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Think twice before your town or city listens to Wall Street- instead send those salesmen packing or you’ll pay.

Posted on November 22nd, 2009 at 10:10 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


The seeds of this looming disaster were sown during the credit boom, when Wall Street targeted cities big and small with risky financial products that promised to save them money or boost returns. Investment bankers sold exotic derivatives designed to help municipalities cut borrowing costs. Banks and insurance companies constructed complicated tax deals that allowed public utilities, transit authorities, and other nonprofit organizations to extract cash immediately from their long-term assets. Private equity firms, pointing to stellar historical gains, persuaded big public pension funds to plow billions of dollars into high-cost investments at the peak of the market. Many of the transactions shared a striking similarity: provisions that protected the banks from big losses and left the customers on the hook for huge payouts.

Now, as many of those deals sour, Wall Street is ramping up its efforts to collect from Main Street. “The banks stuffed customers with [questionable investments] and then extorted money from the customers to get rid of them,” says Christopher Whalen, managing director at research firm Institutional Risk Analytics. The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority, for instance, must pay nearly $1 million a month at least until December 2011 to Goldman Sachs on derivatives deals tied to municipal debt—even though the state retired the debt last year. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), having entered into complex arrangements to lease its equipment to outside investors and then lease it back, could face termination fees of $30 million. The investors could collect penalties because American International Group (AIG), which backed the arrangement, has seen its credit rating tumble. “These [sorts of deals] are potentially huge liabilities,” says Stanford Law School’s Joseph Bankman. “Investors aren’t going to be settling for chump change.” Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

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Monsanto guilty in ‘false ad’ row

Posted on November 22nd, 2009 at 10:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


France’s highest court has ruled that US agrochemical giant Monsanto had not told the truth about the safety of its best-selling weed-killer, Roundup.

The court confirmed an earlier judgment that Monsanto had falsely advertised its herbicide as “biodegradable” and claimed it “left the soil clean”.

The company was fined 15,000 euros (£13,800; $22,400). It has yet to comment on the judgment.

Roundup is the world’s best-selling herbicide.

15k euro…. that’s a bit like getting fined a dime for speeding..

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  1. Well, they can’t fine them too much, because… because.. why not?

  2. 15k (and some legal fees) gets them in the news like this, being referred to as “giant Monsanto” with it’s “best sellign weed-killer”. Great advertising at almost no cost – I’ll bet they are very hapy with this, regardless of the outcome.

    Remember when Ra-Ra was cutting the hoses of Shell petrol pumps in the Netherlands as a protest, and the eight o’clock news had a ten minute item on it, dropping the name Shell about twice each minute? Shell’s simply replied: thank you!

If Earth had rings. [VIDEO]

Posted on November 22nd, 2009 at 9:17 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

Excellent video..

One could wonder what an effect such rings would have on our history, our art… our mythology. What Gods would have been worshiped in these rings; what crop-season variations would we have witnessed… how do these affect our magnetic poles – how would seafarers of old have navigated using these majestic circles?

How many truly great works of architecture would have been inspired by these rings; how would our space program be different…

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Terrorism that’s personal (12 images)

Posted on November 22nd, 2009 at 9:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


We typically think of terrorism as a political act.

But sometimes it’s very personal. It wasn’t a government or a guerrilla insurgency that threw acid on this woman’s face in Pakistan. It was a young man whom she had rejected for marriage. As the United States ponders what to do in Afghanistan — and for that matter, in Pakistan — it is wise to understand both the political and the personal, that the very ignorance and illiteracy and misogyny that create the climate for these acid attacks can and does bleed over into the political realm. Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times op-ed columnist who traveled to Pakistan last year to write about acid attacks, put it this way in an essay at the time: “I’ve been investigating such acid attacks, which are commonly used to terrorize and subjugate women and girls in a swath of Asia from Afghanistan through Cambodia (men are almost never attacked with acid). Because women usually don’t matter in this part of the world, their attackers are rarely prosecuted and acid sales are usually not controlled. It’s a kind of terrorism that becomes accepted as part of the background noise in the region. …

I won’t be posting any of the images right now – it’s bound to ruin your Sunday morning quite a bit.. they do drive home the point, and your heart will break if you click the link. Be warned…

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  1. Hard stuff!

If It Were Me, I’d Be Embarrassed

Posted on November 22nd, 2009 at 8:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


Last Wednesday, a media firestorm erupted after a seventeen-year-old girl named Jackie was interviewed by MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell while standing in line during Sarah Palin’s Michigan book signing. Jackie, wearing a shirt that read, “The US government handed out $700 billion in Wall Street bailouts and all I got was this lousy t-shirt,” was caught off-guard when O’Donnell informed her that Sarah Palin was on record as supporting the bailout.


It didn’t take long for Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck to feature this clip on their respective shows and praise Jackie while condemning O’Donnell for her pesky questions backed up by fact-based research.


The job of a good reporter is not to ask softball questions or cast everybody they speak to in a positive light. A reporter’s job is to collect facts and seek the truth. So, while some may object to O’Donnell’s speaking to a seventeen-year-old girl, nobody can accuse her of reporting anything but the facts.

Which brings me to my final point: Jackie is seventeen-years-old, she’s not seven.

In her piece for Red White & Conservative, she feels the need to drive home the fact that she’s only seventeen four separate times, as if that were some sort of defense.

Now, I understand that much of the electorate is made up of low information voters who don’t closely follow politics. That’s fine — it’s not ideal, but it’s perfectly understandable.

But according to her school profile, Jackie is very politically involved. She is an intern with the Michigan Republican Party and is clearly excited and passionate about what her political “role model,” Former-Governor Palin, represents. And yet, when she cannot correctly identify one of Palin’s most basic political positions, she plays the victim and blames everybody but herself.


All I can say is that if Glenn Beck had heard me express my political views and then assumed that I was a thirteen-year-old, I would not lift the paper bag off my head for quite some time.

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