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Citigroup Whistle-Blower Says Bank’s ‘Brute Force’ Hid Bad Loans From U.S.

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 21:41 by Paul Jay in category: News


Four years after rotten mortgages helped trigger a global financial crisis, Sherry Hunt said her Citigroup Inc. quality-control team was still finding flaws in new loans that included altered tax forms, straw buyers and borrowers who listed fictitious employers.

Instead of reporting the defects to the Federal Housing Administration, the bank saddled the agency with losses by falsely declaring the loans fit for its federal insurance program, according to a complaint filed yesterday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. Citigroup agreed to pay $158.3 million to settle the claims, and admitted that it certified loans for FHA backing that didn’t qualify.

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Daring Fireball: Mountain Lion

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 19:40 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


But this, I say, waving around at the room, this feels a little odd. I’m getting the presentation from an Apple announcement event without the event. I’ve already been told that I’ll be going home with an early developer preview release of Mountain Lion. I’ve never been at a meeting like this, and I’ve never heard of Apple seeding writers with an as-yet-unannounced major update to an operating system. Apple is not exactly known for sharing details of as-yet-unannounced products, even if only just one week in advance. Why not hold an event to announce Mountain Lion — or make the announcement on apple.com before talking to us?

That’s when Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.

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  1. High order bit: they’re not calling it OS X Maru. Aw.

    (The next one can’t be Maru either, cos what would you do after that?)

Italy to End Tax Breaks on Church Enterprises, Monti Says

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 17:53 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


Prime Minister Mario Monti plans an amendment to an Italian law that will force the Catholic Church to pay taxes on all its commercial properties, according to a statement posted late yesterday on the government’s website.

The church currently pays property tax only on buildings designated as “purely commercial,” based on an Italian law originating 20 years ago and extended in 2006. The wording is ambiguous when it comes to clinics that have a chapel or monasteries that offer bed and breakfast accommodation.

The Catholic Church owns about 100,000 properties in Italy, a third of which are commercial, according to the Italian Radical Party, which historically has challenged the church.

Italy would gain an additional 100 million euros ($130 million) from increasing levies on the church to include all its commercial property, Paolo Berdini, an urban planner and consultant for local administrations, said in an interview last month.

I am so happy the Italians managed to elect… oh, wait.

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  1. As you should know, in the Netherlands churches, mosques and synagogs don’t pay any tax (ozb) on their buildings either. Although the rule is “unless used for religious practices for at least 70%”, all catholic churches are freed of this tax. Even churches that are mostly used as ‘museum’ (The Old and New Churche in Amsterdam for example). Any religious organisation is considered an ‘institute of general interest and use’ so they don’t pay any gift- or inheritance tax. ‘Extraordinary education’ is the dutch name for religious schools. They are equally state funded, like public schools, but privately organised. Never forget: apartheid is a very delicate dutch word.

  2. As much as I’m against religion, I guess there is something else here at stake. When I’ve been to Italy, I’ve seen fine old churches closed down, deteriorating, already! I’m afraid the increased taxes on the Catholic Church would not accomplish anything where it should, but lead to a lot of old history being destroyed, sold out and rebuilt.

Military rape

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 17:43 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. John, I’m only seeing a black box. I don’t have anything blocked.

  2. Try at this link

  3. Seems that Liz Trotta’s brain has been raped “too much.” Too bad the rest of her body has not suffered that most vial of human indignation. But hope springs eternal.

Wall not found

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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MPAA: Ripping DVDs Shouldn’t Be Allowed Because It Takes Away Our Ability To Charge You Multiple Times For The Same Content

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 15:50 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


If the MPAA stopped there, it would be crazy enough… but no, in the mind of Hollywood, they have to take it even further. They claim that because the ability to rip your DVD might take away their ability to keep charging you for the same content over and over again, that it goes against the purpose of copyright law. Seriously. They’re actually claiming that their ridiculous “windows” are “new business models” that copyright law is designed to encourage:

In fact, granting PK’s proposed exemption would be directly counter to the purpose of
this rulemaking. It would undermine emerging business models that increase access to creative
works in precisely the manner Congress intended the DMCA to promote.

But that’s pure bullcrap. The business models in question do not “increase access.” They increase the ways in which you can pay. If they want to increase access, they would let you rip your damn movie.

It is clear that access controls have increased consumers’ options with respect to
motion pictures in digital formats. The Register should not interfere with that progress. Instead,
she should endorse it.

Up is down, black is white, day is night. Controls have increased consumer options? No freaking way. Controls have limited options… but have allowed the MPAA studios to set up tollbooths and charge people multiple times for content they legally had purchased the rights to.

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Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 9:54 by Paul Jay in category: News

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20 Cats As Fonts

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 7:38 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Here are 20 fonts and the cats that clearly inspired them. This is a rare and important opportunity for cat fanciers and typophiles to find some common ground.

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Apple’s Size Clouds Market

Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 7:29 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


Earlier this month, Jonathan Golub, the chief U.S. equity strategy at UBS AG, caused a stir among his clients by publishing two versions of his regular quarterly earnings update: one for the companies that make up the S&P 500, and another for what he calls “S&P 500 ex-Apple.”

“In two and a half years, I haven’t got as much response as I did to that note,” Mr. Golub says.

Strategists at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital and Wells Fargo have done similar analyses recently to offset Apple’s impact.

The results are striking: For all the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, earnings are on track to post a 6.6% year-on-year rise in the fourth quarter. Once Apple’s earnings are factored out, the expected fourth-quarter gain shrivels to just 2.8%, according to UBS.


Of course, being who I am, I went home and built a spreadsheet to recalculate what would have happened if Dow Jones had decided to add Apple to the index instead of Cisco back in 2009. Imagine my surprise to see that the Dow be over 2000 points higher.

In real life, the Dow closed at 12,874.04 on Feb 13, 2012. However, if they had added Apple instead of Cisco, the Dow Jones would be at 14,926.95. That’s over 800 points higher than the all-time high of 14,164 previously set on 4/7/2008.

Can you imagine what the daily financial news of this country would be if every day the Dow Jones was hitting an all-time high? How would it change the tone of our politics? Would we all be counting the moments to Dow 15,000?

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