November 28, 2011 archive

Viral Bank Fraud

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

$7.7 Trillion in unsecured loans to the Too Big To Fail Accounting Fraud Banks on which they generated $13 Billion profit from the float between their .01% (free) interest borrowing costs and the usurious amounts they charged their customers.

Which they promptly paid out in bonuses and dividends and didn’t use to deleverage the toxic waste they are still carrying on their books as assets at full fictional value instead of marking to market at the 50% discount it deserves.

Umm, this is not news.  It’s been blog reported for months now but perhaps this piece from Bloomberg with it’s fancy interactive graph will finally get it the attention it deserves.  I’ll note their headline is designed to minimize the amounts involved and point out the total-

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

Some reports from around the web-

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data. The banks spent $146.3 billion on compensation in 2010, or an average of $126,342 per worker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up almost 20 percent from five years earlier compared with less than 15 percent for the average worker. Average pay at the banks in 2010 was about the same as in 2007, before the bailouts.

Lobbying expenditures by the six banks that would have been affected by the legislation rose to $29.4 million in 2010 compared with $22.1 million in 2006, the last full year before credit markets seized up — a gain of 33 percent, according to, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, reported.

“Banks don’t give lines of credit to corporations for free,” he says. “Why should all these government guarantees and liquidity facilities be for free?”

In the September 2008 meeting at which Paulson and Bernanke briefed lawmakers on the need for TARP, Bernanke said that if nothing was done, “unemployment would rise — to 8 or 9 percent from the prevailing 6.1 percent,” Paulson wrote in “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010).

The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.


Crusader Rabbit, Crusader vs. the State of Texas- Episode 12 of 15

Depends on your definition of the word- ‘Deepens’

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Tax Mess Deepens

By LAURA SAUNDERS, The Wall Street Journal

NOVEMBER 26, 2011

The tax code is wondrous for investors. Not only is the top rate on long-term capital gains 15%, but investors also can time gains and losses to minimize tax. Also, up to $3,000 of long-term losses can be deducted against ordinary income from wages or other sources, which are taxed at up to a 35% rate. Unused losses carry over to future years.

The current top rate of 15% on long-term gains and dividends is a historic low, and a new 3.8% tax on net investment income is set to take effect in 2013 for many joint filers.

That tax will affect taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $250,000 or more (or $200,000 for single filers), and the levy applies to taxable interest, dividends, rents, some annuities, royalties and capital gains, including the sale of a house, after a $500,000 exclusion ($250,000 for single filers).

Sole proprietors and other businesses reporting on Schedule C of a personal return should check expanded write-offs that become less generous at the end of 2011.

One provision allows an immediate deduction for up to $500,000 of qualified costs, which can be for a car, truck, computer, desk, chairs or other equipment, as long as it is purchased and placed in service before the end of the year. Small retailers may deduct up to $250,000 in leasehold improvements under this provision.

Another provision, “bonus” depreciation, is also changing. A favorite use is to take a full write-off of SUVs over 6,000 pounds in the first year.

Despite rampant rumors, this area  (Estate and Gift Taxes) is expected to remain stable through the end of 2012. At that point, the estate tax is slated to snap back to its 2001 version, with a $1 million exemption per individual and a top rate of 55%.

That is far worse for taxpayers than current law, which has a gift- and estate-tax exemption of $5 million per individual and a top rate of 35%.

Separate from the $5 million gift-tax exemption, any taxpayer may give anyone up to $13,000 of cash or property a year, free of gift tax. So if Ed and Edna have three married children and six grandchildren, they could give away up to $312,000 per year free of tax. If the property isn’t cash, the giver’s cost basis carries over to the recipient.

In one twist, some taxpayers use this provision to forgive up to $13,000 of intrafamily loans a year. In another, a taxpayer may bunch up to five years of such annual gifts-$65,000 per donor-in one contribution to a “529 plan” that will be used for qualified education costs. The giver may withdraw principal free of penalty if needed.

On This Day In History November 28

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 28 is the 332nd day of the year (333rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 33 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1970, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” is released.

Air Force Academy Opens Space For Pagans

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Color me shocked. After the sexual harassment allegations and aggressive proselytizing toward non-Christians, the US Air Force Academy has decided that part of its duty in educating future officers is the teach them to defend the Constitution and that includes the First Amendment clause guaranteeing freedom of religion.

Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans

Cadets gather for the dedication ceremony of the Air Force Academy’s Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle worship center this spring. The center serves cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of “Earth-based.” (Jerilee Bennett / The Gazette / May 3, 2011)

Officials say an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship center underscores a commitment to embrace all religions.

Reporting from Colorado Springs, Colo.-

In the still of a cold November evening, a small gathering of pagans, led by two witches, begins preparations for the coming winter solstice. But these are not just any pagans, and this is not just any setting. They are future officers of the United States Air Force practicing their faith in the basement of the Air Force Academy’s cadet chapel.

Their ranks are slim. According to the academy’s enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected. [..]

Witches in the Air Force? Chaplain Maj. Darren Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy, sighs. A punch line waiting to happen, and he’s heard all the broom jokes. [..]

“We’re here to accommodate all religions, period,” Duncan says. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year’s 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.

“It is very nice to have our own space,” says Cadet 1st Class Nicole Johnson, a 21-year-old senior from Florida who became a pagan after entering the academy. [..]

In addition to providing worship space, new policy dictates that all cadets take courses in understanding the religions of those who may someday fall under their command. Recently he’s fielded calls from West Point and Annapolis about replicating the Air Force’s efforts. [..]

Back at the solstice preparations, with glue guns drawn and takeout pizza within easy reach, the pagan cadets decorated yule logs with bits of ribbon and glitter. Yule logs, whose ritual burning symbolizes faith in the reappearance of the sun, will be displayed alongside the Christmas trees and menorahs in next month’s crowded religious calendar at the academy.

And though Johnson acknowledges that her beliefs are often misunderstood, she says she has taken no serious grief from other cadets, save occasional questions about whether pagans dance naked (she doesn’t) or whether she can cast a spell on commanding officers (she wouldn’t even if she could).

Do as you will, but harm no one. Wiccan Rede

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

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

Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for. Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself.

–George Bernard Shaw


Late Night Karaoke

Pique the Geek 20111127: Chemical Bonds and Electronegativity

The way that atoms bond together to form molecules has been a question asked since scientists came to the consensus that atoms do indeed exist.  Work progressed rapidly after the turn of the 20th century from both theoretical and experimental breakthroughs.  To keep the discussion easy to visualize, we shall consider only diatomic molecules, but the concepts are good for any number of atoms.  One of the great advances was the development of the idea that chemical bonds can either be covalent, where each atom shares bonding electrons equally, or ionic, where one atom donates an electron to another atom entirely.

Actually, pure ionic bonds do not exist because all bonds have at least a little bit of covalent character.  Pure covalent bonds are common, common examples being the nitrogen and oxygen of the atmosphere.  There is a very cool way to predict where a particular bond falls in the covalent to ionic spectrum, and that is to use electronegativity values.

Two Thanksgivings plus Cookout

The main problem in having a cookout on an unseasonably warm November day is darkness.  Not natural light makes it hard to tell if the steaks are done.   The horses had a workout although the warm weather made them lazy.  The kids got ATV rides in the dark, which only added to their excitement and we retired to the campfire after two Thanksgivings.

So what is YAPMF and more.