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Colorado Proposes Tough Law on Executive Accountability

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

DENVER — For 30 years, Lew Ellingson loved being a telephone man.

His job splicing phone cables was one that he says gave him “a true sense of accomplishment,” first for Northwestern Bell, then US West and finally Qwest Communications International.

But by the time Mr. Ellingson retired from Qwest last year at 52, he had grown angry. An insider trading scandal had damaged the company’s reputation, and the life savings of former colleagues had evaporated in the face of Qwest’s stock troubles.

“It was a good place,” he said wistfully. “And then something like this happened.”

Now, Mr. Ellingson is the public face of a proposed ballot measure in Colorado that seeks to create what supporters hope will be the nation’s toughest corporate fraud law.

Buttressed by local advocacy groups and criticized by a Colorado business organization, the measure would make business executives criminally responsible if their companies run afoul of the law. It would also permit any Colorado resident to sue the executives under such circumstances. Proceeds from successful suits would go to the state.

If passed by voters in November, the proposal would leave top business officers having unprecedented individual accountability, said Mr. Ellingson, a member of Protect Colorado’s Future, a coalition of advocacy groups that supports the initiative.

“If nothing else, these folks in charge of the corporations and companies will think twice about cutting corners to make themselves look more profitable than they really are,” he said.

The plight of Mr. Ellingson’s former employer, Qwest, based in Denver, was a motivation for the proposal, said Jess Knox, executive director of Protect Colorado’s Future.

Last April, a jury in Denver convicted Qwest’s former chief executive, Joseph P. Nacchio, of 19 of 42 counts of insider trading. Mr. Nacchio was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $19 million and forfeit $52 million in money he earned from stock sales in 2001.

In March, however, a federal appeals court panel reversed the conviction on the grounds that a judge had improperly excluded expert defense testimony.

The panel ordered that Mr. Nacchio receive a new trial in front of a different judge....(Click here for remainder of article.)


Letter from Sen. Ken Salazar RE: Iran

[Seems to me that Sen. Salazar is towing the Republican party line on this! What is with these blue-dog Democrats? Do they not pay attention? "Sen. Salazar, you represent Colorado. If you haven't noticed, it's become quite the blue state. Get on board or get replaced!"]

Dear Bret:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Iran. I appreciate hearing from you.

I am deeply concerned about Iran’s continuing violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Taking these clandestine nuclear activities together with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad’s inflammatory statements regarding Israel and the West, and it is clear this emerging challenge deserves our attention. Accordingly, I am a co-sponsor of legislation, the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act (S.970), which would impose sanctions on Iran and on other countries for assisting Iran in developing a nuclear program.

I am also troubled by reports of continuing Iranian support for Shia militias in Iraq that fuel violence and target American troops. In response to this, I recently supported a Sense of the Senate amendment (S.A.3017) to the National Defense Reauthorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 which states it shall be the policy of the United States to combat and contain Iran's violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq.

Let me be clear, however: the United States should make every attempt to resolve the Iranian challenge through diplomatic and economic channels. This includes working with our Security Council partners in the United Nations to ensure Iran cooperates with nuclear weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and, failing that, expanding upon the economic sanctions against the Iranian regime that are already in place.

I recognize the concern of many, both in Congress and throughout the country, that the Bush administration is planning military action against Iran. In response, there are a number of legislative initiatives in the Senate aimed at restricting the ability of the President to do so:

· S.759, introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), would prohibit the use of funds for military operations in Iran except pursuant to a specific congressional authorization;
· S.Res.356, introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), would resolve that any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly approved by Congress before such action may be initiated;
· S.J.Res.23, introduced by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), would state that nothing in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq of 2002, any act that serves as the statutory authority for Executive Order 13382 or Executive Order 13224, any resolution previously adopted, or any other provision of law including Executive Order 13382 or Executive Order 13224 shall be construed to authorize, encourage, or in any way address the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against Iran; and,
· S.Con.Res.13, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), would affirm that initiating military action against Iran without congressional approval does not fall within the President's "Commander-in-Chief" powers under the Constitution; and (2) seeking congressional authority prior to taking military action against Iran is not discretionary, but a legal and constitutional requirement.

These bills currently await action in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Though I am not a member of this committee, please rest assured I will keep your concerns in mind should the full Senate consider legislation pertinent to this very important issue.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views.


Ken Salazar
United States Senator


USA 2008: The Great Depression

Food stamps are the symbol of poverty in the US. In the era of the credit crunch, a record 28 million Americans are now relying on them to survive – a sure sign the world's richest country faces economic crisis

By David Usborne in New York
Tuesday, 1 April 2008

We knew things were bad on Wall Street, but on Main Street it may be worse. Startling official statistics show that as a new economic recession stalks the United States, a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families.

Dismal projections by the Congressional Budget Office in Washington suggest that in the fiscal year starting in October, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance programme was introduced in the 1960s.

The increase – from 26.5 million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards. But above all it is the pressures being exerted on ordinary Americans by an economy that is suddenly beset by troubles. Housing foreclosures, accelerating jobs losses and fast-rising prices all add to the squeeze.

Emblematic of the downturn until now has been the parades of houses seized in foreclosure all across the country, and myriad families separated from their homes. But now the crisis is starting to hit the country in its gut. Getting food on the table is a challenge many Americans are finding harder to meet. As a barometer of the country's economic health, food stamp usage may not be perfect, but can certainly tell a story....(Click here for remainder of article.)


Obama picks up new endorsement

Mon Mar 31, 9:55 AM ET

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AFP) - US Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar has endorsed Barack Obama to become the party's presidential nominee, adding new pressure on trailing rival Hillary Clinton, Obama's campaign announced Monday.

Obama "has inspired an enthusiasm and idealism that we have not seen in this country in a long time," Minnesota Senator Klobuchar said in a statement. She said that he speaks "with a different voice, bringing a new perspective and inspiring a real excitement from the American people."

"My endorsement reflects both Barack's strong support in my state and my own independent judgment about his abilities," Klobuchar said.

"Barack has been a proven agent for change and advocate for middle-class Americans."

The announcement of support came in the wake of Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey's endorsement of Obama last week, and Senator Patrick Leahy's call for Clinton to drop out of the race, saying that there was no way she could win it.

According to Obama's campaign, Klobuchar is the 64th "superdelegate" to the party's August convention to endorse the African-American senator since the February 5 Super Tuesday primaries gave him a solid lead over Clinton in regular committed delegates....(Click here for remainder of article.)


Cash-strapped Clinton fails to pay bills

By KENNETH P. VOGEL | 3/30/08 7:00 AM EST Updated: 3/31/08 6:04 AM EST

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s cash-strapped presidential campaign has been putting off paying hundreds of bills for months — freeing up cash for critical media buys but also earning the campaign a reputation as something of a deadbeat in some small-business circles.

A pair of Ohio companies owed more than $25,000 by Clinton for staging events for her campaign are warning others in the tight-knit event production community — and anyone else who will listen — to get their cash upfront when doing business with her. Her campaign, say representatives of the two companies, has stopped returning phone calls and e-mails seeking payment of outstanding invoices. One even got no response from a certified letter.

Their cautionary tales, combined with published reports about similar difficulties faced by a New Hampshire landlord, an Iowa office cleaner and a New York caterer, highlight a less-obvious impact of Clinton’s inability to keep up with the staggering fundraising pace set by her opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton's campaign did not respond to recent, specific questions about its transactions with vendors. But Clinton spokesman Jay Carson pointed on Saturday to an earlier statement the campaign issued to Politico, asserting: "The campaign pays its bills regularly and in the normal course of business, and pays all of its bills."...(Click here for remainder of article.)


U-turn on sanctioned states

[Can someone please explain to me as to why Clinton has surrounded herself with the likes of Ickes? To me, this is just further indication that Clinton doesn't give one iota about the Democratic Party or the country, but only for the future of Hillary Clinton! That's just pathetic and destructive.]

Clinton aide who backed early-vote penalty wants delegates to count
By Hope Yen
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.

In a conference call Saturday, the longtime Democratic Party member contended that the DNC should reconsider its tough sanctions on the states, which held early contests in violation of party rules. He said millions of voters in Michigan and Florida would be disenfranchised but then acknowledged he had favored the sanctions.

Campaigning in Wisconsin, Clinton agreed that a suitable arrangement could be worked out to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations.

"The rules provide for a vote at the convention to seat contested delegations," she said. "This goes back to the 1940s in my memory. There is nothing unusual about this. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination until June. Usually it takes awhile to sort all this out. That's why there are rules. If there are contested delegations, the convention votes on it."

Ickes explained that his different position essentially is due to the different hats he wears as both a DNC member and a Clinton adviser in charge of delegate counting. Clinton won the primary vote in Michigan and Florida, and now she wants those votes to count.

"There's been no change," Ickes said. "I was not acting as an agent of Mrs. Clinton. We had promulgated rules, and those rules said the timing provision . . . provides for certain sanctions, automatic sanctions as a matter of fact, if a state such as Michigan or Florida violates those timing provisions.

"With respect to the stripping, I voted as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Those were our rules, and I felt I had an obligation to enforce them," he said. ...(Click here for remainder of article.)


Jackson Resigns as HUD Secretary

[For those of you keeping score at home, Jackson is the last of Bush's Texas cabal to leave office. This one is a doozy! Sayonara you corrupt bastard!]

Longtime Bush Friend Is Facing Cronyism Investigations

By Dan Eggen and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; Page A01

Embattled Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced his resignation yesterday, leaving the Bush administration without a top housing official in the midst of a vast mortgage crisis that has shaken the global economy.

Jackson, a longtime friend and former neighbor of President Bush, departed after the White House concluded he had too many controversies swirling around him to be an effective Cabinet member, several HUD officials said privately.

Jackson has been accused of favoritism involving HUD contractors for two years, and the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating whether he steered business to friends....(Click here for remainder of article.)



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