Daily Archive: 10/03/2011

Oct 03 2011

2011 AL Playoffs- Devil Rays and Rangers at Tampa

Rangers vs Rays

Monday 10/3, 5:00 PM ET at Tropicana Field

The series is tied.

ST. PETERSBURG — Considering it’s the home of the Rays, Tropicana Field has been very hospitable to the Rangers.

All three Texas wins in last year’s American League Division Series came at the Trop, and on Monday, the Rangers and Rays continue this year’s ALDS here with the series tied at 1. But during Sunday’s workout day, about 24 hours ahead of Game 3’s scheduled 5 p.m. ET first pitch, the Rangers weren’t looking to the memory of last year for a boost.

snip

The Rays’ ace, Price makes his first start of this year’s postseason on Monday against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, who also gets the ball for the first time this October. Last year, Lewis went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in the Rangers’ run to the World Series, and was the only Texas starter to go undefeated in the playoffs. . . .

Price’s ERA in six September starts was 4.01.

snip

Despite Texas’ success at the Trop last year, the Rays are still looking at their home park as, well, just that. Not known for the largest attendance figures, Tropicana Field can still pack a wallop audibly when the stadium is filled.  

Oct 03 2011

Another Attorney General Exits Multi-State Mortgage Fraud Talks

Last Friday California Attorney General,Kamala Harris, notified Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli that she would no longer be participating in the multi-state talks to settle the mortgage and foreclosure fraud by the nation’s largest banks.

“Last week, I went to Washington, D.C., in hopes of moving our discussions forward,” Harris wrote. “But it became clear to me that California was being asked for a broader release of claims than we can accept and to excuse conduct that has not been adequately investigated.”

“[T]his not the deal California homeowners have been waiting for,” Harris adds one line later.

AG Harris joins the list of state attorney generals who have balked at letting the banks pay a mere $20 billion to settle their liability in the housing crisis they created without any real criminal investigations. In her letter (pdf), she states her plans:

   I intend to continue to investigate the mortgage practices that I believe have contributed to the growing housing crisis in my state. Months ago, I began California’s independent work in this respect by establishing a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, and I have given the Strike Force attorneys a broad mandate to investigate all stages of the mortgage lending process, from origination to servicing and foreclosures to securitization of loans into investments in the secondary market. I am committed to doing as thorough an investigation as is needed – and to taking the time that is necessary – to set the stage for achieving appropriate accountability for misconduct.

   I will also push for additional legislation and regulations that enhance transparency and eliminate incentives to disregard borrower’s rights in foreclosure. Many of these reforms have been identified in the multistate talks, and I hope that in good faith the banks will adopt these reforms immediately.

While David Dayen doesn’t think that the legislation have a chance. he does say that public pressure has had a huge impact in pushing Harris to make this decision. It could also impact on her career, since she was rumored to be a possible replacement for US AG Eric Holder. Pushing hard against the Obama administration’s support of this agreement could take her out of consideration.

Dayen concludes, and I agree, that:

As for Tom Miller, his dream of getting the banks off the hook for their crimes is dead and buried. Without California and New York, you’re not going to be able to have a settlement that means anything. He’s probably looking for a way out right now.

The investigations have to be followed through. But this is a victory so far for accountability and against the whitewashes that have characterized the nation’s response to systemic fraud in an increasing and troubling fashion over the past several years.

Considering the success that Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto had in a settlement with Morgan Stanley over mortgage practices that essentially garnered about $57,000 for some 600 to 700 Nevada homeowners, AG Harris’ withdrawal from the negotiations is a wise choice for Californians.

Oct 03 2011

Monday Business Edition

Our regular news editor ek hornbeck is experiencing technical difficulties.

  • Greek gloom rocks markets, troubles lenders

    By Harry Papachristou and Jan Strupczewski

    ATHENS | Mon Oct 3, 2011 12:14pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Greece’s admission that it will miss its deficit target this year despite harsh new austerity measures sent stock markets reeling on Monday and raised new doubts over a planned second international bailout.

    The gloomy news from Athens brought the specter of a debt default closer and will weigh on talks among euro zone finance ministers in Luxembourg later on Monday on the next steps to try to resolve the currency area’s sovereign debt crisis.

  • Greek economy stuck in recession, complicates fiscal efforts

    By Harry Papachristou and Ingrid Melander

    ATHENS | Mon Oct 3, 2011 10:59am EDT

    (Reuters) – Greece will remain trapped in recession next year, threatening the country’s efforts to cut deficits and claw its way out of a debt crisis shaking the euro zone, budget figures showed on Monday.

    The economy will suffer a fourth consecutive year of contraction, shrinking by 2.5 percent in 2012 after an expected 5.5 percent slump this year, according to the 2012 budget draft submitted to parliament after talks with international lenders.

Oct 03 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: Holding China to Account

The dire state of the world economy reflects destructive actions on the part of many players. Still, the fact that so many have behaved badly shouldn’t stop us from holding individual bad actors to account.

And that’s what Senate leaders will be doing this week, as they take up legislation that would threaten sanctions against China and other currency manipulators.

Respectable opinion is aghast. But respectable opinion has been consistently wrong lately, and the currency issue is no exception.

Ask yourself: Why is it so hard to restore full employment? It’s true that the housing bubble has popped, and consumers are saving more than they did a few years ago. But once upon a time America was able to achieve full employment without a housing bubble and with savings rates even higher than we have now. What changed?

Robert Reich: The American Jobs Depression, and How to Get Out of It

The Reverend Al Sharpton and various labor unions have announced a March for Jobs. But I’m afraid we’ll need more than marches to get jobs back.

Since the start of the Great Recession at the end of 2007, America’s potential labor force – that is, working-age people who want jobs – has grown by over 7 million. But since then, the number of Americans who actually have jobs has shrunk by more than 300,000.

In other words, we’re in a deep hole and the hole is deepening. In August, the United States created no jobs at all. Zero.

America’s ongoing jobs depression – which is what it deserves to be called – is the worst economic calamity to hit this nation since the Great Depression. It’s also terrible news for President Obama, whose chances for re-election now depend almost entirely on the Republican party putting up someone so vacuous and extremist that the nation rallies to Obama regardless.

Maajid Nawaz: US Drone Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki Reinforces Terrorists

In the extra-judicial killing of a US citizen accused of inspiring terror attacks, America has abandoned its own values

As Anwar al-Awlaki became the first individual to be summarily executed by his own government in the “war on terror” on Friday, we are reminded of the dark side in this relentless pursuit for security.

Awlaki was an evil man who preached against humanity. As a counter-extremism adviser, I dedicate all my energies to discrediting his ilk. I am under no illusion of the danger that he posed. I live with such danger every day, through my work. Awlaki’s desire to arbitrarily kill, deny rights and bypass due process is what made him evil. In summarily executing him in this way, the US has just called the kettle black.

Just as achieving liberty takes years of bloody struggle, its violation is rarely brought about overnight. Arbitrary detention, extraordinary rendition, targeted killings and “enhanced interrogation” – otherwise known as torture – are but some of the measures that have slowly been re-introduced into human practice by the US. Now, add to that list the summary execution of a citizen.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Can the Left Stage a Tea Party?

Why hasn’t there been a tea party on the left? And can President Obama and the American left develop a functional relationship?

That those two questions are not asked very often is a sign of how much of the nation’s political energy has been monopolized by the right from the beginning of Obama’s term. This has skewed media coverage of almost every issue, created the impression that the president is far more liberal than he is, and turned the nation’s agenda away from progressive reform.

A quiet left has also been very bad for political moderates. The entire political agenda has shifted far to the right because the tea party and extremely conservative ideas have earned so much attention. The political center doesn’t stand a chance unless there is something like a fair fight between the right and the left.

Robert Parry: Would the Founders Back Health Law?

Today’s American Right is fond of pushing the idea of “originalist” thinking by the Founders to rally opposition to government initiatives that address modern-day problems. The claim is that if George Washington, James Madison and other drafters of the Constitution didn’t anticipate something, the federal government must not act on it.

This approach, which fits with what conservatives call “strict constructionism,” has a facile appeal to many Americans, especially Tea Partiers who like to dress up in Revolutionary-era garb and channel the Founders’ supposed hatred for the federal government. The argument is sure to reappear as the rightist-dominated U.S. Supreme Court considers the new health care law next year.

However, the truth is that the Founders devised the federal government to be a powerful and adaptable entity with broad implicit powers, comparable to a sophisticated software platform that can handle a variety of tasks, anticipated and unanticipated.

Most significantly on this point, the Constitution gives Congress the power to “regulate commerce with foreign Nations and among the several states,” the so-called “commerce clause,” which traces back to the very first substantive presentation at the Constitutional Convention on May 29, 1787.

Oct 03 2011

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 17

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

OccupyWallStreet

The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

For those who still don’t understand what motivates this protest that has spread across the US and gained the world’s attention even before the so-called progressives finally stopped negating it, here is the statement of grievances from the  Occupy Wall Street NYC General Assembly:

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

This document was accepted by the NYC General Assembly on september 29, 2011

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

The entire list is below the fold.

And a special h/t to RiaD for her article with the links and videos to many of the web sites and facebook page for Occupy Wall Street.

From OccupyWallStreet:

JP Morgan Chase recently donated $4.6 Million to the NYPD, coincidence?

New York City Police Foundation – New York

JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.

“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”

And Matt Yglesias is an idiot who thinks that “this looks like a well-timed investment as direct action protests against banks gain steam”:

To my way of thinking, this is a healthy dynamic. I’m not a radical anti-capitalist. But something you saw during the Cold War was that the possibility of radical anti-capitalists taking over helped create incentives for the business class to ensure that the “free world” organized market economies in a way that was broadly beneficial.

From Stephen Eldridge in comments:

Seems to be the better dynamic would be to tax these people more and give the money to the police that way.

Occupy Boston protesters plan rush hour rally

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff

Demonstrators who have descended on Boston’s Financial District — one of several such demonstrations erupting across the country — plan a round of protests tomorrow that could snarl traffic in the city.

The protesters, who decry what they see as the economic hardships of ordinary Americans, said they will rally during the morning rush hour near their base, across from South Station and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

The group, called Occupy Boston , is inspired by Occupy Wall Street, a demonstration entering its third week in Manhattan’s Financial District that led to the arrest of 700 people Saturday on charges of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. The effort has spread to dozens of communities nationwide, with tens of thousands of people participating.

In Boston, the protests had been building for several days, and on Friday swelled to about 1,000 in Dewey Square. Police arrested 24 people on trespassing charges when they refused to leave the Bank of America building nearby.

‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests spreading to Canada

As police clamped down on anti-Wall Street protesters over the weekend, Toronto activists said they are planning similar demonstrations against corporate greed later this month.

Organizers from a group called Occupy Toronto plan to descend on the city’s financial district on Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. The event is inspired by Occupy Wall Street, a group of demonstrators which has camped out near New York’s Financial District for two weeks.

Similar protests are being planned that day for Calgary, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Ottawa, Vancouver and Victoria, according to the website Occupy Together, which bills itself as an unofficial hub for similar demonstrations worldwide.

Occupy Toronto had its first meeting on Sept. 29, according to its website. As of Sunday afternoon, more than 3,000 people had “liked” their Facebook group and more than 800 people had confirmed attendance at the Oct. 15 occupation.

Oct 03 2011

On This Day In History October 3

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.

October 3 is the 276th day of the year (277th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 89 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1967, Woody Guthrie, godfather of the 1950s folk revival movement, dies.

In 1963, Bob Dylan was asked by the authors of a forthcoming book on Woody Guthrie to contribute a 25-word comment summarizing his thoughts on the man who had probably been his greatest formative influence. Dylan responded instead with a 194-line poem called “Thoughts on Woody Guthrie,” which took as its theme the eternal human search for hope. “And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin’?” Dylan asks in the poem, before proceeding to a kind of answer:

You can either go to the church of your choice

Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital

You’ll find God in the church of your choice

You’ll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land”, which is regularly sung in American schools. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton have acknowledged their debt to Guthrie as an influence.

Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California and learned traditional folk and blues songs. Many of his songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression, earning him the nickname the “Dust Bowl Troubadour”. Throughout his life Guthrie was associated with United States communist groups, though he was never an actual member of any.

Guthrie was married three times and fathered eight children, including American folk musician Arlo Guthrie. He is the grandfather of musician Sarah Lee Guthrie. Guthrie died from complications of Huntington’s disease, a progressive genetic neurological disorder. During his later years, in spite of his illness, Guthrie served as a figurehead in the folk movement, providing inspiration to a generation of new folk musicians, including mentor relationships with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan.

Folk revival and Guthrie’s death

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new generation of young people were inspired by folk singers including Guthrie. These “folk revivalists” became more politically aware in their music than those of the previous generation. The American Folk Revival was beginning to take place, focused on the issues of the day, such as the civil rights movement and free speech movement. Pockets of folk singers were forming around the country in places such as Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. One of Guthrie’s visitors at Greystone Park was the 19-year-old Bob Dylan, who idolized Guthrie. Dylan wrote of Guthrie’s repertoire: “The songs themselves were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them.” After learning of Guthrie’s whereabouts, Bob Dylan regularly visited him. Guthrie died of complications of Huntington’s disease on October 3, 1967. By the time of his death, his work had been discovered by a new audience, introduced to them in part through Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, his ex-wife Marjorie and other new members of the folk revival, and his son Arlo.

Huntington’s Disease Society of America

Oct 03 2011

Koch Bros. Fund Iran for Prosperity

The billionaire Koch bothers, major GOP donors who founded Americans for Prosperity to fund the tea party movement, have apparently been ignoring US laws (pdf) and making even more money trading with Iran. In an article that appeared in Bloomberg Markets Magazine, the possibly criminal activity of the brothers is exposed:

– Koch Industries used the European offices of their subsidiary Koch-Glitsch to sell millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran in an apparent violation of the US-Iran trade embargo, as recently as 2007

– Internal documents of Koch Industries prove that the company took elaborate steps to ensure that their US-employees weren’t involved in the sales to Iran

– While is not 100% certain at this point that Koch Industries did in fact violate US law, according to Bloomberg Markets Magazine, internal memos show for example that the details of the sales with Iran were meticulously checked by US lawyers of Koch Industries and coordinated with the lawyers in order to fully ensure that no visible involvement of US-citizens took place

– Koch Industries paid bribes in six countries from 2002 to 2008 to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East, comparable to similar behaviour of German technology giant Siemens (Siemens subsequently had to pay a $ 1.6 billion fine!)

Koch Industries sacked a compliance officer in France in June 2009 who discovered the illegal bribes at Koch Industries subsidiary Koch-Glitsch

These revelations were made possible through newly discovered documents from two labour court cases in France

– Bloomberg Markets reveals that former employees of Koch Industries harshly criticize the company for their internal practises and ethics

– The story also covers in great detail over several pages earlier violations of Koch Industries: The company in the past “rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada”

Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”

She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France.

“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings. The letter was made public in a civil court ruling in France in September 2010; the document has never before been reported by the media.

Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.

Hello? Eric Holder?

h/t to David Waldman from a Tweet at Twitter which led down the rabbit hole.

Oct 03 2011

Pique the Geek 20111002: The Things we Eat: trans Fats

We hear a lot about trans fats in food and the negative health effects of them.  However, most folks without a background in chemistry do not really know what that means.  Tonight the object is to clear that up, and to point out sources that are high in them so they can be avoided.

Contrary to the opening statement, not all trans fats have deleterious health effects.  There are a couple that seem to be beneficial, but unfortunately they are sort of rare.  They are also some of the few trans fats that occur naturally.  By a huge margin, most trans fats consumed are artificially produced, and we shall get into that as well.

To understand the topic well, a chemistry lesson will first have to be given.  However, this IS Pique the Geek!

Oct 03 2011

2011 NL Playoffs- Cardinals at Phillies Game 2

Well things seemed to be going ok until the bottom of the 6th when Lohse sort of fell apart.  I can’t say I question the Cardinals’ decision to leave him in as long as they did because their bullpen did them no favors, but I do sort of question the decision not to start Garcia on full rest especially since he matches up better against the Phillies left handed line up.

Tonight they’re going with Carpenter against Lee which means Garcia will get a single start at best.  Or worst, these are best 3 of 5 so they can’t possibly get eliminated until they get back to St. Louis.

They came back with 3 in the 9th which is an encouraging sign if you’re rooting for the Cardinals and Lee is not invulnerable so we shall see what we shall see.

That’s why they play the games.

Coverage starts at 8:30 pm ET on TBS.