I’m surprised it took the U.S. media this long to look into what sorts of purchases U.S. lawmakers are making after hullabaloo over expenses in the U.K. Parliament.
The Wall Street Journal has what is as far as I know the opening salvo in what should be a healthy vetting by the Fourth Estate into the expense accounts of members of the U.S. Congress:
Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings spent $24,730 in taxpayer money last year to lease a 2008 luxury Lexus hybrid sedan. Ohio Rep. Michael Turner expensed a $1,435 digital camera. Eni Faleomavaega, the House delegate from American Samoa, bought two 46-inch Sony TVs.
The expenditures were legal, properly accounted for and drawn from allowances the U.S. government grants to lawmakers. Equipment purchased with office expense accounts must be returned to the House or the federal General Services Administration when a lawmaker leaves office.
But as British politicians come under widening scorn for spending public money on everything from candy bars to moat-dredging, an examination of U.S. lawmakers’ expense claims shows Washington’s elected officials have also used public funds for eye-catching purchases.
Rightie talk show host Michael Savage has made a lucrative second career on the airwaves as the Father Coughlin of our times. Sure, Rush and Hannity may have more listeners and fame, but the absolute red meat, ‘us v. them’ vitriol emanates from San Francisco Monday through Friday.
Since 9/11 Savage has taken to savaging Islam on a nightly basis. I might be wrong, but the term, “Islamo-Fascist” originated on his show. Savage now finds himself in the company of some true Islamo-Fascists on the U.K. Home Secretary’s list of 16 people banned from visiting Great Britain.
Here are some of Savage’s soul mates on the list:
- Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal – Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.
- Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim – A prolific speaker and writer. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glory terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.
- Safwat Hijazi – Television preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by glorifying terrorist violence.
- Nasr Javed – Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.
- Abdul Ali Musa – Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting and glorifying terrorist violence in furtherance of his particular beliefs and seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts.
- Samir Al Quntar – Spent three decades in prison for killing four soldiers and a four-year-old girl. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.
- Amir Siddique – Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.
There is some intellectual honesty in the term, “Islamo-Fascist.” After all, a small percentage of Moslems and their Middle Ages clerics have sown a lot of destruction and subjugated populations throughout Asia and the Middle East through intolerance and coersion. There is no freedom where these people rule or hold sway.
Savage’s problem is that he’s used his intellectual ability to not only point out the Islamo-Fascists, but paint the whole of Islam with his broad brush, sowing his own seeds of disharmony along the way.
The British House of Commons Treasury Committee released a report today taking U.K. bankers and regulators to the woodshed. The roots of the financial crisis in Great Britain seems to be essentially the same as that of the U.S. – from the beginning of the report (boldface mine):
The origins of the banking crisis were many and varied, including low real interest rates, a search for yield, apparent excess liquidity and a misplaced faith in financial innovation. These ingredients combined to create an environment rich in overconfidence, over-optimism and the stifling of contrary opinions. Notwithstanding this febrile environment, some of the banks have been the principal authors of their own demise. The culture within parts of British banking has increasingly been one of risk taking leading to the meltdown that we have witnessed. Bankers have made an
astonishing mess of the financial system. However, this was a failure not only within individual banks but also of the supervisory system designed to protect the public from systemic risk.
Much of the report is a chronicle of the U.K. government response to the crisis detailing bailouts of the likes of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays. The Treasury Committee did have some things to say about the future of banking and finance in the U.K., including:
- The separation of commercial and investment banking is very much a “live issue.”
- The potential for new regulation imposing rules on financial institutions keeping a greater proportion of the loans they originate on their own books.
- Potential new regulations over complex financial derivatives calling for their more transparent trade in exchanges and clearinghouses.
- General statement on the well-deserved lack of trust by consumers in the financial system and a call for generally more supervision.
Click PDF Icon for Full Report: House of Commons Treasury Committee, Banking Crisis – Dealing with the Failure of the U.K. Banks
Former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall says John Calipari is having “difficulty” making up his mind about accepting the Wildcats offer and is trying to get as much information as he can before deciding.
Hall said he and Calipari talked for about 15 to 20 minutes on Tuesday. As reported Monday by ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, Calipari has an eight-year, $35 million offer — which would make him the sport’s highest-paid coach — to leave Memphis for Lexington.
“He talked about the difficulty in making the decision and wanted to establish a relationship in case he came to Kentucky, somebody he could bounce things off of,” Hall said. “He had not made up his mind. He was trying to get all the info he could.”
Hall said the informal chat centered on what it takes to survive one of college basketball’s most prestigious — and more scrutinized — jobs.
Calipari stopped by a Memphis doughnut shop he frequents on Tuesday, where he told some of the regulars that he needed to make a decision by the afternoon.
The anticipation of an announcement grew around Calipari’s home. Police blocked off the section in front of his house from a main road back to an adjacent golf course. Approximately five police cars kept TV crews at bay.
Conspiracy theorists and professional and amateur UFO researchers alike will be glued to computer screens for the next few days pouring over the latest release of UFO files from the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
The files are housed at the U.K.’s National Archives. It appears the files will only be free for download for a month:
Part of a three-year project by the Ministry of Defence, this instalment features seven files, all available to download for free for a month from The National Archives’ dedicated website: nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos. The site provides a wealth of useful material, including a podcast by UFO expert Dr David Clarke.
When clicking on a link to 2008 file releases and navigating further to the actual files, it does appear the Archives intends to someday charge for downloading the files. Visitors are taken to a site where prices are listed for downloads, however the prices on files from December are £0.