31 October 2011

My Kids are Bumming

We got home too late from Chaim's Bar Mitzvah to trick or treat.

I feel their pain, but having had the worst Halloween ever (1976, if you don't know, you don't want to know), I've tried to provide some perspective on all of this.

30 October 2011

My Phone is Online Again

It appears that it took about 24 hours for whatever Sprint was pushing to the phone to get through.

Internet withdrawal is no fun.

Why Law Enforcement Friendly Legislation Should Be Viewed With Suspicion

Eichmann tried this argument as well.
Because when things are made too easy for the cops, you tend to get influence peddling and corruption about the small things, and it will then grow until you approach a police state.

Case in point, wherein fixing parking and traffic tickets for family, friends, and politicos leads to bigger crimes and bigger coveruyps:
A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.

As 16 police officers were arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx, incensed colleagues organized by their union cursed and taunted prosecutors and investigators, chanting “Down with the D.A.” and “Ray Kelly, hypocrite.”

As the defendants emerged from their morning court appearance, a swarm of officers formed a cordon in the hallway and clapped as they picked their way to the elevators. Members of the news media were prevented by court officers from walking down the hallway where more than 100 off-duty police officers had gathered outside the courtroom.

The assembled police officers blocked cameras from filming their colleagues, in one instance grabbing lenses and shoving television camera operators backward.

The unsealed indictments contained more than 1,600 criminal counts, the bulk of them misdemeanors having to do with making tickets disappear as favors for friends, relatives and others with clout. But they also outlined more serious crimes, related both to ticket-fixing and drugs, grand larceny and unrelated corruption. Four of the officers were charged with helping a man get away with assault.

Jose R. Ramos, an officer in the 40th Precinct whose suspicious behavior spawned the protracted investigation, was accused of two dozen crimes, including attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, transporting what he thought was heroin for drug dealers and revealing the identity of a confidential informant.

The case, troubling to many New Yorkers because of its implication that the police officers believed they deserved special treatment, is expected to have long tentacles. Scores of other officers accused of fixing tickets could face departmental charges. Some officers have already retired. Moreover, the indictments may jeopardize thousands of cases in which implicated officers are important witnesses and may be seen as untrustworthy by Bronx juries.
(emphasis mine)

This is what happens when law enforcement officials feel entitled.

You will always have a few bad eggs in any endeavor, but when the entire culture is one of entitlement, corruption, and law breaking, you end up with a toxic mix that can eats at the core of society.

29 October 2011

Well Duh!!7

Reviewing recent events, French President Nicolas Sarkosy has concluded that Greece should never have been admitted to the Euro zone:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said allowing Greece into the eurozone in 2001 was a "mistake".

He said Greece was "not ready" at the time. But, he added, it could be rescued thanks to Wednesday's EU deal on the euro debt crisis.
This should surprise no one.

Greece, except by virtue of its geography, is closer to a 3rd world nation than it is a 1st world nation.

Any sensible individual would have noted that Greece was iffy for entry into the EU's free trade zone, so it was always clear that a common currency would be a stretch.

What happened was that the Eurocrats in Brussels, Paris, and Bonn/Berlin thought that the post Berlin Wall Unity Schtick European Union trumped reality.

FWIW, I stil think that the solution here, at least in the short term, is to kick Germany out of the Euro, and allow. A rising Deutsche Mark to fix imbalances.

28 October 2011

It Appears That Tennessee is a 7-Eleven Free Zone

And I am SERIOUSLY Jonesing for a Coke Slurpee so that I can drive.


My Cell Phone Went Titsup

Calling and texting still works, but the internet is fracked.

Posted on my wife's phone.

27 October 2011

Deep Thought

H/t Jamie O'Keefe.*
*The good one, not the evil one. In our universe, the evil twin, gonzo video fraudster James O'Keefe is clean shaven, and the not evil one has a goatee.

On the Road Again…

We left this morning to drive to Memphis Tennessee to get to my Nephew Chaim's Bar Mitzvah in Memphis.

Sharon* is driving right now, and we are in West Virginia.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

26 October 2011

What a Whiny Bitch

Roll Jon Stewart
It appears that BoA CEO Brian Moynihan is incensed at the criticism directed at bank of America:
Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan said he’s “incensed” by public criticism of his company and is pushing back by reminding local leaders of its contributions to their economies.

Moynihan, 52, told employees in a global town hall meeting last week from the firm’s Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters that the “place to win the battle” over the bank’s battered public image is at the state and municipal level.

Bank of America’s outreach campaign is part of Moynihan’s effort to turn around the lender since he took over as CEO in January 2010 following two taxpayer bailouts. His plan to charge some debit-card users a $5 monthly fee drew reprimands from President Barack Obama and lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who said customers should withdraw their deposits in protest.

“I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it’s volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers well,” Moynihan said during the Oct. 18 gathering. To the bank’s critics, he said, “You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us.”

Moynihan is laboring to rebuild the bank’s reputation with customers, employees and investors. Even before the debit-card fee sparked protests in Los Angeles and Boston, state attorneys general blamed the bank for using improper documents to justify foreclosures. To help reverse a stock decline this year of more than 50 percent, the lender is cutting expenses by eliminating more than 30,000 jobs.
If you don't want people to complain about your bank, start by not treating your customers like sh%$.

Mr. Moynihan, why don't you  ……… Well, Jon Stewart said it best. (see vid)

Dems Try for Seppuku Once Again

So the Democrats on the "Super Committee" are trying to gut Medicare once again, while showing how serious they are by exceeding their mandate for deficit reductions:
Democrats are proposing to slash huge budget deficits by up to $3 trillion, aiming high to repair the country's fiscal mess even as Republicans show early signs of resisting the proposals.

The broad package of measures calls for long-term spending cuts, including to the government-run Medicare health program for the elderly that threatens to explode the national debt. The other half of the package would come from tax increases, four congressional aides told Reuters on Wednesday.

Republicans rejected the Democratic initiative.

"Asking for a $1.5 trillion tax hike in the middle of a jobs crisis is not a serious proposal," said a House of Representatives Republican leadership aide.

There is a deep ideological divide between the two parties over taxes -- likely a key issue in the congressional and presidential elections in November 2012.

The Democratic plan was presented on Tuesday behind closed doors to a special congressional panel tasked with finding ways of cutting the budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, the sources said.

It was a rare leak from the so-called "super committee," whose secretive deliberations have sparked intense speculation about how much progress the 12 Republican and Democratic members have made since they first began meeting on September 8. They face a November 23 deadline to report to Congress.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The Democratic plan proposes cutting the deficit by $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion and calls for between $200 billion and $300 billion in new stimulus spending to boost an ailing U.S. economy. It would be paid for with lower interest payments from reducing deficits.

It also seeks around $400 billion in Medicare savings, with half coming in benefit cuts and the other half in cuts to healthcare providers. Details of that proposal were scant but tackling the popular Medicare program is always politically risky for politicians in Washington, especially Democrats.

The Democratic proposal also identifies $100 billion in cuts to the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor, according to a lobbyist in contact with the committee.
Seriously, it's both bad policy and bad politics, and it echos Obama's strategy of attempting to show that they are even more crazy serious about the deficit, which the rest of the country really does not give a crap about.

Deep Thought

The AFA and the rest of the anti-gay bigots should understand something:  You do not want to f%$# with Clint.

H/t Bob Eggleton

Quote of the day

On the virtues of conceding points to your opponent at the start of negotiations:
It’s a case study in the perils of offering concessions to your opponents before negotiations have begun. And it will force Democrats in both chambers, but particularly in the Senate, to decide whether to pass a proposal comprised of measures Obama’s backed in the past, even though they’ve been cherry picked to essentially constitute a Republican piece of legislation. If Senate Dems block the measure, Republicans will accuse them of wanting to pick political fights instead of passing Obama jobs legislation. If Dems pass the measure, and Obama signs it, the GOP can cite it as evidence that they’re not simply standing in the way of action on the economy.
Brian Beutler.

25 October 2011

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

The Marijuana Policy Project has just declared that Barack Obama is the worst President ever on medical Marijuana.

I think that this is not a deeply felt philosophy, but yet another case where a lack of ideology, or perhaps a contempt for ideology, that leads him to placate the most extreme of the dead enders, whether it be the drug war, or the Iraq war. (Where we were thrown out, we didn't leave voluntarily)

What this means is that he doubles down more aggressively on bad policy than he would if he actually believed in it.

It's kind a metaphor for his whole a political career.

H/t Disinformation.

Taibbi Gets It

People are claiming that somehow or other Occupy Wall Street hates the rich because of envy of the wealthy.

Taibbi argues that it's because they haven't gotten rich by cheating, not winning:
And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

We cheer for people who hit their own home runs in this country– not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win. And people now want the score overturned.
Go read the rest.

Yeah, that Libya Thing is Going So Well…

The National Transitional Council has announced that Sharia will be the basis of the law under the new government.

Say what you will about Gadhafi, but he was clearly a force for modernity, but the West gets their bankster friendly successor state, but it's likely to be a medieval one.

Police Use Gas, Shotguns, and Grenades to Break Up Occupy Oakland

No, I'm not joking that's what, "firing tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbags into the protest and lobbing flashbang grenades," means, and that's what the cops did in Oakland.

Interestingly enough, the day before a recall effort was initiated against Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, and I'm wondering if there might have been some sort of cause and effect.

There allegations of problems at the Oakland protest, sanitation and vandalism, but I would like to hear something about from someone other than the authorities who initiated the crackdown.

There has since been a protest march to Oakland city hall over the arrests, with some scuffles.

I'm waiting for the police to ride down the protesters on camels and horses.

Why Rick Santorum is Not a Douche

Because in a just world, no part of him would never see the inside of a vagina:
The candidate later went on to explain that sex between a man and a woman is “special,” and even birth control is “not OK.”

“We’ll repeal Obamacare and get rid any idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage,” he said. “One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
 (Emphasis mine)

Seriously, the fact that any woman ever let this meat sack pass his genes on with her makes me despair for the future of our species.

24 October 2011

The Question is Not Whether, but How Obama's HARP Will F%$# Homeowners

So, Obama has announced a new assistance program for homeowners with underwater mortgages, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which is to succeed the thoroughly corrupt HAMP program, which was geared toward helping the banksters to defraud homeowners, to allow for that cash flow to paper over some of the evidence of their insolvency.

A quick perusal of the proposal gives us the the following bullet points:
  • The homeowner can be at a higher level of negative equity than previously allowed.
  • An appraisal is not necessarily.
  • Some fees are being waived, particularly for those who take shorter term loans.
  • Underwriting standards for the banks are relaxed, making it less likely for them to have to buy back bad loans. ⇐ This is the stealth bank bailout. Another f%$#ing get out of jail free card.
  • An agreement from the major banks to not block refinancing on the basis of a 2nd mortgage.
  • It only applies to loans held by Fannie and Freddie .
I'm dubious because I believe that the Obama administration has been completely captured by the banksters, and so will not live up to its expectation, but Felix Salmon calls the program pathetic based on its basic features:
  • If you’re a homeowner whose mortgage isn’t owned or guaranteed by Frannie, you’re out of luck.
  • If your mortgage was sold to Frannie after May 31, 2009, you’re out of luck.
  • If you want to get out of negative-equity hell by doing a principal reduction, you’re out of luck.
  • If your bank doesn’t feel like participating, for whatever reason, you’re out of luck.
Salmon also notes that even by the FHFA, the agency that is managing this program, does not forecast a significant uptick in refinancing, and the initial program has refinanced less than ⅕ of the the anticipated activities.

So, it probably fails on both the specifics of the plan, and the fact that Timmy "The Bankster's Bitch" Geithner will be supervising the implementation, which is a recipe for another blow job for big banks.

23 October 2011

Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship

In this case, it's Michelle Bachmann's entire campaign in New Hampshire just quit on her:
Staff members in New Hampshire for Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann have resigned en masse, a Republican familiar with the situation said on Friday, in a fresh blow to her 2012 hopes.

The Republican had few details, but news reports in New Hampshire said the resignations included her New Hampshire campaign manager, Jeff Chidester.

Bachmann, campaigning in Iowa, sowed some confusion by saying she was unaware of the resignations.

Manchester's Union Leader newspaper said Chidester, a conservative activist and radio talk show host, left due to frustration with Bachmann's national campaign, not with the candidate herself.
Bachmann has a long history of churning through staff the way that Rush Limbaugh churns through Oxycontin.

This is a not unexpected development.

People With Way Too Much Free Time…

Click pic for rest of the series.

H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Sometimes, There is Truth in Justice

A federal court judge just said that two key prosecution witnesses are not credible because they were motivated by racism and politics"
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in an order today lambasted two key prosecution witnesses in the State House vote-buying case as being motivated by political ambition and racial prejudice.

Thomson said Republicans Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale and former Rep. Benjamin Lewis of Dothan had ulterior motives when they assisted investigators in the case. Beason and Lewis were key prosecution witnesses in the case, in which VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and others were charged with offering and taking bribes to try to get a gambling bill approved in the Alabama Legislature. The two Republicans said they approached FBI agents after they felt gambling interests made improper offers to try to secure their votes on the bill.

"The evidence introduced at trial contradicts the self-serving portrait of Beason and Lewis as untouchable opponents of corruption. In reality, Beason and Lewis had ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias," Thompson wrote.

"The court finds that Beason and Lewis lack credibility for two reasons. First, their motive for cooperating with F.B.I. investigators was not to clean up corruption but to increase Republican political fortunes by reducing African-American voter turnout. Second, they lack credibility because the record establishes their purposeful, racist intent," Thompson wrote.
He's allowing the testimony, but he is allowing the defense to present the evidence of racism and political dirty tricks at trial.

Still, if I were a prosecutor, and the judge just told me that their star witnesses are racist scum, and he's also sent a message to the prosecutors that the traditional "all white jury" is not an option, and I'd be mainlining antacid right now.

H/t TPM.
gee, you think?

22 October 2011

It Appears that Batsh%$ Insane is Bad for Business

Because it looks like the big corporate fat cat donors are not supporting the Republicans as one would expect:
Last month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just about doubled the haul of their counterparts, the National Republican Congressional Committee. The DCCC pulled in $6.64 million, while the NRCC brought in just $3.8 million. While the NRCC has more cash on hand (around $12.2 million to the DCCC’s around $9.5 million) and slightly less debt, over the course of the year the DCCC is outraising the team with the big House majority.

The year-long totals show the DCCC raising nearly $48 million to the NRCC’s just over $44 million.
I think that the Republican Party Presidential Primary clown show has convinced business executives that Republicans are simply not a good investment, because while one can price risk, you can't price uncertainty, and insane motherf%$#er teabaggers are the very definition of uncertainty.

21 October 2011

More Deep Thoughts

I'm still checking out the Artist's web site.

H/t Darren Jon Ashmore.

Deep Thought

God Bless Gawker

Call Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein on His Cell Phone and Cheer Him Up

It's been a rough day for Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. His company reported a humiliating $428 million quarterly loss this morning, just the second in Goldman's 12-year history as a public company. We figured he might like a sympathy call from the Occupy Wall Street folks, who know how to get by with less. Here's his cell phone number.

Last week's effort to put Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit in touch with the Wall Street protesters worked so well we thought we'd expand the program.

Here are some pick-me-up messages you might want to deliver to Blankfein: "I know you just lost half a billion dollars, but look on the bright side—you've set aside $10 billion in bonuses to pay out to your 34,200 employees." Or, "Hey, just do what I do when I run out of money—head over to the Fed's discount window and borrow more at no interest." Or, "Just think how much worse the loss would be if you hadn't had the foresight to snag that $13 billion taxpayer-financed pass-through bailout via AIG." Or, "We've all got to eat a shitty deal once in a while."

H/t MP at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Friday Cat Blogging

H/t Tastefullyoffensive.com.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Old Harbor Bank,Clearwater, FL
  2. Decatur First Bank, Decatur, GA
  3. Community Capital Bank, Jonesboro, GA
  4. Community Banks of Colorado, Greenwood Village, CO
Full FDIC list

Two weeks of 4 bank failures in a row.

I'm not sure if this is a trend, I'd wait another week on that, but we are back to (exactly) a two bank failure per week.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Another Inspector Renault Moment

I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!
So, now that we are looking into the corruption and cronyism in Mubarak's Egypt, and it turns out that it has its roots in the American led privatization of the Egyptian economy, just like the rampant corruption in post-Soviet Russia:
Beginning two decades ago, the United States government bankrolled an Egyptian think tank dedicated to economic reform. A different outcome is only now becoming visible in the fallout from Egypt’s Arab Spring.

Formed with a $10 million endowment from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies gathered captains of industry in a small circle — with the president’s son Gamal Mubarak at the center. Over time, members of the group would assume top roles in Egypt’s ruling party and government.

Today, Gamal Mubarak and four of those think tank members are in jail, charged with squandering public funds in the sale of public resources, lands and government-run companies as part of a dramatic restructuring. Some have fled the country, pilloried amid the public outrage over insider deals and corruption that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

“It became a crony capitalism,” Magda Kandil, the think tank’s new executive director, said of the privatization program advocated by its founders. Because of the corruption, the center now estimates, the assets that Egypt has sold off since 1991 have netted only about $10 billion, $90 billion less than their estimated worth.

The privatization saga is a cautionary tale about the power and perils of U.S. foreign aid — most notably the nearly $8 billion that the United States has provided to Egypt since the 1990s to push the country toward economic reforms.
This is not a bug, it's a feature. This sort of economic liberalization is all about creating a few corrupt individuals, because it's cheaper to allow cronies to get siphon off a billion or two while our banksters steal the rest than it is to allow those resources to accrue legally to the workers and the country.

I may seem cynical about this, but the corruption in Egypt, or Russia, or pretty much all of other privatization schemes outside of the Scandinavian countries run this way, so I've come to the conclusion that this is the actual goal of these policies.

Mission Accomplished

While on some objective level, there might be some advantages (For officers who need a combat tour on their resume) to a continued US presence in Iraq, the Iraqis loath the Americans, both the military, and (in particular) the mercenaries private military contractors.

So it comes as no surprise that the Iraqis have refused to extend immunity to the military and has additionally refused to allow US bases to remain in country:
The US suffered a major diplomatic and military rebuff on Friday when Iraq finally rejected its pleas to maintain bases in the country beyond this year.

Barack Obama announced at a White House press conference that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of December, a decision forced by the final collapse of lengthy talks between the US and the Iraqi government on the issue.

The Iraqi decision is a boost to Iran, which has close ties with many members of the Iraqi government and which had been battling against the establishment of permanent American bases.

Obama attempted to make the most of it by presenting the withdrawal as the fulfilment of one of his election promises.

"Today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," he told reporters.

But he had already announced this earlier this year, and the real significance today was in the failure of Obama, in spite of the cost to the US in dollars and deaths, to persuade the Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki to allow one or more American bases to be kept in the country.
Obama was doing his damnedest to try to make his promise to leave Iraq a promise in name only, but the Iraqis are having none of it.

Like I said, to the degree to which Obama claims to oppose "stupid wars", he refuses to believe that any war can be stupid.

Just as as a note, Bush's invasion of Iraq is the just the gift that keeps on giving.

20 October 2011

Least Surprising News of the Day

According to Senator Sanders, a recent GAO report has uncovered pervasive conflicts of interests at the Federal Reserve.

The language is steeped in the gentility of the Senate, but I think that the short version is, "Stop the looting and start prosecuting".

Sanders' full press release after the break.

If a Republican Tells You That the Sky is Blue

Personally confirm this, because his is probably lying.

The latest case is (probably) former GOP golden boy Mark Rubio who was caught lying about his family being expelled from Cuba by Castro:
During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.

But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.

The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year’s Senate election. Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate and a possible future presidential contender — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says that Mario and Oriales Rubio “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” And the 40-year-old senator with the boyish smile and prom-king good looks has drawn on the power of that claim to entrance audiences captivated by the rhetorical skills of one of the more dynamic stump speakers in modern American politics.

The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life. In the year they arrived in Florida, the future Marxist dictator was in Mexico plotting a quixotic return to Cuba.

Rubio’s office confirmed Thursday that his parents arrived in the United States in 1956 but noted that “while they were prepared to live here permanently, they always held out the hope and the option of returning to Cuba if things improved.” They returned to Cuba several times after Castro came to power to “assess the situation with the hope of eventually moving back,” the office said in a statement.
Yeah, right.

In 1956, Castro was in exile in Mexico until December 2.

His "revolution" was little more than a quixotic joke in 1956.

His parents ditched Cuba in 1956 because they did not want to live there any more.


Bug Hunt Accomplished…

So Qaddafi is dead:
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan strongman who fled into hiding after an armed uprising toppled his regime two months ago, met a violent and vengeful death Thursday in the hands of rebel fighters who stormed his final stronghold in his Mediterranean hometown Surt. At least one of his sons was also killed.

Al Jazeera television showed footage of Colonel Qaddafi, alive but bloody, as he was dragged around by armed men in Surt. The television also broadcast a separate clip of his half-naked torso, with eyes staring vacantly and an apparent gunshot wound to the head, as jubilant fighters fired automatic weapons in the air. A third video, posted on Youtube, showed excited fighters hovering around his lifeless-looking body, posing for photographs and yanking his limp head up and down by the hair.

Conflicting accounts quickly emerged about whether Colonel Qaddafi was executed by his captors, died from gunshot wounds sustained in a firefight, was mortally wounded in a NATO air strike on his escaping convoy or bled to death in an ambulance. But the images broadcast by Al Jazeera punctuated an emphatic and gruesome ending to his four decades as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat who had basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa.
So all that remains for NATO's little colonial enterprise is the looting by multinational oil companies and ………… What else is there in Libya?

Tourism maybe? 

And, of course, money to gotten by looting privatizing state industry, the healthcare system, and education.

Osama Who Ever Is In Charge of al-Qaeda , Take Me Now!!!

MTV is making a casting call for The Real World occupy Wall Street:
MTV has made an industry this year of recycling its vintage content, from Beavis & Butthead to Liquid Television.

Now the network appears to be updating or at least remixing its Real World franchise with a tip of the hat to the Occupy generation.

Casting calls in Los Angeles and New York this week are looking for ...
Is there nothing that our society does not cheapen?

It's Jobless Thursday

And initial claims are again just marginally better,   404,000 down from last week's adjusted 409,000, which is still too damn high.

Actually, it's worse than it sounds, because they adjusted last week's numbers were adjusted up from 405,000, (isn't it always the way?) so it's really a negligible drop.

What's more, continuing claims rose, though emergency claims fell, probably as people hit 99 weeks.

We are not anywhere near a recovery.

19 October 2011

On Gilad Shalit

From a purely tactical perspective, the idea that a thousand-to-one prisoner swap makes sense before final status negotiations is stupid.

I'm don't begrudge the actions of his family, and their obvious happiness over the release of Gilad Shalit after 5 years, but I think that this will, in the long run, make things worse, not better.

It strengthens the role of hostage taking, as Hamas has explicitly stated.

I'm not a fan of Benyamin Netanyahu, and perhaps this colors my assessment of these developments, but I see this as a political hail Mary pass* by the Israeli PM.

Recently, Netanyahu's political popularity has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for some time, witness the tent demonstrations in Israel, and my expectation is that he will call for new elections while whatever popularity boost he had gotten remains.

*Pun not intended.

Another Stinker of a Bank Deal from

Hoocoodanode that Biden's Kid Would Be a Hero in All This?
Another day, another sell-out deal from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and the Obama administration:
Talks between U.S. states and top banks over mortgage abuses are nearing agreement on a major sticking point that has bogged down settlement negotiations for more than a year.


Under the proposed terms of the settlement -- which could total $25 billion -- banks would get broad legal immunity from state lawsuits in exchange for refinancing underwater loans, those mortgages where borrowers owe more than their homes are worth, the sources said.


Banks have been holding out on a multi-billion-dollar settlement because they wanted broader legal immunity than state attorneys general were prepared to offer.

Originally, the states were only considering immunity for shortcuts taken during mortgage servicing and foreclosures, including the so-called "robo-signing" of documents to evict people behind on their mortgages.

In recent days, the state attorneys general agreed to release major banks from claims that they made legal errors when first originating the loans, such as approving loans for borrowers without verifying any income, according to two people familiar with the talks.

In exchange, banks would agree to refinance mortgages for borrowers who are current on their payments but owe more than their homes are currently worth, the sources said.
So, as Biden notes (see vid), they are getting a (pretty lame) deal from a contractor for bad gutters, and he demands to be cleared for the roof and the gutter they put in too.

But, as Yves Smith observes, the relief, such as it is, would only apply to non-securitized mortgages (about 20% of the mortgages), and the banks get to write the deal for the homeowners, meaning more booby traps for the the people who get "relief", and probably a waiver of private liability.

BTW, this likely f%$#s the MBS investors, because without an official investigation of the securitization process, any potential private suit will be hamstrung.

And the Banksters Look to Occupy Greece

Police with Bayonets, Yeah, this is All About Law Enforcement!
No, I'm not joking, the EU has a paramilitary force, the European Gendarmerie Force, and they have allegedly been deployed to Greece:
Did you know that the EU has its own riot police that can operate in any European country but is answerable directly to none of them? No I didn’t either.

They are called the European Gendarmerie Force (Eurogendfor) . They are based in Italy but funded and staffed by six signatory nations who are France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Romania. However, according to the Treaty which established Eurogendfor they can operate in any EU country and are available to others who invite them to do so. The country which invites them in is refered to as the ‘Host’.


What does it say if it turns out ot be true that the Greek government has ‘invited’ a quasi military riot police made of personel from other nations to operate in Greece against its own citizens. Greek police not enough? Greek military not willing to crack heads? Got to get some foreigners to do it for you?

What exactly is the difference between Eurogendfor and any other mercenary force? The Greek government could ‘invite’ any private army in. No matter how you view the status of Eurogendfor, the reality is the Greek people did not vote in favour of joining it and certainly were not asked if they wanted foreign quasi military forces to be able to operate in Greece. If this story turns out to be true then it iouwld mean that the greek government that like all governments through history that have lost all legitimacy with its own people, eventually seek military support from outside forces with which to supress its own people. Once you view it like that the word tyranny eventually enters in. And that word has extremely serious consequences.

Let’s take a step back from this. The cuts in Greece are tied up intimately with bailing out French and German banks as well as the Greek owners of Greek banks. The Greek people have been demonstrating against the bail out for months. The Greek government has ignored its people and chosen to do the bidding of the EU elite, the IMF, the ECB and most of all the banks globally.

Now it is alleged that a non-Greek militarized riot force may have arrived to enforce austerity. Whose bidding would they really be doing? Whose interests would they be serving? Could it be the banks? Have the financial class now got their own riot police who they can ship to wherever the locals try to defy them and where the local police cannot be ‘trusted’ to serve the supra-national interests of the banks?

Of course this is not how Eurogendfor is set up. I know that. But is this how it actually works nevertheless?
Obviously at this point, what we have is one blogger (at the link) who has, "checked with friends in Athens," who have confirmed this, so this is not at the level of confirmation, and I don't know anyone in Greece, but there is a history of such actions,* so the allegations pass my smell test.

* The history that I know of are the occupations of Latin American nations to extract debt payments in the inter-war years, which prompted Will Rogers to say, following a tour of Latin America, that he knew that he was back in the USA when he didn't see any US Marines.

18 October 2011

I Don't Smell a T-Shirt Here

While I agree with the sentiment:

But it doesn't have the ring of, for example, "Stop the looting, and start prosecuting."

OK, This Ain't Good…………

Bank of America is trying to take its Merrill Lynch's dodgy derivatives division and move it to the FDIC insured bank.

Interestingly enough, this has created a conflict between the Federal Reserve (who want to green light this) and the FDIC (who oppose the move):
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disagree over the transfers, which are being requested by counterparties, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting, said the people. The bank doesn’t believe regulatory approval is needed, said people with knowledge of its position.

Three years after taxpayers rescued some of the biggest U.S. lenders, regulators are grappling with how to protect FDIC- insured bank accounts from risks generated by investment-banking operations. Bank of America, which got a $45 billion bailout during the financial crisis, had $1.04 trillion in deposits as of midyear, ranking it second among U.S. firms.

“The concern is that there is always an enormous temptation to dump the losers on the insured institution,” said William Black, professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a former bank regulator. “We should have fairly tight restrictions on that.”
(Emphasis mine)

Gee, you think? Keeping banks from moving risky investments to federally insured divisions is a bad thing?
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Bank of America’s long-term credit ratings Sept. 21, cutting both the holding company and the retail bank two notches apiece. The holding company fell to Baa1, the third-lowest investment-grade rank, from A2, while the retail bank declined to A2 from Aa3.
Moody’s Downgrade

The Moody’s downgrade spurred some of Merrill’s partners to ask that contracts be moved to the retail unit, which has a higher credit rating, according to people familiar with the transactions. Transferring derivatives also can help the parent company minimize the collateral it must post on contracts and the potential costs to terminate trades after Moody’s decision, said a person familiar with the matter.


Moving derivatives contracts between units of a bank holding company is limited under Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act, which is designed to prevent a lender’s affiliates from benefiting from its federal subsidy and to protect the bank from excessive risk originating at the non-bank affiliate, said Saule T. Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

“Congress doesn’t want a bank’s FDIC insurance and access to the Fed discount window to somehow benefit an affiliate, so they created a firewall,” Omarova said. The discount window has been open to banks as the lender of last resort since 1914.


In 2009, the Fed granted Section 23A exemptions to the banking arms of Ally Financial Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, Fifth Third Bancorp, ING Groep NV, General Electric Co., Northern Trust Corp., CIT Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., among others, according to letters posted on the Fed’s website.

The central bank terminated exemptions last year for retail-banking units of JPMorgan, Citigroup, Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and Deutsche Bank AG. The Fed also ended an exemption for Bank of America in March 2010 and in September of that year approved a new one.

Section 23A “is among the most important tools that U.S. bank regulators have to protect the safety and soundness of U.S. banks,” Scott Alvarez, the Fed’s general counsel, told Congress in March 2008.
If Bank of America is not actually insolvent, they wouldn't be doing this.  This is outright fraud.

What's more, the Federal Reserve is an active accomplice in this .

H/t Naked Capitalism, where Yves Smith notes:
This changes the picture completely. This move reflects either criminal incompetence or abject corruption by the Fed. Even though I’ve expressed my doubts as to whether Dodd Frank resolutions will work, dumping derivatives into depositaries pretty much guarantees a Dodd Frank resolution will fail. Remember the effect of the 2005 bankruptcy law revisions: derivatives counterparties are first in line, they get to grab assets first and leave everyone else to scramble for crumbs. So this move amounts to a direct transfer from derivatives counterparties of Merrill to the taxpayer, via the FDIC, which would have to make depositors whole after derivatives counterparties grabbed collateral. It’s well nigh impossible to have an orderly wind down in this scenario. You have a derivatives counterparty land grab and an abrupt insolvency. Lehman failed over a weekend after JP Morgan grabbed collateral.

But it’s even worse than that. During the savings & loan crisis, the FDIC did not have enough in deposit insurance receipts to pay for the Resolution Trust Corporation wind-down vehicle. It had to get more funding from Congress. This move paves the way for another TARP-style shakedown of taxpayers, this time to save depositors. No Congressman would dare vote against that. This move is Machiavellian, and just plain evil.
(emphasis original)

Evil, incompetent, and convinced of their own Objectivist virtue. Ayn Rands supermen in a nutshell.

God Bless the New Yorker

The October 24 ish.

It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy

What part of "unprovoked assault" don't you get?
It turns out that Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, who achieved his 15 minutes of fame because of his going postal on protestors with pepper spray, is now facing disciplinary charges:
A New York police commander who pepper-sprayed protesters during the opening days of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last month faces an internal disciplinary charge that could cost him 10 vacation days, the police said Tuesday.

The commander, Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, has been given a so-called command discipline, according to a law enforcement official. Officials said investigators found that the inspector ran afoul of Police Department rules for the use of the spray. The department’s patrol guide, its policy manual, says pepper spray should be used primarily to arrest a suspect who is resisting arrest, or for protection; it does allow for its use in “disorder control,” but only by officers with special training.

The Internal Affairs Bureau reviewed the episode and found that Inspector Bologna “used pepper spray outside departmental guidelines,” said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. He declined to elaborate.

The inspector can accept the charge and plead guilty, or he can opt for a departmental trial. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly is the ultimate arbiter of punishment in such matters and has wide leeway in his decisions.
This is a nice start, but this was assault and battery under color of his badge.

DA Vance should be bringing this before a grand jury.

Good Advice for Occupy Wall Street

It may seem silly, but if you are going to protest, it's a good idea to smarten up.

If not a suit and tie, at least something with a collar.

Don't look like a bum:

Goldman May Drop Bank Status ………

At least until the next time that they need to be bailed out by the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

It seems that they don't like the Volker rule:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley may consider dropping their status as bank holding companies to avoid expenses tied to the Volcker rule, said David Hilder, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group LLP.

The rule in its current form would impose costs on lenders and drive capital to non-bank market makers, causing the two New York-based firms to consider whether to stop being banks, Hilder said in a note yesterday, when four regulatory agencies issued a 298-page draft of the rule for public comment.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were the biggest U.S. securities firms before they converted to bank holding companies after the September 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Both became subject to regulation by the Federal Reserve and won access to central bank programs such as the discount window, which are designed to protect deposit-taking banks.

“The regulators have proposed a massive new compliance burden on banks to prove that their market-making activities are just that, and not proprietary trading in disguise,” wrote Hilder, who’s based in New York. “If these regulations are adopted in anything close to their proposed form, there will be large additional costs imposed on banks as market-makers that will not apply to market-makers not owned by banks.”
Does anyone think that the Vampire Squid isn't going to get bailed out when they f%$# themselves up again?

17 October 2011

Deep Thought

OccupySesameStreet is da Bomb!

Oh Sh%$!!!!

They've found radiation spikes in Tokyo neighborhoods:
An extraordinarily high level of radiation was detected in one spot in a central Tokyo residential district Thursday, prompting the local government to cordon off the small area, local officials said.

Radiation levels were higher in Tokyo's Setagaya ward than in the evacuation area around the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, according to ward Mayor Nobuto Hosaka.

"We are shocked to see such high radiation level was detected in our neighborhood. We cannot leave it as is," Hosaka told reporters.
And it's not just Tokyo, as authorities "detected 40,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of sediment collected from one part of a roadside ditch," over 8x the limit for rice fields.

H/t Barry Ritholtz, who also notes the following:
The Japanese government’s response? To stop testing for plutonium, and to tell people they shouldn’t use geiger counters to test for themselves.

The Japanese government has been caught blatantly under-reporting radiation levels in general, and Japanese professors are starting to fear for Japan’s future.
I'm feeling so much better now.

Headline of the Day

Manly Arts Festival in Oklahoma City Closes Early for Lack of Interest

H/t Oggie.

16 October 2011

Banks are Demolishing Homes Now

Yes, it's central Cleveland, but it's happening elsewhere, and with a real turn around in house prices years away, this will spread:
Cleveland — The sight of excavators tearing down vacant buildings has become common in this foreclosure-ravaged city, where the housing crisis hit early and hard. But the story behind the recent wave of demolitions is novel — and cities around the country are taking notice.

A handful of the nation’s largest banks have begun giving away scores of properties that are abandoned or otherwise at risk of languishing indefinitely and further dragging down already depressed neighborhoods.

The banks have even been footing the bill for the demolitions — as much as $7,500 a pop. Four years into the housing crisis, the ongoing expense of upkeep and taxes, along with costly code violations and the price of marketing the properties, has saddled banks with a heavy burden. It often has become cheaper to knock down decaying homes no one wants.
The thing is that as bad as it is in the cities, when this happens in the suburbs, and the lifestyle in the far suburbs is not sustainable, there won't be the any sort of useful application for the abandoned land, the article mentions land banks creating things like common spaces and community gardens, are just going to sit and decay.

It will be like some suburban Cyberpunk novel.

15 October 2011

The First Shoe Drops for Obama Care

The Obama administration just shut down the CLASS long term health insurance program:
A long-term disability care program shepherded into the U.S. health overhaul by Senator Edward Kennedy before his death was canceled as financially unsustainable by health secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Republicans opposed the so-called Class Act that created the program. It will be indefinitely suspended, Sebelius said today in a statement, because the program isn’t likely to generate enough revenue to pay for its benefits.

Democrats led by Kennedy created the plan to help people disabled by illness or accident. By paying premiums while employed, beneficiaries would be eligible after five years for at least $50 a day toward health and support services provided at home. The program was billed as paying for itself.

“I do not see a viable path forward for Class implementation at this time,” Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.

Republicans celebrated the program’s demise, calling it misguided policy used as a financial gimmick to reduce cost estimates of the health law. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office subtracted $70 billion from the cost of the law thanks to Class -- which stands for Community Living Assistance Services and Supports -- contributing to $143 billion in total savings, because the program’s premiums would exceed benefits over its first decade.
This is what happens when you try to create a program that accommodates the sources of the problem (insurance companies and for-profit healthcare), because you lack the courage, and quite frankly the interest, in actually fixing the system, as opposed to just slapping the label "Healthcare Reform" on half measures.

The fact that this will add $70 billion over the next ten years to the cost of healthcare reform will lend credence to Republican attacks in the 2012 campaign season.

This is why half measures, particularly when they did not serve to secure meaningful bipartisan support, create more than just bad policy, they create bad politics.


It looks like the Boeing KC-46 tanker will be delayed.

Of course, the article in the Air Force Times is merely discussing the potential issues that might call delay, but this is pre-sell delays and cost overruns, with an eye toward making sure that the Pentagon and the Congress will bail them out when the inevitable cost overruns and schedule slippage occurs.

H/t ELP.

About Time…

It look like Prosecutors have finally gotten the guts to prosecute a bishop for concealing child abuse:
The first U.S. bishop criminally charged with sheltering an abusive clergyman has been accused of failing to protect children after he and his diocese waited five months to tell police about hundreds of images of child pornography discovered on a priest’s computer, authorities said.

Bishop Robert Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese have pleaded not guilty on one count each of failing to report suspected child abuse, officials said Friday.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Finn and the diocese were required under state law to report the discovery to police because the images gave them reason to believe a child had been abused.

“Now that the grand jury investigation has resulted in this indictment, my office will pursue this case vigorously,” Baker said. “I want to ensure there are no future failures to report resulting in other unsuspecting victims.”

The indictment, handed down Oct. 6 but sealed because Finn was out of the country, says the bishop failed to report suspicions against the priest from Dec. 16, 2010, when the photos were discovered, to May 11, 2011, when the diocese turned them over to police.

Finn denied any wrongdoing in a statement Friday and said he had begun work to overhaul the diocese’s reporting policies and act on key findings of a diocese-commissioned investigation into its practices.

“Today, the Jackson County Prosecutor issued these charges against me personally and against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph,” said Finn, who officials said was not under arrest. “For our part, we will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”

Finn faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of the misdemeanor. The diocese also faces a $1,000 fine.
Maybe if some of these guys at the top start seeing the inside of the jail cell, they will stop aiding and abetting sexual abuse among their ranks.

Oh For F%$#'s Sake!!!!

Obama is sending troops to Uganda:
President Obama is sending about 100 special forces troops to central Africa to help target the leadership of the Lord's Resistance Army, a notorious militia that has been raping and pillaging in the remote jungles of northern Uganda and neighboring countries for more than two decades.

The first team of armed advisors arrived in Uganda on Wednesday. Over the next month, the remaining U.S. troops, most of them Army Green Berets, will be sent to Uganda and surrounding countries, including South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo.

In a letter notifying Congress on Friday, Obama said the goal of the U.S. mission was to assist regional African forces in removing "from the battlefield" the militia's leader, self-declared prophet Joseph Kony. But the U.S. troops will not fight unless fired upon, the letter said.

A militia known for forcing abducted children to fight and for mutilating its victims, the Lord's Resistance Army has long been condemned by the U.S. and human rights organizations for atrocities against civilians.
Not only are we going into a yet another counter-insurgency, but we are going on a Mohamed Farrah Aidid style bug hunt.

When Obama said that he was opposed to "Stupid Wars" in 2003, what he neglected to say was that he doesn't believe that any wars are "stupid".

Read Matt Taibbi

Seriously, just read his advice to the Wall Street protesters.

Here's a Surprise…

It turns out that the US Marines are manufacturing statistics to falsely represent the safety of the V-22 Osprey:
It’s an aircraft with a reputation for falling from the sky. But on at least one occasion, the U.S. military’s controversial V-22 Osprey tiltrotor — a hybrid transport that takes off like a helicopter and cruises like an airplane, thanks to its rotating engine nacelles — did just the opposite. It flew upward, out of control of its pilots.

On March 27, 2006, at a Marine Corps air base in New River, North Carolina, an MV-22 assigned to Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 experienced an unplanned surge in engine power as the three-man crew was preparing for a flight. “That caused the aircraft to inadvertently lift off the deck approximately 30 feet,” Marine spokesman Maj. Shawn Haney explained. “It came back down … there was major damage sustained to the right wing and the right engine.”


Yet the Marines and the Naval Safety Center ultimately decided that the Osprey’s dangerous joyride didn’t count as a serious flying accident, known in Pentagon parlance as a “Class A flight mishap.” The reason, said Capt. Brian Block, a Marine spokesman: The aircraft wasn’t supposed to take off just then; therefore, it’s not a flight problem. If a V-22 suffers damage while preparing to launch or after landing, or if the crew does not explicitly command the aircraft to take off but it does anyways, then the accident doesn’t count as a flight accident.

“No intent for flight existed,” he told Danger Room. “As such, it is not included in calculating the Class A flight mishap rate.”

It’s not the only seemingly serious accident that the Marines neglected to include in its tally of flight mishaps for the Osprey. A review of press reports, analysts’ studies and military records turns up 10 or more potentially serious mishaps in the last decade of V-22 testing and operations. At least three — and quite possibly more — could be considered Class A flight mishaps, if not for pending investigations, the “intent for flight” loophole and possible under-reporting of repair costs.


The Marines boast that the Osprey is the “safest tactical rotorcraft within the U.S. Marine Corps” over the last decade, in the words of Lt. Col. Jason Holden, the V-22 plans officer at Marine Corps headquarters in Virginia. By the official reckoning of the Marine Corps and the Naval Safety Center, the V-22 has a Class A flight mishap rate of 1.28 per 100,000 flight hours over the last 10 years, compared to a Class A flight mishap rate of 2.6 per 100,000 flight hours for all Marine aircraft over the same period.

But the Marines have given all sorts of reasons not to trust that official rate.
The Marines are so vested in the success of the V-22, that they cannot be trusted to manage the program.

The fact that the Marine Corps feels compelled to go to these lengths is an indication that the Osprey is not performing as promised.

14 October 2011

Just Desserts

Phill Klein, the virulently anti-abortion former Kansas Attorney General, has been under investigation by the Kansas bar for leaking confidential medical records in order to harass abortion providers and abortion recipients.

Well, the disciplinary board has now recommended that his license to practice law be permanently suspended:
A Kansas disciplinary panel said Thursday that former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline should be indefinitely suspended from practicing law in the state because of the “dishonest and selfish” way he pursued abortion clinics.

The recommendation of the attorney disciplinary board culminates a turbulent six-year period in which Kline — as attorney general and later Johnson County district attorney — presided over investigations of the late George Tiller’s abortion clinic in Wichita and Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.
I'm not sure if this is a disbarment, or just one step short of this.

In any case, I wouldn't worry about Mr. Kline. I'm sure that the VWRC will find him something remunerative to him, because, unlike Democrats, the wingers take care of their own.

Maddow notes that Jerry Fallwell's phony school has already given him a professorship.

Occupy Wall Street Stays at Zuccotti Park

At least for now, but there were arrests, including, according to Olbermann, at least one arrest for being run over by a police vehicle. (Yep, you got that right)

He was arrested with enough force to require his hospitalization.

Here is the kicker:
The man on the ground has been identified as 32-year-old Ari Douglas, a legal observer at the Occupy Wall Street protests for the National Lawyer's Guild. The video appears to show a police officer running over Mr. Douglas' leg with a scooter.

First the viral video of the senior New York policeman (white shirt, lieutenant, at least) pepper spraying without provocation, and now we have this.

We also have two cases of what appears to be two unprovoked assaults on protesters, again by white shirt cops.

Seriously, these guys are going to make the Occupy Wall Street more popular than The Beatles:

10 Percent of the Chinese Economy?

It turns out that much of the lending to small businesses in China is done by loan sharks, because the official banks prefer to lend to large state owned enterprises.

That's not shocking. Official Chinese societal structures have always been for the benefit of the few over the many.

That being said, a throw away line in a New York Times article is truly shocking:
Such illegal lending amounts to about $630 billion a year, or the equivalent of about 10 percent of China's gross domestic product, according to estimates by the investment bank UBS.
10%?  10% of the f%$#ing Chinese economy is loan sharking???????

When the bubble bursts in China, and there is a bubble in China, it's going to be incredibly ugly.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Piedmont Community Bank, Gray, GA
  2. Blue Ridge Savings Bank, Inc., Asheville, NC
  3. First State Bank, Cranford, NJ
  4. Country Bank, Aledo, IL
Full FDIC list

Busy week. 4 Banks.

Right not, this is in a path for 101 bank closures, but my guess is that it will be just under 100, because they don't want to break 3 figures.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Deep Thought

From my hairy brother on facebook.

I saw this a few years back.

Heard About the Shooting at the Salon In California?

Click for full size

See the License Plate Frame?
Normally, I don't say anything about such things, but then a friend pointed out the license plate frame on the shooter's truck. (See the join the tea party dot us URL?)

From reports, this is not a politically motivated shooting, and I have no reason to believe that it is.

That being said, what is clear is that there are a lot of teabaggers with easy access to firearms and a few screws loose, and there are a lot of people out there who are giving encouragement for them to go postal (Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly), and the fact that a few of them are going do decide to do very bad things as a result is more probable than just possible.

H/t Hedgehog at SP.

13 October 2011

Scientist Poke Holes in FBI's Anthrax Mailer ID

And they are doing this in a peer reviewed journal:
A decade after wisps of anthrax sent through the mail killed 5 people, sickened 17 others and terrorized the nation, biologists and chemists still disagree on whether federal investigators got the right man and whether the F.B.I.’s long inquiry brushed aside important clues.

Now, three scientists argue that distinctive chemicals found in the dried anthrax spores — including the unexpected presence of tin — point to a high degree of manufacturing skill, contrary to federal reassurances that the attack germs were unsophisticated. The scientists make their case in a coming issue of the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.

F.B.I. documents reviewed by The New York Times show that bureau scientists focused on tin early in their eight-year investigation, calling it an “element of interest” and a potentially critical clue to the criminal case. They later dropped their lengthy inquiry, never mentioned tin publicly and never offered any detailed account of how they thought the powder had been made.

The new paper raises the prospect — for the first time in a serious scientific forum — that the Army biodefense expert identified by the F.B.I. as the perpetrator, Bruce E. Ivins, had help in obtaining his germ weapons or conceivably was innocent of the crime.

Both the chairwoman of a National Academy of Science panel that spent a year and a half reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work and the director of a new review by the Government Accountability Office said the paper raised important questions that should be addressed.


In its report last February, the National Academy of Sciences panel sharply criticized some of the F.B.I.’s scientific work, saying the genetic link between the attack anthrax and a supply in Dr. Ivins’s lab was “not as conclusive” as the bureau asserted.

If the authors of the new paper are correct about the silicon-tin coating, it appears likely that Dr. Ivins could not have made the anthrax powder alone with the equipment he possessed, as the F.B.I. maintains. That would mean either that he got the powder from elsewhere or that he was not the perpetrator.
The FBI hasn't covered itself in glory,

Their behavior towards their first "person of interest", Steven Hatfill, as well as their behavior toward Bruce Ivins, seemed to be geared more toward driving their subjects to self destruction than to any finding of fact. (They went after Ivins' counselor, for example).

The bottom line here is that there is a lot of highly classified information that was not subject to review for this article, and a continued insistence on the part of the DoJ merely serves to reinforce the people who believe that the FBI did not find the right guy.

The Lesson Here is If You Cheat Investors, Be a White Man

Long prison term, dark face, any questions?
You know why Raj Rajaratnam just got sentenced to 11 years in prison for insider trading:
Fallen hedge fund tycoon Raj Rajaratnam has been sentenced to a record 11 years in prison after his conviction in the biggest Wall Street insider trading case in decades.

Prosecutors had pushed for 25-year sentence after convicting Rajaratnam, 54, in the biggest insider trading investigation ever conducted by US authorities.

Legal experts said that while prosecutors may have been disappointed with the decision, the sentence was still the highest ever given for insider dealing.
The thing to remember here is that this is actually fairly small time by the scale of the financial meltdown, and that he is not white.

I won't believe that there is any sort of meaningful crackdown on the banksters until we see someone who is both white, and at least at the VP level for a major bank.

This is just, "Rounding up the usual suspects."

It's Jobless Thursday

And the initial claims numbers are basically flat, which is still too high for a meaningful recovery, with the 4-weeking moving average and continuing claims numbers falling slightly, but extended and emergency claims rose.

When juxtaposed with the non-farm payroll numbers for September being over 100,000 less than is needed to accommodate natural growth in the labor force, this is not good news.

If They Believe Mayor Bloomberg, They Are Idiots…

He's claiming that the Occupy Wall Street people need to leave Zuccotti Park to allow for cleaning:
The small Manhattan square occupied by anti-Wall Street protestors for almost four weeks will be temporarily cleared for cleaning on Friday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg went to the protest site, where several hundred people are camped out, to explain the move, which would be the first time the demonstrators are asked to leave, the mayor’s office said.

Bloomberg said the owners of the plaza wanted to exercise their duty in cleaning it — and that this was their right, although protestors would be allowed back immediately.
My first question is why did they sell a public park to private owners?
It was not clear whether this signaled an attempt by the city to clear out the protest, which is being held in a privately owned plaza that the owners are obliged to make available to the public.

Holloway promised “protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park.”

Among new rules posted at the park are a ban on sleeping bags and other camping paraphernalia.
Yeah, like this this isn't an attempt to shut these folks down.

Expect cops to start seriously breaking heads in the next week.

(on edit)

The deadline given by Brookfield is 7:00am EDT (GMT-4) today.

It's the Vampire Squid's World, We Just Live in It

So when Goldman Sachs gets caught helping clients evade taxes, and British authorities hand them a get out of jail free card:
Britain's tax authorities have given Goldman Sachs an unusual and generous Christmas present, leaked documents reveal. In a secret London meeting last December with the head of Revenue, the wealthy Wall Street banking firm was forgiven £10m interest on a failed tax avoidance scheme.

HM Revenue and Customs sources admit privately that the interest-free deal is "a cock-up" by officials, but refuse to say who was responsible.

Documents leaked to Private Eye magazine and published in full by the Guardian record that Britain's top tax official, HMRC's permanent secretary Dave Hartnett, personally shook hands on a secret settlement last December.

Hartnett is due to be questioned on Wednesday by the Commons public accounts committee. The leaked documents suggest that a previous PAC chairman, Edward Leigh, was misled when he was told it was illegal to reveal details of such cases to parliament.

Leaked legal advice from James Eadie QC, which the Guardian also publishes today, says the opposite. Hartnett has discretion to reveal such facts to the parliamentary watchdog, according to the advice.


In the 1990s, Goldman set up a company offshore in the British Virgin Islands. This entity, called Goldman Sachs Services Ltd, supposedly employed all of Goldman's London bankers, who were then "seconded" to work there.

The device appears to have been designed to conceal the size of the bonuses. Judge David Williams said in 2009 that it was "a way of keeping information about the GS accounts and payroll out of the public domain and confidential".

Goldman also begrudged paying its share of UK national insurance on the six-figure bonuses. Court judgments disclose that a typical Goldman bonus to a junior banker was £143,000 in 1998, and £191,000 the following year.

The company, along with 21 investment banks and other firms, purchased blueprints for an avoidance scheme called an employee benefit trust (EBT). The bonuses were indirectly invested into elaborate share option schemes.

It took the Revenue until 2005 to demonstrate in court that these EBTs were merely illegitimate tax avoidance devices. The 21 other firms surrendered, and handed over what they owed.

But Goldman Sachs refused to pay its £30.81m bill. Instead the city firm Freshfields and the tax QC David Goldberg fought tooth and nail on Goldman's behalf through the courts. By 2010, according to a public judgment, the unpaid bill with accumulated interest had mounted to £40m.
Seriously, we need to take these muthas down hard.

12 October 2011

Deep Thought

On Steve Jobs:

Mat Bors is a genius.

H/t JR at the Stellarparthenon BBS.

God Bless The Onion

President's Approval Rating Soars After Punching Wall Street Banker in Face

And in a related story:
The banker punch may have also been a boon for President Obama's efforts to pass his American Jobs Act. When asked if he still opposed the bill this afternoon, a visibly nervous Republican house majority leader Eric Cantor said, "No no no. I'll pass whatever the President wants. P-p-please don't let him hurt me."

Holy Sh%$!!!

Click for full size

This is scary
It's rained so hard world wide that ocean levels fell in 2010:
Guest Blogger on Oct 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm
by Barry Saxifrage, via the Vancouver Observer

“The year 2010 was one the worst years in world history for high-impact floods. But just three weeks into the new year, 2011 has already had an entire year’s worth of mega-floods. “ – Meteorologist Jeff Masters

I spend hours a day researching what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls “global weirding”: the destabilization of our weather system fueled by the three million tonnes of fossil fuel pollution we inject into it each hour. So it is a rare day when something shocks me as much as a recent U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) report on last year’s extreme rainfall.

As most locals know from soggy personal experience, our corner of planet Earth since last spring has been a bit wetter and greyer than normal. And next door, our Washington neighbours donned their gum boots and slogged through their fourth wettest year since 1895.

Still, we got off lucky. Very lucky it turns out.

According to this jaw-dropping NASA report, worldwide rainfall and snowfall were so extreme, in so many places last year, that sea levels fell dramatically.
Great googly moogly.

Tweet of the Day

11 October 2011

When Michael Hayden Says That You Over Classify…

You have gone way beyond an even remotely sane assessment of the need for secrecy:
Ex-head of the National Security Agency and CIA and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden said federal agencies need to open up to public and private industry to address cyber threats

As cyber security climbs its way up the priority list after 2011's string of attacks against government and corporate systems, U.S. government agencies and companies struggle to find a happy medium between excessive secrecy and too much disclosure regarding the handling of such issues.

Going one way or the other can have severe repercussions. Excessive secrecy can stifle cyber defense, as too much focus could be placed on an issue that was already resolved elsewhere. If you keep it secret, someone who might know how to fix it cannot do so. Too much disclosure, on the other hand, gives hackers what they need to work around security systems.
This is kind of like Sweeney Todd saying that you are too rough when you give a shave.

10 October 2011

OK, Maybe She Has a Chance

Elizabeth Warren's Senate campaign raised $3.15 million in the 3rd quarter, more than double Wall Street darling Scott Brown's haul of $1.55 million:
 Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren is off to a quick start when it comes to raising money for her Senate campaign in Massachusetts, with a debut total -- $3.15 million -- that may even out-perform some of the Republican candidates for president.

Warren, who helped set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and is a favorite candidate among progressives, announced the impressive third-quarter haul in an email to her supporters Monday. She said that 96% of the contributions came in donations of $100 or less.
Note that, "Most of the money was raised since she formally joined the race for the Democratic nomination in mid-September."

You gotta figure that she's going to get a lot of sweat equity out of her supporters as well.

I think that the primary campaign is basically over, but I still think that Scott Brown, particularly with the enthusiastic backing of the banksters, and what will surely be tepid support from the Wall Street living Democratic establishment *cough* Obama *cough* will be a though nut to crack.

But I am no longer making a prediction about the outcome.

Go Read the Shrill One

Krugman is brilliant today:
So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.
Go read the rest.

As an aside, the reaction of the 1% does not reflect the positions of people who feel that they truly deserve their prestige and power.

Deep down, they know that they are parasitic frauds, and they are terrified at being exposed.