An inmate at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, took to the pages of The New York Timesto tell about the degradation and misery the hunger strikers are experiencing at the prison. His name is Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, and he can only "write" by dictating to his lawyers, through a translator, over the phone. Moqbel and his fellow strikers are tied down and force-fed twice a day, often painfully. “I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose,” he writes. “I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.” Moqbel, who has been imprisoned for 11 years and three months, has been fasting since February 10.
Over the weekend, after the Red Cross had left and during a media blackout, prisoners and military guards clashed as the authorities attempted to end the protest by moving prisoners from the communal blocks into individual cells, a step back toward the Bush administration's maximum security-style detention policies. The protests were sparked by what prisoners say was mistreatment of their Qurans during searches, but Moqbel writes that its aims are broad: "I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late."
Documents from 2008 published by the Times indicate that Moqbel was captured in December 2001 and identified as a guard for Bin Laden. Moqbel obviously disputes this claim.
Businessman and investor Warren Buffett was born on August 30,1930, in Omaha, Nebraska. Investing by age 11, Buffett was running a small business at 13. Buffett later started the firm Buffett Partnership in Omaha, with huge success. In 2006, Buffett announced that he would give his entire fortune away to charity (Estimated at $62 Billion), the largest act of charitable giving in United States history.
Buffet would like the government to pick his pocket a little more, thank you very much. Pushing back against tax hawk Grover Norquist, Warren Buffett wrote in a New York Times op-ed column that in recent years, the wealthiest Americans, himself included, have been “leaving the middle class in the dust.” The idea that those same thick-walleted investors would start hoarding cash and bullion under the floorboards if taxes were nudged up a little is ludicrous, Buffet writes: “The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.” Buffett suggests a minimum tax of 30 percent on incomes between $1 million and $10 million and 35 percent on incomes above $10 million.
From the op-ed:
Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well. In the years from 1956 to 1969, the top marginal rate fell modestly, but was still a lofty 70 percent — and the tax rate on capital gains inched up to 27.5 percent. I was managing funds for investors then. Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.
Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.
So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.
And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion. That’s more than five times the $300 billion total in 1992. In recent years, my gang has been leaving the middle class in the dust.
All of America is waiting for Congress to offer a realistic and concrete plan for getting back to this fiscally sound path. Nothing less is acceptable.
In the meantime, maybe you’ll run into someone with a terrific investment idea, who won’t go forward with it because of the tax he would owe when it succeeds. Send him my way. Let me unburden him.
Meanwhile, White House aides are scrambling to animate Obama voters as the president prepares to square off with congressional Republicans over tax increases for the wealthiest Americans. Supporters are being asked to record YouTube videos of themselves arguing for tax hikes on the most well-off of the well-to-do, and emails explaining the president’s position were sent to activists in the past week. It’s all an attempt to kick the Obama campaign machine into gear.
Two Goldman Sachs "clients" take a look at themselves after Greg Smith's New York Times op-ed in this musical puppet number. A parody of the Oscar-winning song "Man or Muppet" rewritten by author and law professor Frank Partnoy.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has begun scanning internal emails for the term "muppet" and other evidence that employees referred to clients in derogatory ways, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week, according to people familiar with the call.
The company-wide email review comes after an executive director named Greg Smith resigned last week in a scathing op-ed column in the New York Times in which he said he saw five Goldman managing directors refer to clients as "muppets," at times over internal email.
In the United States, "muppet" brings to mind lovable puppets such as Kermit the Frog, but in Britain "muppet" is slang for a stupid person.
On the conference call with partners this week, Blankfein said the company was taking Smith's claims seriously and was conducting a review of his assertions, including the email scan, according to these people.
Goldman Sachs should also scan for Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. If they think the word "Muppet"is the issue, well then they just don't get it.