11/15/2010 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Newly freed Suu Kyi calls for ‘non-violent revolution’

by Hla Hla Htay, AFP

53 mins ago

YANGON (AFP) – Newly freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday called for a “non-violent revolution” in Myanmar as she knuckled down to the task of rebuilding her weakened opposition movement.

Speaking at her party headquarters in Yangon, where she met senior regional members for the first time in years, she told the BBC she was sure democracy would eventually come to her country, although she did not know when.

“I think we also have to try to make this thing happen… Velvet revolution sounds a little strange in the context of the military, but a non-violent revolution. Let’s put it that way,” the 65-year-old said.

Just a scrap of paper Part 2

It’s Title Fraud Damnit!

Of the 10 diaries I’ve posted in the last 2 weeks about economics, fully 5 of them have been on bank fraud.

The latest develoment is rumors that Washington and Wall Street are conspiring to retroctively “legalize” the MERS records under the general Versailles Villager principle of looking foward and never punishing anyone important no matter how badly they fuck up.

I mean, if it works for torture, war crimes, anonymous indefinite detetion, and targeted assassination, what’s $1.4 Trillion between friends?

So I duly reported this on Saturday and today dday has a piece that is not quite as sanguine that this is a problem that can be solved by brute force-

This Week’s Developments in Foreclosure Fraud

By: David Dayen Monday November 15, 2010 8:18 am

Finally, a word on the "MERS Whitewash bill" floated by John Carney last week. Carney has been bloviating about this for well over a month, based mainly on speculation. He may have the history of Congress making mischief on behalf of the banks on his side, but he really doesn’t have a clue on this issue. Foreclosure operations are state issues governed by state laws, and lawmakers know they would have a difficult go of trying to adjudicate a constitutionally viable solution that would indemnify the banks in this case. They’d have to stick out their necks quite far, and it would almost certainly be challenged all the way up the legal ladder. The outcry that would ensue during that time would be tremendous. I’m not sure it’s something that risk-averse politicians would want to put up with. And Carney certainly has no evidence one way or the other. I’m happy to fight something that exists, but nothing does at the moment.

I am quite happy to fight potential problems, because the Vacuity, Vanity, and Venality of our Versailles Villagers shouldn’t ever be underestimated.

And there are other problems-

One Mess That Can’t Be Papered Over


Published: October 23, 2010

O(n) the other hand, resolving paperwork woes in the world of mortgage-backed securities may be trickier. Experts say that any parties involved in the creation, sale and oversight of the trusts holding the securities may be held responsible for any failings – and if the rules weren’t followed, investors may be able to sue the sponsors to recover their original investments.

Mind you, the market for mortgage-backed securities is huge – some $1.4 trillion of private-label residential mortgage securities were outstanding at the end of June, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

All of this suggests that while a paperwork cure may eventually exist for foreclosures, higher hurdles exist when it comes to remedying flaws in mortgage-backed securities. The only way to wrestle with the latter, some analysts say, is in a courtroom.

“The whole essence of this crisis is fraud and unless we restore the rule of law and transparency of disclosure, we are not going to fix this,” said Laurence J. Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University.

These are groups like PIMCO, Blackrock, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  So far.

Then there’s also the problem pointed out by bmaz on Friday originally, these banks and real estate trusts owe a lot of money in filing fees in States hard hit by the Bank Induced Financial Collapse and Depression.

Are Obama and Congress Set To Screw American Counties, Homeowners and Give Wall Street Mortgage Banksters a Retroactive Immunity Bailout?

By: bmaz Friday November 12, 2010 7:40 pm

There are rapidly emerging signs the Obama Administration and Congress may be actively, quickly and covertly working furiously on a plan to retroactively legitimize and ratify the shoddy, fraudulent and non-conforming conduct by MERS on literally millions of mortgages.

As quoted above, even the most conservative estimate (and that estimate is based on only a single recording fee per mortgage, when in reality there are almost certainly multiple recordings legally required for most all mortgages due to the slicing, dicing and tranching necessary to accomplish the securitization that has occurred) for the state of California alone is $60 billion dollars. That is $60,000,000,000.00. California alone is actually likely several times that.

And there are those pesky Sections 9 and 10 of Article I.

There are at least 11 criminal frauds going on and the charitable and optimistic part of me thinks that they cain’t git all them thar’ worms back in the bait can.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Pundits is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

César Chelala Human Rights Groups United in Demand for Bush’s Prosecution

Several human rights groups are united in their demand that former president George W. Bush face prosecution following his open admission that he authorized the use of waterboarding, one of the cruelest forms of torture. Former president Bush made his admission during interviews publicizing his book, Decision Points. Bush’s admission of having authorized torture, however serious the claim is, is just one of the reasons the former president could be prosecuted.

During an interview with NBC News Bush said, “Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.” And he added, “My job was to protect America. And I did.” This is not the opinion of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch, three of the most prestigious human rights organizations.

“The Department of Justice has made clear that waterboarding is torture and, as such, a crime under the federal anti-torture statute.18 U.S.C. 2340 (c). The United States has historically prosecuted waterboarding as a crime. In light of the admission by the former President, and the legally correct determination by the Department of Justice that waterboarding is a crime, you should ensure that Mr. Durham’s current investigation into detainee interrogations encompasses the conduct and decisions of former President Bush,” says the ACLU in a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

New York Times Editorial: Try Something Hard: Governing

Many Americans who voted this fall expressed a deep mistrust of government. House Republicans’ triumphalist vows to tie up the Obama administration with nonstop investigations and obstructionist budget crimping are not going to allay those voters’ concerns – or solve any of the country’s problems. . . .

This combativeness from the new House majority is an early symptom of its preference for politicking over the tougher job of governing in hard times. Its plans already feature the low cunning of snipping budget lines so the Internal Revenue Service cannot enforce key provisions of the health care reform law. (Why not defund Postal Service document deliverers while they’re at it?) . . .

In principle, Congress’s oversight of the executive branch can be a vital necessity. Politically, however, both parties push its limits from time to time. Now is no time for myriad searches for sensational distractions when the nation’s voters cry out for solid progress.

Annie Gell: Haiti’s Unnatural Disasters

International aid, trade, debt and governance policies over many decades made Haiti dependent on imported food and materials and crippled the domestic economy. These policies forced Haitian farmers off their land and into the low-lying cities and encouraged the deforestation of Haiti’s hillsides. The policies also severely curtailed the Haitian government’s ability to provide basic public services to its citizens, including healthcare, housing and sanitation services. The result is a country and a population that are acutely vulnerable to environmental stresses like earthquakes, diseases and storms. . . . .

Despite the generous pledges of billions of dollars in assistance by individuals and countries across the world, only a small percentage of promised funds has reached organizations in Haiti, and only a miniscule fraction of the money delivered has reached the Haitian people themselves. Many Haitians are living just as they were immediately after the earthquake with utterly inadequate access to sanitation, shelter, food and clean water.

The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent

Monday Business Edition

One of the emergent stories this weekend has been the question of whether Ireland is going to accept a bailout from the EU or the IMF.  The proximate problem is that interest rates on Irish debt (bonds) and the price of insuring it against defaults (Credit Default Swaps) rose quite sharply on Thursday and Friday.

No holding back the tide

By David Clerkin, Markets Correspondent, The Sunday Business Post

14 November 2010

The rate attached to Irish ten-year bonds, which days earlier had touched the already eye-watering level of 7.8 per cent, quickly eclipsed 8 per cent on Monday and smashed through 9 per cent on Thursday.

To put this spiral into context, it is worth noting that the rate stood at 6.8 per cent less than two weeks ago. It was 6.5 per cent a month ago. It was 4.7 per cent a year ago.

Some bond traders zeroed in on the market for credit default swaps (CDSs) – the insurance policies on offer to protect investors from a borrower becoming unable to repay their money. The CDS market, though thinner than the market in government bonds, exhibited equally grim characteristics last week. The CDS premiums on AIB debt – insurance against AIB defaulting – exceeded 10 per cent, and those on debt issued by other Irish banks continued their unwelcome rise.

As the market fate of the Irish government has been intertwined with those of the banks it guaranteed since September 2008, some traders spoke of a vicious circle. As Irish banks fell increasingly out of favour, fears over the Irish government’s creditworthiness intensified.

Andrea Merkel made some remarks at the G20 Summit (which was so unproductive for Obama, but that’s another story) about using the European Financial Stability Fund for another bailout that the Irish government is objecting to strenuously.

The Irish people?  Maybe not so much.

German solution seems irresistible to Irish people but not to the State

JOHN McMANUS, The Irish Times

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why is the Government against accessing the European Financial Stability Fund?

(Ireland, we) are led to believe, is a source of endless fascination, no little bafflement and some affection for the Germans. Right now they must be wondering why their chancellor, Angela Merkel, is being blamed for our latest crisis by the Taoiseach when she appears far more in tune with the Irish national mood than he does.

At a very fundamental level, all the German chancellor wants to do is change the rules of global finance so that the investors who lend money to feckless governments and banks must share the cost when things go wrong and thus be incentivised to act more responsibly. It’s a sentiment that pretty much everyone in Ireland would support.

Her proposals have an added populist attraction in Ireland as, inter alia, they would involve the burning of bank bondholders, the cause célèbre of much of the economic commentariat. This is because it is hard to see how Ireland could restructure its own debt – the nub of Merkel’s plan – without also restructuring the debts of the almost completely nationalised banking system.

From this point of view, the European Financial Stability Fund is starting to look irresistible. Not only do you get to burn the bond holders, you may even be able to help people out of negative equity! “What’s not for these Irish to like?” Merkel can legitimately ask. “Nothing” is the answer most of us would give.

So why is it then that we have a situation where the German chancellor and most Irish people seem to want one thing and our Government and the financial establishment want the other?

The answer is that, unfortunately, we must live with the immediate consequences of what is a laudable effort to reverse the balance of power between the financial system and sovereign governments. It is admirable – and indeed necessary – because the overriding lesson of the global financial crisis has been that governments have found themselves servants of the financial markets rather than the other way around. But while we would all like to get to the sun-lit uplands envisioned by Merkel, Ireland unfortunately might not survive the journey.

What does Merkel get out of it?  The Euro is teetering on the brink and a lot of people are heavily invested in it, financially and politically.

Ireland and Greece should ditch the euro

By Peter Oborne, The Daily Telegraph

November 15th, 2010

This is what the Spanish prime minister, Jose Zapetero, declared in an interview with the Wall Street Journal as recently as September 22: “I believe that the debt crisis affecting Spain, and the eurozone in general, has passed.”

Or let’s listen to Patrick Honohan , governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, who soberly informed the markets last week that surging yields on Irish government debt would soon be back to normal levels. Both men are deluding themselves – and us. From time to time, events take a turn which is too grave, unsettling and unfathomable for politicians to cope with. They enter a state of denial. We are now living through one of those times.

The European Single Currency cannot be saved. Yet the euro elite are unable to bring themselves to acknowledge the magnitude of this disaster. They have convinced themselves that all is well. The pattern is familiar and indeed we in Britain experienced something very similar in the months leading up to Black Wednesday and the eviction of sterling from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992.

The euro elite is utterly ruthless. In its mission to save the euro, it is ready to throw tens of millions out of work and in the process destroy businesses, lives and whole economies. Consider the terrifying facts. The Irish economy has gone through recession and entered what economists call a depression. Its output contracted by an extraordinary 10 per cent last year, and may well do so again over the next 12 months.

In Spain, unemployment stands at 20 per cent, and youth unemployment a horrifying and tragic 40 per cent. The depths of misery lying behind these statistics cannot be exaggerated. A friend of mine who lives in the Spanish province of Andalusia tells me that some children in his village cannot go to school. This is because their parents cannot afford to buy them shoes. Effectively large parts of Europe are de-industrialising. In Greece, the economy may contract by 15 per cent over the next two years as a result of massive cuts in state spending.

For Greece and Ireland, there is an absurdly easy way back to economic growth: return to the drachma and the punt. Such a move would enable national currencies to fall back to levels where they can be internationally competitive – which in the case of hapless Greece would be approximately one third of where it stands today.

Assertions by the big bankers and eurocrats that such a move is technically impossible are self-serving and false. It would of course be very messy in the short term, but there are many examples of countries pulling out of currency unions with no lasting ill-effect.

The peripheral eurozone nations are being prevented from taking this sensible move by a cynical alliance between the big banks and the Brussels elite. The banks cannot countenance any contraction of the eurozone because once Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain pull out, they will have no choice but to default on their debts. Such a move would bankrupt almost all European banks. Between them these four countries have a combined sovereign debt of well over £1 trillion. A very large part of this debt is owned by the major European banks. The Bank of International Settlements estimates, for example, that French financial institutions have lent the equivalent of 37 per cent of total French GDP to these failing countries.

However there are also hugely powerful political considerations. The collapse of the euro project will come as a shattering blow from which the European project cannot recover. That is why key members of the Euro elite are so determined to use this moment to press forward with their plans for political and economic integration.

More about Ireland-

Business News below.  Now with 51 Stories.

On This Day in History: November 15

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

November 15 is the 319th day of the year (320th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 46 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1867, On this day in 1867, the first stock ticker is unveiled in New York City. The advent of the ticker ultimately revolutionized the stock market by making up-to-the-minute prices available to investors around the country. Prior to this development, information from the New York Stock Exchange, which has been around since 1792, traveled by mail or messenger.

The ticker was the brainchild of Edward Calahan, who configured a telegraph machine to print stock quotes on streams of paper tape (the same paper tape later used in ticker-tape parades). The ticker, which caught on quickly with investors, got its name from the sound its type wheel made.

Calahan worked for the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company, which rented its tickers to brokerage houses and regional exchanges for a fee and then transmitted the latest gold and stock prices to all its machines at the same time. In 1869, Thomas Edison, a former telegraph operator, patented an improved, easier-to-use version of Calahan’s ticker. Edison’s ticker was his first lucrative invention and, through the manufacture and sale of stock tickers and other telegraphic devices, he made enough money to open his own lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, where he developed the light bulb and phonograph, among other transformative inventions.

Stock tickers in various buildings were connected using technology based on the then-recently invented telegraph machines, with the advantage that the output was readable text, instead of the dots and dashes of Morse code. The machines printed a series of ticker symbols (usually shortened forms of a company’s name), followed by brief information about the price of that company’s stock; the thin strip of paper they were printed on was called ticker tape. As with all these terms, the word ticker comes from the distinct tapping (or ticking) noise the machines made while printing. Pulses on the telegraph line made a letter wheel turn step by step until the right letter or symbol was reached and then printed. A typical 32 symbol letter wheel had to turn on average 15 steps until the next letter could be printed resulting in a very slow printing speed of 1 letter per second. In 1883, ticker transmitter keyboards resembled the keyboard of a piano with black keys indicating letters and the white keys indicating numbers and fractions, corresponding to two rotating type wheels in the connected ticker tape printers.

Newer and more efficient tickers became available in the 1930s and 1960s but the physical ticker tape phase was quickly coming to a close being followed by the electronic phase. These newer and better tickers still had an approximate 15 to 20 minute delay. Stock ticker machines became obsolete in the 1960s, replaced by computer networks; none have been manufactured for use for decades. However, working reproductions of at least one model are now being manufactured for museums and collectors. It was not until 1996 that a ticker type electronic device was produced that could operate in true real time.

Simulated ticker displays, named after the original machines, still exist as part of the display of television news channels and on some World Wide Web pages-see news ticker. One of the most famous displays is the simulated ticker located at One Times Square in New York City.

Ticker tapes then and now contain generally the same information. The ticker symbol is a unique set of characters used to identify the company. The shares traded is the volume for the trade being quoted. Price traded refers to the price per share of a particular trade. Change direction is a visual cue showing whether the stock is trading higher or lower than the previous trade, hence the terms downtick and uptick. Change amount refers to the difference in price from the previous day’s closing. These are reflected in the modern style tickers that we see every day. Many today include color to indicate whether a stock is trading higher than the previous day’s (green), lower than previous (red), or has remained unchanged (blue or white).

Morning Shinbun Monday November 15

Monday’s Headlines:

Online outrage after judgement of Twitter airport bomb threat joke


SAIC Motor Corp in talks with General Motors over 1% stake

Junior Democrats in Senate seek to change the way chamber does business


Botched cabinet reshuffle gives Sarkozy’s rivals new strength

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to resign from British Parliament to run for seat in Irish Republic

Middle East

Mecca Metro: Muslims take new train to Hajj sites

In Jordan, a bookstore devoted to forbidden titles


‘I’m not free until the people are free’ – Suu Kyi

Ultra-small is beautiful for Japanese homeowner


Zim nationals held for bribes: MDC

South Sudan begins registration for independence referendum

Latin America

Haiti cholera death toll soars

U.S. would end Afghan combat by 2014 in plan  

A phased wind-down framework will be presented at a NATO summit  

By Peter Baker and Rod Nordland  

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has developed a plan to begin transferring security duties in select areas of Afghanistan to that country’s forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with an eye toward ending the American combat mission there by 2014, officials said Sunday.

The phased four-year plan to wind down American and allied fighting in Afghanistan will be presented at a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon later this week, the officials said. It will reflect the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan assembled by civilian and military officials since President Obama took office last year.

Pique the Geek 20101114: Backyard Solar Cells as a Panecea

First, please do not get me wrong.  I am a strong supporter of solar power, either to charge your car battery or to run cities.  Before we start, get the idea that I am opposed to solar power out our your mind.  But solar power has it limitations.

Lately, the SOBber on the Fox “News” network (soon to have to be distinguished from The SOBber of the House of Representatives) has been adding solar generators to gold and food stashes as a way to survive the coming apocalypse in his repertoire of advertisers.  I shall not use the name nor the website for the particular backyard solar firm to which his adverts refer, but will start by stating that the claims are, to say the least, overblown.

Before we start, very happy birthday wishes to the former Mrs. Translator!

Prime Time

Amazing Race premier.  New Simpsons, Cleveland Show, Family Guy, American Dad.  Throwball- Patriots @ Steelers.  Tina Fey accepts the Mark Twain Prize.  Everything else is just premiers.

This record here’s about twelve years old. Parliament buried it and it stayed buried until River here dug it up. This is what they were afraid she knew. And they were right to fear. There’s a universe of folk who’re gonna know it, too. Someone has to speak for these people.

Y’all got on this boat for different reasons, but y’all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this – they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.


Take my love, take my land

Take me where I cannot stand

I don’t care, I’m still free

You can’t take the sky from me

Take me out to the black

Tell them I ain’t comin’ back

Burn the land and boil the sea

You can’t take the sky from me

There’s no place I can be

Since I found Serenity

But you can’t take the sky from me…

Not just the Spanish Main, luv. The entire ocean. The entire world. Wherever we want to go, we’ll go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pilgrims pour into Mina camp from Mecca as the hajj begins

by Ali Khalil, AFP

57 mins ago

MINA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) – The world’s largest annual pilgrimage, the hajj, began on Sunday with more than two million Muslims pouring into the camp at Mina from Mecca to prepare for the solemn rituals.

Some estimates put the number of pilgrims this year at 2.5 million, posing a major headache for the Saudi authorities as many of them are not hajj permit holders.

Pilgrims were still flooding on Sunday night into the vast plain of Mina outside a small village about five kilometres (three miles) east of Mecca, using all possible means to begin their hajj journey.