Daily Archive: 10/07/2010

Oct 07 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Hungary toxic sludge spill reaches Danube

by Geza Molnar, AFP

Thu Oct 7, 11:38 am ET

BUDAPEST (AFP) – Hungary’s toxic sludge spill reached the Danube river Thursday with the first sightings of dead fish in Europe’s second longest river, officials said.

“I can confirm that we have seen sporadic losses of fish in the main branch of the Danube,” regional chief for the disaster relief services Tibor Dobson told AFP.

“The fish have been sighted at the confluence of the Raba with the Danube,” where water samples had shown a pH value of 9.1, he said.

Oct 07 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Glenn Greenwald Times Square bomber: Cause and effect in the War on Terror

Faisal Shahzad was sentenced by a federal judge to life in prison yesterday for his attempted bombing of Times Square, a crime for which he previously pleaded guilty.  Aside from proving yet again how uniquely effective our real judicial system is (as opposed to military commissions or lawless detention) in convicting and punishing Terrorists (see this NYT Editorial on that issue this morning), this episode sheds substantial light on what I wrote about on Monday:  namely, how our actions in the Muslim world — ostensibly undertaken to combat Terrorism — do more than anything else to spur Terrorism and ensure its permanent continuation. . . .

When he pleaded guilty in June, this is what he told the baffled and angry Judge about why he did what he did:

If the United States does not get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries controlled by Muslims, he said, “we will be attacking U.S.,” adding that Americans “only care about their people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die” . . . .

Our national foreign policy seems boiled down to this premise:  we must and will continue to bomb, invade and control Muslim countries until they stop wanting to attack and bomb us or, at least, are unable to continue to do so.  Obviously, though, if we continue to engage in that behavior, that day will never come, given that this behavior is precisely what fuels most of it.  Just ask them and they’ll be more than happy to explain it, as Faisal Shahzad has spent months attempting to do.

New york Times Editorial: Civil Justice, Military Injustice

Supporters of the tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who insist military justice, not the federal courts, is the best way to deal with terrorists, should pay close attention to Tuesday’s events in a United States District Court in Manhattan. Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life imprisonment, five months and four days after he tried to blow up his car in Times Square.

When Mr. Shahzad was arrested, and later given a Miranda warning, the “tough on terrorists” crowd screamed about coddling and endangering the country’s security. They didn’t stop complaining, even after Mr. Shahzad cooperated with investigators and entered a guilty plea with a mandatory life sentence. All of this happened without the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department breaking laws or violating Constitutional protections.

This is the choice: Justice in long-established federal courts that Americans can be proud of and the rest of the world can respect. Or illegal detentions and unending, legally dubious military tribunals. It is an easy one.

(emphasis mine)

Oct 07 2010

Congress Makes Foreclosure Easier for Banks: Up Date

In the cover of night just before it left DC until after Nov 3, the Democratically held Congress passes a bile that would make it easier for banks to foreclose on homeowners. The White House has said they are reviewing the legislation. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have a lot of explaining to do.

Foreclosure Cover for Banks Seen in Bill at Obama’s Desk

A bill that homeowners advocates warn will make it more difficult to challenge improper foreclosure attempts by big mortgage processors is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature after it quietly zoomed through the Senate last week.

The bill, passed without public debate in a way that even surprised its main sponsor, Republican Representative Robert Aderholt, requires courts to accept as valid document notarizations made out of state, making it harder to challenge the authenticity of foreclosure and other legal documents.

The timing raised eyebrows, coming during a rising furor over improper affidavits and other filings in foreclosure actions by large mortgage processors such as GMAC, JPMorgan and Bank of America.

Questions about improper notarizations have figured prominently in challenges to the validity of these court documents, and led to widespread halts of foreclosure proceedings.

The legislation could protect bank and mortgage processors from liability for false or improperly prepared documents.

The White House said it is reviewing the legislation.

My money is on Obama signing this into Law and screwing Main St. one more time.

h/t Atrios and Big Tent Democrat

Up Date: h/t to Edger in comments who has the link to Big Tent Democrats News that the President was considering vetoing this bill. Since then the White House has released this statement:

   Today, the White House announced that President Obama will not sign H.R. 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010, and will return the bill to the House of Representatives. The Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010 was designed to remove impediments to interstate commerce. While we share this goal, we believe it is necessary to have further deliberations about the intended and unintended impact of this bill on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before this bill can be finalized.

   Notarizations are important for a large range of documents, including financial documents. As the President has made clear, consumer financial protections are incredibly important, and he has made this one of his top priorities, including signing into law the strongest consumer protections in history in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. That is why we need to think through the intended and unintended consequences of this bill on consumer protections, especially in light of the recent developments with mortgage processors.

   The authors of this bill no doubt had the best intentions in mind when trying to remove impediments to interstate commerce. We will work with them and other leaders in Congress to explore the best ways to achieve this goal going forward.

I don’t know whose “best intentions” Congress had in mind but it certainly wasn’t the Homeowners who are being defrauded out on the street by the banks.

Thank you, Mr. President, for proving me wrong.

h/t Davis Dayen at FDL

Oct 07 2010

On This Day in History: October 7

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

October 7 is the 280th day of the year (281st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 85 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1955, Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg reads his poem “Howl” at a poetry reading at Six Gallery in San Francisco.

Irwin Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet who vigorously opposed militarism, materialism and sexual repression. In the 1950s, Ginsberg was a leading figure of the Beat Generation, an anarchic group of young men and women who joined poetry, song, sex, wine and illicit drugs with passionate political ideas that championed personal freedoms. Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl, in which he celebrates his fellow “angel-headed hipsters” and excoriates what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States, is one of the classic poems of the Beat Generation  The poem, dedicated to writer Carl Solomon, has a memorable opening:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn

looking for an angry fix…

In October 1955, Ginsberg and five other unknown poets gave a free reading at an experimental art gallery in San Francisco. Ginsberg’s Howl electrified the audience. According to fellow poet Michael McClure, it was clear “that a barrier had been broken, that a human voice and body had been hurled against the harsh wall of America and its supporting armies and navies and academies and institutions and ownership systems and power support bases.” In 1957, Howl attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial in which a San Francisco prosecutor argued it contained “filthy, vulgar, obscene, and disgusting language.” The poem seemed especially outrageous in 1950s America because it depicted both heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every U.S. state. Howl reflected Ginsberg’s own bisexuality and his homosexual relationships with a number of men, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner. Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that Howl was not obscene, adding, “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?”

In Howl and in his other poetry, Ginsberg drew inspiration from the epic, free verse style of the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman. Both wrote passionately about the promise (and betrayal) of American democracy; the central importance of erotic experience; and the spiritual quest for the truth of everyday existence. J. D. McClatchy, editor of the Yale Review called Ginsberg “the best-known American poet of his generation, as much a social force as a literary phenomenon.” McClatchy added that Ginsberg, like Whitman, “was a bard in the old manner – outsized, darkly prophetic, part exuberance, part prayer, part rant. His work is finally a history of our era’s psyche, with all its contradictory urges.”

Ginsberg was a practicing Buddhist who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan Buddhist, the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, founder of the Naropa Institute, now Naropa University at Boulder, Colorado. At Trungpa’s urging, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman started a poetry school there in 1974 which they called the “Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics”. In spite of his attraction to Eastern religions, the journalist Jane Kramer argues that Ginsberg, like Whitman, adhered to an “American brand of mysticism” that was, in her words, “rooted in humanism and in a romantic and visionary ideal of harmony among men.” Ginsberg’s political activism was consistent with his religious beliefs. He took part in decades of non-violent political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs. The literary critic, Helen Vendler, described Ginsberg as “tirelessly persistent in protesting censorship, imperial politics, and persecution of the powerless.” His achievements as a writer as well as his notoriety as an activist gained him honors from established institutions. Ginsberg’s book of poems, The Fall of America, won the National Book Award for poetry in 1974. Other honors included the National Arts Club gold medal and his induction into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, both in 1979. In 1995, Ginsberg won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992.

Oct 07 2010

Morning Shinbun Thursday October 7




Thursday’s Headlines:

US and Afghan governments make contact with Haqqani insurgents

Civil Justice, Military Injustice

USA

Foreign Firms Hoping to Ride US Rail Boom

Midnight grocery runs part of the grim new reality

Europe

Hungarians battle to hold back toxic sludge spill from Danube

News alert: Adrià has made cantaloupe caviar

Middle East

Israeli leadership in disarray before Yom Kippur war

Stronger Hezbollah Emboldened for Fights Ahead

Asia

Explorers in India find something almost unheard of: a new language

Afghan war moves deeper into Pakistan

Africa

Alarm over surge in rhino poaching

Archbishop Desmond Tutu end public career at 79

Latin America

Buenos Aires, Metropolis of the Zeitgeist

Oct 07 2010

Leverage

You know, with it I can move the world.

So I think we need to distiguish between paper and paper.

Currency of any kind is an illusion, you can eat gold but you’ll starve to death on it.  It’s a medium of exchange and a store of value.  As tasty as a vinagette makes it there’s no nutrition.  But people will trade potatoes for it so there is some utility.

And then there is leverage.  All I need is my down payment and then it’s all a cash flow problem Ponzi scheme.  These bets may be backed by the kind of insurance AIG offers but the illusion is gone.

These are nothing but desperate bets on black and even double zeros are not providing the margin the house needs to stay open.

Oct 07 2010

Popular Culture 20101008: Telephone Billing Scams

Well, this will not be nearly as entertaining as some of the music ones, but it is still part of popular culture.  There is a telephone billing scam going around, and I daresay that at least one of you reading this has become a victim of it.  I was.

It has to do with third party billing to your telephone bill.  You do not call 900 numbers?  No matter.  Not the 809 ones to the Bahamas?  No matter.  Right now, this audience is being vacuumed for telephone numbers for surreptitious billing.  It happened to me, and I thought that it was my fault.  It was not.  Please continue this journey.

Oct 07 2010

Derivatives

In simulation I like playing Craps because the odds are good on certain bets if you have a big enough wallet to sustain some modest losses.

You know, a system.

Mine is based on Place Bets and Buy Bets on the 5, 6, 8, and 9 and their favorable odds rate entirely depends on if they’re off during the Come Out roll (if you didn’t understand all of that you should stay out of dank back alleys and brightly lit casinos).

In the maths a Derivative is the rate of change on a curve and our Wall Street Croupiers have decided that they can securitize a bet on on that change and with a compliant Ratings Agency sell that to you as something with value.

They’re nucking futz.

When we talk about “de-leveraging” this is what we’re talking about.  This fictional valuation disappears as do your table stakes which is why you always take your winnings away.  There’s hardly any retail investment in equities because the market is crooked to the core.

Only sucker bets and quick money on the felt now.

Oct 07 2010

Securitization

More Economics 101

Let’s say I have an asset, a lottery payout, a bond, a judgement, a mortgage note, something that is guaranteed to pay out a specific amount of revenue over time.

Well, I can sell that for cash money right now at a certain amount of risk surcharge (not that I do, but it’s a common practice).  I can bundle large quantities of them to reduce my risk surcharge, I can group them from the most to least risky and sell them at market.

Caveat Emptor.

The Ratings Agencies will criminally overvalue them and the tranching will pollute the title so the underlying debt is potentially uncollectable.  23 States think so.  Quite a hair trim!

I’m surprised there’s a housing market at all.

Accountancy is supposed to be boring!

Oct 07 2010

Prime Time

More broadcast premiers.  Great Performances has Patick Stewart as Macbeth.  TBS has the Division Series, Reds @ Phillies, Yankees @ Twins.

Later-

Dave hosts David Axelrod and Julie Chen.  Jon has Phillip Dray, Stephen Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy.  No Alton.

BoondocksThe Real.

Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

If you could’ve found out what Rosebud meant, I bet that would’ve explained everything.

No, I don’t think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn’t get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn’t have explained anything… I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a… piece in a jigsaw puzzle… a missing piece.

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