THE ON GOING YEARLY COUNT OF THE HIGHLY POLLUTING NON-BIODEGRADABLE
PLASTIC BAGS USE, THIS YEAR ALONE, As Of January 01, - U.S. ONLY




The staggering on going count of NON-BIODEGRADABLE plastic bags at the above is the up to date indicator of the plastic bags given to the U.S. shoppers, beginning January 01, of this year across the United States. - Each year a shocking quantity of 916,981,973,789 plastic bags are trashed, in U.S. alone, polluting and poisoning Land-fields, the Air and our Waters.

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Perp Walks Instead of Bonuses

- By Robert Scheer - March 17, 2009

There must be a criminal investigation of the AIG debacle, and it looks as if New York's top lawman is on the case. The collusion to save this toxic company in order to salvage the rogue financiers who conspired to enrich themselves by impoverishing millions is being revealed as the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history. Instead of taking bonuses, the culprits should be taking perp walks.

I'm not just referring to the swindlers in the Financial Products Subsidiary of AIG who devised and sold those insurance policies on derivatives that brought the world economy to its knees. They do seem deserving of a special place in hell, and presumably the same divine power that according to Scripture labeled usury a high moral crime and threw the money-changers out of the temple will consider that outcome.

However, the enablers are the AIG leaders who, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed Tuesday, signed those bonus contracts a year ago to reward the very people "principally responsible for the firm's meltdown." That's a cool $44 million divided among the top 10 shysters, even though the depth of their chicanery was well known to top management.

As Cuomo noted in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank: "The contracts shockingly contain a provision that required most individuals' bonuses to be 100% of their 2007 bonuses. Thus, in the spring of last year, AIG chose to lock in bonuses for 2008 at 2007 levels despite obvious signs that 2008 performance would be disastrous in comparison to the year before."

The lame argument that those bonus-baby employees needed to be retained in order to sort out the mess they had created was also shot down by Cuomo, who revealed after his office's initial investigation had pierced AIG's veil of secrecy that "[e]leven of the individuals who received `retention' bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million."

But the $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery. Consider the $12.8 billion of the $170 billion that taxpayers gave AIG in bailout funds that AIG then secretly diverted to Goldman Sachs, a company that evidently has a lock on both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve no matter which political party is in power. It was the biggest payoff among those that AIG made to a score of foreign and domestic financial giants.

The bailout is a response to a banking crisis that resulted from the radical deregulation pushed by former Goldman Sachs honcho Robert Rubin when he was President Clinton's treasury secretary. Another Goldman Sachs chairman-turned-treasury-secretary, Henry Paulson, in the Bush administration designed the trillion-dollar bank bailout that will go down as the greatest swindle in U.S. history.

It was because of Paulson that AIG was saved from bankruptcy hours after Goldman rival Lehman Brothers was allowed to go down the drain. Why that reversal of strategy in a top-secret meeting called by then New York Fed Chair Timothy Geithner, a Rubin protégé and now Barack Obama's treasury secretary? Why was Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein the only financial industry CEO in attendance? When that news leaked out, his role was defended as that of a noninvolved concerned citizen with expert knowledge, and whose firm had no direct monetary stake in the outcome.

That was a lie.

Goldman Sachs was into AIG insurance policies for at least $20 billion, which is why the firm got that $12.8 billion while Paulson was in charge. It took six months for the embarrassing facts to finally come out. The bailout program was administered by Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs VP; why are we not surprised at that?

Another pretend innocent in all this is AIG's CEO Edward M. Liddy, famed defender of the $440,000 AIG executive retreat in Monarch Beach, Calif., held on the heels of the taxpayer bailout. His actions now are defended as mistakes made by a well-intentioned outsider who decided to work for a dollar a year after Paulson appointed him head of AIG. That is just garbage.

Liddy was complicit in Goldman Sachs' role in creating this mess. As a director of Goldman Sachs, he was paid $685,770 in 2007 and would have come in for some questioning if the firm had gone down. Liddy even headed its audit committee during the five years before he resigned that seat to take over AIG in September 2008. As for his salary sacrifice, not to worry; in 2005, when he was still CEO of Allstate Insurance, he received $26.7 million in compensation.

What we have here is a rare glimpse into the workings of the billionaires' club, that elite gang of perfectly legal loan sharks who, in only the most egregious cases, will be judged as criminals Bernard Madoff, former chairman of NASDAQ, comes to mind. These other amoral sharks, who confiscated billions from shareholders and the 401(k) accounts of innocent victims, were rewarded handsomely, rarely needing to break the laws their lobbyists had purchased.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090318_perp_walks_instead_of_bonuses/


March 20, 2009 - Democracy Now Reports on AIG

Seeking Return of AIG Payouts, House OKs Tax on Bonuses

The House has overwhelmingly approved a measure to recoup taxpayer money by imposing a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid to employees at the insurance giant AIG. The tax would also apply to any company receiving more than $5 billion in bailout funds. A Senate version would impose a lower rate than the House’s 90 percent. The vote came hours after AIG complied with a New York state subpoena and disclosed the names of employees who received bonuses.

Protesters Rally Outside AIG Offices

Public outrage over the AIG bonuses fueled the congressional response. On Thursday, demonstrators gathered outside AIG’s offices in Washington, D.C. to decry the bonus payouts.

Amy Swanson: “It’s not fair to all the working people here who struggle daily for our healthcare, income, pay their rent, pay their bills.”

Joan Nemeth: “AIG and others like them are being paid $15,000 an hour compared to your workers’ hours at $8 or $10 or even $15, where’s the justice in that? There is no justice in being paid that much more.”

Francisco Cuison: “This bailout moneys from the government is taxpayers’ money, and it should be spread out to the people who needs it.”

Geithner Admits Requesting Bonus Protection Provision

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, meanwhile, has admitted that his staff asked Senator Christopher Dodd to insert a provision in the economic stimulus bill that allowed AIG to hand out the $165 million in bonuses. Geithner made the admission in an interview with CNN.

The New York Times reports Senator Dodd is drawing outrage from constituents in his home state of Connecticut for his role in the AIG bonuses controversy. - Senator Dodd has come under scrutiny for admitting he was asked by the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to include the bonus protection provision in the stimulus bill after initially claiming he did not know how it got inserted. - Senator Christopher Dodd has been among the largest recipients of money from Wall Street and the banking sector, just last election Senator Dodd received $280,000.00 dollars from AIG alone.

Wall Street Firms Gave Lawrence Summers Millions in 2008

Newly released documents show Lawrence Summers, one of President Obama’s top economic aides, received nearly $2.7 million in speaking fees last year from several of the financial companies that have received government bailouts, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Goldman Sachs paid Summers $135,000 last April for a single speech. In addition, Summers was given over $5 million for working one day a week at the D.E. Shaw hedge fund.

AIG Sues for Return of $300M in Taxes

As AIG faces the loss of its bonuses, it’s quietly filed a lawsuit to recoup more than $300 million in what it says are overpaid taxes. The company says it overpaid the government in charges for using offshore tax havens. The suit effectively means AIG is using US taxpayer money to sue its majority owner, the US taxpayer. The government owns an 80 percent stake in AIG following its $170 billion bailout.

Holbrooke Served on AIG Board

Meanwhile, a top Obama administration official is coming under scrutiny for his ties to AIG. Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, served on AIG’s board from 2001 until early last year. Holbrooke is believed to have collected up to $800,000 during his AIG stint.

Probe: Bailout Firms Owe $220M in Taxes

In other bailout news, a congressional probe has found the top thirteen firms to receive bailout money owe more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes. Congress member John Lewis of Georgia, the chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, says two of the companies owe more than $100 million apiece. The review only looked at the top twenty-three bailout recipients, leaving open the possibility of further owed taxes from nearly 450 remaining companies. The inspector general overseeing the federal bailout says he will investigate whether recipient companies misled Congress on their tax obligations.

Citigroup to Spend $10M on Exec Offices

The bailed-out financial giant Citigroup, meanwhile, is coming under scrutiny for a $10 million plan to build new offices for top executives. Citigroup has received $45 billion under the taxpayer-funded bailout.

Auto Parts Suppliers to Receive $5B in Aid

The Treasury Department is set to provide up to $5 billion in financing to auto parts suppliers. The money will come through the government’s Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP. Auto parts suppliers have asked for up to $25 billion amidst the auto industry decline.

President Obama continued his criticism of AIG Thursday on the second day of his trip to California. Appearing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Obama said the AIG case exemplified Wall Street excess.

President Obama:

“The immediate bonuses that went to AIG are a problem, but the larger problem is we’ve got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough and people have a sense of responsibility and they understand that their actions are going to have an impact on everybody. And if we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we’re going to be OK.”



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