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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 09/11/2011 - 09/18/2011
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's a Saturday

and an absolutely gorgeous late summer afternoon here in the high desert...

unfortunately, the rain of shit shows no signs of stopping...

House Republicans Whittle Down $447 Billion American Jobs Act to $11 Billion

S&P’s Chambers Sees One-in-Three Chance of Another U.S. Credit Downgrade

Obama: All Americans must pay fair share to cut deficit

that last one is a real hoot... we should ALL be expected to pay a "fair share" of the mess we've been dragged into by appallingly expensive, illegal wars based on lies, a bloated defense budget that is beyond shameful supporting an empire of 800 military bases around the globe, banksters who have been repeatedly been rewarded for defrauding the global economic system through a never-ending round of rip-offs, mega-corporations that have artfully abdicated any responsibility for contributing to the common good by paying no taxes, and a health care system that worships obscene profit and has nothing to do with "health"...? i don't think so...

other than all that, it's still a gorgeous saturday...

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

A "too big to fail" bank gets hit with an epic inside fail [UPDATE] [UPDATE II]

here's a sweet little item...
Adoboli held over $2bn UBS ‘rogue trade’

Kweku Adoboli, a 31-year old trader in UBS’s London-based exchange traded funds business, was arrested on Thursday in connection with a $2bn loss due to unauthorised trading at the Swiss group’s investment bank

The Swiss group declined to comment, other than saying the loss had been caused by “a trader” and the matter was under investigation. It warned that the discovery could prompt it to report an overall loss for the group when third-quarter figures are revealed in October.

maybe it's just me and my inherently cynical nature, but i smell scapegoat here... and tell me, please, how does TWO BILLION manage to slip below the radar...?


matt taibbi responds...
The $2 Billion UBS Incident: 'Rogue Trader' My Ass


There is much hand-wringing in the financial press today as the UBS incident has reminded the whole world that all of the banks were almost certainly lying their asses off over the last three years, when they all pledged to pull back from risky prop trading.


The influx of i-banking types into the once-boring worlds of commercial bank accounts, home mortgages, and consumer credit has helped turn every part of the financial universe into a casino. That’s why I can’t stand the term "rogue trader," which is always tossed out there when some investment-banker asshole loses a billion dollars betting with someone else’s money.

They’re not "rogue" for the simple reason that making insanely irresponsible decisions with other peoples’ money is exactly the job description of a lot of people on Wall Street. Hell, they don’t call these guys "rogue traders" when they make a billion dollars gambling.

The only thing that differentiates a "rogue" trader like Barings villain Nick Leeson from a Lloyd Blankfein, Dick Fuld, John Thain, or someone like AIG’s Joe Cassano, is that those other guys are more senior and their lunatic, catastrophic decisions were authorized...


In the financial press you're called a "rogue trader" if you're some overperspired 28 year-old newbie who bypasses internal audits and quality control to make a disastrous trade that could sink the company. But if you're a well-groomed 60 year-old CEO who uses his authority to ignore quality control and internal audits in order to make disastrous trades that could sink the company, you get a bailout, a bonus, and heroic treatment in an Andrew Ross Sorkin book.

In other words, "rogue traders" are treated like bad accidents and condemned everywhere from the front pages to Ewan McGregor films. But rogue companies are protected at every level of the regulatory structure and continually empowered by deregulatory legislation giving them access to our bank accounts.

i'm still not convinced there isn't a great deal more to this than meets the eye...


here's matt on last night's keith olbermann...

matt's right... the incentives are all backwards... there are no consequences for risk-taking failure and, in fact, there are often huge rewards... however, separating the investment firms, banks and insurance companies like was done after the great depression, even though it desperately needs to be done, isn't anywhere near the magnitude of the fix we really need... the entire system is broken, starting with the military-corporate-government "endless war" mess to the federal reserve to the national security state, extrajudicial assassinations, on and on... that said, it would certainly be a good start...

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James Carville has the scariest face I've ever seen

in case you can't tell, i've got WAY too much time on my hands...


but, seriously, folks... am i right...?

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Sucking on purpose

posting at eschaton, jay is talking about u.s. download speeds, a topic i've posted about before... the nyt article claims that the u.s. comes in 25th in the world... i beg to differ (see below)...


It's the sucking on purpose part that rankles. We could have internet innovation managed as well as Korea does. We could have trains as good as some random European country.

We don't.

You know, we should have something state of the art.

That's right. We do.


here's what i posted back in february 2010...

here's the current top 14 world-wide in internet download speeds...

Top Countries by Download Speed

  • 1. 23.35 Mb/s Korea, Republic of
  • 2. 18.17 Mb/s Aland Islands
  • 3. 17.38 Mb/s Japan
  • 4. 16.73 Mb/s Latvia
  • 5. 15.24 Mb/s Romania
  • 6. 14.76 Mb/s Lithuania
  • 7. 14.58 Mb/s Sweden
  • 8. 14.08 Mb/s Netherlands
  • 9. 13.99 Mb/s Andorra
  • 10. 13.77 Mb/s Bulgaria
  • 11. 12.28 Mb/s Moldova, Republic of
  • 12. 10.73 Mb/s Hong Kong
  • 13. 10.64 Mb/s Portugal
  • 14. 10.24 Mb/s Slovakia

the united states...??
  • 29. 7.57 Mb/s United States

yep... we're #29 but that's not the most interesting part... just look at the spread between download speeds...

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bullshit being spread about Muslims

this kind of garbage really pisses me off... i have made some very, very special friends in afghanistan, devout muslims all, and the notion that devout muslims are "violent" is not only the height of misinformation, it's criminally wrong...

spencer ackerman writing in wired's danger room...

The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”

At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”

These are excerpts from dozens of pages of recent FBI training material on Islam that Danger Room has acquired. In them, the Constitutionally protected religious faith of millions of Americans is portrayed as an indicator of terrorist activity.

“There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology,” one FBI presentation notes. “The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.”

The FBI isn’t just treading on thin legal ice by portraying ordinary, observant Americans as terrorists-in-waiting, former counterterrorism agents say. It’s also playing into al-Qaida’s hands.

Focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens instead of proven indicators of criminal activity like stockpiling guns or using shady financing makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism. And depicting Islam as inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict.

"focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens" not only "makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism," it also is just plain wrong... if they really wanted to teach those counterterrorism agents something worthwhile, they should make them read, study and discuss the koran, preferably with mainstream imams or mullahs who could explain what islam is really all about...

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To worry about Social Security makes absolutely no sense, unless you’re trying to destroy the program

and why would you want to destroy social security...? chomsky makes the point that i have made since i started this blog back in 2005... our super-rich elites are bound and determined to destroy any semblance of the social contract... a social contract implies an underlying principle of the common good, a principle that is completely antithetical to those who are deeply committed to accruing every last scrap of money and power to themselves...
Social Security is not in any crisis. I mean, the trust fund alone will fully pay benefits for, I think, another 30 years or so. And after that, taxes will give almost the same benefits. To worry about a possible problem 30 years from now, which can incidentally be fixed with a little bit of tampering here and there, as was done in 1983—to worry about that just makes absolutely no sense, unless you’re trying to destroy the program. It’s a very successful program. A large number people rely on it. It doesn’t pay munificently, but it at least keeps people alive, not just retired people, but people with disabilities and others. Very low administrative costs, extremely efficient, and no burden on the deficit. The effort to try to present the Social Security program as if it’s a major problem, that’s just a hidden way of trying to undermine and destroy it.

Now, there has been a lot of opposition to it since the 1930s, on the part of sectors of extreme wealth and privilege, especially financial capital. They don’t like it, for several reasons. One is that for the rich, it’s meaningless. For anyone who’s had a fairly decent income, it’s a tiny addition to your retirement but doesn’t mean much. Another is, if the financial institutions and the insurance companies can get their hands on this huge financial resource—for example, if it’s privatized in some way or vouchers— that’s a huge bonanza. They’ll have trillions of dollars to play with, the banks, the investment firms and so on.

But I think, myself, that there’s a more subtle reason why they’re opposed to it, and I think it’s rather similar to the reason for the effort to pretty much dismantle the public education system. Social Security is based on a principle. It’s based on the principle that you care about other people. You care whether the widow across town, a disabled widow, is going to be able to have food to eat. And that’s a notion you have to drive out of people’s heads. The idea of solidarity, sympathy, mutual support, that’s doctrinally dangerous. The preferred doctrines are just care about yourself, don’t care about anyone else. That’s a very good way to trap and control people. And the very idea that we’re in it together, that we care about each other, that we have responsibility for one another, that’s sort of frightening to those who want a society which is dominated by power, authority, wealth, in which people are passive and obedient. And I suspect—I don’t know how to measure it exactly, but I think that that’s a considerable part of the drive on the part of small, privileged sectors to undermine a very efficient, very effective system on which a large part of the population relies, actually relies more than ever, because wealth, personal wealth, was very much tied up in the housing market. That was people’s personal wealth. Well, OK, that, quite predictably, totally collapsed. People aren’t destitute by the standards of, say, slums in India or southern Africa, but ver many are suffering severely. And they have nothing else to rely on, but the pittance that they’re getting from Social Security. To take that away would be just disastrous.

if we honestly believe - and practice - that we are here to take care of each other, that the principles enshrined in the declaration of independence, the u.s. constitution and the message of jesus in the gospels are the only ones worth living by, we pose a profound threat to the principle of social darwinism and our handlers must stomp it out wherever it appears...

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City of London, the home base (besides Wall Street) of the world's banksters, is upset

add this whine to that of jamie dimon's sad bleating about basel from monday (see my previous post and related link)...
Britain to sue ECB over threat to City

Britain is to sue the European Central Bank for setting rules that allegedly handicap the City of London and would force one of the world’s largest clearing houses to decamp operations to the euro area.

The unprecedented legal action underlines the depth of ministerial concern over the ECB policy, which comes as the UK engages in a turf war with France and Germany over Europe’s financial markets infrastructure.

An ECB policy paper, released in the summer, requires clearing houses to be based in the eurozone if they handle more than 5 per cent of the market in a euro-denominated financial product.

Britain will ask the courts to strike down the rule on the grounds that it restricts the free movement of capital and infringes on the right to establish cross-border businesses across a multicurrency European Union.

The policy, if enforced by the ECB, would undermine London’s financial market infrastructure since it would require that clearing houses shift many of their operations to the eurozone – most likely Frankfurt or Paris.

British diplomats have long feared that Paris was leading attempts to rig market regulations in a bid to shift the centre of gravity for financial services from the City to the continent.

The UK fought off French attempts in recent months to insert into an EU directive a requirement for clearing houses to have access to central bank liquidity – a measure effectively confining most euro-denominated clearing to the eurozone.

of COURSE france and germany want not just a BIGGER piece of the pie, they want the BIGGEST piece... ain't it fun to watch the global banksters and their gang of crooks go to war with each other...?

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The fastest way to fix this mess is to see tens of millions of homeowners default on their mortgages ... and millions more file for bankruptcy

at last... some sense from someone in the mainstream financial press...

market watch...

You want to fix this economic crisis? You want to put people back to work? You want to light a fire under the economy?

There’s a way to do it. Fast. And relatively simple.

But you’re not going to like it. You’re not going to like it at all.

Default. A national Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The fastest way to fix this mess is to see tens of millions of homeowners default on their mortgages and other debts, and millions more file for bankruptcy.

I told you that you wouldn’t like it.

I don’t like it much either. It sticks in the craw that people got to borrow all that money and won’t have to pay it back.

But you know what? The time to stop that was five or 10 years ago, when the money was being lent.

It’s gone.

And mass Chapter 11 is, by far, the least obnoxious solution to our problems.


It’s the debt, stupid.

We’re hocked up to the eyeballs, and then some. We’re at the bottom of a lake of debt, lashed to an anchor. American households today owe $13.3 trillion. That has quadrupled in a generation. It has doubled just in the last 11 years. We owe more than any other nation, ever. And for all the yakking about how people are “repairing their balance sheets,” they’re not. From the peak, four years ago, they’ve cut their debts by a grand total of 4%.


Some will say the financial impact would be terrible. But the banks would just be facing up to reality. And a lot of these mortgages are already trading at distressed levels.

Some will say, “why should people get away with borrowing imprudently?” The response: Why should the banks get away with lending imprudently?

There’s no point telling people not to borrow money. They always will. I have yet to see a Wall Street executive turn down free money. I have yet to see a company in an IPO say, “Don’t give us so much money!” People like money. They will take as much as they are offered.

In a free economy, the people who are supposed to ration the loans are the lenders. Banks are supposed to lend carefully and responsibly. What else are they paid for? Accepting deposits? You could hire people on minimum wage to do that.

Some will say, “it’s immoral” for borrowers to default. Alas, most of these people are being inconsistent. They are usually the first ones to defend a company when it closes down a factory and ships the jobs to China, or pays the CEO $50 million for doing a bad job, on the grounds that “this ain’t morality, pal, this is business!”

But when Main Street wants to do the same thing, they start screaming “Morality! Morality!”

We don’t live in an economy based on morals and fairness.


The correct moral hazard is to punish the banks who lent imprudently by making them eat their own losses.

yes, yes and yes...

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Monday, September 12, 2011

JPMorgan Chief Jamie Dimon should be in jail, not whining about Basel

yeah, why should u.s. banks, the very ones at the forefront of the rape and pillage of the global economy for years, have to face any rules or regulations...? i mean, after all, banksters are a special breed, right...?
JPMorgan chief says bank rules ‘anti-US’

New international bank capital rules are “anti-American” and the US should consider pulling out of the Basel group of global regulators, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Dimon said he was supportive of forcing banks to have more capital but argued that moves to impose an additional charge on the largest global banks went too far, particularly for American banks.

The Basel III capital rules are designed to make the financial system safer by making banks build up risk-absorbent “core tier one” capital to at least 7 per cent of risk-weighted assets. The biggest, including JPMorgan, have to reach 9.5 per cent.

“I’m very close to thinking the United States shouldn’t be in Basel any more. I would not have agreed to rules that are blatantly anti-American,” he said. “Our regulators should go there and say: ‘If it’s not in the interests of the United States, we’re not doing it’.”

Mr Dimon also criticised global liquidity rules, arguing that regulations that viewed covered bonds – a European market feature – as highly liquid but discounted government-backed mortgage-backed securities in the US were unfair and that other details hit investment banking activity core to US banks hardest.

god forbid that "government-backed mortgage-backed securities" ("government-backed" = bailout; "mortgage-backed" = fraudulent) should EVER have to be backed up by real cash... oh, no-o-o-oooooo...

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Here we go...! Massive computer power will attempt to predict our every move...!

i've posted a number of times on the technology that has been in place for several years now that is fully capable of processing the vast amounts of data necessary to predict damn near everything a society is going to do... kevin at cryptogon has been a lot more on top of this stuff than i have but this piece from wired's danger room from a few days ago grabbed me...
A research arm of the intelligence community wants to sweep up public data on everything from Twitter to public webcams in the hopes of predicting the future.

The project is the brainchild of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or Iarpa, a relatively new part of the spy community that’s supposed to help investigate breakthrough technologies. While other projects exist for predicting political events, the Open Source Indicators program would be perhaps the first that mines data from social media websites.

The idea is to use automated analysis to sift through the deluge of publicly available data to help predict significant societal events, like a popular revolution. The nascent project, called “Open Source Indicators,” is just the latest move by the national security community to come to grips with the flood of information now available on social media. As Danger Room’s Lena Groeger has reported, it’s also intended to predict natural disasters or economic disruptions.

The science underlying the project is the notion that early indicators of major social upheavals might be hidden in plain, socially-networked sight. “Some of these changes may be indirectly observable from publicly available data, such as web search queries, blogs, micro-blogs, internet traffic, financial markets, traffic webcams, Wikipedia edits, and many others,” the announcement, published August 25, says. “Published research has found that some of these data sources are individually useful in the early detection of events such as disease outbreaks, political crises, and macroeconomic trends.”

Indeed, social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, garnered major attention during recent events like the Arab Spring, and have been credited with helping to organize protesters and even foment revolution. Authoritarian governments trying to hold on to power noted the trend, and attempted at times to shut down access to those sites — and occasionally the Internet as a whole — in the hopes of stymieing efforts to organize protests.

The idea of the U.S. intelligence community culling data from social media is still a new one, and is likely to raise a number of questions. For example: what constitutes public data?

Iarpa, for its part, defines public data as “lawfully obtained data available to any member of the general public, to include by purchase, subscription or registration.” That raises its own host of questions, like whether the intelligence community could register a fake profile on Facebook, in order to “friend” people and obtain more information.

For those who fear the all-seeing surveillance state, Iarpa says there are some things the program won’t do. It won’t be used to predict events in the United States, for instance. Nor will it be used to track specific individuals.

as with most of these "revelations," i firmly believe this kind of thing has been going on for quite some time and is only being outed now because it's become almost a given that it's taking place...

(note: all the emphases added are mine...)

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