
Edited time: April 10, 2014 11:01
A new bill introduced in Congress looks to ban states from implementing their own labeling laws when it comes to food containing genetically engineered ingredients.
According to Reuters, US Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced the legislation on Wednesday, which is intended to head off bills in about 24 states that would require companies to inform customers when their food is produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Titled the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” the proposal would forbid states from enacting such proposals.
“We’ve got a number of states that are attempting to put together a patchwork quilt of food labeling requirements with respect to genetic modification of foods,” Pompeo told Reuters. “That makes it enormously difficult to operate a food system. Some of the campaigns in some of these states aren’t really to inform consumers but rather aimed at scaring them. What this bill attempts to do is set a standard.”
Supporters of GMO labeling argue that modified ingredients pose a threat to human health, and that as a result they should be clearly labeled in the marketplace so that consumers can make informed decisions. In addition to health concerns, they also point to the negative environmental consequences that could arise from widespread GMO use, since millions of acres of farmland and weeds are developing resistances to the pesticides used.
Opponents, however, point to their own studies, showing that GMO crops are safe and therefore do not need to be labeled differently than other products.
This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…
By Michael Snyder, on April 6th, 2014
The level of employment in the United States has been declining since the year 2000. There have been moments when things have appeared to have been getting better for a short period of time, and then the decline has resumed. Thanks to the offshoring of millions of jobs, the replacement of millions of workers with technology and the overall weakness of the U.S. economy, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is significantly lower than it was when this century began. And even though things have stabilized at a reduced level over the past few years, it is only a matter of time until the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes and the employment level goes even lower. And the truth is that more good jobs are being lost every single day in America. For example, as you will read about below, Warren Buffett is shutting down a Fruit of the Loom factory in Kentucky and moving it to Honduras just so that he can make a little bit more money. We see this kind of betrayal over and over again, and it is absolutely ripping the middle class of America to shreds.
Below I have posted a chart that you never hear any of our politicians talk about. It is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has steadily declined since the turn of the century. Just before the last recession, we were sitting at about 63 percent, but now we have been below 59 percent since the end of 2009…
We should be thankful that things have stabilized at this lower level for the past few years.
At least things have not been getting worse.
But anyone that believes that “things have returned to normal” is just being delusional.
And nothing is being done about the long-term trends that are absolutely crippling our economy. One of those trends is the offshoring of middle class jobs. As I mentioned above, Fruit of the Loom (which is essentially owned by Warren Buffett) has made the decision to close their factory in Jamestown, Kentucky and lay off all the workers at that factory by the end of 2014…
Clothing company Fruit of the Loom announced Thursday that it will permanently close its plant in Jamestown and lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year.
The Jamestown plant is the last Fruit of the Loom plant in a state where the company had once been a manufacturing titan second only to General Electric.
This isn’t being done because Fruit of the Loom is going out of business. They are still going to be making t-shirts and underwear. They are just going to be making them in Honduras from now on…
The company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway but headquartered in Bowling Green, said the move is “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster.
The company said it is moving the plant’s textile operations to Honduras to save money.
So what are those workers supposed to do?
Go on welfare?
The number of Americans that are dependent on the government is already at an all-time record high.
And doesn’t Warren Buffett already have enough money?
In business school, they teach you that the sole responsibility of a corporation is to maximize wealth for the shareholders.
And so when business students get out into “the real world”, that is how they behave.
But the truth is that corporations have a responsibility to treat their workers, their customers and the communities in which they operate well. This responsibility exists whether corporate executives want to admit it or not.
And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens. When we stand aside and do nothing as millions of good paying American jobs are shipped overseas so that the “one world economic agenda” can be advanced and so that men like Warren Buffett can stuff their pockets just a little bit more, we are failing our fellow countrymen.
Because so many of us have fallen for the lie that “globalism is good”, we have allowed our once great manufacturing cities to crumble and die. Just consider what is happening to Detroit. It was once the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the planet, but now foreign newspapers publish stories about what a horror show that it has become…
Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until USDL-14-0530 8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, April 4, 2014 Technical information: Household data: (202) 691-6378 • email@example.com • www.bls.gov/cps Establishment data: (202) 691-6555 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.bls.gov/ces Media contact: (202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- MARCH 2014 Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining and logging. Household Survey Data In March, the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 10.5 million, and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent. Both measures have shown little movement since December 2013. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.2 million and 0.8 percentage point, respectively. (See table A-1.) Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women increased to 6.2 percent in March, and the rate for adult men decreased to 6.2 percent. The rates for teenagers (20.9 percent), whites (5.8 percent), blacks (12.4 percent), and Hispanics (7.9 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.4 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 3.7 million, changed little in March; these individuals accounted for 35.8 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed was down by 837,000 over the year. (See table A-12.) Both the civilian labor force and total employment increased in March. The labor force participation rate (63.2 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.9 percent) changed little over the month. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 7.4 million in March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. (See table A-8.) In March, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.) Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in March, down slightly from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.) Establishment Survey Data Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March. Job growth averaged 183,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In March, employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining and logging. (See table B-1.) Professional and business services added 57,000 jobs in March, in line with its average monthly gain of 56,000 over the prior 12 months. Within the industry, employment increased in March in temporary help services (+29,000), in computer systems design and related services (+6,000), and in architectural and engineering services (+5,000). In March, health care added 19,000 jobs. Employment in ambulatory health care services rose by 20,000, with a gain of 9,000 jobs in home health care services. Nursing care facilities lost 5,000 jobs over the month. Job growth in health care averaged 17,000 per month over the prior 12 months. Employment in mining and logging rose in March (+7,000), with the bulk of the increase occurring in support activities for mining (+5,000). Over the prior 12 months, the mining and logging industry added an average of 3,000 jobs per month. Employment continued to trend up in March in food services and drinking places (+30,000). Over the past year, food services and drinking places has added 323,000 jobs. Construction employment continued to trend up in March (+19,000). Over the past year, construction employment has risen by 151,000. Employment in government was unchanged in March. A decline of 9,000 jobs in federal government was mostly offset by an increase of 8,000 jobs in local government, excluding education. Over the past year, employment in federal government has fallen by 85,000. Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities, changed little over the month. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2 hour in March to 34.5 hours, offsetting a net decline over the prior 3 months. The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.3 hour in March to 41.1 hours, and factory overtime rose by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.3 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.) In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 1 cent to $24.30, following a 9 cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 49 cents, or 2.1 percent. In March, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 2 cents to $20.47. (See tables B-3 and B-8.) The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +129,000 to +144,000, and the change for February was revised from +175,000 to +197,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously reported. _____________ The Employment Situation for April is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 2, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
Another Fraudulent Jobs Report — Paul Craig Roberts
Another Fraudulent Jobs Report
Paul Craig Roberts
The March payroll jobs report released April 4 claims 192,000 new private sector jobs.
Here is what John Williams has to say about the claim:
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) deliberately publishes its seasonally-adjusted historical payroll-employment and household-survey (unemployment) data so that the numbers are neither consistent nor comparable with current headline reporting. The upside revisions to the January and February monthly jobs gains, and the relatively strong March payroll showing, reflected nothing more than concealed, favorable shifts in underlying seasonal factors, hidden by the lack of consistent BLS reporting. In like manner, consistent month-to-month changes in the unemployment rate or labor force simply are not knowable, because the BLS cloaks the consistent and comparable numbers.”
Here is what Dave Kranzler has to say: “the employment report is probably the most deceptively fraudulent report produced by the Government.”
As I have pointed out for a decade, the “New Economy” jobs that we were promised in exchange for our manufacturing jobs and tradable professional service jobs that were offshored have never shown up. The transnational corporations and their hired shills among economists lied to us. Not even a jobs report as deceptive and fraudulent as the BLS payroll jobs report can hide the fact that Congress, the White House, and the American people have sat sucking their thumbs while corporations maximized profits for the one percent at the expense of everyone else in the United States.
Let’s look at where the alleged jobs are. The BLS jobs report says that 28,400 jobs were created in March in wholesale and retail sales. March is the month that Macy’s, Sears, JC Penny, Staples, Radio Shack, Office Depot, and other retailers announced combined closings of several thousand stores, but more retail clerks were hired.
The BLS payroll jobs report claims 57,000 jobs in “professional and business services.” Are these jobs for lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and managers? No. The combined new jobs for these middle class professional skills totaled 10,400. Employment services accounted for 42,000 of the jobs in “professional and business services” of which temporary help accounted for 28,500.
Rep. Mike Pompeo will introduce legislation backed by powerful trade groups to prevent states from passing laws requiring the labeling of genetically-modified foods, according to reports. The bill is linked to biotech giant Monsanto and Koch Industries.
Pompeo will offer the bill in the US House before Congress leaves for Easter recess later this month, The Hill newspaper reported, citing industry sources. Politico also reported on the impending proposal. Pompeo’s office would not comment on the congressman’s intentions for a labeling restriction.
The bill includes a “prohibition against mandatory labeling,” according to The Hill, echoing powerful interest groups that have already declared war against such “right to know” labeling laws around the nation.
It was revealed in recent months that powerful farming and biotechnology interest groups like Monsanto were joining forces – under the name ‘Coalition for Safe Affordable Food‘ – to push a federal voluntary labeling standard for food made with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in an effort to stem the tide of state legislation seeking to mandate labeling.
In recent years, voters in states such as California and Washington have narrowly defeated ballot initiatives proposing mandatory GMO labeling, though not without dragging members of the new Coalition into expensive campaigns to defeat the measures. Many other states are now considering their own proposals to label GMO food.
A top member of the Coalition – the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a major food industry lobbying group – raised and spent the bulk of the overall $22 million that opponents of labeling sank into defeating Washington State’s ballot initiative on GMO labeling last year. That total number was three times the amount that proponents of labeling spent in the state. GMA was joined in its effort by allies such as biotech giants Monsanto, Bayer, and DuPont.
The Coalition said in February that it would seek to empower the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “to establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence-of or presence-of GMO food ingredients.” In addition, the Coalition proposes the FDA mandate labels for GMO food or ingredients that the agency deems a “health, safety or nutrition issue,” though no consumables currently fall in such a category.
“The legislation we’re proposing would preclude state legislation that conflicts with the federal standards,” GMA president Pamela Bailey said of the Coalition’s aim, The Hill reported.
- theguardian.com, Friday 14 March 2014 07.51 EDT
BP is closer to restoring its operations and reputation in the US after agreeing a deal with environmental protection authorities that it will enable the oil firm to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.
The British-based group had started legal proceedings against the US environmental protection agency (EPA) which had banned BP from new contracts on the grounds that it had failed to correct problems properly since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.
BP said it had now dropped its law suit after resolving outstanding problems with the EPA but the firm will have to abide by monitoring arrangements with the agency for the next five years.
“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, head of BP America. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”
Government Declares BP a ‘Responsible’ Contractor: Workers and Taxpayers Beware
A scant five days before the Department of Interior opens a new round of bids for oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA has blinked, pronouncing BP, the incorrigible corporate scofflaw of the new millennium, once again fit to do business with the government.
To get right to the point, the federal government’s decision that BP has somehow paid its debt and should once again be eligible for federal contracts is a disgrace. Not only does it let BP off the hook, it sends an unmistakable signal to the rest of the energy industry: That no matter how much harm you do, no matter how horrid your safety record, the feds will cut you some slack.
Back in 2012, the agency’s intrepid staff had finally gotten permission to pull the trigger on the company, de-barring it from holding any new U.S. contracts on the grounds that it was not running its business in a “responsible” way. Undoubtedly under pressure by the Cameron government and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, BP’s most loyal customer, the EPA settled its debarment suit for a sweet little consent decree that will try to improve the company’s sense of ethics by having “independent” auditors come visit once a year.
To review the grim record: BP, now the third-largest energy company in the world, is the first among the roster of companies that have caused the most memorable industrial fiascos in the post-modern age.
- Its best-known disaster, the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig moored in the Gulf of Mexico that BP had hired to develop its lease of the Macondo well, killed 11 and deposited 205 million gallons of crude oil along the southern coast of the United States — the worst environmental disaster in American history.
- In a troubling precursor, another explosion killed 15 and injured 180 at the company’s Texas City refinery in July 2005. This incident happened even after the plant manager there had gone on bended knee to John Manzoni, BP’s second in command worldwide, to plead for money to address severe maintenance problems that jeopardized safety at that plant after a consultant surveying refinery workers reported that many thought they ran a real risk of being killed at work. Those fears were warranted, it turned out.
- Also in 2005, 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope.