Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Capitalism Devours Itself by Andy K.

The new derivatives trading bill being debated in Congress is a toothless, spineless joke of a bill (authored by Dems) intended to provide oversight and transparency for the unregulated secret $600 trillion market for derivatives. And even after Treasury Secretary Geithner watered down the new bill with exemptions and loopholes for most of Wall Street, the House Republicans still voted against it, insisting that government intervention will, uh, suffocate free enterprise and, um, stifle innovation.

In my mind, regulating a secret $600 trillion market that killed Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, AIG, and ignited the biggest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression would be an uncontroversial bipartisan no-brainer that any semi-literate Congressman would support immediately. There are 2 obvious changes that could easily fix the derivatives market:

1) Every buyer and seller of derivatives must prove they have the cash to cover their bets.

2) Every derivative contract must be listed on an exchange. (An exchange is a clearinghouse where trades are made, the most famous examples being the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ).

The Big Banks hate both of these new rules, but they really hate Rule #2, the creation of an exchange exclusively for derivatives. And that has puzzled me, because every gargantuan American corporation you can think of (Exxon, Procter&Gamble, AT&T, WalMart) sells its own stock on the NYSE and capitalists love the NYSE. The purpose of an exchange is to provide transparency for buyers and sellers, which increases efficiency and reduces fraud. This is boring old-fashioned Capitalism 101 and it's not particularly radical; the NYSE has flourished since 1792, so what's the problem?

The problem is that the NYSE publishes the price of every stock! And the Big Banks do not want the prices of derivatives published. Because if the prices are published, then the investors who hire the Big Banks as brokers would realize they're being screwed by their own broker. The investors would shop around for better deals from brokers with lower fees and if there's one thing I know about Big Banks, it's that they hate lowering their fees.

Senator Maria Cantwell, (D-WA) explained it this way: "Wall Street has a lot of reasons for wanting to keep the unregulated derivatives casino open for business. Specifically, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Brad Hintz recently estimated that Wall Street revenue from trading unregulated derivatives might decline by 15 percent just by moving trades to clearinghouses. That is because the current system enables banks to profit from secret pricing - pocketing the gap between what they charge customers and what they pay to hedge their trades. With transparent pricing and true competition on an exchange, higher gambling returns are much more difficult to achieve. Public disclosure of price data would also mean that dealers no longer had better price data than clients."

In other words, a market with secret prices isn't an honest market, it's a rigged market.

Prediction: rigged markets aren't sustainable. They collapse.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why the Banks Are Worse Than the Oil Companies by Andy K.

Because at least the oil companies make useful, high-quality products
for consumers. I admit that killing the planet is inherently part of
the manufacturing process for oil, but at least the products that come
out of an oil barrel (plastics, agricultural fertilizers, gasoline)
are fantastic.

On the contrary, the products that banks make (loans) suck. Yes,
loans are necessary, but if your monthly payment is one day late, your
interest rate can jump from 7.9 percent to 29.9 percent overnight.
That product sucks. No other industry punishes its own longtime loyal
customer the way banks do. A loan that jumps to 29.9 percent is a
lousy loan. It's a low-quality product.

No mechanic ever told me that my car was damaged because I used
gasoline. Gasoline always works. Always. Simply put, the oil
companies have quality control, the banks don't.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lesser Evil blog entry from July 3, 2007

Just as Andy predicted, Murdoch sabotages the capitalists on Wall Street...

Andrew Sullivan:

TEXT

Andy K.:

TEXT

Thursday, September 10, 2009

appalling Michael Moore quote of the day

"Democracy is not a spectator sport, it's a participatory event,"
Michael Moore told a news conference. "If we don't participate in it,
it ceases to be a democracy. So Obama will rise or fall based not so
much on what he does but on what we do to support him."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sarah Palin critiques Obama's health care plan

PALIN: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

TEXT

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Military Spy Infiltrates Olympia Peace Group

The spy, John Towery, told the activists that there are still spies in their midst. Anyone feeling paranoid?

Democracy Now! broke this story yesterday:

TEXT

quote of the day

"Legalization [of marijuana] is not in the president's vocabulary, and
it's not in mine," - Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House's
Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Audit the Federal Reserve!

Will Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) actually succeed in having our nation's secretive central bank audited? His bill has at least 244 co-sponsors, so it just might happen.

TEXT




Sunday, July 26, 2009

ass-kisser, suck-up David Gregory

TEXT

Text of Gregory's email begging Gov. Sanford to appear on NBC's Meet The Press:

"Let me just say [my show] is the place to have a wider conversation with some context about not just the personal but also the future for [Sanford] and the GOP... So coming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to...and then move on. You can say you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it."

Friday, June 26, 2009

typo on Fox News?


South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared for 5 days. His staff said he was on a solo hike on the Appalachian Trail. As it turns out, using taxpayer funds, he was visiting his mistress in Argentina. According to Fox News, Gov. Sanford's a Democrat, but in real life, he's a Republican. An innocent mistake...

But wait! Back in 2006, Fox News employed this very same tactic when former Republican Representative Mark Foley was embroiled in a scandal involving sexual instant-messages to teenage male pages.



In an April 2003 IM, Foley and a teen reportedly describe having orgasms. Congressman Foley then explains to the young lad that he has to go back to work and vote. "What was Foley off to vote for?" Alex Cockburn wrote at the time, "That evening the House voted on HR 1559, Emergency War Time supplemental appropriations. Just another wargasm in the life of Empire."

Monday, June 15, 2009

State Secrets: Smell the Obama Difference

President Obama has been repeatedly invoking the state secrets defense to prevent our government and corporations from being held accountable for their roles in cases of torture and spying, the very same practice candidate Hope & Change criticized Bush for overusing.

The state secrets privilege was Obama's justification for opposing multiple lawsuits brought against the government and phone companies for Bush's warrantless spy program.

Hell, he even outdid Bush on the illegal wiretapping lawsuit brought against the government by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In April, Obama aped the Bush camp's claim that the state secrets privilege protected the Bush administration from any lawsuits for illegal spying. Then Obama took it a step further than even Bush with a claim of "sovereign immunity" barring ANY lawsuits for government spying unless there is "willful disclosure" of the information obtained. Simply put, Obama is claiming that the government has the right to spy on our phone calls or emails without a pesky warrant as long as what's found out isn't publicized on purpose.

Most recently, Obama is attempting to have a lawsuit brought against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, dismissed in order to protect state secrets. Five men, claiming to be victims of extraordinary rendition, are suing the flight-planning company for aiding the CIA in the abduction and flying of them to secret prisons in other countries where they were tortured. Keep in mind, Obama isn't invoking state secrets regarding specific evidence here. He wants the whole suit tossed out.

It should also be noted that the extraordinary rendition program of outsourcing torture hasn't slowed down one bit under Obama.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

U.S. journalists kidnapped by N. Korea: blame China

Seriously, blame China!

TEXT

Shell to pay $15.5M to keep role in Saro-Wiwa's death out of court

In 1995 Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were executed after a sham of a trial. Saro-Wiwa led a peaceful movement opposing Royal Dutch Shell's environmental destruction of the Niger Delta and the oil giant's cozy relationship with Nigeria's brutal military dictators. Shell's ties to the country's military and direct involvement in the killings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni eight led to the New York lawsuit. Here's a report from Democracy Now!:

TEXT

Saturday, June 6, 2009

statistic of the day


30 percent of Republicans don't like Rush Limbaugh.
2 percent of African-Americans do.

he'll end the war in 2012

“I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and
no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its
own. And that's why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by
next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's
democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi
cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012,” -
statement from President Obama on June 5, 2009.

Friday, June 5, 2009

it's OK to be lazy, just don't say it out loud

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "I understand that during her
career, [Sotomayor has] written hundreds and hundreds of opinions. I
haven’t read a single one of them, and if I’m fortunate before we end
this, I won’t have to read one of them.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

symbolism, not facts

This is an old Paul Krugman opinion piece from 2002, but it is so completely true. The big boys (Chevron, Shell, etc.) do not invest money to lobby Congress to drill in ANWR. They don't give a shit either way about ANWR. Because if it really mattered to them, they'd already be drilling there. But it's expensive to drill in Arctic conditions, (especially compared with cheap drilling in mild climates with cheap labor-- Nigeria, Burma, etc.) and the tiny amount of oil in Alaska could NEVER EVER liberate addicted Americans from dependency on Saudis. But you'd never know this from listening to Limbaugh, Palin, etc. The catchphrase from the GOP Convention in Minneapolis was "Drill, baby, drill!" It's all about symbolism, and throwing some red meat to the patriotic peasants. It's all about finding someone --anyone-- to blame for $3.50 gasoline. I can only assume that the executives and geologists at Chevron chuckle with amusement at the entertaining lies of Limbaugh... but they know it has nothing to do with reality. - Andy K.


TEXT

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Obama's detentions with no trial

Here's columnist Charles Krauthammer expressing how pleased he is at Obama's decision to detain alleged terrorists indefinitely. As Andy K. points out, "The other 'conservatives' (Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly) are too stupid to understand the profound similarities between the Bush war on terror and the Obama war on terror."

During the '08 campaign, Obama fans were constantly pointing out his moving oratory prowess. Krauthammer writes, "As in his rhetorically brilliant national-security speech yesterday claiming to have undone Bush's moral travesties, the military commissions flip-flop is accompanied by the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy."

TEXT

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bill Clinton and Haiti

One of the first campaign promises Bill Clinton broke was his pledge to reverse George H.W. Bush's inhumane treatment of the Haitian refugees fleeing to the U.S. To make matters worse, the refugees were escaping a misery the U.S. helped to create.

In 1994 I attended a workshop on Haiti where I was dismayed to hear about a document showing that the U.S. had trained Haitian military personnel after the coup ousting the elected government of President Aristide. As Noam Chomsky reported at the time, "That Haitian army officers received training in the U.S. after the coup was confirmed in an internal Pentagon document, including eight officers who started courses in early 1992."

After thousands of Haitians died at the hands of the CIA-backed paramilitary FRAPH, President Clinton sent U.S. combat troops to "restore democracy." The reinstated Aristide was forced to sacrifice the social agenda that built the grass-roots movement responsible for electing him and adopt the World Bank model.

Now in 2009 Clinton is poised to become the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special UN envoy to Haiti.

Here's analysis by reporter Jeremy Scahill:


TEXT

Rumsfeld and Katrina

TEXT

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Illinois Senate calls for withdrawal from Afghanistan

from Democracy Now!:

Illinois Senate Opposes Escalation of Afghan Occupation

President Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan is facing opposition in his home state of Illinois. The Illinois State Senate has passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan instead of Obama’s plans to increase the occupation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

sleep torture was even worse than the waterboard

Not that I take waterboarding lightly (I don't) but if I had to
choose, I'd rather be waterboarded than subjected to Rumsfeld's sleep
torture program. The sleep torture consisted of 11 days chained in
shackles in a stress position, wearing a diaper, and deprived of
sleep. Rumsfeld subjected 25 prisoners to this torture, compared to 3
prisoners who were waterboarded. - Andy K.

TEXT

Sunday, May 10, 2009

NY Times and the torture double-standard

Andrew Sullivan:

"So you have a perfect demonstration of the NYT's double-standard. If Chinese do it to Americans, it's torture; if Americans do it to an American, it's 'harsh interrogation.'"

more from Sullivan:


TEXT

TEXT

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pelosi lied

"In that or any other briefing...we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on April 23, 2009.

Not true. See:

TEXT

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Doctors, lawyers and activists take on Senate Finance Committee

Let's hear it for the doctors, lawyers and activists who stood up to Senator Max Baucus and participated in the health care reform debate. This discussion is normally reserved for corporate lobbyists representing the health insurance industry along with Big Pharma and the well-paid Senators awash in their money.




TEXT

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

consistent McCain

"But we are not asked to judge the President's character flaws. We are
asked to judge whether the President, who swore an oath to faithfully
execute his office, deliberately subverted--for whatever purpose--the
rule of law," - John McCain arguing for the impeachment of Bill
Clinton for perjury in a civil suit, February 1999.

"Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a
horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot," - John McCain, October
2007.

"We've got to move on," - John McCain, April 26, 2009, reacting to
incontrovertible proof that George W. Bush ordered the waterboarding
of a prisoner 183 times, as well as broader treatment that the Red
Cross has called "unequivocally torture."

Monday, April 27, 2009

New York Times still won't call it "torture"

ANDREW SULLIVAN: "If waterboarding someone 183 times is not torture, then nothing is torture. The fact that the editors of the New York Times cannot reflect this core truth in its use of plain English is a scandal of journalistic cowardice, evasion and willful ignorance. It is entirely a function not of seeking the truth but of placating those in power and maintaining a fictitious illusion of "balance." The idea that the Bush administration's insistence for the first time in human history that waterboarding is legal and not torture - when it has itself used the torture technique - is to be weighed equally against the entire body of legal, historical and cultural evidence in deciding what to call torture is preposterous."

TEXT

Friday, April 24, 2009

Harry Reid opposes impeachment of Bybee

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee is among the 6 Bush officials named in the Spanish criminal investigation of torture accusations. The investigating judge, Baltasar Garzon, is the same magistrate who went after Chile's ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet along with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for war crimes. Kissinger complained about this attack to his pal Rumsfeld who, according to Phillippe Sands, "...was already worrying about 'lawfare' (the use of law to achieve operational objectives). Rumsfeld instructed the chief lawyer at the Pentagon, Jim Haynes, to address the problems posed by this 'judicialisation of international politics.' " William J. "Jim" Haynes, II is also a member of the indicted Bush officials in the Spanish case.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is opposing the call for Bybee's impeachment. Reid's office states,"Judge Bybee has a good professional reputation in Nevada... While the memos that have been released are disturbing to Sen. Reid, at this point in time, he doesn't think we should be making a rush to judgment. The Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing this matter and he will wait to see what they have to say before making a decision."

Pelosi & torture

From the New York Times:

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who in 2002 was the ranking Democrat on the House committee, has said in public statements that she recalls being briefed on the methods, including waterboarding. She insists, however, that the lawmakers were told only that the C.I.A. believed the methods were legal - not that they were going to be used.

By contrast, the ranking Republican on the House committee at the time, Porter J. Goss of Florida, who later served as C.I.A. director, recalls a clear message that the methods would be used.

"We were briefed, and we certainly understood what C.I.A. was doing," Mr. Goss said in an interview. "Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough."

Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, who was committee chairman in 2002, said in an interview that he did not recall ever being briefed on the methods, though government officials with access to records say all four committee leaders received multiple briefings.

TEXT

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Top 10 Enemies of Single-Payer

Russell Mokhiber, over at the CounterPunch site, has put together an instructive list. It includes AARP, AHIP, the AMA, Obama ("...he says single-payer is off the table. To get off the list, Obama needs to put single-payer back on the table."), the Business Roundtable, Families USA, HCAN, Kaiser Family Foundation, the Lewin Group, and PHRMA.

TEXT

gallows humor

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They Seek Power, Not Drugs by Andy K.

When Savana Redding was 13 years old, the principal at her junior
high school subjected her to a humiliating strip search to determine
whether or not she had smuggled ibuprofen onto school grounds. The
strip search was fruitless: no ibuprofen was found. Savana sued
the school district and, after 7 years of lawsuits and appeals, her
case was heard before the US Supreme Court yesterday.

The case has been widely covered in the media, but there's a detail
mentioned on page 42 of the Supreme Court transcript which hasn't
received much attention: the school officials never searched her
locker or her desk.

This detail completely undermines the school's argument. Shouldn't
her locker have been the FIRST place they searched? The assistant
principal had received a tip from another student that Savana was in
possession of ibuprofen, but the school district's lawyers admitted to
the Supreme Court justices that this other student had never specified
that the pills were hidden in Savana's undergarments. So the
principal had no reason to immediately make a beeline for Savana's
breasts.

And if the scourge of ibuprofen is serious enough to justify a strip
search, why isn't a locker search also necessary?

These school administrators aren't serious. They're perverts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"we've only waterboarded 3 detainees"

We've been told repeatedly that Bush waterboarded "only" 3 detainees
(which implies that a war crime is less of a crime if only 3 victims
are subjected to it). But here's the more relevant question: how
many times were each of these 3 victims waterboarded?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times.

TEXT

When the CIA was interrogating Abu Zubaydah at a
secret prison in Thailand, the CIA agents realized that
the prisoner had no more information to give. But the sadists at
CIA headquarters in Washington demanded that the agents torture him
anyway.

TEXT

And it looks like one of the memos Obama released last week inadvertently revealed the name of "ghost detainee," Hassan Ghul. The memo appears to include Ghul (spelled "Gul" in the redacted text) in the group of 28 CIA detainees subjected to our government's "enhanced interrogation techniques."

TEXT

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama and State Secrets

Obama's flip-flop last August on the issue of granting the telecom companies who were involved in warrantless surveillance immunity from lawsuits was clearly a sign of bad things to come.

TEXT

TEXT

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bill Black interviewed by Bill Moyers

[Bill Black is a professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In the 1980s, he helped expose the S&L crisis, and the Keating Five.]


BILL MOYERS: Why are they firing the president of G.M. and not firing the head of all these banks that are involved?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: There are two reasons. One, they're much closer to the bankers. These are people from the banking industry. And they have a lot more sympathy. In fact, they're outright hostile to autoworkers, as you can see. They want to bash all of their contracts. But when they get to banking, they say, ‘contracts, sacred.' But the other element of your question is we don't want to change the bankers, because if we do, if we put honest people in, who didn't cause the problem, their first job would be to find the scope of the problem. And that would destroy the cover up.

BILL MOYERS: The cover up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Sure. The cover up.

BILL MOYERS: That's a serious charge.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Of course.

BILL MOYERS: Who's covering up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Geithner is charging, is covering up. Just like Paulson did before him. Geithner is publicly saying that it's going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they're allowing all the banks to report that they're not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can't be true. It can't be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they're fine.

These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed, not because...

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, Geithner has, was one of our nation's top regulators, during the entire subprime scandal, that I just described. He took absolutely no effective action. He gave no warning. He did nothing in response to the FBI warning that there was an epidemic of fraud. All this pig in the poke stuff happened under him. So, in his phrase about legacy assets. Well he's a failed legacy regulator.






Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sean Hannity's version of Jesus

"Because my attitude is that if we capture an enemy combatant in the battlefield -- or we can use Osama bin Laden -- who may have information about a pending attack. You know what, I don't have any problem taking his head sticking it underwater and scaring the living daylights out of him and making him think we're drowning him, and I'm a Christian,"

- Sean Hannity, Fox’s Hannity, broadcast Mar. 10, 2009.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

statistic of the day

from the Chicago Tribune:

The median price of a home sold in Detroit in December was $7,500, according to Realcomp, a listing service. Not $75,000. Remove a zero—it’s seven thousand five hundred dollars, substantially less than the lowest-price car on the new-car market.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Letter to the Kellogg Company

Mr. David Mackay
Kellogg Company
One Kellogg Square
P.O. Box 3599
Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

Dear Mr. Mackay:

I am disappointed to learn that the Kellogg Company has ended its marketing relationship with Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. Mr. Phelps’ private activities have not impacted his athletic performance, so I’m surprised that a cereal company has an opinion on this controversy.

If Mr. Phelps’ private activities are relevant to his role as a Kellogg spokesman, why would Kellogg ignore his drunk-driving arrest in 2004?

A word of advice to corporations foolish enough to take sides on controversies like this: be consistent. Because hopefully someone (anyone?) at Kellogg is aware that drinking and driving is FAR MORE dangerous than cannabis consumption.

Sincerely,
Andy K.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"60 Minutes" report on Palestine

On Sunday, January 25, CBS aired an amazing "60 Minutes" report on Palestine. It was, as Alexander Cockburn put it this weekend on the CounterPunch site, "the single most savage indictment of Israel ever broadcast on U.S. network television."

TEXT

Part One



Part Two

Friday, January 30, 2009

Populist Appeal

It's no secret that paying taxes is something the American Empire's wealthy need not fret over. The appointment of Timothy Geithner, a tax cheat, to head the Treasury department certainly rubs our noses in this double standard. Geithner reportedly played a role in the decision to rescue insurer AIG, but a bigger factor was undoubtedly AIG's close relationship to Goldman Sachs. Goldman was AIG's largest trading partner and, until two years ago, was run by former Treasury head and bailout architect Hank Paulson. If AIG collapsed Goldman stood to lose $20 billion.

After receiving $150 billion in bailout funds, AIG is rewarding 400 employees with $450 million in bonuses. This is on the heels of Merrill Lynch's decision to pay out $4-5 billion in bonuses as Bank of America purchases this corporate failure.

Polls showed the U.S. public to be overwhelmingly against last year's bailout, but Obama and McCain rendered it a non-issue with their mutual support of Paulson's corporate welfare program. Single-payer health care was another non-issue with both Obama and McCain standing in firm opposition while opinion polls have shown steady support for socialized medicine.

True populist appeal is not something Obama is interested in. Wall Street appeal is much more lucrative.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heroin & coke saved the banks in 2008

VIENNA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bush takes orders from his boss

from the NY Times, 1/12/09:

In an unusually public rebuke, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to abstain from a United Nations resolution on Gaza that she helped draft, after Mr. Olmert placed a phone call to President Bush.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,’ ” Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now,’ ” Mr. Olmert continued. “He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

Israel opposed the resolution, which called for a halt to the fighting in Gaza, because the government said it did not provide for Israel’s security. It passed 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining.

Mr. Olmert claimed that once he made his case to Mr. Bush, the president called Ms. Rice and told her to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Mr. Olmert said, according to The A.P.

Klein vs. Greenwald

Joe Klein at his worst:
TEXT

"As for [Glenn] Greenwald, he is monomaniacal on the subject of civil liberties. His would be a useful obsession, if he were intellectually honest about it. He is not." -Joe Klein, January 8, 2009

Joe Klein at his best:
TEXT

"Abu Ghraib made a mockery of American idealism. It made all the baser motives (oil, dad, Israel) more believable. And it represents all the moral complexities this President has chosen to ignore: all the perverse consequences of an occupation." - Joe Klein, May 9, 2004

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

U.S. complicity

from THE JERUSALEM POST:

The Israel Air Force used a new bunker-buster missile that it received recently from the United States in strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.

The missile, called GBU-39, was developed in recent years by the US as a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision and low collateral damage strikes.

Israel received approval from Congress to purchase 1,000 units in September and defense officials said on Sunday that the first shipment had arrived earlier this month and was used successfully in penetrating underground Kassam launchers in the Gaza Strip during the heavy aerial bombardment of Hamas infrastructure on Saturday. It was also used in Sunday's bombing of tunnels in Rafah.

The GPS-guided GBU-39 is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world. The 113-kg. bomb has the same penetration capabilities as a normal 900-kg. bomb, although it has only 22.7 kg. of explosives. At just 1.75 meters long, its small size increases the number of bombs an aircraft can carry and the number of targets it can attack in a sortie.

Tests conducted in the US have proven that the bomb is capable of penetrating at least 90 cm. of steel-reinforced concrete. The GBU-39 can be used in adverse weather conditions and has a standoff range of more than 110 km. due to pop-out wings.