Daily Archive: 01/28/2011

Jan 28 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 54 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Clashes in Tunisia as new cabinet sworn in

by Ines Bel Aiba, AFP

2 hrs 2 mins ago

TUNIS (AFP) – Riot police and hundreds of protesters clashed in the Tunisian capital Friday, as a new cabinet was sworn into office in a bid to end the unrest that has followed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster.

Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas, as some groups threw stones in the main government quarter where protesters have remained camped out in front of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi’s offices for five days.

Protesters had demanded a clean break with the old regime, calling for Ghannouchi to step down. The premier has been in charge since 1999 and has stayed on despite the end of Ben Ali’s 23-year iron-fisted rule on January 14.

Jan 28 2011

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”.

Paul Krugman: Their Own Private Europe

President Obama’s State of the Union address was a ho-hum affair. But the official Republican response, from Representative Paul Ryan, was really interesting. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Mr. Ryan made highly dubious assertions about employment, health care and more. But what caught my eye, when I read the transcript, was what he said about other countries: “Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.”

Johann Hari: How Can Conservatives Object to Protecting Gay Kids?

I am exhausted. I have spent all week trying to brainwash small children into being gay, by relentlessly inserting homosexuality into their math, geography and science lessons. Their little eyes widened when the gay algebra lesson started, but it worked: Their concept of “normal sexual behavior” has been successfully destroyed. It’s all part of the program brilliantly coordinated by the Homintern to imposed The Gay Agenda on Every Aspect of Life.

That, at least, is what you would believe if you had read some of Britain’s bestselling newspapers this week, or listened to some of our most prominent Conservative politicians. The headlines were filled with fury. The Conservative Member of Parliament Richard Drax said gays were trying to impose “questionable sexual standards” on kids, while a right-wing newspaper said we were mounting a massive “abuse of childhood.”

Here’s what is actually happening — with plenty of lessons for the U.S. A detailed study by the Schools Health Education Unit found that in Britain today, 70 percent of gay children get bullied, 41 percent get beaten up, and 17 percent get told at some point in their childhood that they are going to be killed. The evidence suggests the situation in the U.S. is just as bad.

Amy Wilentz: Haiti: Not for Amateurs

Lost in the uproar over the return of Jean-Claude Duvalier to Haiti and his to-ing and fro-ing from hotel to courthouse to hotel to mountain home, is the much more important political crisis. On election day in November, only 22.3 percent of Haiti’s eligible voters cast their ballots in what turned out to be an election plagued with fraud. The reason for the low turnout was apathy, coupled with the catastrophic loss of identity papers in the earthquake of January 2010. Given the miserable conditions of so many Haitians since the earthquake, the anemic turnout provided resounding evidence that Haitians don’t believe their vote matters.

And they are right. Many parties were kept out, including the popular party of Haiti’s first freely and fairly elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has been living in exile in South Africa since a coup backed by the international community forced him from power in 2004. Many see post-Duvalier Haitian politics as a back-and-forth between the forces who support Duvalier, a prototypical right-wing strongman, and those who support Aristide, theoretically a leftist prodemocracy leader. Although this analysis is grossly simplistic, it is also partly true.

Jan 28 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Protests in Egypt, Up Dated x 7

News is breaking extremely fast. Both Al Jazeera and CNN are transmitting live images. You can watch the Al Jazeera broadcast live on line. Protests broken out all over Egypt and there are tanks on the streets of Cairo. Reports are that the police have withdrawn from the Alexandria.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Egypt yesterday and it is being reported by numerous news agencies that he has been placed under house arrest

As I am writing this, the commentator is reporting that state security has entered Al Jeezera’s Cairo building in an attempt to shut down their feed. Communications have been hampered in the building. The cutting of cell phone connections and the Internet blackout the past three days is unprecedented and reporters and crews are missing, as per live reports.

It is prayer time and the protesters are organizing for evening prayer and the riot police has back off to give them time to pray.

There are reports of at least one person killed in Cairo and a curfew has been imposed for 6 PM Egyptian time (11 AM EST).

This is a video of clashes on a bridge that took place earlier today.

UP dates will continue as they happen.

Mishima’s live blog

I’ve been awake for 22 hours I’m going to bed- mishima

Up Date #1: CNN reports that the Egyptian Army has been ordered to take over the security from the police.

Up Date #2: The New York Times has continuous up dates on the protests as they receive them.

Egyptian President is expected to give a live address.

Up Date #3: A curfew went into effect at 6 PM (11 AM) and is being ignored.

Al Jazeera reports that 5 Army tanks have entered Cairo as protesters take over security police armored personnel carriers and police stations, setting them on fire.

Further up dates and videos will be below the fold.

Jan 28 2011

Some Findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report

Wall Street Appears To Have Violated Federal Securities Law, Crisis Panel Finds

Shaihien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

01/27/11 10:28 PM

Wall Street firms that sold mortgage-backed securities appear to have violated federal securities laws by misleading investors on the quality of the underlying mortgages, a bipartisan panel created by Congress to investigate the root causes of the financial crisis concluded.



In September, the crisis commission heard testimony from Keith Johnson, former president of Clayton Holdings, one of the nation’s biggest mortgage research companies. Johnson testified that some 28 percent of the loans given to homeowners with poor credit examined by his firm on behalf of Wall Street banks failed to meet basic standards. Yet nearly half appear to have been sold to investors regardless, he added.

Last April, the commission heard from Richard Bowen, a whistleblower and former chief underwriter for Citigroup’s consumer-lending unit. Bowen told the panel that in the middle of 2006, he discovered more than 60 percent of the mortgages the bank had purchased from other firms and then sold to investors were “defective,” meaning they did not satisfy the bank’s own lending criteria. On November 3, 2007, Bowen sent an e-mail to top Citi officials, including Robert Rubin, a former Treasury Secretary. Bowen’s warnings appear to have been ignored.

In Panel’s Report, Stern Warning on Repeating Financial Crisis

By SEWELL CHAN, The New York Times

Published: January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON – Behind closed doors, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, called it “the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression.”

He said that 12 of the country’s 13 most important financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, had been on the verge of collapse “within a week or two.” (The apparent exception: JPMorgan Chase.)



Enabling those developments, the panel found, were a bias toward deregulation by government officials, and mismanagement by financiers who failed to perceive the risks.

Goldman Sachs Got Billions From AIG For Its Own Account, Crisis Panel Finds

Shaihien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

01/26/11 10:23 PM

Goldman Sachs collected $2.9 billion from the American International Group as payout on a speculative trade it placed for the benefit of its own account, receiving the bulk of those funds after AIG received an enormous taxpayer rescue, according to the final report of an investigative panel appointed by Congress.

The fact that a significant slice of the proceeds secured by Goldman through the AIG bailout landed in its own account–as opposed to those of its clients or business partners– has not been previously disclosed. These details about the workings of the controversial AIG bailout, which eventually swelled to $182 billion, are among the more eye-catching revelations in the report to be released Thursday by the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.



At a hearing on July 1, 2010–two weeks before Goldman sent the e-mail acknowledging how $2.9 billion in AIG funds wound up in its own account–the crisis panel questioned Goldman’s chief financial officer, David A. Viniar and managing director David Lehman. Both said they knew nothing about AIG funds landing in the bank’s private coffers, according to a transcript of the hearing.

The report concludes that Goldman collected the $2.9 billion as payment for so-called proprietary trades made for its own account–essentially successful bets on large pools of financial instruments.

Jan 28 2011

On This Day in History January 28

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 28 is the 28th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 337 days remaining until the end of the year (338 in leap years).

On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominates Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. After a bitterly contested confirmation, Brandeis became the first Jewish judge on the Supreme Court.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Brandeis quickly earned a reputation in Boston as the people’s attorney for taking on cases pro bono. Brandeis advocated progressive legal reform to combat the social and economic ills caused in America by industrialization. He met Woodrow Wilson, who was impressed by Brandeis’ efforts to hold business and political leaders accountable to the public, during Wilson’s 1912 campaign against Theodore Roosevelt. Brandeis’ early legal achievements included the establishment of savings-bank life insurance in Massachusetts and securing minimum wages for women workers. He also devised what became known as the Brandeis Brief, an appellate report that analyzed cases on economic and social evidence rather than relying solely on legal precedents.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis (November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Europe. He enrolled at Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the college’s history.

Brandeis settled in Boston where he became a recognized lawyer through his work on social causes that would benefit society. He helped develop the “right to privacy” concept by writing a Harvard Law Review article of that title, and was thereby credited by legal scholar Roscoe Pound as having accomplished “nothing less than adding a chapter to our law”. Years later, a book he published, entitled Other People’s Money, suggested ways of curbing the power of large banks and money trusts, which partly explains why he later fought against powerful corporations, monopolies, public corruption, and mass consumerism, all of which he felt were detrimental to American values and culture. He also became active in the Zionist movement, seeing it as a solution to the “Jewish problem” of antisemitism in Europe and Russia, while at the same time being a way to “revive the Jewish spirit.”

When his family’s finances became secure, he began devoting most of his time to public causes and was later dubbed the “People’s Lawyer.” He insisted on serving on cases without pay so that he would be free to address the wider issues involved. The Economist magazine calls him “A Robin Hood of the law.” Among his notable early cases were actions fighting railroad monopolies; defending workplace and labor laws; helping create the Federal Reserve System; and presenting ideas for the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He achieved recognition by submitting a case brief, later called the “Brandeis Brief,” which relied on expert testimony from people in other professions to support his case, thereby setting a new precedent in evidence presentation.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Brandeis to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, his nomination was bitterly contested, partly because, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court.” He was eventually confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 47 to 22 on June 1, 1916, and became one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on the high court. His opinions were, according to legal scholars, some of the “greatest defenses” of freedom of speech and the right to privacy ever written by a member of the high court.

Jan 28 2011

Six In The Morning

Seizing a Moment, Al Jazeera Taps Arab Anger  





The protests rocking the Arab world this week have one thread uniting them: Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel whose aggressive coverage has helped propel insurgent emotions from one capital to the next.

Al Jazeera has been widely hailed for helping enable the revolt in Tunisia with its galvanizing early reports, even as Western-aligned political factions in Lebanon and the West Bank attacked and burned the channel’s offices and vans this week, accusing it of incitement against them.

Live Blog Of Egyptian Protests Here  

Jan 28 2011

Prime Time

Some premiers.  Meh.

I like to watch.

When they tortured you. Did you talk?

Ah, oh, no… well, I don’t think they wanted me to talk really. I don’t think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun.

Later-

Dave in repeats from 12/17.  Jon has T. Boone Pickens (ugh), Stephen Brian Greene.  Conan hosts Jane Lynch, Joe Buck, and Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

But this is absolute madness, Ambassador! Why should you *build* such a thing?

There were those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.

This is preposterous. I’ve never approved of anything like that.

Our source was the New York Times.