Daily Archives: September 16, 2008

palin coached by aipac

Neoconservatives plan Project Sarah Palin
to shape future American foreign policy

Tim Shipman, Daily Telegraph, 16 Sep 2008

Comments by the governor of Alaska in her first television interview, in which she said NATO may have to go to war with Russia and took a tough line on Iran’s nuclear programme, were the result of two weeks of briefings by neoconservatives. Sources in the McCain camp, the Republican Party and Washington think tanks say Palin was identified as a potential future leader of the neoconservative cause in June 2007. That was when the annual summer cruise organised by the right-of-centre Weekly Standard magazine docked in Juneau, the Alaskan state capital, and the pundits on board took tea with Palin. Her case as McCain’s running mate was later advanced vociferously by William Kristol, the magazine’s editor, who is widely seen as one of the founding fathers of American neoconservative thought — including the robust approach to foreign policy which spurred American intervention in Iraq. In 1988, Kristol became a leading adviser of another inexperienced Republican vice presidential pick, Dan Quayle, tutoring him in foreign affairs. Last week he praised Palin as “a spectre of a young, attractive, unapologetic conservatism” that “is haunting the liberal elites”.

Now many believe that the “neocons”, whose standard bearer in government, Cheney, lost out in Washington power struggles to the more moderate defence secretary Gates and secretary of state Rice last year, are seeking to mould Palin to renew their influence. A former Republican White House official, who now works at the AEI, a bastion of Washington neoconservatism, admitted: “She’s bright and she’s a blank page. She’s going places and it’s worth going there with her.” Asked if he sees her as a “project”, the former official said: “Your word, not mine, but I wouldn’t disagree with the sentiment.” Pat Buchanan, the former Republican presidential candidate and a foreign policy isolationist, who opposes the war in Iraq, the project most closely associated with the neocons, said: “Palin has become, overnight, the most priceless political asset the movement has. Look for the neocons to move with all deliberate speed to take her into their camp by pressing upon her advisers and staff, and steering her into the AEI-Weekly Standard-War Party orbit.”

In the two weeks since she was named as McCain’s running mate that is just what has happened. While McCain was publicly distancing himself from the policies and personalities of the Bush administration, Palin was sequestered with a series of former aides to George W. Bush. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, an influential neoconservative, wasted no time in briefing Palin. He quickly made Steve Biegun, a former number three on the National Security Council, her chief foreign policy adviser. Steven Clemons, of the New American Foundation think tank in Washington, a chronicler of the ebb and flow of neocon power in the White House, bemoaned the appointment, saying Biegun “will turn her into an advocate of Cheneyism and Cheney’s view of national-security issues.” Eyebrows were also raised when, on the Tuesday after her selection, Palin was ushered into the company of AIPAC, the pro-Israeli lobby group in Washington.

In her first television interview, she was on message, agreeing with McCain that Israel has the right to take military action against Iran if necessary. “I don’t think that we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security,” she said. Jacob Heilbrunn, author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, said the interview was “further evidence that she has soaked up the neocon view of the world.” He was particularly alarmed by her suggestion that war with Russia is “perhaps” a possibility. “The neocons surrounded Dan Quayle, with William Kristol becoming his main tutor. Now both McCain and Palin are being closely advised by neocons. Far from being chastened by the Iraq debacle, the neocons are now poised for their moment of greatest influence.” Buchanan has predicted Palin will become a major player for years to come. “In choosing Palin, McCain may also have changed the course of history,” he said. “Should this ticket win, Palin will eclipse every other Republican as heir apparent to the presidency and will have her own power base, wholly independent of President McCain.”

who’s a fucking lunatic, then?

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in an interview with the BBC Monday that the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergei Lavrov, did not swear at him in a telephone conversation, RIA Novosti reports. Answering a question of whether Lavrov used dirty language in a conversation with him, Miliband said that it was not quite correct. “It is not true that he called me a ‘fucking lunatic’,” the head of the British Foreign Office said. British mass media reported Friday that the Russian Foreign Minister used dirty expressions during his telephone conversation with the UK Foreign Secretary when the latter set out his concerns to Lavrov in connection with Russia’s actions in Georgia. Russia’s Foreign Ministry rebutted the information Saturday by saying that the distribution of such rumors was aimed to intensify the controversy around Russia’s policy in the Caucasus. Sergei Lavrov in his turn said the day before that he only cited one of his European colleagues in the telephone conversation with David Miliband. The colleague, Lavrov said, described Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili as a “fucking lunatic.”

“In order to present Miliband with a different point of view, I had to tell him about a description of Saakashvili that our colleague from a European state gave in a conversation with me,” Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as saying. “That description went like this: ‘fucking lunatic’,” the news agency quoted Lavrov as telling Russian reporters. “And that was all there was to it,” Lavrov said. “The rest of what was published in the Daily Telegraph I leave to the conscience of anonymous insiders,” the minister added. It is worthy of note that the insiders informed the Sun journalist Andrew Porter, who subsequently posted the scandalous news on his blog on the website of the Daily Telegraph, that Lavrov was infuriated with David Miliband’s intention to teach him. According to the blogger, Sergei Lavrov supposedly said the following: “Who the fuck are you to lecture me?” Afterwards, the head of the Russian diplomacy continued to use dirty language to wonder if Miliband was familiar with the history of Russia, the source said. Russia’s Foreign Ministry rebutted the information immediately, but referred to it as a leak, which triggered a wild outburst of rumors. – Pravda

‘red sea’? do they mean ‘black sea’?

Turkish, Israeli, Indian Officials Meet In Ankara Over Med Stream
Turkish Press, 9/14/2008

ANKARA – Turkish, Israeli and Indian officials met in Ankara this week over the Med Stream, a multi-purpose offshore pipeline project to connect Turkey and Israel via the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey and Israel have reaffirmed their full support earlier for an energy corridor which will join the two countries via the construction of sub sea multiple pipelines transporting oil, natural gas, water, as well as electricity and establishment of fiber optic cable line in accordance with feasibility studies. The pipeline could reduce the time it takes to transport crude to eastern and southern Asia. India is highly interested in the project to import oil via Turkey and Israel, said Hezi Kugler, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure. Feasibility studies are planned to begin by the end of this year and would be completed in the summer of 2009, Israeli official told the A.A. It is estimated to cost around 8 million euros. Israel supplies 90 percent of its oil need from the Black Sea and carries crude to Israeli ports by ships. Kugler said construction of the pipeline would start at the end of 2009, the earliest, or in 2010. He said it would take at least more than a year to finish the construction works. India is interested in the project as the pipeline would be short and economical for transportation, Kugler said. He added that India would get the better of time and cost as soon as the project is implemented.

Normally, crude is shipped to Far East in 50 days but when the Med Stream is completed it would take 19 days to transport crude from the Red Sea. It would also reduce vessel traffic at Turkish straits. Turkey, Israel and India are expected to present their letters of intention to each other after completing their studies on the project, Kugler said. Mutual covenants are also expected be completed within a month, he said. Kugler said that several other Asian countries, including China, could also be interested in the Med Stream project once the feasibility report is finished. Meanwhile, Israeli officials are still insistent on buying water from Turkey. An earlier project to carry water from Turkey`s Meditteranen coast to Israel through containers was a high-cost project, Israeli officials said. However, they said purification of sea water was costly as well. All pipelines in the world pump natural gas and oil but water transportation through pipelines has not been tried before, they said. “That`s why such an attempt requires deliberate technical work and infrastructure,” officials said.

al CIA-duh strikes again

Gun battle erupts in Palestinian camp in south Lebanon
DPA via M&C

Fierce clashes erupted Monday between rival Palestinian factions in a refugee camp in south Lebanon with one person reported slain, Lebanese and Palestinian sources said. The clashes erupted between the mainstream Fatah movement and members of a fundamentalist group called Jund al-Sham, the sources said. A Jund al-Sham member was killed in the clashes, the sources said. The militants exchanged machinegun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, and camp inhabitants were seen fleeing in the streets. Jund al-Sham has in the past clashed with Fatah inside the camp, which is the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps and is a hotbed of Islamic extremists. Jund al Sham, believed to have first appeared in 1999 in Afghanistan, was established by Syrians and Palestinians with links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who founded al-Qaeda in Iraq and was subsequently killed by a US airstrike.

Factbox: Indian Mujahideen Islamic militant group
Reuters via WireDispatch, Sep 15, 2008

Five bombs exploded in crowded markets and streets in the heart of New Delhi at the weekend, killing at least 21 people and injuring nearly 100 more. The Indian Mujahideen Islamic militant group, which has claimed several major attacks in recent months, said it was responsible. The Indian Mujahideen first emerged in the wake of bombings in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in November 2007, sending an e-mail to media outlets just before some of the bombs exploded. Indian police say the Indian Mujahideen is an offshoot of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but that local Muslims appear to have been given training and backing from militant groups in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh. SIMI has been blamed by police for almost every major bomb attack in India, including explosions on commuter trains in Mumbai two years ago that killed 187 people. The sophistication of the attacks appears to have caught police and intelligence networks by surprise. Some of the recent bombings have also borne the hallmarks of the Bangladeshi militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami.

Another e-mail was sent in the name of the Indian Mujahideen after bomb attacks in May that killed 63 people in the tourist city of Jaipur. The e-mail declared “open war against India” and included the serial number of one of the bicycles on which the bombs were left. That e-mail, signed by “Guru Al-Hindi”, said India would face more attacks in tourist sites if it did not stop supporting the United States in the international arena. Shortly before a series of bombs exploded in Ahmedabad on July 26, an e-mail in the name of the Indian Mujahideen was sent to local media in the capital of the western state of Gujarat warning that people would soon “feel the terror of death” in the name of Allah. Those blasts killed 45 people. It said the attacks were revenge for the Gujarat riots of 2002, when around 2,500 people, most of them Muslims, were killed by Hindu mobs. A later e-mail accused several state governments of harassing, imprisoning and torturing Muslims and threatened consequences if they did not stop. The group sent out a new mail moments after the first blast in New Delhi, saying the explosions were to prove its capability to strike in the most secure of Indian cities. Besides warning of action against some Indian security officials, the e-mail spoke of what it said was bias in Indian media’s coverage of news about Muslims. It warned of an attack on The Times of India newspaper for “psychologically fighting us”. Four weeks ago, Indian police arrested 10 people who they said were behind the Ahmedabad bombs. Police said one of those arrested, Abu Bashir, was the mastermind of the bombings and that all the suspects were active members of SIMI.

why saakashvili is not quite ready for ‘the west’

Bloom off the Rose (excerpt)
John Laughland, AmConMag

[…] Western praise was immediately lavished on Saakashvili, after the Western-orchestrated “Rose Revolution” at the end of 2003, when he was confirmed in office after winning over 95% of the vote in the presidential election, a tally of which Saddam Hussein would have been proud. This applause came in spite of the fact that Saakashvili obviously had a penchant for violence. As soon as he seized power, Saakashvili’s regime unleashed an orgy of arrests of officials. In the name of that old Communist chestnut, an “anti-corruption campaign,” hundreds were rounded up. For months, Georgians were treated daily to live broadcasts of ministers, officials, and judges being bundled into police cars in the middle of the night. No doubt some Georgians relished the sight of the mighty falling, but many probably feared that one day they might get the 3 a.m. knock on the door themselves. This was all lapped up by Saakashvili’s cheerleaders in the Western media. The Georgian president has indeed achieved extraordinary success in presenting his fiefdom as a Jeffersonian paradise. This is partly due to Georgia’s use of operatives in Washington, such as John McCain’s foreign-policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, and a PR firm in Brussels. But more importantly, it is the result of a virulent form of Western self-delusion. One prominent BBC reporter, for example, lauded the Georgian officials in leather jackets as “the most photogenic government in the world” and gasped at the dynamism of the new chief prosecutor, Irakli Okruashvili, and at the way ordinary citizens were invited to register denunciations on the “corruption hotline.” This was true “people power” in action, he enthused—evidently unaware of the Stalinist resonance of what he was describing.

Silence, not enthusiasm, was the reaction, however, when the wheel of fortune turned three years later and Okruashvili fell out with Saakashvili and started up his own opposition party. On Sept. 25, 2007, Okruashvili told a press conference, “The style of Saakashvili’s governance, which has gone beyond the limits, has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization,’ and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.” Okruashvili specifically alleged that Saakashvili had told him to get rid of Badri Patarkatsishvili, a Georgian-Jewish millionaire tycoon living in England, “the way it happened to Rafik Hariri.” Patarkatsishvili was a media baron who initially supported Saakashvili’s regime—notably through his TV channel, which he ran in joint venture with Rupert Murdoch—but who later became disillusioned following the death in suspicious circumstances of the prime minister, Zurab Zhvania in 2005. Okruashvili also suggested that Zhvania had been the victim of a politically motivated murder. The government’s response to Okruashvili’s press conference and bid for political power was to throw him into the central prison in Tbilisi. By Oct. 8, he had recanted. A videotape of his interrogation was broadcast on TV. Okruashvili, visibly distressed and sinking into long pauses, accused himself of the crimes of extortion and racketeering that had been used to arrest him, exactly as the defendants at the Moscow show trials in the 1930s did. He denied each of the original accusations he had made on Sept. 25 and claimed that he had made them purely for personal political gain. He had evidently been tortured.

It did not take long for the political situation in the country to spiral out of control. Okruashvili’s arrest caused large demonstrations against the Saakashvili government in early November. Vast numbers of heavily armed police were deployed to crush the revolt, and the demonstrators were severely beaten. Even though TV shots of this were broadcast on CNN, Saakashvili continued to be lauded as a democrat. The regime proclaimed a state of emergency, the government was reshuffled, and new presidential and parliamentary elections were held in January and May, in the latter case on the basis of a hastily rejiggered electoral law. Even the normally supine Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose support for Georgian brutality since 1992 has been wicked, had to admit that both campaigns were marred by widespread intimidation, violence, and ballot-stuffing. Saakashvili was re-elected by 53.5%, just enough to ensure that there was no second round. And Badri Patarkatsishvili did indeed die of sudden heart failure on Feb. 12, aged 52, as Okruashvili had predicted, after leaving a meeting with a prominent Russian oligarch living in London and his lawyer, Tony Blair’s former attorney general. The police initially treated his death as suspicious, but in the end no prosecutions were brought. […]

rage against the machine live at the rnc (10m)

from http://www.above-thefold.com

Fuck the police, they’ll go acapella! ~ After their attempt to take the stage was stopped by police, Rage Against the Machine took to the crowd with an acapella performance. Armed with only a megaphone, and thousands of fans, RATM played a 10min acapella set of Bulls on Parade and Killing in the Name of.

restaurants stores autos fashion entertainment

London, New York Stand to Suffer
Frangos, Lazarus, Dougherty, WSJ, Sep 16, 2008

The blast furnace known as the finance industry that has stoked the economies of New York and London for decades is rapidly cooling. Both cities have relied heavily on the securities industry for jobs, taxes and a prosperity that has lifted restaurants, stores, auto sales, fashion, entertainment and a wide range of other businesses. The future of that largess is in doubt a year into the credit crunch, with the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the sale of Merrill Lynch & Co. adding to the thousands of jobs already lost — and the likelihood that more will come. At the Thomas Pink store on Wall Street, where men’s shirts can cost as much as $450, Abby Kuskin, a sales associate, said she expects business to get worse. But “maybe they’ll be buying more interview shirts,” she said. New York developer Mario Procida is also concerned; he’s about to open a luxury condominium building overlooking Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza — charging an average price of $1.9m for units. “There has to be kickback in the marketplace across the board,” he said. Even before the weekend, the financial-services industry had shed more than 11k jobs in New York and 20k in London. Lehman has about 25k employees, a majority of them in London and New York. Thousands more positions are expected to be cut through the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America Corp.

Jobs in financial services tend to be more important for the overall economy. About 5% of New York City’s jobs are in financial services, but they account for about a quarter of wages, some $60b in 2006, according to the New York Office of the State Comptroller. That same year, personal and corporate taxes paid by the securities industry accounted for about 10% of the city’s tax revenue. Every economic downturn has spawned doom and gloom in the world’s financial centers. But this one brings concern that the financial-services industry won’t be the same economic engine it has been in recent years. “These are very uncertain times right now,” said Stacey Pecor, owner of the Olive and Bette’s chain of boutiques in New York, whose regular customers include many in the investment banking world. “I think the shopper’s going to look at her wardrobe and she’s going to keep everything. ”

Some thought the financial industry was due for a contraction even before the credit crunch started last year. In 2006, financial services accounted for about 8.3% of the US economy — higher than at any point in history — compared with 7.3% a decade ago. The finance industry, much like the automotive industry, still may have more jobs than the economy can support. “Just how many investment bankers does the economy need?” said Thomas Philippon, a finance professor at New York University. Some Merrill Lynch executives were no doubt asking themselves that question yesterday as they strolled through the Aston Martins, Bentleys, and Bugattis parked outside of their offices at Motorexpo, a high-end auto show with unfortunate timing. One representative for a luxury brand said he got a few “you picked an odd day” comments. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Monday that the city is partly cushioned from the expected blows from Wall Street thanks to growth in industries such as media, fashion, tourism and bioscience.

London’s commercial real-estate industry is more vulnerable than New York’s because it has seen more building of office space in recent years. More than 8m sq. ft. are being built in London’s financial district. About 80% of that is considered “speculative,” meaning the developer hasn’t signed leases for it yet. In London, Lehman leases a 1m sq. ft. building in Canary Wharf and occupies 80% of that space, subleasing the rest. Lehman officials haven’t announced plans for those offices. In New York, by contrast, there are only a handful of speculative office buildings. Still, stocks of companies that own Manhattan real estate were hammered. Merrill’s biggest landlord in New York, Brookfield Properties Corp., saw its stock plummet 18% to $17.40 Monday as of 4 p.m. In bankruptcy-court protection, Lehman’s leases could be canceled, leaving landlords on the hook for gobs of space as job growth contracts. If Lehman gives up three-quarters of its roughly 2.7m sq. ft. of office space, the New York office vacancy rate would rise from the current 8.5% to 11.5%, a level not seen since the period after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to an estimate by Peter Riguardi, the New York president for real-estate brokers Jones Lang LaSalle. Lehman owns its headquarters at 745 Seventh Ave., near Times Square. It purchased the 1m sq. ft. building after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the firm fled the area near the World Trade Center. It paid $650m for the building, which would be a source of revenue for creditors if sold in bankruptcy.

congress’s wall st. stocks, contributions

Wall Street Shake-up Connects to Washington
Through Contributions, Personal Investments

Lindsay Renick Mayer, Open Secrets.org, Sep 15 2008

Wall Street’s grim news has plenty of people worried about their pocketbooks. Lawmakers are among them, not only concerned with how to boost the economy but with their own personal finances tied to companies that are struggling. The richest members of Congress seem to be the most invested in the companies at the center of the Wall Street shake-up. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, nine lawmakers have between $785.9k and $1.8m of their own money invested in Merrill Lynch, the brokerage firm that agreed over the weekend to sell itself to Bank of America for $50b after facing tens of billions of dollars in losses. Because Bank of America offered to buy the company at a 70% premium over the company’s closing price on Friday, those who own stock in Merrill Lynch stand to gain from the transaction. Two of the richest members of Congress owned the most stock in the company. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) reported holding between $500k and $1m on his most recent personal financial disclosure, covering 2007, and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) owned between $250k and $601k in stock. (Lawmakers disclose their finances in ranges, annually, making it difficult to determine their assets’ precise values.) Merrill’s white knight, Bank of America, which, comparatively, seems to be managing just fine in today’s sour economy, is a far more popular investment for members of Congress. Fifty-four lawmakers who held stock in the company in 2007, worth between $1.9m and $5m, are probably breathing easier, knowing that Bank of America is buying–rather than having to be bought. Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), another one of the richest members of Congress, owned between $865k and $1.8m in stock in the company, while Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), yet another of the richest lawmakers, owned between $201k and $465k in stock. Seven lawmakers, led by Kerry, owned stock in both Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

The weekend’s headlines also laid bare the state of investment bank Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy Monday after the federal government refused to bail it out and the company was unable to find a buyer. Eight lawmakers owned stock in Lehman Brothers at the end of 2007, valued at between $102.17k and $184.16k. Rep. Jane Harman‘s stock in the company was worth the most at between $5k and $100k. Harman, a California Democrat, was the wealthiest member of Congress in 2006. Of all of the companies facing major transitions, lawmakers owned the most stock in American International Group (AIG), the nation’s largest insurer, which has asked the Federal Reserve for emergency funding as it faces financial hardships. Twenty-seven lawmakers owned stock in AIG last year, worth between $6.4m and $20m. Hayes was at the top of the list of congressional investors, owning stock worth between $2.8m and $11.5m, while Kerry followed with stock valued around $2m. The 2007 reports are the most recent available for Congress, and they represent snapshots of members’ finances at the end of that year. Lawmakers may have sold off these investments in the last eight months, as the outlook for companies darkened. In addition, CRP does not yet have the personal financial disclosure data for about 50 lawmakers who received extensions on the annual reports.

As these companies struggle to stay afloat without bringing the economy crashing down around them, the government has said it won’t bail them out, but will instead leave Wall Street to straighten out the mess. This is the sobering message that has been delivered to companies that are among the top contributors of all time to federal politics. Since the 1990 election, Merrill Lynch‘s PAC and employees have given $14.7m to federal candidates, parties and committees. The company leans heavily Republican — 64% of the brokerage’s total donations have gone to GOP candidates and committees. All three of its top recipients have been (or still are) presidential hopefuls this election cycle. Republican John McCain received $394.3k from people associated with Merrill Lynch, making the company his top contributor. Democrat Hillary Clinton collected $290.65k, and Barack Obama got $229.1k. The company’s favorite non-presidential candidate is Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of both the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. He has received $226.15k in this election cycle.

Bank of America‘s PAC and employees have given $16.6m, also favoring Republicans, though less sharply. About 54% of the company’s contributions over time have gone to the GOP. Obama is the top recipient of contributions from employees at Bank of America, with $263,500 in donations. McCain has brought in $177.5k, making him the fourth-largest recipient. Sen. Chris Dodd, chair of the Senate banking committee, has collected $144.65k, while congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer (both Democrats) and John Boehner (a Republican) are all among the company’s top 20 recipients over time. Lehman Brothers has given $9.2m through employees and its PAC since 1989, with 54% of that going to Democrats. Clinton and Barack Obama top the list of all-time recipients for the company, collecting $410k and $395.6k respectively. Schumer hauled in $181.45k, while Dodd has collected $165.8k. The top recipient of PAC money from Lehman Brothers has been Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over banking and the securities industry. Castle has collected $38.5k from Lehman’s PAC since 1993. This election cycle, Lehman employees have given about $1.3m to presidential candidates. Only fellow financial giants Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have given more to the presidential hopefuls this election cycle. Lehman employees have made their firm one of the top contributors to both Obama ($370.5k) and John McCain ($117.5k) this election cycle. (For a full list of recipients of Lehman contributions, see this post from Friday.) Of all the companies making headlines this week, AIG has been the most nonpartisan in its contributions, splitting evenly the $9.7m it has contributed over time. Dodd has racked up the most from AIG, with a total of $281.4k, while Schumer takes second with $116.4k. McCain and Obama collected $103k and $82.6k from AIG, respectively.

see, bloomberg can say this

McCain, Obama Criticize Big Donors’ Industry Amid Market Crisis
Jonathan D. Salant ,Sept. 16 (Bloomberg)

Barack Obama and John McCain, who criticized and called for more regulation of Wall Street yesterday, count Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. among the biggest donors to their presidential campaigns. Both Obama and McCain have received more contributions from employees of securities and investment companies than from any other donors; both are now calling for regulations the industry has resisted. Through July 31, the last month for which figures are available, employees working for securities and investment firms, and their families, gave $9.9 million to Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois. They gave $6.9 million to McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona. Overall, these donors have given $685 million to federal campaigns and the parties from 1989 to 2008, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political giving. “The price for that is the economic system we’re currently in,” said former Representative Bob Edgar, a Pennsylvania Democrat who now heads Common Cause, a Washington-based advocacy group. Over the weekend, Lehman filed for bankruptcy protection and Merrill agreed to be bought by Bank of America Corp., and the presidential candidates used their stump speeches yesterday to advocate tougher oversight of Wall Street. At a rally in Grand Junction, Colorado, Obama, 47, called for “modernizing” regulations. Speaking in Jacksonville, Florida, McCain, 72, said he would “replace the outdated, patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight.”

Employees of New York-based Lehman, the fourth-largest US investment bank, have been among the most generous donors to both candidates. They have given $370,524 to Obama through July 31, making those workers and their families his 10th biggest source of campaign cash; they were the 15th largest contributors to McCain’s campaign, with $117,500. McCain’s largest campaign donors were employees of New York-based Merrill Lynch and their families, who gave $298,413. In addition, securities and investment industry executives are among the biggest fundraisers for both presidential nominees. McCain’s top fundraisers include John Thain, chief executive of Merrill Lynch, who brought in more than $500,000. Robert Wolf, chairman for the Americas at UBS AG, has raised more than $500,000 for Obama. The mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also were generous campaign donors in their efforts to prevent increased government oversight. Since 1989, their employees have given $19.5 million. That would have made them the 25th largest giver during that period. The lenders were taken over by the federal government last week.

Micah Green, the former president of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said employees give to campaigns because they support the candidates’ policies, not to gain influence. “Using your checkbook to support those things you believe in is what a lot of people on Wall Street do,” said Green, now a partner in the lawyer-lobbying firm of Patton Boggs LLP. Other experts, however, said the industry’s campaign cash was intended to give them clout. The large contributions have helped stymie efforts in Congress to regulate the industry, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “You don’t write that money off so easily,” Krumholz said.

a.i.g. the next one, and the biggest yet

from Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor

  • WSJ: AIG was facing a severe cash crunch on Sep 15 as ratings agencies cut the firm’s credit ratings, forcing the giant insurer to raise $14.5 bn to cover its obligations. People close to the situation said that if the insurer doesn’t secure fresh funding by Wednesday Sep 17, it may have no choice but to opt for a bankruptcy-court filing
  • Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are trying to arrange financing for AIG, the biggest U.S. insurer by assets, to plug a $70-75 billion financing gap (Bloomberg)
  • S&P warned the insurer could face further ratings cuts – perhaps even into the lower BBB category – unless it is able to ”implement further liquidity options” and ”the successful sale of at least a portion of its business assets” (FT)
  • AIG has been given special permission from the state of NY to access $20 bn of capital in its subsidiaries to free up liquidity (Bloomberg)
  • The NY Fed is providing premises for AIG, NY State, U.S. Treasury, and private finance executives to discuss the ongoing situation at AIG. NY Fed has also hired Morgan Stanley to review AIG’s options (Reuters)
  • While AIG doesn’t have access to the primary dealer credit facility (the Fed’s lending program for investment banks), the Fed has the power to broaden access (Real Time Economics) – they have now done this – RB
  • Fed may not resist AIG’s request for support as clearly as it has with Lehman, distinguishing between its lending programs and the use of taxpayer funds, but any Fed action to help the firm still would have a high bar and the Fed’s Board of Governors would need to approve terms of any such loan (Real Time Economics)
  • Further expanding the discount window to another class of firms (i.e. insurers like AIG) has the potential to open a Pandora’s Box of companies looking to the Fed for funding
  • AIG has already raised $20 bn in fresh capital so far this year and had been in discussions with KKR and JC Flowers about a capital injection
  • AIG has posted three consecutive quarterly losses totaling $18.5 bn (Son)
  • AIG has $587 bn of contracts guaranteeing corporate bonds, home loans and other forms of investments, whose value has plummeted in recent months (Harrington)
  • Investors are worried about the cut in AIG’s bond rating, as the underlying securities for which it provides a guarantee continue to lose their value, and the company is forced to make good on derivative contracts outstanding
  • Background: AIG has a financial products division that acted like an investment bank and has been at the heart of current problems. AIG is a counterparty in a large number of swap and hedging transactions. It wrote credit default swaps, which insure against corporate default, some protecting against losses on collateralised debt obligations, which have suffered large losses because many of them were backed by mortgage-backed assets.