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« It's an Old Story... | Main | Trade Policy Not Just a Rust Belt Concern Anymore »

Story Updates

More Capitol Crimes...
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle sentenced J. Steven Griles to 10 months in prison for obstructing an investigation into the Jack Abramoff scandal. As you probably remember, Griles is the former energy lobbyist that became the Deputy Secretary of the Interior in 2001, until he resigned the post in 2004 to set up his own lobbing firm. From a recent WASHINGTON POST story:

Griles asked Abramoff for favors for the women in his life, prosecutors said, and in exchange helped Abramoff's clients with their government business. One of Griles's girlfriends, Italia Federici, got $500,000 for her nonprofit from Abramoff's Indian tribes.

"I concealed the nature and extent of my true relationship with Italia Federici," Griles confessed to the judge yesterday in a statement interrupted by stifled sobs. Choking out the words, a burly, red-faced Griles told Huvelle that "this has been the most difficult time in my life. My guilty plea has brought me great shame and embarrassment."

Capitol Crimes, the recent Moyers report about Jack Abramoff and the dark side of American politics, can be viewed online in its entirety here. Also, for information about Griles and the revolving door, check out this story from NOW with Bill Moyers from May 30, 2003.

UN Report: Afghanistan supplies 90% of world's heroin
According to the recently released UN World Drug Report, in 2006, Afghanistan has increased its yield of opium almost 50 percent. Poppies grown in Afghanistan now account for 90% of the world's heroin. From the report (pdf):

The global drug problem is being contained...the exception is the continued expansion of opium production in Afghanistan...The large scale production of opium is concentrated and expanding in a few southern provinces where the authority of the central government is currently limited and insurgents continue to exploit the profits of the opium trade.

Of course, "insurgents" is a complicated term, as we learned from Bill Moyers' recent interview with Christian Parenti, yet those often in the center bearing the brunt of abuses by warlords, the Taliban, and corrupt government officials are the farmers themselves.

As always, if you come across any updates to stories we've covered, please send them to moyersblog@thirteen.org.


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Comments

Aviation has been a passion of mine for many many years, thanks for that post.

what ever became of that blog-site where we can send you a letter from our DRAFT box via FOWARD? Weeks ago I found it, sent 4 letters---re: cities, bed-bug epidemic, health-food woes in schools, and on the hazards of nukes.
I don't know --where to go to read if these appeared onLine --where to go if we want to submit more???
Please have mercy. When we (who have to use the library's computer) get cut off without a warning after writing 10 paragraphs...and we can't SAVE the words .....
sincerely Si

Bill,

Your level of vitriole during your commentary is welcome and refreshing and at the level of any young college student blogger.

The interview with Gold is a boring letdown disappointment. PLEASE READ FERDNINAND LUNDBERG AND LOSE YOUR RELIGION OVER DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS! They don't exist! It is the choice of a stab in the back with a rusty tetanus-coated knife or a bullet in the chest. They have been the same party since 1918 and you are only exercising the ILLUSION OF CHOICE when you vote for either/or.

You press the issue (which is admirable) of WHAT CAN BE DONE to correct problems like Trade and the Economy being run like Organized Crime but don't you find, as I do, that your guests have no working rational plan to defeat the thugs?

Please invite people on who have SOLUTIONS not just disappointed rhetoric.

Start talking about alternative parties as if they were legitimate entities so that you are not playing into the 'Two' Party Illusion.

You're straining the Envelope, but you haven't yet broke through.

Keep pushing.

Having been a long-time fan of Bill Moyers' work, especially in terms of his efforts to show different sides of a story, I was disappointed to see the interview with Gretchen Morgenson on 7/29/07. Many assumptions were made here without objectivity and critical analysis of the causes of increasing foreclosure rates.

First, Ms. Morgenson goes after the whole secondary mortgage market as if it has had only negative consequences for the housing industry. Packing and selling pools of mortgages has made homeownership more affordable (whether prime or sub-prime) for prospective buyers by creating an international market for lending (more choice for buyers) and reducing the risk of lending (returns are not based on single mortgages). If the secondary mortgage market has made sub-prime mortgages more available it's only because it has made borrowing in general more affordable. Attacking the secondary mortgage market is like saying airplanes are bad because there are airplane crashes. Just like flying, borrowing has its risks, but if you don't have this tool, your ability to accomplish certain things is greatly limited. And what really is the value of the old system of the borrower being directly connected to the lender? Any middle school student who had to read Grapes of Wrath can tell you this didn't help Oklahomans during the dust bowl.

Second, Morgenson places the responsibility for increasing foreclosures on everyone but the homebuyers: government, investors, etc. Certainly there have been mistakes made in all areas but if you're the one buying a home and this home is your greatest asset like it is for many Americans, don't you as a homeowner have the greatest responsibility to make sure you'll be able to make your loan payments? If anything, Bill Moyers' programs have showed that Americans cannot rely on the government and corporations to protect their interests. Why is homeownership any different? If people want control of their financial well-being, they need to take more responsibility for their decisions and not buy into government paternalism.

Third, while focusing on factors that are probably at the most minor contributors to increasing foreclosures, the interview ignores or glosses over the real causes. This is where the program truly fails its audience and wastes the medium of national television. What about people not having any homeownership counseling before buying? What about lacking knowledge of affordable homeownership programs that remove the need for people to get market rate sub-prime loans they can't afford? (By the way, if Morgenson did her research she’d know that “silent second” loans are not just market rate loans but also a useful tool provided by local agencies and nonprofits to assist low-income homebuyers) Why not focus more on the poor underwriting practices that have led to the current crisis? Surely these factors are more important than the secondary mortgage market.

Lastly, the worst part is that rather than objectively question the assumptions Morgenson makes, Moyers goes along with and even seems to encourage them.

I call for another episode showing an alternative perspective, perhaps from a low-income buyer and someone who is more directly involved in the lending industry.

In the meantime, while I am in no way affiliated with this organization, the attached link seems to be a good place to start for prospective buyers to plan for homeownership.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling-

http://www.debtadvice.org/PersPlans/persplans_04.html

Tom Dapice

This evening the 29th of June Bill does it again - another great program.

Bill Moyers is a national treasury!

Terrorism's Roots

It is my conviction that the terrorist threat we face today is of our own making. It is a combination of our foreign relations policy, the covert actions of our CIA and military and the greed of our corporations. Our State department calls dictators presidents, the media follows suit and our tax dollars assist them in terrorizing their citizens. Our corporations sell them arms used to control their disgruntled subjects and our foreign aid helps pay the corporations. Our military has trained the henchmen of dozens of dictators and once again our tax dollars are used. One of the first covert actions taken by our CIA was the over through of Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953. Our press was silenced by our oil companies and our State Department labeled the Iranian people as radicals. Our educational system conveniently omits damaging history from our text books. Special interest groups have quietly taken control of the Peoples House and we the voters have been reduced to performing nothing more than a ritual by voting. The 50% of us who do not vote have decided that it is pretty much a waist of time and in many cases a loss of wages due to punching in late. The list of dictators, tyrants, despots, autocrats and authoritarian regimes is long and shameful. We are seen in the eyes of the victims, and rightfully so, as the biggest hypocrites on earth. Let us take a glance at a list of our trusted allies past and present.

Saudi Arabia - authoritarian regimes with long term ties to our political leaders including former President George H. W. Bush.

Iraq – worked closely with our military during the Iraq / Iran war. Saddam Hussan and Donald Rumsfeld were former business associates.

Indonesia – our CIA and military helped General Suharto in the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million of the Indonesian people who resisted his military take over.

Egypt – is the recipient of more foreign than any other country. Hosni Mubarak has been their “President” for 28 years. In fact both he and his predecessor were and are military dictators.

Pakistan – “President” Pervez Musharref executed a coup d'état which ended a democratically elected government yet our President George Bush and our State Department call him out trusted ally. How is it that a true democracy be aligned with a dictator? Could it be because our arms corporation can sell him hundreds of million of dollars worth of air craft?

What do these five countries have in common? First, they are all ruled by tyrants.
Second, we have supported them all. Third, they are all Islamic countries.

In closing allow me to call your attention to an odd dual fact. Anwar Sadat the “President” of Egypt and Menachem Begin the Prime Minister of Israel received the Noble Peace Prize. One was a military dictator and the other was possibly one of the first terrorists in the Middle East. In 1946 Begin as the leader of Irgun, a Jewish terrorist organization, and it was he who ordered the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem which killed 91 people. How is it possible that a dictator and a terrorist receive the Nobel Peace Prize? Is history always written by the sword and not the pen?

Regards,

Tom O’Brien

kelticknot@satx.rr.com




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