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Mayor Bloomberg: ‘I Have My Own Army’

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 22:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


To the dismay of those who hope he’ll mount presidential campaign, Mayor Bloomberg began his speech last night by discussing why City Hall is just fine by him.

“I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world. I have my own State Department, much to Foggy Bottom’s annoyance. We have the United Nations in New York, and so we have an entree into the diplomatic world that Washington does not have,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

Shall we just call him King Bloomberg then?

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  1. …and I have my own exception to term limits…

Yes, Virginia. The banks really were bailed out.

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 21:23 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


Substantially all of the TARP funds advanced to banks have been paid back, with interest and sometimes even with a profit from sales of warrants. Most of the (much larger) extraordinary liquidity facilities advanced by the Fed have also been wound down without credit losses. So there really was no bailout, right? The banks took loans and paid them back.


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  1. There is no lie big enough that won’t be told by panderers to the powerful.

Man In Jet Suit Flies Between Two Fighter Jets

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 19:20 by Paul Jay in category: News

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Dutch Prime Minister Says ‘No Easy Solution’ for Crisis – WSJ.com

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 19:19 by Desiato in category: News

[Quote (NL Prime minister Rutte)]:

“We are an exporting nation, we are responsible for 625,000 jobs in the U.S. The U.S. is investing three times more in the Netherlands than you invest in Brazil, Russia, India and China put together.

Can y’all decode this for me? I’m having trouble understanding Rutte’s logic here.

Normally when you’re an exporting nation, you’re not exporting jobs–you export stuff, and take money from the other economy in return. Sure, there may be some jobs involved selling the stuff in the importing nation, but the value of those salaries is necessarily much smaller than the export value overall. So why is Rutte trumpeting the fact that the U.S. is (a) leaking money to the Netherlands on the trade balance sheet, and (b) leaking money to the Netherlands in investments that could be invested in the U.S.?

Honestly curious about other (realistic, not merely cynical) readings…

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  1. The U.S. is leaking money to everybody. You should see their balance of payments to China (something like $20 billion per month in 2010). Fortunately they also manufacture money in vast quantities. As long as their credit is good everyone’s laughing.

Everybody Out!

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 18:45 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


The UK is experiencing some of its worst disruption to services in decades as more than 2 million public sector workers stage a nationwide strike, closing schools and bringing councils and hospitals to a virtual standstill.
More than twenty unions are supporting the Wednesday 30 November protest over cuts to public sector pensions.

Department for Education figures suggest more than half (58%) of England’s 21,700 state schools are closed, with another 13% partly shut. In Scotland, 30 of the 2,700 council-run schools are believed to be open, says local authority body Cosla, while in Wales 80% of schools are shut. In Northern Ireland, three of the five education library boards have reported that over 50% of 1,200 schools are closed.

The government claim that the protest is a “damp squib” and that “those reforms are absolutely essential” and the strikes are “irresponsible, inappropriate and untimely”.

The right wing commentariat go further, calling the protesters “selfish and weak” and “a symptom of a culture in parts of the educational establishment that is quick to complain and slow to find solutions.”

On the other side, commenters say that “This government cancelled the tax on bankers’ bonuses. Instead it has brought in a nurses’, teachers’ and lollipop ladies’ tax. This is what the increase in pension contributions – around £1,000 a year for a nurse – really means. It is not paying for pensions but going straight to the Treasury to fill the hole left by the bonus tax.” and The 3.2% contributions hike is a tax on a workforce whose living standards have already been heavily squeezed by repeated pay freezes. Pensions aren’t a perk, but deferred pay. Protecting pay and conditions is what unions are for.

Channel 4 fact Check weighs in on whether the costs of public sector pensions are going up (answer: no) and the claim of Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury,: that the new deal will mean better pensions for many low and middle income earners. (answer: not really)

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Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 18:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


Critics of the Occupy Wall Street movement have complained that the protestors have no clear goals, so WE DON’T MAKE DEMANDS composed a list of 12 concrete, specific suggestions focusing on economic reform, stronger regulation, and closing loopholes.


For a very compelling essay on why OWS shouldn’t cave to the pressure to issue demands, get thee to J.A. Myerson:

The ultimate weakness of demands is their temporal limitation. A demand is essentially a statement of the conditions on which one will relent, and implying that relenting is possible casts the protest as temporary. In fact, Wall Street will permanently exert pressure on the government with ever-changing demands and campaigns and projects, and that is what Occupy Wall Street will have to do. The steadfast determination, the permanence implied in that word, Occupy, is not only the movement’s only hope for change – making people power a permanent countervailing force to wealth power – but also its good light. People like that this isn’t a weekend of protest and panels, that it operates, as it likes to chant, “All day, all week.” Demands would turn that chant into “All day, all week, Occupy Wall Street, until you do the following things,” which is an unattractive rallying cry, not to mention its scansion deficiency.

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  1. I haven’t read the linked articles, but the part quoted here doesn’t fully make sense to me. Suppose there were major concessions of the type that the average OWS protester seems to be interested in–limits on bank size, Glass-Steagal reinstated, higher tax rates on high incomes, campaign finance reform. Do you think the protest movement would survive? Who would still have the motivation and stamina to keep applying pressure in a way that’s so disruptive to the participants’ lives?

  2. Do you think the protest movement would survive?


  3. “You, you’re the elites, the ones with all the power, education, wealth, and privileges. You have allowed economic injustice to run rampant. We’re fed up with you. Fix it.”

How MIT Won Balloon Search-and-Rescue Challenge

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 17:17 by John Sinteur in category: News


When a child goes missing or a criminal is on the run, finding the best way to recruit others into helping your cause can mean the difference between life and death.

Now a contest between teams of scientists that hunted down balloons across the nation is revealing what the best strategies might be to mobilize a society.

In the competition, held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 10 red weather balloons were placed at different locations around the continental United States. Fifty to 100 contending teams were then challenged to be the first to locate them all for a prize of $40,000. According to DARPA, a senior analyst at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency characterized the problem as impossible using conventional intelligence-gathering methods.

The winner of the contest, a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), leveraged the power of the World Wide Web to find all the balloons in less than nine hours with the help of nearly 4,400 volunteers recruited from across the country about 36 hours before the competition began. They not only offered prize money to anyone who located a balloon, but also offered money to each go-between who helped relay knowledge about a balloon to MIT.

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Microsoft tempts with WinPho demo on… iPhone

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 15:13 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Microsoft


Microsoft has pieced together an HTML 5-based demo of its Windows Phone OS’ Metro user interface, giving iOS and Android users a taste of what life’s like on the other side.


If you’re an Android or iPhone user and fancy giving it a go, visit http://aka.ms/wpdemo from your handset’s browser. Let us know how you get on.

Very nice – first time I get to see bits of Metro. Looks like Microsoft came up with something good!

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Germany Cuts Off Its Nose (Joe Nocera column)

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 14:53 by Desiato in category: Commentary


Perhaps the worst of the policy errors during the post-World War I period was the insistence of the Allies that Germany pay war reparations — reparations that went far beyond anything that the defeated Germans could afford. As the victors, the Allies felt that it was only fair for Germany to pay for the terrible war it had waged, and they didn’t much care about whether such payments would cripple the German economy.


Today, it is Germany that is making policy moves that seem insane. Locked into their modern-day orthodoxies, German politicians look at Greece with something akin to contempt. Aid to Greece — aid that is given grudgingly, when it is given at all — must be accompanied by severe austerity measures, the Germans believe, because the Greeks need to learn how to live within their means, the way Germans do.


But if we — and [the Germans] — can’t stop obsessing about what is fair, we’re never going to get out of our current messes. The only thing that should matter is what works. Even if it means bailing out club med nations or underwater homeowners.

Nocera makes a good argument that we should not stay hung up on “what’s fair” to those who acted responsibly, but instead take a very long-term view of both the massive number of “under-water” homeowners in the U.S. and heavily indebted Eurozone countries. It’s worth reading entirely.

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  1. Unfortunately, blaming the poor/young/indigent/victim seems to be a character trait of grumpy old people. This is where the majority may be wrong.

“Carrier IQ is used to understand what problems customers are having with our network or devices so we can take action to improve service quality.”

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 11:37 by John Sinteur in category: Google


CarrierIQ, a data-logging software present on most new Android, Blackberry and Nokia phones, secretly records keystrokes, dialed numbers and text messages. It also can’t be turned off. Trevor Eckhart, the Android user who discovered and recorded it, labelled CarrierIQ a rootkit (you can read Eckhart’s further analysis here). CarrierIQ sent Eckhart a cease-and-desist letter (PDF here), but has since backed off. Eckhart’s findings confirm earlier rumors.

Don’t shake your fist at Google or Android for this one, blame the carriers instead.

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Sen. Joe Lieberman Asks Google For A ‘Report Blog As Terrorist’ Button

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 11:04 by Paul Jay in category: News


from the clicking-our-way-to-a-safe-and-secure-nation dept

Senator Joe Lieberman, taking a break from his usual schedule of trying to stamp out all things Wikileaks-related, returns to his old anti-terrorism stomping grounds, sending out a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, expressing his concern that not enough stuff is getting labeled “terrorism.”

He bases his request on the old “because someone did something once” argument that has served the DHS and TSA so well. (See also: “See something. Say something.” because that one time a guy reported a vehicle with a bomb. See also: please remove your shoes and step into the Pornoscan because one time that guy tried to light his shoes on fire and that other time a guy had bomb-laced underwear.) Recent “lone wolf” terrorism suspect Jose Pimentel was, like so many other people in the world, a blogger. Lieberman apparently believes that the prevention of future acts of terrorism should be turned over to the blogosphere in the form of an option to “flag” a blog as containing “terrorist” content.

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Corporations Move To Censor The Internet

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 9:45 by Paul Jay in category: News

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  1. Great commentary by Sen. Wyden

Egypt imports 21 tons of tear gas from the US, port staff refuses to sign for it

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 7:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


The arrival of 7 and half tons of tear gas to Egypt’s Suez port created conflict after the responsible officials at the port refused to sign and accept it for fear it would be used to crackdown on Egyptian protesters.

The shipment has been moved by the ministry of interior to its Cairo storage facility, amidst strick and secretive security measures. Local reports say the staff, initially under investigation, have been spared investigation after having a discussion over the matter with their superiors.

Local news sites published documents regarding the shipment shows that the cargo that arrived in 479 barrels from the United States was scheduled to be delivered to the ministry of interior.

The reports also mentioned in the documents that a second shipment of 14 tons of tear gas was expected, making the total 21 tons, in one week.


We’ve seen an absolutely brutal assault by police and by the army on the demonstrators here, starting with an attack on a group of wounded from the original 18-day uprising. Since then, we’ve seen them using live ammunition of various kinds. We’ve seen them using thousands upon thousands of tear gas canisters. We’ve had over 3000 wounded. We’ve had over 38 killed. We’ve held them off. People are not willing to move because what they want, they know now they want and end to military government. They want it now.

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Man Sues Couple He Kidnapped

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 7:24 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


Something like that may have been in the mind of Jesse Dimmick, who sued Jared and Lindsay Rowley last month. Dimmick was convicted in May 2010 of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping, for a 2009 incident in which he held the Rowleys against their will for several hours. Dimmick was fleeing a murder charge in a stolen van when he drove over some spikes laid by Topeka police. The van came to rest in the Rowleys’ front yard, and Dimmick then invited himself in at knifepoint to enjoy some involuntary hospitality.

Patch Adams (the movie)This report doesn’t say how long the standoff lasted, but it was at least 115 minutes. "A neighbor told the Topeka Capital-Journal in September 2009 that the couple gained [Dimmick’s] trust by eating Cheetos and drinking Dr. Pepper with him while watching the movie ‘Patch Adams,’" the 1998 film in which Robin Williams earned a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of the unorthodox doctor/clown. Whether it was "Patch Adams" or just the passage of time that put Dimmick to sleep is unclear, but sleep he did and out the Rowleys went. The police then entered, and Dimmick was accidentally shot in the back while he was being subdued.

Various lawsuits followed. Dimmick sued the city of Topeka over the shooting, and (possibly because of the prospect that he might get money from that suit) the Rowleys sued Dimmick last September for trespass, intrusion and negligent infliction of emotional distress. That seems to have given Dimmick the idea to sue the Rowleys, and he brought a counterclaim against them for breach of contract.

You see, Dimmick alleges that, after breaking into the Rowleys’ home with a knife and gun, they all then sat down and hashed out a deal under which they would hide him from police (the police who were right outside) for an unspecified amount of money. "Later," he complained, "the Rowleys reneged on said oral contract, resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities." Ergo, breach of contract.

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How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word

Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 7:16 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


Around the conference room table were a dozen or so hedge- fund managers and other Wall Street executives — at least five of them alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), of which Paulson was chief executive officer and chairman from 1999 to 2006. In addition to Eton Park founder Eric Mindich, they included such boldface names as Lone Pine Capital LLC founder Stephen Mandel, Dinakar Singh of TPG-Axon Capital Management LP and Daniel Och of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC.

After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” — a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.

Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said.

The fund manager says he was shocked that Paulson would furnish such specific information — to his mind, leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information.

There’s no evidence that they did so after the meeting; tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn’t possible using public documents.

And law professors say that Paulson himself broke no law by disclosing what amounted to inside information.


“You just never ever do that as a government regulator — transmit nonpublic market information to market participants,” says Black, who’s a former general counsel at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. “There were no legitimate reasons for those disclosures.”

Janet Tavakoli, founder of Chicago-based financial consulting firm Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc., says the meeting fits a pattern.

“What is this but crony capitalism?” she asks. “Most people have had their fill of it.”

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