News Release Archive - 2010

Obama, Congress and Taxes

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JOHN BERG
Professor of government at Suffolk University in Boston, Berg is author of Unequal Struggle: Class, Gender, Race and Power in the U.S. Congress. He said today: “Ever since the Reagan administration, government policy has been making the rich richer, and working people poorer. This is not just about money, it’s about power: the super-rich use the money to buy elections and candidates, making it harder and harder to reverse direction. The Obama tax deal is a bad economic stimulus (the rich won’t increase their consumption), unfair — and the so-called ‘payroll tax holiday’ will undermine Social Security.”

See Berg’s blog

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Attacks on WikiLeaks Violating the Law?

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CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON
Simpson is a professor who teaches about media, propaganda and media law at the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. He said today: “The ongoing information war campaign against WikiLeaks conducted by U.S. security agencies, politicians and crackpots is illegal under U.S. law as well as under international treaties. In addition to the usual propaganda attacks, the companies that provide commercial website services to WikiLeaks websites have been the focus of hundreds of thousands of denial of service attacks and other forms of online sabotage during the past two weeks. In the case of the DNS.org service, these attacks threatened to shut down WikiLeaks and some 500,000 other websites. DNS.org and others succumbed to the pressure. But so far, the FBI and similar U.S. agencies have ignored these clear violations of the U.S.’s own cyber security laws, which usually classify cyber attacks on this scale as terrorism.
[Read more…]

* Haiti Elections * Nobel Peace Prize Corrupted?

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ALEX MAIN, and via Dan Beeton
Policy analyst with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Main is just back from Haiti. See the Center’s blog on Haiti

FREDRIK HEFFERMEHL
The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on Friday. Author of the new book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted, Heffermehl argues that the Nobel committee has violated the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, which established the prize. He states that for decades, the parties in the Norwegian parliament have misused the Nobel committee seats to reward party veterans lacking insight in the peace ideas that Nobel wished to support. Heffermehl writes that over half of the awards since 1946 have not conformed with the intention of Nobel, who wished to change the international system in order to end wars and armaments. [Read more…]

Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures

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The following statement was released today, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Grevil, Katharine Gun, David MacMichael, Ray McGovern, Craig Murray, Coleen Rowley and Larry Wilkerson; all are associated with Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments.

How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that’s right, Russia’s Pravda): “What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic … After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when … government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. …”

So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth. … the American people should be outraged that their government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies.
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The Real Climate-Gate? WikiLeaks and Climate Talks

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The United Nations summit on the climate crisis is continuing this week in Cancun, Mexico. The following are there and reachable for interviews:

MICHAEL DORSEY
Professor of global environmental policy at Dartmouth College, Dorsey can comment on events in Cancun as well as the U.S. diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks regarding climate negotiations. See in the Guardian: “WikiLeaks cables reveal how U.S. manipulated climate accord: Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord.”

[Read more…]

Commission: * Deficit “Hysteria” * Medicare

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THOMAS FERGUSON
ROBERT JOHNSON
Ferguson and Johnson, who are with the Roosevelt Institute, just wrote the in-depth paper “A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession.”

Key points include: “The current hysteria over deficits in the U.S. is unjustified. Markets for even long term U.S. government debt are strong. … Claims that economic growth falls off at anywhere near current U.S. levels of debt to GDP are untrue. Neither is it the case that cutting deficits magically stimulates the economy. … Private oligopolies in health and defense spending, along with the possibility of another banking crisis, are the real threats to the deficit, not entitlements. … Social Security is in essentially no danger for decades and does not require any fix. It would be easy to stimulate the economy with a program of public investment that would substantially reduce public debts in the long run.”

Ferguson is senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and the author of Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems. Johnson is director of the Project on Global Finance at the Roosevelt Institute. He was chief economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee under Chairman William Proxmire.

MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D.
MARK ALMBERG
Flowers is congressional fellow for the 18,000-member Physicians for a National Health Program; Almberg is the organization’s communications director. The group just released a statement titled “Deficit panel’s Rx is wrong medicine.”

Flowers said today: “Seniors and people with disabilities in the Medicare program already face substantial financial barriers to care in the form of existing co-payments and deductibles. For example, recent research shows the 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with the highest spending spend at least 30 percent of their income on health care.

“Raising these financial barriers still further with increased deductibles and co-insurance costs will result in seniors delaying or foregoing doctor visits and other needed care, while increasing the incidence of costly hospitalizations. Greater out-of-pocket expenses will also increase the economic hardship faced by their families.

“The real culprit for skyrocketing costs is our irrational, fragmented, market-based model of paying for health care, which chiefly benefits the private health insurance industry and Big Pharma, not patients or physicians. The commission co-chairs are silent on this matter.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

WikiLeaks and Latin America

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ADRIENNE PINE
Pine is assistant professor of anthropology at American University specializing in Latin America. She said today: “Cables released by WikiLeaks have painted a stark picture of State Department activities throughout the Americas. These include collecting biometric data on Paraguayan presidential candidates; covertly orchestrating an anti-Chavez propaganda campaign in Venezuela; working with Brazilian authorities to illegally monitor citizens of Arab descent and jail suspected terrorists on trumped-up drug charges and supporting a Honduran coup government that the State Department knew beyond a shadow of a doubt to have been illegal.

“The State Department cables come on the heels of revelations that the U.S. Military Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) has been engaged in an alliance with Florida International University (FIU). At FIU’s Applied Research Center, SOUTHCOM has convened academics, members of right-wing think tanks and military officials to create so-called ‘strategic culture’ reports for most Latin American and Caribbean countries, to be used in planning U.S. military operations throughout the hemisphere.” See Pine’s blog at quotha.net — where she links to individual cables from WikiLeaks and has been putting out information on SOUTHCOM.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Commission Targeting Social Security

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President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles) releases its report today. See live webcast from the National Press Building with Joseph Stiglitz, Dean Baker, Robert Kuttner and others commenting on the report from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET: ourfiscalsecurity.org

DEAN BAKER
Available for a limited number of interviews, Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. His most recent pieces are titled “Bowles and Simpson Violate Commission Charter and the Washington Post Covers Up” and “Homes Prices Are Plunging: Let’s Talk About the Deficit.” See his Beat the Press blog

Baker is author of the new book Taking Economics Seriously. Past books include False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy, The Conservative Nanny State and Social Security: The Phony Crisis.

BARBARA KENNELLY, PAMELA TAINTER CAUSEY
Kennelly is president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security; Causey is communications director for the group. Kennelly said today: “The report released by the President’s Fiscal Commission today continues to lack the balanced approach to deficit and debt reduction the American people have said clearly and repeatedly they expect. Social Security never had a legitimate place in any deficit reduction discussion. Yet this Fiscal Commission report relies heavily on benefit cuts impacting working Americans to pay the price of failed economic policies of the past. It’s clear that too many in Washington will continue to search for a way to reduce Social Security benefits in order to avoid repaying the $2.6 trillion in bonds currently credited to Social Security.

“If we’re truly concerned about the future of middle-class America, then strengthening Social Security by closing its modest funding gap is a critical first step. But the policy choices we make in strengthening Social Security should be guided by what’s good for the program and not what’s wrong with the budget. Washington must stop ignoring the critical role Social Security continues to play for older Americans, their families and the economy as a whole. This report does not meet that very basic standard of fiscal fairness…”

JONATHAN TASINI
Tasini wrote the new ebook “It’s Not Raining, We’re Getting Peed On: The Scam of the Deficit Crisis.” He said today: “The Simpson-Bowles agenda is … whipping up false hysteria about deficits to justify continuing the failed and immoral policy of the past 30 years: picking the pockets of ordinary Americans to help the rich get richer.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

U.S. Spying at the UN

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Reuters reports that UN Ambassador Susan Rice said Monday: “Let me be very clear — our diplomats are just that, they’re diplomats.” Reuters noted that “Rice declined to comment on the details of the cables.”

KATHARINE GUN
Available for a limited number of interviews, Gun is a former British government employee who faced two years imprisonment in England for leaking a U.S. intelligence memo before the invasion of Iraq. The memo indicated that the U.S. had mounted a spying “surge” against U.N. Security Council delegations in early 2003 in an effort to win approval for an Iraq war resolution. The leaked memo — published by the British newspaper The Observer on March 2, 2003 — was big news in parts of the world, but almost ignored in the United States. The U.S. government then failed to obtain a U.N. resolution approving war, but still proceeded with the invasion.

Gun said today: “The U.S. and British governments were claiming that they were not wanting war. I had access to a secret document that showed that they were in effect attempting to blackmail other U.N. members into voting for a second resolution that would approve war. The public deserved to know the truth about what their governments were doing. I wanted to prevent the deaths that would — and sadly, did — result from an invasion of Iraq.” More information on Gun’s case is at accuracy.org/gun.

JAMES PAUL
Paul is executive director of the Global Policy Forum, a think tank focusing on the UN. He said today: “The WikiLeaks cables present us with the raw arrogance of power by the United States at the UN. We learn about diplomats’ responsibility for incredibly intrusive information collection directed at the Secretary General and his executive office, the Secretariat, Security Council members and diplomatic missions more generally, including everything from credit card numbers to biometric data.

“For U.S. diplomats to comply with the directives of Secretary of State Clinton, it’s hard to imagine that they have any time left over for ordinary diplomacy! There has been ample prior evidence of U.S. espionage and pressure on the UN and the diplomatic community, but this goes off the chart. It is utterly mafia-like, ruthless, and disgusting.”

Background: See Colum Lynch piece “WikiLeaks reveals vast U.S. information-gathering operation at the UN

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Austerity Politics

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DOUG HENWOOD
Editor of Left Business Observerth, Henwood said today: “While the government can’t run big deficits forever, there’s no great urgency to do anything in a hurry. Even on official projections (which assume decades of near-depression rates of economic growth), federal debt won’t become a problem until well into the 2020s. Alarmists are trying to create a sense of emergency to justify cuts to Medicare and Social Security that would be cruel, unnecessary, and deeply unpopular. If we find that we have a budget problem 10 or 20 years from now, we could easily cut back military spending and raise taxes on multimillionaires and the problem would quickly go away. Our economy is still deeply sick — and the countries, like Ireland and Greece, that have cut spending to deal with their fiscal problems, have found themselves with unemployment rates of 15 percent instead.”

Henwood writes regularly at doughenwood.wordpress.com — and his books include Wall Street.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167