June 25, 2012 archive

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Moyers, Taibbi and Smith on Banks

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Contributing editor for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi and Yves Smith, creator of the finance and economics blog Naked Capitalism appeared with Bill Moyers on his PBS program, Moyers and Company to discuss How Big Banks Victimize Our Democracy.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s appearances in the last two weeks before Congressional committees – many members of which received campaign contributions from the megabank – beg the question: For how long and how many ways are average Americans going to pay the price for big bank hubris, with our own government acting as accomplice? [..]

Taibbi’s latest piece is “The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafia.” Smith is the author of ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism.

Full transcript

Bill Maher: Conservatives Are 14 Year Old Boys

Adapted fromThe Stars Hollow Gazette

Bill Maher Slams GOP: ‘You Act Exactly Like 14-Year-Old Boys’

Earlier this month, 14-year-old right-wing radio host Caiden Cowger was pulled from the airwaves after he said that Obama “is making kids gay.” On last night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the comedian was mostly amused by Cowger, but had harsher words for Cowger’s adult conservative counterparts. [..]

He also cited Jonathan Krohn, another conservative wunderkind who appeared on the scene at age 13 when he wrote the book “Define Conservatism.” [..]

Maher used as evidence the various controversial outbursts seen during the GOP presidential primaries, as well as a recent vote by House Republicans to block replacing styrofoam with more eco-friendly cardboard in federal cafeterias.

“Take that, knowing things!” Maher said, accusing the Republicans of being willfully ignorant bullies.

Real Time with Bill Maher 22 June 2012 New Rules

“When 14-year-old boys sound exactly like you do and can produce radio shows and books and speeches that sound exactly like yours, maybe you should rethink the shit that comes out of your mouth.

Remember the Republican debates we had this year? They applauded for the idea of letting a sick man without insurance die. Herman Cain got cheers for saying he’d electrify the border fence. They booed a gay man serving his country in the military. No wonder 14-year-old boys can do your act, you act exactly like 14-year-old boys. There’s no ideology here. It’s just about being a dick.

~Bill Maher~

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Soups That Taste Like Spring


I wanted comforting food this week that would showcase the wonderful late spring/early summer vegetables that are appearing in markets all over the country right now – great big bunches of chard with wide stems and lush leaves, tender leeks, the last of the fava beans, first of the green beans and the first of the summer squash, still small and delicate. I didn’t have a lot of time, and I wanted to make dishes that I could serve as the main dish for dinners throughout the week, so I did what the French do: I made soup.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Three-Bean Soup

White beans from the pantry and favas and green beans from the market are the basis of a beautiful and hearty dish.

Swiss Chard and Rice Soup

This is a simple and comforting soup that is especially delicious in the spring, when Swiss chard is at its sweetest and most tender.

Puréed Zucchini Soup With Curry

A little basmati rice contributes just the right amount of substance to this soup.

Fennel, Garlic and Potato Soup

A lighter, dairy-free version of vichyssoise, this anise-scented soup is good hot or cold.

Creamy Leek Soup

Adding dairy to this comforting soup would not be out of place, but it’s plenty satisfying without it.

On This Day In History June 25

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.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 25 is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 189 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1876, Native American forces led by Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeat the U.S. Army troops of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer in a bloody battle near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River.


In 1875, Sitting Bull created the Sun Dance alliance between the Lakota and the Cheyenne, a religious ceremony which celebrates the spiritual rebirth of participants. One had taken place around June 5, 1876, on the Rosebud River in Montana, involving Agency Native Americans who had slipped away from their reservations to join the hostiles. During the event, Sitting Bull reportedly had a vision of “soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky.” At the same time, military officials had a summer campaign underway to force the Lakota and Cheyenne back to their reservations, using infantry and cavalry in a three-pronged approach.

Col. John Gibbon’s column of six companies of the 7th Infantry and four companies of the 2nd Cavalry marched east from Fort Ellis in western Montana on March 30, to patrol the Yellowstone River. Brig. Gen. George Crook’s column of ten companies of the 3rd Cavalry, five of the 2nd Cavalry, two companies of the 4th Infantry, and three companies of the 9th Infantry, moved north from Fort Fetterman in the Wyoming Territory on May 29, marching toward the Powder River area. Brig. Gen. Alfred Terry’s column, including twelve companies of the 7th Cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s immediate command, Companies C and G of the 17th U.S. Infantry, and the Gatling gun detachment of the 20th Infantry departed westward from Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory on May 17. They were accompanied by teamsters and packers with 150 wagons and a large contingent of pack mules that reinforced Custer. Companies C, D, and I of the 6th U.S. Infantry, moved along the Yellowstone River from Fort Buford on the Missouri River to set up a supply depot, and joined Terry on May 29 at the mouth of the Powder River.

The coordination and planning began to go awry on June 17, 1876, when Crook’s column was delayed after the Battle of the Rosebud. Surprised and, according to some accounts, astonished by the unusually large numbers of Native Americans in the battle, a defeated Crook was compelled to pull back, halt and regroup. Unaware of Crook’s battle, Gibbon and Terry proceeded, joining forces in early June near the mouth of the Rosebud River. They reviewed Terry’s plan calling for Custer’s regiment to proceed south along the Rosebud, while Terry and Gibbon’s united forces would move in a westerly direction toward the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers. As this was the likely location of Indian encampments, all Army elements were to converge around June 26 or 27, attempting to engulf the Native Americans. On June 22, Terry ordered the 7th Cavalry, composed of 31 officers and 566 enlisted men under Custer, to begin a reconnaissance and pursuit along the Rosebud, with the prerogative to “depart” from orders upon seeing “sufficient reason.” Custer had been offered the use of Gatling guns but declined, believing they would slow his command.

While the Terry/Gibbon column was marching toward the mouth of the Little Bighorn, on the evening of June 24, Custer’s scouts arrived at an overlook known as the Crow’s Nest, 14 miles (23 km) east of the Little Bighorn River. At sunrise on June 25, Custer’s scouts reported they could see a massive pony herd and signs of the Native American village roughly 15 miles (24 km) in the distance. After a night’s march, the tired officer sent with the scouts could see neither, and when Custer joined them, he was also unable to make the sighting. Custer’s scouts also spotted the regimental cooking fires that could be seen from 10 miles away, disclosing the regiment’s position.

Custer contemplated a surprise attack against the encampment the following morning of June 26, but he then received a report informing him several hostile Indians had discovered the trail left by his troops. Assuming his presence had been exposed, Custer decided to attack the village without further delay. On the morning of June 25, Custer divided his 12 companies into three battalions in anticipation of the forthcoming engagement. Three companies were placed under the command of Major Marcus Reno (A, G, and M); and three were placed under the command of Capt. Frederick Benteen. Five companies remained under Custer’s immediate command. The 12th, Company B, under Capt. Thomas McDougald, had been assigned to escort the slower pack train carrying provisions and additional ammunition.

Unbeknownst to Custer, the group of Native Americans seen on his trail were actually leaving the encampment on the Big Horn and did not alert the village. Custer’s scouts warned him about the size of the village, with scout Mitch Bouyer reportedly saying, “General, I have been with these Indians for 30 years, and this is the largest village I have ever heard of.” Custer’s overriding concern was that the Native American group would break up and scatter in different directions. The command began its approach to the Native American village at 12 noon and prepared to attack in full daylight.


On dark weeks The Daily Show and The Colbert Report post video mash-ups.  This weeks are from The Daily Show and posted on 5/21.

On Topic – Division of Power – The Supreme Court 4:52

Ecclestone: I’m just a $3.2 BILLION Tax Cheater

Adapted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I’d never impugn Bernie except on the flimsiest of motives.  He’d never cheat a company of its assets by bribing a banker to sell them under market and structure the deal so the bank paid the bribe and Bernie got to put a $ million or three in his pocket for his trouble.

That would be unethical.

So we’ve been following the Gerhard Gribkowsky case since August 2011.

As you may recall it’s alledged that Bernie Ecclestone paid Gerhard a bribe of $44 Million so that the sale of the Kirsh Group’s interest in Formula One was not only below market value, but also so they would not participate in any profit sharing.  Bernie’s counter-contention was that it was merely an extortion payment to hide the fact that he and his wife were evading $3.2 BILLION in taxes on the family trust fund.

Well, Wednesday Gribkowsky admitted accepting the bribe in Court-

Ex-BayernLB Banker Admits Taking Bribe on Formula 1 Sale

By Karin Matussek, Business Week

June 20, 2012

Gribkowsky told the Munich Regional Court today the indictment against him was “in most parts” correct. He made his declaration after closed chamber negotiations between the court, prosecutors, and his defense lawyers. In exchange for his confession, the judges informally agreed Gribkowsky would get a prison term of 7 years and 10 months to 9 years, Presiding Judge Peter Noll said at the hearing.

Prosecutors last year charged Gribkowsky, who managed Munich-based BayernLB’s interest in Formula One, with accepting bribes, breach of trust and tax evasion. They claim he received $44 million in bribes to steer the sale of the bank’s 47 percent stake in the racing circuit to CVC, a U.K.-based buyout firm, and also agreed to a sham contract under which Ecclestone received a kickback. Until today, Gribkowsky denied the claims.

“It took me a long time to come to terms with what I have done and to admit even to myself: Yes, it was bribery and yes, I should have paid tax,” Gribkowsky said in his first comments to the court since the trial began in October. “Still today I have troubles accepting this as a reality.”

Ecclestone, who is being investigated by Munich prosecutors over the issue, has said he was caught up in a sophisticated shakedown and bribed Gribkowsky because he feared the banker might tell U.K. tax authorities about a family trust controlled by his then wife.

BayernLB’s 47 percent share was sold for 840 million euros ($1.07 billion). Ecclestone asked for a kickback of $100 million from BayernLB for his role in setting up the sale, Gribkowsky told the judges. Gribkowsky reduced the amount to $66 million in negotiations and said he agreed to it knowing he had the power to reject Ecclestone’s demand completely.

Because Ecclestone didn’t want cover the cost of the bribes, Gribkowsky set up another scam to funnel money from BayernLB to the Formula One executive, according to the indictment. The bank manager signed a sham contract under which BayernLB had to pay Ecclestone a kickback of $41.4 million and another $25 million to his then wife’s trust, prosecutors claim.

Banker Admits Formula One Bribe

By LAURA STEVENS and DAVID CRAWFORD, The Wall Street Journal

June 20, 2012, 5:15 p.m. ET

Mr. Gribkowsky was arrested early last year after Munich prosecutors launched a probe into allegations that he accepted bribes from Mr. Ecclestone to divest BayernLB’s stake in Formula One for far below the actual value.

BayernLB, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. secured a combined 75% equity stake in Formula One in 2002, part of a debt settlement plan from the bankruptcy of German media company Kirch Group.

F1 : Ecclestone in crisis as Gerhard Gribkowsky Formula 1 bribery affair develops


Friday, 22 June 2012 09:41

The reinvigorated Formula One bribery affair has raised questions not only about the viability of the sport’s planned floatation, but about whether Bernie Ecclestone will lose his job or even face jail in Germany.

“Will Ecclestone go to Hockenheim?” the Die Welt newspaper, obviously musing a potential arrest now that former Formula 1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky has confirmed the Formula 1 Chief Executive’s payments to him were indeed bribes, wondered.

German lawyer Sewarion Kirkitadze told Bild that Ecclestone ultimately face a prison sentence of “up to ten years”.

“He should also expect the prosecutor to prepare an international arrest warrant and an extradition request.”

Formula 1: Bernie Ecclestone Seeks Nothing Wrong in Paying Banker £28M

Auto Racing Daily

Jun 23, 2012

Bernie Ecclestone said that he had been “a bit stupid” to pay a German banker $44million (£28million) following the sale of Formula One to present owners CVC Capital Partners six years ago but insisted once again that he had done nothing wrong.

“I have always said that we gave him money but it was not for what he said,” said the 81 year-old, who appeared as a witness at the trial in November. “He was shaking me down a bit and saying I had control of a family trust which was not true. He was doing the best he could. I was a little bit stupid – normally I would have told him to get lost.” Telegraph.co.uk

Ecclestone, 81, told Reuters that Gribkowsky had been putting him under pressure over his tax affairs. He paid some 10 million pounds ($16 million) to the banker to “keep him quiet” and not as alleged to smooth the sale of the Formula One stake to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

Ecclestone puts brave face on Gribkowsky’s £28m bribe confession

David Tremayne, The Independent

Saturday 23 June 2012

As investment banker Gerhard Gribkowsky awaits sentence in Germany after confessing to taking a $44m (£28m) bribe, allegedly from Bernie Ecclestone, there has been inevitable speculation whether Ecclestone can escape being dragged further into the sport’s latest cause célèbre. It has already led to a delay in the proposed flotation of F1 in Singapore even though the $10bn (£6.4bn) valuation sought by rights holder CVC Capital Partners had been achieved by a recent sale of shareholdings to American investors.

Theoretically if somebody is found guilty of receiving a bribe then the person making the bribe can also be charged but, for Ecclestone, Valencia has been business as usual and he does not appear to have a care in the world. He blamed Gribkowsky for “shaking him down” while testifying at the Bavarian banker’s preliminary hearing, and his attorney Sven Thomas issued a statement after Gribkowsky’s confession claiming that it would have no impact on the prosecutors’ investigation into Ecclestone’s dealings.

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone faces fresh allegations over £28 million ‘bribe’

By Tom Cary, F1 Correspondent, The Telegraph

10:31PM BST 20 Jun 2012

If Munich’s state prosecutors decide to go after Ecclestone, sources have indicated they might try to agree a financial settlement rather than go through a lengthy and costly trial with a billionaire in his eighties.

Should they press charges, it remains unclear what action, if any, CVC will decide to take. Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph earlier this year that the private equity firm “could get rid of me tomorrow if it wanted to”.

These are extremely delicate times in the sport. CVC has sold more than £1.3billion worth of shares over the past few months ahead of a mooted flotation on the Singapore stock exchange later this year, although it says it intends to remain F1’s controlling shareholder. CVC declined to comment on Wednesday night.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Piccard and Dathon, at El-Adrel

Late Night Karaoke

Pique the Geek 20120624: Lithium, Primal and Essential

Lithium, the element with the atomic number (Z) of three, is as old as the universe.  It, along with hydrogen and helium, were formed at the time of the Big Bang, making it primal indeed, although much of the lithium that we encounter was synthesized in stars.

Lithium is much less common in the cosmos than it should be, and that is in part due to the fact that the two stable isotopes, 6Li and 7Li, are much less stable than many other light nuclei.  This might sound contradictory, but there is a property of atomic nuclei called binding energy per nucleon that measures the stability of nuclei.  Both stable isotopes of lithium have binding energies per nucleon lower than any other nuclei except for deuterium, tritium (which is radioactive), 3He, and of course hydrogen which has a zero binding energy because there are no neutrons to require binding.

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