Poland mourns dead president

Everyone on the plane  died in the crash  The numbers vary in the reports I have read to date, so anywhere from 96 to 130 died. It is agreed in all reports there were no survivors.

April 10 2010

Thousands of Poles have gathered at the presidential palace in Warsaw to mourn Lech Kaczynski, the president, and the 96 others who were killed in an air crash in western Russia.

A significant part of Poland’s political establishment was wiped out as all the passengers on board the plane, including senior government officials and parliamentarians, were killed on Saturday.

Poles flocked to churches across the nation to lay flowers, light candles, sing hymns and pray.

Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, described the accident as “the most tragic event of the country’s post-war history”, before flying to the crash site where he and Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, met and laid flowers together.

The heads of Poland’s armed forces, the central bank governor, deputy ministers and 15 MPs were among those killed when the jet tried to land in heavy fog and crashed in a forest.

Wreckage scattered

Wreckage, including the engines, was scattered across a forest and parts of it burned for more than an hour.

The officials had been on their way to the city of Smolensk to take part in reconciliatory ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre where Russian forces killed more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war.

Kaczynski’s wife, Polish church leaders and families of Katyn massacre victims were also killed.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Warsaw, said: “Katyn was a major blight between the Soviet Union and Poland for many many years … Thousands of prisoners of war massacred, among them senior officers, troops and also intellectuals – the elite really, who were wiped out effectively in that massacre.

“The irony, of course, is not lost on many people that in Saturday’s tragic crash, the elite were all on board one aircraft going towards Katyn to commemorate that event.”

Following the constitution, Bronislaw Komorowski, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, took over as interim head of state and a presidential election has to be held before the end of June.

Komorowski said he would announce the date of the poll after talks with all political parties.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has appointed Putin to chair a special commission to investigate the crash.

‘Instructions ignored’

Alexander Alyoshin, the first deputy chief of the Russian air force’s general staff, said the plane’s pilot repeatedly ignored instructions from air traffic controllers.

“The head of the air traffic control group gave a command to the crew to put the aircraft into the horizontal position and when the crew did not implement this order, several times gave orders to divert to an alternative airport,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

“Despite this, the crew continued the descent. Unfortunately this ended in tragedy.”

Authorities have found both flight recorders, commonly known as “black boxes”, from the jet.

Komorowski, Poland’s acting president, declared a week of mourning after the crash.

“We are united – there is no [political] left or right – we are united in national mourning,” he said.

Poland had been due to hold a presidential election in October, when Kaczynski was likely to have run against the liberal Komorowski.

Popular president

The conservative Kaczynski, who had served as president of Poland since 2005, had a reputation for being incorruptible and was a popular figure.

Marek Matraszek, a political consultant in Warsaw, told Al Jazeera that politically, Kaczynski had been loosing in popularity recently.

“But even his deepest enemies would not deny that he was hugely respected by the Polish people,” he said.

“Many of his political opponents, while disagreeing with him politically, respected him for his career, his personality, his principles … This will very much go forward into cementing how Poles will remember him: not as a politician but rather as a man of deep principle.”

Matraszek said the loss of so many politicians would have a significant effect on the political scene in Poland.

“This is an issue that cuts across political barriers … Every political party and every part of the political establishment has been affected. These were very senior people with a great deal of experience who will be very difficult to replace … Many of the people who died had no real successors.” Source

April 10 2010

Locals in Smolensk region shared with RT dramatic eyewitness accounts.

Crash site

Both Polish and the Russians will be doing an investigation into the crash.

This is a tragic event for all concerned.

April 10, 2010 — Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has addressed the Polish nation on the death of their president and expressed his condolences over the tragic events in Smolensk.

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Obama’s grandmother dies just before election


November 3, 2008

Obama and his grandmother

This photo provided by the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., shows Obama in 1979 during his high school graduation in Hawaii with his grandmother, Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham. Sen. Obama says his grandmother died Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008.

HONOLULU – Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, 1 day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86. Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer. They said: “She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.” Obama learned of her death Monday morning while he was campaigning in Jacksonville, Fla. He planned to go ahead with campaign appearances.

The family said a private ceremony would be held later.

Last month, Obama took a break from campaigning and flew to Hawaii to be with Dunham as her health declined.

Obama said the decision to go to Hawaii was easy to make, telling CBS that he “got there too late” when his mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995 at 53, and wanted to make sure “that I don’t make the same mistake twice.”

The Kansas-born Dunham and her husband, Stanley, raised their grandson for several years so he could attend school in Honolulu while their daughter and her second husband lived overseas. Her influence on Obama’s manner and the way he viewed the world was substantial, the candidate himself told millions watching him accept his party’s nomination in Denver in August.

“She’s the one who taught me about hard work,” he said. “She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me.”

Obama’s nickname for his grandmother was “Toot,” a version of the Hawaiian word for grandmother, tutu. Many of his speeches describe her working on a bomber assembly line during World War II.

Madelyn and Stanley Dunham married in 1940, a few weeks before she graduated from high school. Their daughter, Stanley Ann, was born in 1942. After several moves to and from California, Texas, Washington and Kansas, Stanley Dunham’s job landed the family in Hawaii.

It was there that Stanley Ann later met and fell in love with Obama’s father, a Kenyan named Barack Hussein Obama Sr. They had met in Russian class at the University of Hawaii. Their son was born in August 1961, but the marriage didn’t last long. She later married an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro, another university student she met in Hawaii.

Obama moved to Indonesia with his mother and stepfather at age 6. But in 1971, her mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with her parents. He stayed with the Dunhams until he graduated from high school in 1979.

In his autobiography, Obama wrote fondly of playing basketball on a court below his grandparents’ 10th-floor Honolulu apartment, and looking up to see his grandmother watching.

It was the same apartment Obama visited on annual holiday trips to Hawaii, a weekling vacation from his campaign in August, and his pre-election visit in October. Family members said his grandmother could not travel because of her health.

Madelyn Dunham, who took university classes but to her chagrin never earned a degree, nonetheless rose from a secretarial job at the Bank of Hawaii to become one of the state’s first female bank vice presidents.

“Every morning, she woke up at 5 a.m. and changed from the frowsy muu-muus she wore around the apartment into a tailored suit and high-heeled pumps,” Obama wrote.

After her health took a turn for the worse, her brother said on Oct. 21 that she had already lived long enough to see her “Barry” achieve what she’d wanted for him.

“I think she thinks she was important in raising a fine young man,” Charles Payne, 83, said in a brief telephone interview from his Chicago home. “I doubt if it would occur to her that he would go this far this fast. But she’s enjoyed watching it.”

Stanley Dunham died in 1992, while Obama’s mother died in 1995. His father is also deceased.

When Obama was young, he and his grandmother toured the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Disneyland and Chicago, where Obama would years later settle.

It was an incident during his teenage years that became one of Obama’s most vivid memories of Toot. She had been aggressively panhandled by a man and she wanted her husband to take her to work. When Obama asked why, his grandfather said Madelyn Dunham was bothered because the panhandler was black.

The words hit the biracial Obama “like a fist in my stomach,” he wrote later. He was sure his grandparents loved him deeply. “And yet,” he added, “I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.”

Obama referred to the incident again when he addressed race in a speech in March during a controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he said.

When Obama was young, he and his grandmother toured the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Disneyland and Chicago, where Obama would years later settle.

It was an incident during his teenage years that became one of Obama’s most vivid memories of Toot. She had been aggressively panhandled by a man and she wanted her husband to take her to work. When Obama asked why, his grandfather said Madelyn Dunham was bothered because the panhandler was black.

The words hit the biracial Obama “like a fist in my stomach,” he wrote later. He was sure his grandparents loved him deeply. “And yet,” he added, “I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.”

Obama referred to the incident again when he addressed race in a speech in March during a controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he said.


How sad for him to have to go through this at this time. My heart goes out to him and his family.

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 2:39 am  Comments Off on Obama’s grandmother dies just before election  
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Guess What AIG did after the Bailout? Party Time?

AIG Spa Trip Fuels Fury on Hill

Pressing Executives to Concede Mistakes, Lawmakers Blast Them About Bonuses

By Peter Whoriskey

October 8, 2008

For some people at AIG, the insurance giant rescued last month with an $85 billion federal bailout, the good times keep rolling

Joseph Cassano, the financial products manager whose complex investments led to American International Group‘s near collapse, is receiving $1 million a month in consulting fees.

Former chief executive Martin J. Sullivan, whose three-year tenure coincided with much of the company’s ill-fated risk-taking, is receiving a $5 million performance bonus.

And just last week, about 70 of the company’s top performers were rewarded with a week-long stay at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a tab of $440,000.

At a House committee hearing yesterday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) showed a photograph of the resort, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and reported expenses for AIG personnel including $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa.

“Less than a week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation,” Waxman said in kicking off an angry hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “We will ask whether any of this makes sense.”

“They were getting their manicures, their pedicures, massages, their facials while the American people were paying their bills,” thundered Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).

The gathering was planned before the bailout as a reward for life insurance agents, a company spokesman said, and fewer than 10 AIG executives were present.

The hearing promised and delivered strident condemnations of the two AIG executives the committee had invited to testify. Sullivan served as chief executive from 2005 to 2008; Robert B. Willumstad served as chief executive from June until September, and before that was chairman of the board.

“Shame on you, Mr. Sullivan,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), noting that Sullivan was not giving up any of his $5 million performance bonus.

Over and over, the committee members vented outrage at having the federal government bail out the company, referring frequently to their angry constituents.

But neither Sullivan nor Willumstad acknowledged making any mistakes.

“Looking back on my time as CEO, I don’t believe AIG could have done anything differently,” Willumstad said.

Sullivan blamed “a global financial tsunami” and the “mark-to-market” accounting rules, which require businesses to value assets at market value, even if no sale is imminent.

“I have spent my entire adult life in service to AIG, and I am heartbroken at what has happened,” he told the committee.

The committee members, barely concealing their frustration, seemed stunned by the duo’s refusal to find fault with their own performances.

“Don’t you think the management has some responsibility for what went on there?” Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) said at one point, his voice incredulous.

Sullivan responded that when they learned there was trouble with their investments, they put controls in place.

Tierney then questioned whether, at their compensation levels, the manager should have been “ahead of the curve” on such troubles.

“This is a fundamental failure of management,” Tierney said, exasperated.

The executives sat stone faced.

The House committee, which took on executive compensation at bankrupt Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers on Monday, has received “tens of thousands” of pages of documents from AIG, Waxman said.

Those documents show that AIG executives may have played a more significant role in the company’s collapse than either of the two executives let on, Waxman said.

On Dec. 5, 2007, Sullivan told investors “we are confident in our marks and the reasonableness of our valuation methods.”

But just a week before, PricewaterhouseCoopers, AIG’s auditor, had warned Sullivan that the company “could have a material weakness relating to these areas,” according to minutes from the company’s audit committee.

Moreover, as early as March federal regulators blamed lax management.

“We are concerned that the corporate oversight of AIG Financial Products . . . lacks critical elements of independence, transparency and granularity,” the Office of Thrift Supervision wrote to the company on March 10.

Just as frustrating to the committee members, Sullivan and Cassano seemed to have been rewarded for their performance, even though the company plunged under their stewardship.

AIG lost more than $5 billion in the last quarter of 2007 because of its risky financial products division, Waxman said.

Yet in March 2008 when the company’s compensation committee met to award bonuses, Sullivan urged the committee to ignore those losses, which should have slashed bonuses.

But the board agreed to ignore the losses from the financial products division and gave Sullivan a cash bonus of more than $5 million.

The board also approved a new contract for Sullivan that gave him a golden parachute of $15 million, Waxman said.

As for Cassano, the executive in charge of the company’s troubled financial products division, he received more than $280 million over the past eight years. Even after he was terminated in February as his investments turned sour, the company allowed him to keep as much as $34 million in unvested bonuses and put him on a $1 million-a-month retainer.

He continues to receive $1 million a month, Waxman said.

Asked why they didn’t fire Cassano, Sullivan said they needed to “retain the 20-year knowledge of the transactions.”

“What would he have had to have done for you to fire him?” Waxman said.


After Bailout, AIG Executives Head to Resort

Peter Whoriskey

Less than a week after the federal government offered an $85 billion bailout to insurance giant AIG, the company held a week-long retreat for its executives at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., running up a tab of $440,000, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said today at the the opening of a House committee hearing about the near-failure of the insurance giant.

Showing a photograph of the resort, Waxman said the executives spent $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa.

“Less than a week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation,” Waxman said. “We will ask whether any of this makes sense. ”

The committee will ask the company’s executives about their multimillion-dollar pay packages — some of which they continue to receive — as well as who bears responsibility for the company’s high-risk investment portfolio, which led to its near collapse just weeks ago.

“They were getting their manicures, their pedicures, massages, their facials while the American people were paying their bills,” thundered Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), of the executive retreat at the Monarch Resort.

The House committee, which took on executive compensation at bankrupt Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers yesterday, has received “tens of thousands” of pages of documents from AIG, Waxman said.

Those documents show that as the company’s risky investments began to implode, the company altered its generous executive pay plan to pay out regardless of such losses.
AIG lost over $5 billion in the last quarter of 2007 due its risky financial products division, Waxman said. Yet in March 2008, when the company’s compensation committee met to award bonuses, Chief Executive Martin Sullivan urged the committee to ignore those losses, which should have slashed bonuses.

But the board agreed to ignore the losses from the financial products division and gave Sullivan a cash bonus of over $5 million. The board also approved a new compensation contract for Sullivan that gave him a golden parachute of $15 million, Waxman said.

Joseph Cassano, the executive in charge of the company’s troubled financial products division, received more than $280 million over the last eight years, Waxman said. Even after he was terminated in February as his investments turned sour, the company allowed him to keep up to $34 million in unvested bonuses and put him on a $1 million-a-month retainer. He continues to receive $1 million a month, Waxman said.

Waxman also looked skeptically at the executives’ defense that the troubles in the business had to do with larger economic forces and not their own bad decisions.
When a former AIG auditor, Joseph St. Denis, expressed concerns, Cassano told him “I have deliberately excluded you from the valuation … because I was concerned that you would pollute the process,” according to Waxman.

St. Denis resigned in protest.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, AIG’s auditor, told the company in March 2008 that the “root cause” of AIG’s problems was that people assessing risk did not have enough access to the financial products division, where the risky investments originated.
Waxman further suggested that Sullivan had deliberately misled investors.

On Dec. 5, 2007, Sullivan expressed confidence to investors. But a week before, PricewaterhouseCoopers warned Sullivan that the company “could have a material weakness relating to these area,” committee members said.


Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 4:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Europe catches America’s financial disease

October 7 2008

Iceland and Russia launched major efforts Tuesday to keep important banks afloat as the American financial tsunami crashed onto European shores.

Tuesday morning, the Reykjavik-based government of Prime Minister Geir Haarde dumped the directors of Landsbanki and took over the country’s second-largest bank.

Landsbanki, whose chair owns the West Ham United English football club, had stopped depositors from withdrawing their own money, a sure sign of a bank in financial difficulty.

Iceland also lent the country’s biggest bank, Kaupthing, $745 million to help the bank stay afloat.

In addition, the national financial authority stopped trading in the nation’s six biggest banks in a bid to prevent the further erosion of their share prices.

Finally, the government received a $5.95-billion US loan from Russia to bolster its foreign currency reserves, a necessary commodity for trade and international investment.

Iceland’s moves signal that a financial crisis economy watchers believed was largely contained to U.S. lending institutions is spreading as fast as a bottle of spilt ink.

“Over this period the Icelandic banks have grown hugely and their liabilities are now equivalent to many times Iceland’s GNP. Under all normal circumstances larger banks would be more likely to survive temporary difficulties, but the disaster which is now engulfing the world is of a different nature, and the size of the banks in comparison with the Icelandic economy is today their main weakness,” Haarde said in an address to his countrymen on Monday.

Europe’s financial pains

Russia has had troubles of its own since the beginning of September.

The country’s main stock indices have lost substantial value, including the RTS, which is down 60 per cent since May, as investors reacted badly to the ongoing global financial dislocation and slumping oil prices, a factor that hits crude producing countries such as Russia especially hard.

As well, banks in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Ireland have in recent weeks been taken over or otherwise bailed out by national governments.

These institutions, which often have lower amounts of cash on hand than their American counterparts, have been unable to write off large amounts of now-worthless asset-backed commercial borrowing without destroying their financial balance sheets.

Europe’s financial paralysis has forced governments to come up with huge amounts of fiscal aid.

On Monday, for example, the German government stepped in with a $75 billion plan to help the country’s largest mortgage lender.

Deposit deal

In a bit of good news Tuesday, European governments agreed to $75,000 as the maximum financial deposit they would guarantee.

The deal eased complaints after a series of countries — Ireland, Greece, Germany, Austria and Denmark — essentially said they would make good most monies deposited in their banks.

Other nations griped that the move placed pressure on their lenders since customers now had an incentive to give their cash to financial institutions domiciled in those five countries.


Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 2:38 am  Comments Off on Europe catches America’s financial disease  
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Icelands, Icesave freezes deposits and withdrawals

Hilary Osborne and Miles Brignall

October 07 2008

The internet bank Icesave has suspended all deposits and withdrawals from customers’ accounts after the Icelandic authorities stepped in to rescue its parent company Landsbanki.

Landsbanki’s other UK operation Heritable Bank has also stopped savers making withdrawals and is no longer offering mortgages.

Between them the two brands have more than 300,000 customers in the UK, with Icesave winning savers with its high interest rates on savings accounts and Isas.

Today a statement on its website said: “We are not currently processing any deposits or any withdrawal requests through our Icesave internet accounts. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers. We hope to provide you with more information shortly.”

Although Landsbanki is set to continue trading as normal in Iceland, it is not clear what will happen to Icesave or Heritable Bank in the UK, but the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has said it is preparing for the bank to go into default.

A message on its website tells consumers: “The Financial Services Authority in the UK has reported that Icesave is now expected to go into insolvency proceedings in Iceland and this would trigger an FSCS default.”

Yesterday, Icesave’s website went down and its UK call centre is reported to have received unprecedented volumes of calls from savers worried about the safety of their cash.

But a spokeswoman for the group insisted that call volumes had been normal and the website was down due to technical difficulties.

Concerns about the Icelandic economy came to a head yesterday, and the Icelandic government last night presented an emergency bill giving it sweeping powers over the nation’s banks.

This morning the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority (IFSA) announced it was taking control of Landsbanki, as it became the latest victim of the credit crunch.

The IFSA said domestic deposits were fully guaranteed by the government, and that “Landsbanki’s domestic branches, call centres, cash machines and internet operations will be open for business as usual”.


The 100% guarantee does not extend to UK savers, who would have to apply for compensation both in Iceland and the UK, and would only be able to recover up to £50,000.

The first €20,000 (£16,264) they hold is protected under the Icelandic government’s scheme, and the remainder up to £50,000 by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FCSC).

A spokesman for Landsbanki said 95% of Icesave’s customers had deposited less than £50,000, so would be fully protected by the FCSC.

At the start of 2008, Heritable had around £900m on deposit from UK savers.

It used the money to provide specialist finance for property developments, and some residential mortgages. All new lending appears to have been suspended.

Unlike, the savers who had their money in an Icesave, all Heritable savers’ money is covered by the FSCS up to £50,000 (£100,000 for joint accounts) in the event that Landsbanki ceases to exist.

Trading normally

As news of Landsbanki’s failure emerged representatives of Kaupthing, the other major Icelandic bank with a significant UK savings operation, were desperately trying to halt a Northern Rock-style run.

By mid-morning concerned savers were deluging the bank’s retail division Kaupthing Edge’s call centre keen to establish whether the bank was still trading, and in many cases to move their money.

The call centre number has been permanently engaged all morning.

Kaupthing Edge, which is thought to have at least 150,000 UK savers on its books, had been offering some of the most attractive savings rates in the market for the past few months.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “Kaupthing has not been nationalised and is still trading normally. Yes, people are concerned, but I stress there is no reason to move your money. There is no reason to panic.”

She added: “All savers’ money is covered to £50,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and nothing has changed today in this respect. The company is processing all requests to move money in the normal way.”


Case study: Nick Stringer stands to lose his retirement fund after locking it away in an Icesave account

Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 9:06 pm  Comments Off on Icelands, Icesave freezes deposits and withdrawals  
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Questions the Government faces over banking guarantees

October 6, 2008

The Government is facing increased pressure to follow its European counterparts in pledging 100 per cent protection for UK savers.

What has the German government pledged?

Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed that the federal government would guarantee all private savings accounts in German banks. Finance minister Peer Steinbrueck said that from today German citizens need not worry about “a single euro of their deposits” during the global financial crisis.

Is Germany the only country to offer such a promise?

No. Last week Ireland said all money held in savings accounts at six institutions – Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, Anglo-Irish Bank, Irish Life and Permanent, Irish Nationwide Building Society and the Educational Building Society – will be guaranteed in their entirety.

Greece has likewise guaranteed its depositors’ savings.

What is the situation in the UK?

In the UK, savings of £50,000 are covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The limit relates to deposits with an organisation, regardless of how many accounts the customer holds. The limit had, until recently, been set at £35,000 but as a result of the current crisis, ministers agreed to up the ceiling.

Can UK citizens benefit from the announcements in other countries?

Yes. Three Irish banks – Allied Irish Bank, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland – have branches in the UK. These will be covered by the Irish Government’s guarantee and British citizens can open accounts with relative ease at branches in the UK. In addition, the Post Office’s savings products are run by Bank of Ireland, giving customers 100% protection.

There is also nothing stopping UK customers opening up an account with a bank branch in Ireland. Although it may be harder, as many will want you to appear in person to open the account.

How have British banks responded? Aren’t they at a disadvantage?

On Wednesday the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) challenged the Irish government, claiming that the guarantee was anti-competitive, especially for banks in Northern Ireland. It fears that UK savers will move their money to Irish banks in a bid to benefit from the guarantee offered.

But don’t some institutions in the UK already offer 100 per cent protection?

Yes. When Northern Rock collapsed, the UK Government made an exception to end the run on the bank, ensuring that all of the Rock’s savers will have deposits covered in their entirety.

National Savings & Investment, which is backed by the Treasury, also offers complete protection on people saving through its products.

And Bradford & Bingley savings are safe while part of the collapsed bank goes through the process of being transferred to Santander, owners of Abbey.

So, if ministers pledged complete protection for Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, what’s to say they won’t do the same if another bank fails?

Nothing. The whole question in many experts’ view is purely theoretical. It would, it is argued, be almost inconceivable for the Government to let savers lose their money as a result of a bank failing.

Unlike more risky investments, people are not given explicit warnings that they could lose their savings – the whole stability of the banking system depends on the belief that money is safe in the bank.

If people started to lose money, it would lead to instability on a grand scale and a return to a run on the banks as panicked savers attempt to move cash out.

So why don’t the Government just follow the German and Irish lead and guarantee all savings?

Because it shifts liability from the banks to the taxpayers. And we are talking about a lot of money. Estimates suggest it would mean a risk running into the trillions of pounds – that is £1,000,000,000,000s. This would place a huge burden on public finances.

And it could be the “thin end of the wedge”, some fear. Bank’s business customers may be next in asking for their money to be covered.

An 100 per cent guarantee could also impact on the Government’s ability to raise funds which in turn could hit public spending. The theory has it that with a promise to protect all savings, people would be less willing to buy into secure state-backed bonds.

The main attraction of Government “gilt-edged” bonds is that they are seen as one of the safest places you can put money.

If bank saving accounts are covered by a Government guarantee this will no longer be the case. As such they would be deemed to be less attractive, especially as they currently offer a return which is less than that of a top savings account.


Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 8:54 pm  Comments Off on Questions the Government faces over banking guarantees  
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Now they want to drug even more Troops.
Dexedrine Is A ‘Go-Pill’ Given To Pilots When They Set Off On Missions.

Restoril is a ‘no-go pill’ to help them sleep.

The use of drugs by American pilots is an open secret in the defence world. By Andrew Buncombe AMERICAN PILOTS in Afghanistan, blamed for a series of “friendly fire” incidents and devastating erroneous attacks on innocent civilians, were routinely provided with amphetamines to tackle fatigue and help them fly longer hours.

Pilots were allowed to “self-regulate” their own doses and kept the drugs in their cockpits. The pilots were provided with the stimulant Dexedrine, generically known as dextroamphetamine and referred to as a “go-pill” by the airmen, when they set off on missions.

When they returned, doctors gave them sedatives or “no-go pills” to help them sleep.

Pilots who refused to take the drugs could be banned from taking part in a mission.

The use of the drugs is outlined in a 58-page document seen by The Independent entitled Performance Maintenance During Continuous Flight Operations, produced by the Naval medical research laboratory in Pensacola, Florida. It says: “Combat naps, proper nutrition and caffeine are currently approved and accepted ways … to prevent and manage fatigue.

However, in sustained and continuous operations these methods may be insufficient …”

A statement issued yesterday by the US Air Force Surgeon General’s Office confirmed the use of amphetamines by pilots.

It said: “During contingency and combat operations, aviators are often required to perform their duties for extended periods without rest. While we have many planning and training techniques to extend our operations, prescribed drugs are sometimes made available to counter the effects of fatigue during these operations.” The use of stimulants by American combat pilots appears to be an open secret within the defence world, although it is believed this is the first time the Pentagon has confirmed their use was officially condoned.

The revelation has fuelled speculation that the use of amphetamines may have been a factor in a series of devastating errors by pilots that led to attacks on Afghan civilians as well as so-called friendly-fire incidents. In the worst friendly-fire incident of the campaign, four Canadian soldiers of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry were killed and eight injured in April when an American pilot dropped a 500lb laser-guided bomb on their position. The F-16 pilot, Illinois Air National Guard Major Harry Schmidt, had flown three hours from Kuwait to the combat zone and faced a three-hour flight back afterwards. F-16 missions from Kuwait routinely took up to nine hours. In addition, few of the pilots based in Kuwait – where they were originally deployed to patrol the no-fly zone over southern Iraq – – received the recommended 12 hours rest between missions as they were on double duty. John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a defence think-tank, said: “Better bombing through chemistry.

I think enquiring whether amphetamine use had a role in the bombing errors is an obvious question to ask. I am surprised that the question has not been asked before. “When you look at the original story of the Canadian friendly-fire incident it seems that the pilot was being inexplicably aggressive. It goes beyond fatigue or lack of experience or being a cowboy or trigger happy or any of the standard prosaic explanations. The simplest explanation is that the guy had eaten too much speed and was paranoid.”

Two unpublished reports into the friendly-fire incident reportedly concluded that Mr Schmidt made his error because he failed to properly assess the supposed risk before striking. Mr Schmidt, a former Navy pilot and instructor at its elite “Top Gun” training school, said he saw muzzle flashes on the ground and believed he was acting in self-defence. Moments later he was informed there were “friendlies in the area”. It later emerged the Canadians were taking part in live-firing exercises which America was aware of. Mr Schmidt’s lawyer, Charles Gittins, was unavailable to comment yesterday on whether his client had been taking amphetamines. However, he told the Toronto Star, which revealed the use of amphetamines by pilots: “I don’t know. I never asked my pilot if he was medicated.

But it’s quite common.” The Performance Maintenance manual reveals just how common the use of amphetamines by pilots is. A survey of pilots who took part in the 1991 Desert Storm operation suggests 60 per cent of them took Dexedrine. In units most heavily involved in combat missions, the rate was as high as 96 per cent. During Desert Storm, the standard dosage of Dexedrine was 5mg. In Afghanistan it was 10mg. The manual itself warns of the potential dangers of amphetamine use, particularly from repetitive dosage.

It says: “The risk of drug accumulation from repetitive dosage warrants serious consideration.”

Despite this it appears that pilots are under a considerable degree of pressure to take the drugs.

A consent form that all pilots are required to sign says use of the drug is voluntary.

But it adds: “Should I choose not to take it under circumstances where its use appears indicated … my commander … may determine whether or not I should be considered unfit to fly a given mission.” Last month scores of Afghan civilians were killed in the village of Karakak, 100 miles north of Kandahar, after being bombed by American forces which may have mistook wedding celebrations as hostile fire.

Published in: on January 20, 2008 at 12:20 am  Comments Off on FRIENDLY FIRE DEATHS LINKED TO US PILOTS ON SPEED  

Virginia Tech

The young man at VT had been in the US from the time he was 8 years old. He was on meds. He needed help and got little I bet. They say now they tried to help him but of course that may or may not be the whole truth. He bought the gun in Virginia and it took him only 15 minutes to half an hour to get it. All he had to do was fill out a couple of forms and show two pieces of ID. To simple. Way to simple. Personally I don’t think hand guns should be in the public but say that to an American and he will probably freak. They really are too easy to conceal. One just never knows who has one in their purse of pocket.

The note he wrote as reported on the ABC News cast I watched last night was 8 pages long. They think he wrote it after the first shooting in the morning then he gaffied a bunch of chains and locks and I presume he walked over to where he killed the rest of the students. He put chains on the doors and entered the school, all within two hours of the first shooting.

He certainly managed a lot in two hours I must say.

He certainly was not new to the US. He had been there for a long time.

Seems to me there is a lot more too this then we are being told.

I have to wonder about the 8 page NOTE. That’s not a note. That’s a lot more.

He obviously was a very sick young man. Whether he was white, black or purple it really doesn’t matter, he was just a very sick young man.

The initial reports were pretty much all the same except for Fox news and the reporter just had to mention it may be a terrorist attack a number of times, but of course he wasn’t sure of course, but he had to mention it. I found that to be just stupid on his part.

I was reading some stuff on a few blogs and guess what a few, select few thank goodness at the ones I read thought he was in fact a terrorist. Others were pulling a bigotry thing which I found typical, but foolish to say the least.

I feel for the families and those that were hurt, but one young man thought if they were allowed to take guns to school he could have stopped him. He actually was angry because guns are not allowed. Go figure. What a disaster taking guns into a school would be. To think some even would think that is OK, I found disturbing.

There is no comparison to Iraq however, what they are going through is beyond anything at VT. VT is a minor drop in the bucket in comparison. Virginia is lucky this may never happen again, In Iraq it happens every day and never ends. Every day kids are exposed to the killings. Parents and families and friends lose people they love every day. With no end in sight.

Will the US ever learn No not likely. Will they do anything to control the gun problem No not likely. There was a report I read a few yeas ago in Florida alone they sold about 1 million guns every year and that is in just one State. Since I read that they have sold another 3 or 4 million guns as well. Imagine how many hand guns are walking around the streets tucked away inside a purse or pocket. That alone should scare the entire population but NOOOOOOOOOOO they think it is their right and it keeps them safe.

In NC another 16 year old student also threatened two other students with a gun. Then shoot himself.

This is also in addition to a student who made a bomb at the end of the story.

America Wake UP. There is a problem.

I have a process of thought which I think is rather logical. If you have a gun you can kill more then one person with great ease and you don’t have to be up close and personal like with a knife for example. If there were no hand guns of any guns for that matter, there would be less murder. Most people don’t like to get to close to their victim they might fight back yell scream or do in the one who is trying to do the killing. It is harder to kill if you’re not in possession of a gun. But whatever turns their cranks.

How many people are killed by guns in the US every year, 30 thousand or more. Then you also have to wonder how many get wounded by a gun. That should tell people something. You should wonder. Other countries have clamped down on guns and things improved, but believe what you will. Maybe you should check out police reports around the nation and maybe you will find what I did and it wasn’t a pleasant trip.

When you think of those who died in VT also remember those in Iraq and other countries at war go through that every day not just once in a while. They go through much more. Imagine. Just imagine every day, with no end in sight.

No take a look at what Your President thinks is OK

2007 Pulitzer Priz: Charlie Savage, National Reporting

There are a number of other stories by the same reporter and he has done a rather good job. the One below is very informative however.

Bush challenges hundreds of laws

(By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff, 4/30/06)

WASHINGTON — President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

He thinks it’s OK to break the law. How will America ever get anywhere when their own president thinks it OK to BREAK the LAW JUST BECAUSE HE FEELS LIKE IT


Published in: on April 18, 2007 at 11:35 pm  Comments Off on Virginia Tech  

Where Some Tax Dollars Should Be Spent-Did You Know?

LA Hospitals Dumping Homeless

There have been 55 cases they are investigating and I imagine there are many more.

It’s hard to believe in a country so rich there are so many who live in poverty and end up homeless. The light of the homeless is ignored by many. They are treated as non existing people. They live much like people in third world countries. They rummage through the trash, beg for a few dollars and live in squallier conditions. The number of homeless grows each year. How much do you know about the homeless? How does one end up in that position? What would you do if you lost everything? How would you survive? So tomorrow you are living on the streets.
Where do you sleep? Where do you find food? Who is willing to help you? You will notice many will just walk by you like you are invisible. Your live is in jeopardy each and every day. There have been many homeless beaten or killed just for being homeless. The number of homeless in America is difficult to define as they really don’t keep count. I was watching a news cast and they estimate that in L. A. County alone there are 90 thousand homeless.

I think this is a crisis most in America have ignored.

There is a connection between war and homelessness. How could someone who served their country come home and end up living on the streets? How can they become one of the nations most desperately poor? One quarter of the homeless in America are war Veterans. That is just unacceptable. That is appalling. This is devastating. America should be hanging its head in absolute shame. The country that brags of how free, rich, fair, and filled with opportunity.

This is one mans story: I have to wonder if he thinks war has been good for him?

From Democracy Now

Four nights before Christmas, former Army specialist Herold Noel huddled for warmth in front of a fire he built for himself in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park as temperatures slid toward the single digits. Plagued by nightmares and unable to hold a steady job or get the assistance he needed, he was on the verge of losing his wife and three young children. It wasn’t the homecoming he’d expected after serving in Iraq last year.

According to the Pentagon, 955,000 U.S. troops have already served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The experiences of Noel and others like him have many observers worried that the country will be inundated by a wave of returning veterans with no place to go and reeling from psychological trauma, as happened toward the end of the Vietnam War. According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, up to 17 percent of troops returning from Iraq “met the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].

For Entire Interview

Hundreds of U.S. soldiers returning from IraqAfghanistan are ending up homeless. How could this happen?

How many homeless veterans are there?


Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by — no one keeps national records on homeless veterans — the VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country. According to the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Urban Institute, 1999), veterans account for 23% of all homeless people in America.


This one of the most recent reports out of LA is just to much to swallow.

A 70-year-old man who had just been discharged from a hospital was sent by taxi to a Los Angeles neighborhood frequented by the homeless and drug addicts, and police and prosecutors were investigating whether it was the latest case of hospitals dumping patients on the street.

This is not a new. This has been going on for some time.

City Council member Jan Perry, whose district includes L.A.’s Skid Row, says hospitals may be dumping their homeless patients in downtown Los Angeles because the cities hosting the hospitals don’t want to deal with their homeless problem.

An elderly woman being dumped fortunately caught on video.

This is the way America treats the poorest of POOR.
Trend: ‘Dumping’ Homeless on L.A.’s Skid Row
Millions in America are extremely close to losing their homes and becoming just another passing thought to those who ignore their plight.
Ask them if the money spent on the Military bases around the world benefit them. Do they protect them in any way? Would they prefer a safe home and decent care? The numbers are growing dramatically each year.
I see this as a National Crisis which is being ignored.How close are you to becoming homeless?

Published in: on April 14, 2007 at 10:10 pm  Comments Off on Where Some Tax Dollars Should Be Spent-Did You Know?