April 15, 2011 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

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The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

WWL Radio #104 TAXECUTION: W(ho)TF are they trying to Fool?

Friday, April 1st at 6pm EDT!

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PhotobucketThe Budgetary Boogie has gone Batshit Loonie…. I mean seriously Folks, wait until you hear some of the Foster Fun Fact I aly on you tonight about where the Money has gone and is still going.

Just over 45% of able Americans have JOBS, but what Taibbi calls “The Real Housewives of Wall Street” are swallowing huge swaths of our tax money along with their caviar and champagne. But remember? They’ve convinced us its the teachers fault…

Just Wow, man. Women have been thrown under the bus, racist profiling is spreading like (il) legal wildfire… we are blaming everything but the REAL pigs at the trough…

I have facts you just NEED to hear tonight, so join me!

Game On.

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The Confidence Fairies


How’s that Austerity thing working out for you again?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Pain of British Fiscal Cuts Could Inform U.S. Debate

By LANDON THOMAS Jr., The New York Times

Published: April 14, 2011

(I)n Britain, one year into its own controversial austerity program to plug a gaping fiscal hole, the future is now. And for the moment, the early returns are less than promising.

Retail sales plunged 3.5 percent in March, the sharpest monthly downturn in Britain in 15 years. And a new report by the Center for Economic and Business Research, an independent research group based here, forecasts that real household income will fall by 2 percent this year. That would make Britain’s income squeeze the worst for two consecutive years since the 1930s.

All of which has challenged the view of Britain’s top economic official, George Osborne, that during a time of high deficits and economic weakness, the best approach is to aggressively attack the deficit first, through rapid-fire cuts aimed at the heart of Britain’s welfare state.

(T)he big worry now is not tax rates. Instead, the fear is that Mr. Osborne’s emphasis on cuts in social spending – which aim to achieve an approximate budget surplus by 2015 and are likely to result in the loss of more than 300,000 government jobs – might tip the economy back into recession.

Already the government has had to slash its growth estimate to 1.7 percent, from 2.4 percent, for this year, as consumer incomes are under pressure from high inflation, weak wage growth and stagnant economic activity.

“My view is that we are in serious danger of a double-dip recession,” said Richard Portes, an economist at the London Business School. “This is going to be a cautionary tale.”

(note: dday mines some of the same territory.)

Goldman Sachs and Criminal Fraud

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Oh, wouldn’t this be lovely? Now lets see if Timmy and Bill can convince Eric that there is nothing to see here.

Goldman Sachs Misled Congress After Duping Clients, Levin Says

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) misled clients and Congress about the firm’s bets on securities tied to the housing market, the chairman of the U.S. Senate panel that investigated the causes of the financial crisis said.

Senator Carl Levin, releasing the findings of a two-year inquiry yesterday, said he wants the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine whether Goldman Sachs violated the law by misleading clients who bought the complex securities known as collateralized debt obligations without knowing the firm would benefit if they fell in value.

The Michigan Democrat also said federal prosecutors should review whether to bring perjury charges against Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other current and former employees who testified in Congress last year. Levin said they denied under oath that Goldman Sachs took a financial position against the mortgage market solely for its own profit, statements the senator said were untrue.

Goldman criticised in US Senate report

By Tom Braithwaite in Washington and Francesco Guerrera and Justin Baer in New York,

Financial Times

April 14 2011 00:15 | Last updated: April 14 2011 00:15

US Senate investigators probing the financial crisis will refer evidence about Wall Street institutions including Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to the justice department for possible criminal investigations, officials said on Wednesday.

Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the powerful Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations, said a two-year probe found that banks mis-sold mortgage-backed securities and misled investors and lawmakers.

“We will be referring this matter to the justice department and to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission),” he said. “In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled Congress.”

Last year, Goldman paid $550m to settle SEC allegations that it defrauded investors in Abacus, a complex security linked to subprime mortgages.

Naming Culprits in the Financial Crisis

By Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story

New York Times

A voluminous report on the financial crisis by the United States Senate – citing internal documents and private communications of bank executives, regulators, credit ratings agencies and investors – describes business practices that were rife with conflicts during the mortgage mania and reckless activities that were ignored inside the banks and among their federal regulators.  

The 650-page report, “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse,” was released Wednesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations…

…The result of two years’ work, the report focuses on an array of institutions with central roles in the mortgage crisis: Washington Mutual, an aggressive mortgage lender that collapsed in 2008; the Office of Thrift Supervision, a regulator; the credit ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service; and the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

“The report pulls back the curtain on shoddy, risky, deceptive practices on the part of a lot of major financial institutions,” Mr. Levin said in an interview. “The overwhelming evidence is that those institutions deceived their clients and deceived the public, and they were aided and abetted by deferential regulators and credit ratings agencies who had conflicts of interest.”

More on the movie, “The Town”–No Sympathy for Doug or Claire:

Please note:  this post was cross-posted from firefly-dreaming.com.

Lately, I’ve had both Claire, the bank manager, whose bank was robbed, and Doug MacRay, a lifelong Charlestown resident who was the leader of the four-man Townie gang who’d robbed Claire’s bank, wearing Hallowe’en masks and ninja outfits, forced her to open the safe at gunpoint, and then took her as a hostage by driving her to a beach in Boston after blindfolding her to  make sure she didn’t see anything, and then forcing her to walk on the beach until she felt the water on her toes, on my mind a great deal, for some reason.    They let her go, physically unharmed, although rather traumatized by the whole incident, which included “Jem’s” near-fatal beating of Claire’s assistant manager, and Claire ends up quitting her job as the bank manager, as a result.  

Ironically, one is supposed to root for Doug MacRay for ultimately having outwitted the FBI and gotten away, at least in part due to being tipped off by Claire, but, unlike many people, I have not been able to do that.  Doug is clearly not the nice guy that he comes across as, even though he came from a dysfunctional family (his mother ran off when he was about six years old and, ten years later, when Doug was a teen, his father was sent to prison to serve a lifetime sentence for bank robbery and murder) and grew up in a rough and tough neighborhood.  He’d had a chance, as a young man,  at around 20, to turn his life around, by being a professional Hockey Player for the Bruins, and not end up like his father, but, due to his own arrogance, nastiness, cocky behavior, and fooling around with drugs and alcohol during his early twenties, he totally blew that chance, and went into the bank-robbing business, like his father.   At one point, he’d also gotten into a nasty fight with another guy on his own hockey team, thus getting him kicked out of the Bruins for good.  

Six In The Morning

As Bahrain stifles protest movement, U.S.’s muted objections draw criticism

By Joby Warrickand Michael Birnbaum, Friday, April 15,  

Two months after the eruption of mass protests in Bahrain, the kingdom has largely silenced the opposition, jailing hundreds of activists in a crackdown that has left the Obama administration vulnerable to charges that it is upholding democratic values in the Middle East selectively.

Bahrain’s monarchy, since calling in Saudi troops last month to help crush the protest movement, has been quietly dismantling the country’s Shiite-led opposition. On Friday, the Sunni government announced an investigation into the activities of Bahrain’s largest political party, the Shiite-dominated al-Wefaq, which could lead to its ban.

The Obama administration has repeatedly appealed to the Bahraini government for restraint, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week called for a political process that “advances the rights and aspirations of all the citizens of Bahrain.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.

–Pearl S. Buck

Pinks 3

Late Night Karaoke

Last Week’s Budget Crisis: Reality Check

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The House and Senate will put the finishing touches on last week’s budget crisis over the budget for 2011. While the President and the Republicans were busy in front of the cameras praising themselves for “victory”, the Congressional Budget Office was counting the “beans”. Remember the much publicized $38.5 billion in cuts? Well, it will only reduce the deficit by $352 million. That is less than 1% in claimed savings:

   The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would pare just $352 million from the deficit through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending. […]

   The CBO study confirms that the measure trims $38 billion in new spending authority, but many of the cuts come in slow-spending accounts like water-and-sewer grants that don’t have an immediate deficit impact.

As Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress notes budget cuts helped Obama save some programs from the worst cuts “the fact remains that the cuts will be harmful to the economy and to the people who depend on valuable social safety net programs that will have their budgets cut.”

There is also the damage by $8.4 billion cut from the State Department and foreign aid budgets, a 14% budget reduction, that will affect some “critical diplomatic tools”

[C]hopping off $122 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s operating expenses and more than $1.4 billion from the State Department’s Economic Support Fund may cost us the ability to help critical countries transition to democracy, including Egypt and Tunisia. Turning our back on such assistance now is particularly problematic given how vulnerable nascent democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as elsewhere, are to upheaval and violence.

It leaves military budget nearly intact so that any saving are wiped out by inflated defense spending”. The budget deal was suppose to cut $18.1 billion but Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for at least $540 billion for FY2011 and this budget deal funds DOD “just north of $530 billion” a figure that includes military construction.

That’s some victory, Barack.

Benedict Obama

Benedict Obama




Pacific salmon run helps shape Canada’s ecosystems

My Little Town 20110414: The Day I Set Myself on Fire

Those of you that read this irregular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, but since the topic is me, I hereby give myself permission to tell this story.  I am guessing that it happened either in 1961 or 1962, when I when I was either four or five years old.  I know that it was before I started school.

We lived in North Little Rock in 1962, because my father got transferred.  Interestingly, we lived across the street and three houses up from the Fischer Honey plant, quite a thing, but a topic for another time.

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