11/06/2010 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 NATO probes report rogue Afghan soldier shot foreign troops

by Lynne O’Donnell, AFP

1 hr 42 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – NATO and Afghan officials were Saturday probing reports a rogue Afghan soldier shot dead foreign troops — said to be two US Marines — on a base in the volatile south of the country, the alliance said.

A NATO official said that two US Marines had been killed in the incident, which took place in Helmand province late on Thursday night.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told AFP the Marines had been shot by an Afghan soldier who had been on the base for two to three weeks and was now missing.

Random Japan


For the first time ever in Japan, a woman who received a kidney transplant has given birth. The new mom, who is in her 40s, delivered a baby boy at Osaka University Hospital.

Ahead of next week’s APEC summit in Yokohama, a police bomb unit conducted Japan’s first-ever antiterrorism drill on a shinkansen. The exercise took place at Shin-Osaka station.

Sign of the times: a mass electronics retailer will operate a shop in Ginza for the first time when Laox opens a branch inside Matsuzakaya department store.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has unveiled a massive container ship that cuts CO2 emissions by 35 percent. The vessel uses an “air lubrication system” to reduce the “frictional resistance between the hull and seawater by running air bubbles along the bottom.”

JAXA announced that it will shift the focus of its astronaut training programs to Russia ahead of NASA’s planned retiring of its space shuttle fleet next year.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

A Versatile Vegetable for Hard Times


Andalusian Cabbage Stew

Spicy Stir-Fried Cabbage

Smashed Red Potatoes With Cabbage

Cabbage and Caramelized Onion Tart

South Indian Cabbage With Yogurt

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.

David Sirota: From Uprising to Hostile Takeover … and Back Again

Death Panels. Witchcraft. Birthers. Islamophobes. Tea partiers. Obama text messages. Palin robo-calls. TV commercial after TV commercial after TV commercial. And now, at the end of this $4 billion We-Didn’t-Start-the-Fire-worthy vaudeville known as the 2010 election, what do we have to show for it? That’s right, a new House speaker with the politics of Newt Gingrich and the skin complexion of a Syracuse mascot.

If after this soul-crushing extravaganza you find yourself shell-shocked, that’s understandable. If you are confused, that’s understandable, too, considering the contradictions.

A president who helped corporate interests gut the very proposals he was elected on-health care reform, Wall Street regulation and economic stimulus-was suddenly berated for being anti-business and for overreaching. An anti-Establishment/anti-corporate/anti-NAFTA/anti-government tea party ended up electing to the Senate a congressman’s son (Rand Paul), a pharmaceutical lobbyist (Dan Coats), a Bush trade representative (Rob Portman) and a corporate chieftain whose business was propped up by government grants (Ron Johnson). Meanwhile, a country that twice rejected Bush Republicans in favor of Democrats suddenly returned those same Republicans to power

Sen, Bernie Sanders: MSNBC’s Disgrace

It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice. This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC.

We live in a time when 90 percent of talk radio is dominated by right-wing extremists, when the Republican Party has its own cable network (Fox) and when progressive voices are few and far between.

At a time when the ownership of Fox news contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party, when a number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air, it is absolutely unacceptable that MSNBC suspended one of the most popular progressive commentators in the country.

Is Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz next? Is this simply a ‘personality conflict’ within MSNBC or is one of America’s major corporations cracking down on a viewpoint they may not like? Whatever the answer may be, Keith Olbermann should be reinstated immediately and allowed to present his point of view.

Johann Hari: America is now officially for sale

It’s the Tea Party spirit distilled: pose as the champion of Joe America, while actually ripping him off

The laws and policies of the legislature of the United States of America are now effectively on e-Bay, for sale to the highest bidder. Are you a Wall Street boss who wants to party like it’s 2007? Are you a Big Coal baron who wants to burn, baby, burn? Are you an insurance company that wants to be able to kick sick people off your rolls? Meet John Boehner, the most powerful Republican and soon-to-be Speaker of the House. But – of course! – you already have.

Here’s an example of how you have worked together. In 1995, the House was going to finally repeal subsidies for growing tobacco, because an addictive cancer-causing drug didn’t seem like the most deserving recipient of tax-payers’ cash – until Boehner walked the floor of the House handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to his fellow elected representatives. They changed their minds. The subsidy stayed. Explaining his check-dispensing, Boehner says: “It’s gone on here for a long time.” So get your bids in: the House is open for business.

F1: Interlagos Qualifying

Like any political pundit, sports commentators can hardy talk about anything except the horse race, but it’s really not as complicated as they make it seem- everyone needs an “unexpected” Did Not Finish from 1 or more of their major competitors like we saw last time in Yeongam.

At the end of the season here the chances for that are substantially enhanced as Teams are collectively starting to run out of their rationed parts (Engines, Transmissions) and replacing them results in difficult to overcome grid penalties.

Two examples from Scuderia Marlboro UPC.  Alonso is running a used engine this race because of a rule that doesn’t allow him to run his last unused one.  Massa is running a new engine (his last), but parked during practice because of a transmission failure.  I have no idea whether Massa will get a penalty for that but I expect he might.

Xtrac Transmissions are falling into the same suspect category as Ferrari Powerplants and I suppose were I a better and more engaged reporter I’d bore you with the details of all the most recent technology and driver deals.  You’ll hear enough about them from the commentators because for the most part nothing has changed.  The Red Bulls are fastest with McLaren and Scuedria Marlboro evenly matched.  I will mention that it is uniformly reported that Vettel and Webber are hardly on speaking terms despite Red Bull’s assertions to the contrary.

Interlagos is hard on engines because of the many changes in elevation, especially from Turn 13 to Turn 1 which is fast, up hill, and presents one of the few overtaking opportunities.

Petrov had a crash during the 1st Practice because of a stuck F-Duct.  F-Duct enabled cars have a distinct advantage because of numerous fast sections where you want less downforce.  Softs are extremely short lived under dry track conditions, lasting only 1 or 2 laps with full fuel.  The expectation is that because of a tiny speed advantage teams that are in final Qualifying will start on Softs because they can’t change tires after the Qualifying session, but we may see some strategizing around that if someone posts a particularly fast lap.

But we could do this on Wets as rain was expected after the Practice and forecast during today’s Qualifying.

Race coverage starts tomorrow at 10:30 am.  I’ll have my race diary up at 10:15.

Why we should be happy Pelosi is running again

Because she fucks with the Villagers’ heads.

How Pelosi’s determination could hamper Obama

Dan Balz, The Washington Post

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The question is whether she has significantly complicated life for Obama as he prepares to deal with the Republican majority in the House and Senate Republicans led by someone who spent the week hurling thunderbolts at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. From outside reports, the White House was conflicted about whether it wanted her to stay or go, torn between loyalty to the speaker for all she did during the past two years and its own political needs in the wake of Tuesday’s loss.

Pelosi would be a symbol of resistance and liberal opposition to the Republicans. If Obama wants a House leader who will help draw bright lines of distinction with the new House majority, Pelosi could be exactly the right person to lead House Democrats. If he wants more room to maneuver, to make deals with Republicans as well as confront them, she might not be at all what he wants.

A Democrat with wide experience in the House agreed that Pelosi’s decision to stay on could cause problems for the president. “The problem for the party and the president is that Obama needs someone in Congress who can help him get things done and reposition himself,” this Democrat said. “She will be there to stoke up the left, and that’s what he doesn’t need.”

“A Pelosi-Clyburn team, with Steny Hoyer out, would mean a click to the left by a caucus already perceived as too liberal,” former Republican representative Vin Weber said. “I don’t think this president can triangulate against his base. If this is what happens, it will be the same as stimulus and health care. The progressive Democrats are doubling down once again.”

That is a huge risk for Obama, given what the voters seemed to be saying Tuesday. If the vote was not a clear embrace of the Republican agenda, it was at a minimum a call to check the Democrats’ impulses to keep enlarging government’s cost and reach. With Pelosi still at the helm in the House, voters may wonder what’s changed with the Democrats.

On This Day in History: November 6

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

November 6 is the 310th day of the year (311th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 55 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1860, Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union candidate John Bell, and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator for Illinois.

Lincoln received 1,866,452 votes, Douglas 1,376,957 votes, Breckinridge 849,781 votes, and Bell 588,789 votes. The electoral vote was decisive: Lincoln had 180 and his opponents added together had only 123. Turnout was 82.2%, with Lincoln winning the free Northern states. Douglas won Missouri, and split New Jersey with Lincoln. Bell won Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and Breckinridge won the rest of the South. There were fusion tickets in which all of Lincoln’s opponents combined to form one ticket in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, but even if the anti-Lincoln vote had been combined in every state, Lincoln still would have won a majority in the electoral college.

As Lincoln’s election became evident, secessionists made clear their intent to leave the Union. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the lead; by February 1, 1861, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed. The seven states soon declared themselves to be a sovereign nation, the Confederate States of America. The upper South (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas) listened to, but initially rejected, the secessionist appeal. President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy. There were attempts at compromise, such as the Crittenden Compromise, which would have extended the Missouri Compromise line of 1820, and which some Republicans even supported. Lincoln rejected the idea, saying, “I will suffer death before I consent…to any concession or compromise which looks like buying the privilege to take possession of this government to which we have a constitutional right.”

Lincoln, however, did support the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which had passed in Congress and protected slavery in those states where it already existed. A few weeks before the war, he went so far as to pen a letter to every governor asking for their support in ratifying the Corwin Amendment as a means to avoid secession.

BoA: The Heat Is On

So yesterday I highlighted Black and Wray’s counter response to Bank of America and today Part 2 is available, but before I get to that I’d like to provide some context.

You’ll remember that PIMCO, Blackrock, Freddie Mac, and The Federal Reserve Bank of New York had requested that Bank of America repurchase some $47 Billion Mortgage Backed Securities that violated the performance and disclosure provisions of the contracts they were sold under.  You might also recognize these names as financial players every bit as big and powerful as Bank of America itself.

Well, yesterday BoA rejected that request.  As Atrios says- It’s On.

But you shouldn’t think that Bank of America is the only one with these problems.  Although it is the biggest, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Citigroup Inc, US Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Group have $43 Billion or more in exposure to the same types of losses.

While some of Black and Wray’s Part 2 touches on that exposure, what it’s mostly about is the story of Bank of America’s purchase of Countrywide Financial.

An interesting factoid about BoA’s purchase of Countrywide (from the Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg article cited yesterday)-

Here’s how Bank of America allocated the purchase price for that deal. First, it determined that the fair value of the liabilities at Countrywide exceeded the mortgage lender’s assets by $200 million. Then it recorded $4.4 billion of goodwill, a ledger entry representing the difference between Countrywide’s net asset value and the purchase price.

That’s right. Countrywide’s goodwill supposedly was worth more than Countrywide itself. In other words, Bank of America paid $4.2 billion for the company, even though it thought the value there was less than zero.

Since completing that acquisition, Bank of America has dropped the Countrywide brand. The company’s home-loan division has reported $13.5 billion of pretax losses. Yet Bank of America still hasn’t written off any of its Countrywide goodwill.

What genius!  Surely these Masters of the Universe are worth every penny they’re paid, but, it being a free market capitalist system and all, I can’t help myself from pointing out that I personally am willing to lose $17.7 Billion for a much more reasonable rate of compensation.  Since they’re great believers in the efficiency of markets I expect an offer any time.

Let’s Set the Record Straight on Bank of America, Part 2: Eliminating Foreclosure Fraud

William K. Black and L. Randall Wray, The Huffington Post

Posted: November 5, 2010 01:23 PM

Bank of America did not purchase Countrywide for the good of the public. It purchased a notorious lender to feed the ego of their CEO, who wanted to run the biggest bank in America rather than the best bank in America. They certainly knew at the time of the purchase that is was buying an institution whose business model was based on fraud, and it had to have known that a substantial portion of Countrywide’s assets were toxic and fraudulent (since Bank of America’s own balance sheet contained similar assets and it could reasonably expect that Countrywide’s own standards were even worse). The response does not contest the depth of the bank’s insolvency problems should it be required to recognize its liability for losses caused by its frauds.

Bank of America’s response to our articles ignores its foreclosure fraud, which we detailed in our articles. News reports claim that the bank sent a 60 person “due diligence” team into Countrywide for at least four weeks. The Countrywide sales staff were notorious, having prompted multiple fraud investigations by the SEC and various State attorneys general. The SEC fraud complaint against Countrywide emphasized the games it played with the computer system. Countrywide had a terrible reputation for its nonprime lending. Nonprime loans were already collapsing at the time of the due diligence, the FBI had warned about the epidemic of mortgage fraud, and the lending profession’s anti-fraud firm had warned that liar’s loans were endemically fraudulent. Is it really possible that Bank of America’s due diligence team missed all of this and that the CEO thought even months later that the Countrywide lending personnel and Countrywide’s computer systems were exceptionally desirable assets?

As we explained, fraud begets fraud. Bank of America created over $4 billion in “goodwill” and placed it on its books as an asset when it paid money to acquire Countrywide at a time when it was deeply insolvent on a market value basis. Instead of acquiring an asset, they got thousands of fraudulent employees and officers, a failed computer system and catastrophic losses. So, we have a question for Bank of America, its auditors, and the SEC: why haven’t you written off that entire goodwill account?

And why aren’t people in jail or bankrupted by shareholder and bondholder lawsuits (yet)?

Obama’s Problem Simply Defined: It Was the Banks

James K. Galbraith, The Huffington Post

Posted: November 5, 2010 04:16 PM

(O)ne cannot defend the actions of Team Obama on taking office. Law, policy and politics all pointed in one direction: turn the systemically dangerous banks over to Sheila Bair and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Insure the depositors, replace the management, fire the lobbyists, audit the books, prosecute the frauds, and restructure and downsize the institutions. The financial system would have been cleaned up. And the big bankers would have been beaten as a political force.

Team Obama did none of these things. Instead they announced “stress tests,” plainly designed so as to obscure the banks’ true condition. They pressured the Federal Accounting Standards Board to permit the banks to ignore the market value of their toxic assets. Management stayed in place. They prosecuted no one. The Fed cut the cost of funds to zero. The President justified all this by repeating, many times, that the goal of policy was “to get credit flowing again.”

With free funds, the banks could make money with no risk, by lending back to the Treasury. They could boom the stock market. They could make a mint on proprietary trading. Their losses on mortgages were concealed — until the fact came out that they’d so neglected basic mortgage paperwork, as to be unable to foreclose in many cases, without the help of forged documents and perjured affidavits.

But new loans? The big banks had given up on that. They no longer did real underwriting. And anyway, who could qualify? Businesses mostly had no investment plans. And homeowners were, to an increasing degree, upside-down on their mortgages and therefore unqualified to refinance.

To counter calls for more action, Team Obama produced sunny forecasts. Their program was right-sized, because anyway unemployment would peak at 8 percent in 2009. So Larry Summers said. In making that forecast, the Obama White House took responsibility for the entire excess of joblessness above eight percent. They made it impossible to blame the ongoing disaster on George W. Bush. If this wasn’t rank incompetence, it was sabotage.

Remember “Recovery Summer(s)“?  Nothing has changed.  And until people go to jail for their fraud and the “To Big To Fail” Banks are placed into FDIC Receivership, their incompetent management tossed out on their asses, and broken up, nothing will.

Barack Hussein Obama and the Democratic Party have no one to blame but themselves.

Morning Shinbun Saturday November 6

Saturday’s Headlines:

Investigators Zero in on Massive Art Forgery Scandal


Republicans map out their agenda of less

n Wealthy hopefuls fail to cash i


Iraqi prisoners were abused at ‘UK’s Abu Ghraib’, court hears

Outspoken French Muslim leader’s views inspire respect and hatred

Middle East

General writes to troops: follow Israel’s moral code

Al-Qaeda claims parcel bomb plot


Burmese junta pushes people to the polls

Union leader warns of violence during G20 protests in South Korea


Greens angered over C4 claims they ’caused starvation’

Latin America

Haiti prime minister warns of triple disaster as hurricane Tomas hits

Pace of U.S. bank failures not seen in 2 decades

Total of 143 financial institutions shut in 2010 surpasses last year’s high


WASHINGTON – Regulators shut down four more banks Friday, bringing the 2010 total to 143, topping the 140 shuttered last year and the most in a year since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over K Bank, based in Randallstown, Maryland, with $538.3 million in assets, and Pierce Commercial Bank, based in Tacoma, Washington, with $221.1 million in assets. The FDIC also seized two California banks: Western Commercial Bank in Woodland Hills, with $98.6 million in assets, and First Vietnamese American Bank in Westminster, with assets of $48 million.

The House Across the Street

In case you missed this

Petition: Put Olbermann Back On The Air NOW!

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