Sunday, February 28, 2010


Greg Nash

Pelosi: GOP has had its day; confident Dems can come together

Kim Hart and Jordan Fabian 02/28/10 09:59 AM ET
"A bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "Republicans have left their imprint."…
By Kim Hart and Jordan Fabian 02/28/10 09:59 AM ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Republicans have left their mark on the healthcare bill and should accept that the bill will go forward.

"They've had plenty of opportunity to make their voices heard," she said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning. "Bipartisanship is a two-way street. A bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes. Republicans have left their imprint." [WHAT PLANET IS SHE FROM?]
The public option, for example, has been stripped from the bill because Republicans were so adamantly against it, she said.

"They've had a field day going out and misrepresenting what the bill says," Pelosi said. "But that's what they do."

On ABC's "This Week," just a few days after the bipartisan healthcare summit, Pelosi said, "What's the point of talking about it any longer?"

In early remarks released by ABC, Pelosi was asked by "This Week" host Elizabeth Vargas "when it does finally come to vote on it in the House, you're certain that you can muster the 217 votes that you need even with the differences over abortion language?"

"Well let me say I have this in three -- just so you know how we sequence this," Pelosi said. "First we zero in on what the policy will be. And that is what we'll be doing -- following the president's summit yesterday.
"Secondly, we'll see what the Senate can do. What is the substance? And what is the Senate prepared to do? And then we'll go to the third step as to what my -- my members will vote for. But we have a very diverse party. But we all agree that the present system is unsustainable."

When asked to grade the past year, Pelosi said, "I think I get an A for effort."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday the bill can't be refigured to address Republican concerns. Starting over, he said, is the only option.

"The American people do not want this bill," he said on CNN, also arguing that it is inappropriate to use the budget reconciliation measure to pass the bill with a simple majority vote in the Senate.

The reconciliation measure has been used 16 times since 1980 by Republicans to pass other legislation, some dealing with "lesser issues," CNN's Candy Crowley reminded him.

"Just because it's been used before for lesser issues doesn't mean it should be used for this issue," McConnell said. "Something of this magnitude shouldn't be jammed down the throat of Americans who don't want it."

Pelosi outlined the top priorities for the legislation: affordability for the middle class, accountability of insurance companies and accessibility for more people.

"When the public sees what is in this bill...when we show them what the priorities are and what it's been boiled down to, what it means to them sitting around their kitchen table rather than us sitting around a table at Blair House, the response will be positive," Pelosi said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on "Meet the Press" that Americans are much better informed about the healthcare plan and reiterated the GOP platform that the process should be started from scratch.

"In order to buy votes they did these unsavory deals," McCain said. "They are unsavory."

McCain panned the claim that bipartisanship had been attempted. "I have been part of bipartisan negotiations for many years ... this was not bipartisan.

"This bill was written by Dems, for Dems," he said. "What they try to do is peel off a couple of Republicans and call it bipartisan."

Doubts have circled this week that the House does not have the votes to pass the Democrats’ healthcare overhaul.

Centrist and anti-abortion lawmakers who have doubts about the cost of the president’s proposal and its support for the Senate’s abortion provisions have indicated that they are still not on board with the plan.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who attached an amendment to the House bill with strict prohibitions against federal funding for abortions, said this week that there are 15-20 lawmakers who are not on board with the current plan.

House Republicans maintain that Pelosi still does not have the votes for the bill. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) produced a whip count this week that predicts that up to 12 members will switch their votes over the abortion provisions.
Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) accused Cantor of “playing games” this week but did not say whether or not the House had the votes. He previously predicted that the House would pass it with a wider margin than the original bill.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that Pelosi does not have the votes but that "I wouldn't count her out because she is very good at muscling out votes.”

This story was updated at 10:45 a.m.
Bridget Johnson contributed to this report


The Wall Street Journal
The world's leading authority on climate change announced Saturday it is appointing an independent committee to investigate whether it needs to change its procedures to ensure it practices rigorous science.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, beset in recent months by a string of allegations of factual mistakes and improper scientific behavior in the preparation of its high-profile reports, said it will share details of how the independent review will work in early March.
A story in The Wall Street Journal on Friday detailed the IPCC's current effort to resuscitate its reputation and a longstanding tension within the organization between the desire by policy makers for clear, usable conclusions about climate science and the massive complexities of that science, many aspects of which scientists continue to debate.
In the statement, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said that leaders of the United Nations-sponsored organization "stand firmly behind the rigour and robustness" of the IPCC's 2007 report. That report concluded that climate change is "unequivocal" and is "very likely" caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activity, notably the burning of fossil fuels.
"But we recognize the criticism that has been leveled at us, and the need to respond," Mr. Pachauri said in the statement.
The IPCC won a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for the 2007 report, a prize the organization shared with former Vice President Al Gore. The report helped push climate change to the top of the political agenda in much of the world, including in the U.S., where it intensified discussion in Washington about potential legislation to cap greenhouse-gas emissions. But since late last year, several revelations have raised questions about the IPCC's objectiveness and accuracy in producing its reports.
IPCC leaders, and many scientists, say the disclosures don't call into question the IPCC's fundamental conclusion that human activity is changing the climate. But combined with the recession, which polls suggest has dampened public willingness to spend more for lower-carbon energy, the revelations about the IPCC have intensified calls by some politicians for a slowdown in the push to regulate carbon emissions.
In November, more than 1,000 emails hacked from a prominent U.K. climate-research lab and posted online seemed to show researchers there trying to squelch scientists who challenged their work pointing to a human influence on the climate. The lab, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, produced extensive research on long-ago temperatures that featured prominently in IPCC reports.
Last month, the IPCC expressed "regret" at what it said was an error in its 2007 report. The report erroneously claimed that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.
In the statement Saturday, Mr. Pachauri said the 2007 IPCC report's "key conclusions are based on an overwhelming body of evidence from thousands of peer-reviewed and independent scientific studies. Most significantly, they rest on multiple lines of analysis and datasets."
IPCC officials discussed the establishment of an independent review committee with government officials in meetings last week in Bali organized by the U.N. Environment Program.
"The mechanism by which such an independent review will take place is under active consideration," Mr. Pachauri said in the statement
Write to Jeffrey Ball at


Head of IMF Proposes New Reserve Currency

IMF's Strauss-Kahn suggests IMF may one day provide global reserve asset

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, suggested Friday the organization might one day be called on to provide countries with a global reserve currency that would serve as an alternative to the U.S. dollar.
"That day has not yet come, but I think it is intellectually healthy to explore these kinds of ideas now," he said in a speech on the future mandate of the 186-nation Washington-based lending organization.
Strauss-Kahn said such an asset could be similar to but distinctly different from the IMF's special drawing rights, or SDRs, the accounting unit that countries use to hold funds within the IMF. It is based on a basket of major currencies.
He said having other alternatives to the dollar "would limit the extent to which the international monetary system as a whole depends on the policies and conditions of a single, albeit dominant, country."
Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister of France, said that during the recent global financial crisis, the dollar "played its role as a safe haven" asset, and the current international monetary system demonstrated resilience.
Several countries, including China and Russia, have called for an alternative to the dollar as a reserve currency and have suggested using the IMF's internal accounting unit."The challenge ahead is to find ways to limit the tension arising from the high demand for precautionary reserves on the one hand and the narrow supply of reserves on the other," he said.
Strauss-Kahn said the IMF also needs to do a better job of tracing how risk percolates through the global economy.
"Here it will be essential to improve our ability to monitor several dozen large complex financial institutions that make up the `plumbing' through which global capital flows," he said, while leaving national regulators the job of monitoring the solvency of individual institutions.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Apple Says Children Were Used to Build iPhone, iPod

By Connie Guglielmo

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. said three of its suppliers hired 11 underage workers to help build the iPhone, iPod and Macintosh computer last year, a violation it uncovered as part of its onsite audit of 102 factories.

“Apple discovered three facilities that had previously hired 15-year-old workers in countries where the minimum age for employment is 16,” the company said in a 24-page report on “Supplier Responsibility” posted on its Web site. The workers were “no longer in active employment at the time of our audit.”

Apple didn’t name its suppliers and manufacturers. The company visited sites in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Philippines and the U.S. Apple also found three cases where suppliers “falsified records” to conceal underage hiring, more than 60 facilities where employees were overworked, 24 partners that paid less than the minimum wage and 57 who didn’t offer all required benefits.

“Apple’s Code sets a maximum of 60 work hours per week and requires at least one day of rest per seven days of work,” the company said. Apple also said it asked suppliers to end a practice “where wage deductions were used for disciplinary purposes.”

The company said it stopped doing business with at least one unnamed supplier after finding repeated violations and “inadequate actions” to address the problems.

Recruitment Fees

Apple’s review also found that at eight facilities, including suppliers in Taiwan, foreign workers paid excessive recruitment fees to hiring agencies to get jobs. The company said employees were reimbursed $2.2 million in fee overcharges over the past two years and that Apple has set a standard limiting such fees to the “equivalent of one month’s net wages.”

Apple “also created extensive training programs to educate workers about their right to a safe and respectful work environment,” Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said today.

As part of that training, more than 128,000 workers received information outlining their rights and more than 5,000 supervisors and managers received training on their responsibilities to employees, Apple said in its report.

The company also established courses for workers to expand computer and technical skills and set standards for dormitories, medical treatment and pregnancy non-discrimination.

Apple rose $2.62 to $204.62 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares more than doubled last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Connie Guglielmo in San Francisco

Last Updated: February 27, 2010 13:25 EST

Saturday, February 27, 2010


February 26, 2010 | 1:13 PM ET
  • Biden - "It's Easy Being Vice President"

    Does Vice President Joe Biden think he has it easy?
    It depends on who you ask.
    Biden was heard at Thursday's health care summit telling one lawmaker, "It's easy being vice president. You don't have to do anything."
    The comment was made shortly before the summit resumed for the afternoon.  Biden was off-camera but the comment was caught on one of the network microphones in the room.
    The lawmaker played along with Biden's remark saying, "It's like being the grandpa and not the parent," to which the VP responded, "Yeah, that's it!"
    Biden spokesman Jay Carney tells Row 2, Seat 4 that the VP was "obviously joking, as any review of his schedule and responsibilities would make abundantly clear."


Man who broke the Bank of England, George Soros, 'at centre of hedge funds plot to cash in on fall of the euro'

Last updated at 8:52 AM on 27th February 2010

The man about to break the euro? George Soros is said to be placing large bearish bets against the single currency
A secretive group of Wall Street hedge fund bosses are said to be behind a plot to cash in on the decline of the euro.

Representatives of George Soros's investment business were among an all-star line up of Wall Street investors at an 'ideas dinner' at a private townhouse in Manhattan, according to reports.

A spokesman for Soros Fund Management said the legendary investor did not attend the dinner on February 8, but did not deny that his firm was represented.
At the dinner, the speculators are said to have argued that the euro is likely to plunge in value to parity with the dollar.

The single currency has been under enormous pressure because of Greece's debt crisis, plus financial worries in Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland.

But, it has also struggled because hedge funds have been placing huge bets on the currency's decline, which could make the speculators hundreds of millions of pounds.
The euro traded at $1.51 in December, but has since fallen to $1.34. Details of the secretive dinner emerged days after Mr Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management, warned in a newspaper article that the euro could 'fall apart' even if the European Union can agree a deal to shore up support for stricken Greece. 
Mr Soros, who made more than $1billion by currency speculation when the pound was ejected from the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992, believes the structure of the euro is 'patently flawed'.

Hitting back: Greek PM George Papandreou blames 'speculators' for preying on the country's troubles
He said: 'Makeshift assistance should be enough for Greece, but that leaves Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.
'Together they constitute too large a portion of euroland to be helped in this way.'

He believes that unless the European Commission is given sweeping powers over taxation and spending, the single currency will always be vulnerable to financial turbulence in individual states.

'If member countries cannot take the next steps forward, the euro may fall apart,' he added.

Last night, Greek prime minister George Papandreou hit back at the 'speculators' who he blames for preying on the country's troubles.

Following a visit by EU economic inspectors and experts from the International Monetary Fund, he told the country's parliament that the worst fears about Greece's economy had been confirmed.

Greece is desperate to restore the confidence of investors in its debt after revealing that the previous government understated its budget deficit by half.

Outlining the precarious nature of Greece's finances, Mr Papandreou said: 'There is only one dilemma: Will we let the country go bankrupt or will we react?

'Will we let the speculators strangle us, or will we take our fate in our own hands?'
The Greek leader also called for more help from the EU with its debt crisis. Until now, the EU has offered political support but no bailout.
With friends like this: The cover of the German magazine 'Focus' this week, which shows the Venus de Milo giving the finger by a headline accusing Greece of swindling its way into the euro
Row: Greek daily Eleftheros Typos ran this depiction of the statue of the goddess Victoria, atop the Siegessaeule in Berlin, holding a swastika earlier this week in reaction to the Focus cover
But a row is still festering between Berlin and Athens over the crisis.
cabinet chancellery
Tight spot: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the situation was 'difficult'
A Greek consumer group called for a boycott of German goods today after a German magazine blasted the country as 'cheats. 

The new trade war came as Angela Merkel admitted the euro is in 'a difficult situation' for the first time.

She spoke as German magazine Focus ran a cover image of the armless Venus de Milo somehow raising her middle finger under the headline 'Cheats in the euro family' to suggest that Greece deliberately misled EU peers to swindle its way into the euro.

The cover sparked outrage in Greece, prompting the demands for a boycott. A Greek newspaper has also hit back, running an image showing the statue of the goddess Victoria atop the Siegessaeule in Berlin holding a swastika.
'The falsification of a statue of Greek history, beauty and civilisation, from a time when there (in Germany) they were eating bananas on trees is impermissible and unforgivable,' a statement from the Consumer Institute (INKA) said.

'Greeks are no crooks, we want the German government to condemn this most improper publication,' said INKA president George Lakouritis.

'If you have such friends, what do you need enemies for?'

INKA distributed leaflets in central Athens and in front of German-owned consumer electronics store Media Markt, urging Greeks to heed the boycott.

Merkel's government has so far deflected appeals to promise aid to heavily indebted Greece. Opinion polls show that a majority of Germans oppose a bailout.

Germany's ambassador to Greece, Wolfgang Schultheiss, said yesterday he regretted that German press reports caused offence. 'Germany is firmly on Greece's side,' Schultheiss said after being summoned by Greece's parliament speaker Filippos Petsalnikos.

But it wasn't enough for Mr Lakouritis. 'The ambassador's statements were not satisfactory,' he said. 

Yesterday Mrs Merkel admitted that Greece's debt crisis has plunged the euro into a ‘difficult situation'.

The admission from the leader of Europe's biggest economy prompted fresh fears about the collapse of the single currency. 

In the gravest sign yet of the international threat posed by Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Mrs Merkel warned for the first time that the eurozone faces a ‘ dangerous’ period. 

Read more: