Saturday, October 31, 2009

Banking Bast_rds . . . .


McClatchy has released the first report on their five-month investigation into Goldman Sachs' activities during the lead up to the financial fiasco.

You will be amazed to find out that the politically well-connected investment firm has not been exactly squeaky-clean in their activities.

Or maybe not.

How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash
Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers

November 01, 2009 01:37:11 AM


WASHINGTON — In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.

Goldman's sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled the nation's premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies. Only later did investors discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk.

_______________


McClatchy's inquiry found that Goldman Sachs:


* Bought and converted into high-yield bonds tens of thousands of mortgages from subprime lenders that became the subjects of FBI investigations into whether they'd misled borrowers or exaggerated applicants' incomes to justify making hefty loans.


* Used offshore tax havens to shuffle its mortgage-backed securities to institutions worldwide, including European and Asian banks, often in secret deals run through the Cayman Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean that companies use to bypass U.S. disclosure requirements.


* Has dispatched lawyers across the country to repossess homes from bankrupt or financially struggling individuals, many of whom lacked sufficient credit or income but got subprime mortgages anyway because Wall Street made it easy for them to qualify.


* Was buoyed last fall by key federal bailout decisions, at least two of which involved then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former Goldman chief executive whose staff at Treasury included several other Goldman alumni.


The firm benefited when Paulson elected not to save rival Lehman Brothers from collapse, and when he organized a massive rescue of tottering global insurer American International Group while in constant telephone contact with Goldman chief Blankfein. With the Federal Reserve Board's blessing, AIG later used $12.9 billion in taxpayers' dollars to pay off every penny it owed Goldman.



Read the whole article and watch your blood pressure rise while you think about how many Goldman alumni have been and still are in very powerful positions in Washington.

Sleep well . . . .


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Citizen Hero Recognized . . . .


UPDATED
: CBC's The Current audio here. (Paul Pritchard, 1st segment)


The citizen hero who filmed Robert Dzianski's violent death was properly recognized for his responsible and commendable actions.

Per the CBC today:

Man who shot Dziekanski video gets journalism award
By CBC News |
October 28, 2009


The man who used a digital camera to record the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport says he feels guilty he didn't try to help the Polish immigrant even though others honoured his actions Tuesday with a citizen-journalism award.

The man who used a digital camera to record the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport says he feels guilty he didn't try to help the Polish immigrant even though others honoured his actions Tuesday with a citizen-journalism award.

Dziekanski, 40, died Oct. 14, 2007, following several shocks from a Taser four RCMP officers used to subdue him after he caused a disturbance.

The incident might never have received much attention if Paul Pritchard had not decided to grab his digital camera and start recording the actions of the distraught Dziekanski before police arrived.

_______________


After the incident, Pritchard, who was on his way
to his family's home in Victoria and had been waiting in the international arrivals lounge at the time, handed his video over to the RCMP to use in their investigation. The police promised it would be returned in 48 hours.

But when the RCMP's public statements about the incident conflicted with what Pritchard and other witnesses said they saw, Pritchard demanded the RCMP return the video so that he could release it to the public.


When the police refused, saying releasing the video would compromise their investigation, Pritchard hired a lawyer, held a news conference and threatened to use legal action to get it back.

Th
e release of the 10-minute video, which contradicted the police version of the incident, led to widespread public outrage around the world and diplomatic tensions between Canada and Poland. It also resulted in the deepest scrutiny of the RCMP in decades in the form of a special inquiry into the incident, led by retired British Columbia Appeal Court Justice Thomas R. Braidwood.

Citizen journalism award

On Tuesday evening in Toronto, Pritchard's work in documenting what happened and waging a legal battle against the RCMP for the release of his video was honoured by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

The organization gave Pritchard its first-ever award for citizen journalism, which recognizes the contributions of ordinary people in the field of journalism.

_______________


"I don't consider myself a hero, and to be honest, I'm not completely happy with the fact that I did that," said Pritchard. "Maybe instead of grabbing a camera, I could have gone and talked to him.

"If I feel I did something wrong, or feel I didn't do enough, I think the effort I put in afterwards is enough for me to live with that ? I did everything I possibly could do."


Personally, I consider Paul a hero for what he did.

Without his responsible actions, the whole affair would have been swept under the proverbial rug . . . .


Monday, October 26, 2009

Bedpans or Bombs? Decisions, Decisions . . . .

Wow!

With savings like this nearly 20 more wars could be funded.

Maybe a debate between Big Pharma/Big Insurance and the Military/Industrial Complex is in order.

Let the campaign donations begin . . . .


Inching Forward ? ? ? ?


At least Harry Reid hasn't erected a road block to a public option.

Per Newsweek this afternoon:

Reid's Public Option: Not Exactly A Shoo-in

Monday, October 26, 2009 4:15 PM

By Katie Connolly

It wasn't long ago when pundits were calling time of death on the public option. But today, in a move that seemed almost inconceivable back in August, Harry Reid has announced that the bill he plans to take to the Senate floor will contain a public option. His version will be an "opt-out" public plan, which allows states to prevent their residents from participating it. It's not a version that entirely satsifies progressives, who'd be happier with a robust, openly accessible plan. But it's a far cry from Max Baucus's plan, which relied on co-ops rather than a public plan to induce the competition President Obama so desires.

It's unclear why Reid decided on this model, over an opt-in model or a trigger, for example. It probably has something to do with pressure from the likes of Chuck Schumer, and assurances from folks like Jay Rockerfeller that liberals would support him. Reid also said at his press conference this afternoon that he has the backing of the White House, quashing rumors (for now....) that the Administration prefers a trigger option. But there are a few key people who don't appear to support the idea. First and foremost, Olympia Snowe, who's had almost unparalleled influence of the Senate bill so far. Without her, Reid needs every single one of his 60 votes and it's far from certain that Blanche Lincoln or Ben Nelson would support it.

You can watch Reid's presser here.

Now let's see if the White House and the rest of the dems step up to the plate and push for it.

Jury's still out on both at this point . . . .


Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Hope and Change." Right . . . .

Stuff like this is really pissing me off.

From The Huffington Post yesterday:

Leaderless: Senate Pushes For Public Option Without Obama's Support
HuffPost | 10-24-09

President Barack Obama is actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform. In its place, say multiple Democratic sources, Obama has indicated a preference for an alternative policy, favored by the insurance industry, which would see a public plan "triggered" into effect in the future by a failure of the industry to meet certain benchmarks.

The administration retreat runs counter to the letter and the spirit of Obama's presidential campaign. The man who ran on the "Audacity of Hope" has now taken a more conservative stand than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), leaving progressives with a mix of confusion and outrage. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have battled conservatives in their own party in an effort to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Now tantalizingly close, they are calling for Obama to step up.

_______________



On Thursday evening, after taking the temperature of his caucus, Reid told Obama at a White House meeting that he was pushing a national public option with an opt-out provision. Obama, several sources briefed on the exchange, reacted coolly.

"He certainly didn't embrace it and he seemed to indicate a preference for continuing to work on a strategy that involved Senator Snowe and a trigger," said one aide briefed on the meeting. Several other sources, along with independent media reports, confirmed the exchange.

_______________


It is not philosophical, one White House aide explained, but is a matter of political practicality. If the votes were there to pass a robust public option through the Senate, the president would be leading the charge, the aide said. But after six months of concern that it would be filibustered, the bet among Obama's aides is that Reid is now simply being too optimistic in his whip count. The trigger proposal, said Democratic aides, has long been associated with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

_______________


Advocates of a public option largely consider a "trigger" the equivalent of no public option at all . . . . "The current state of our health system should be trigger enough for anyone who's paying attention," said a congressional aide in the middle of the health care battle. "The American people pulled the 'trigger' in November."


If Obama is going to renege on promises he made in his campaign, what exactly is the "change" he advocated? Change of party, yes, but no substantial change of policies as of yet.

He's the president, fer krissakes! Should he not be the one making the decisions and not his chief of staff?!? Listening to rahm emanuel and "Queen Olympia" is not what the USian voters wanted when they elected the man president. A strong public option in health care legislation should be the minimum he demands his party's Congress do. It's the least he can do since he took the only real reform of Single Payer off the table as soon as he got the office.

If you still vote in the US you might want to contact the White House with your thoughts. Apparently, people in the administration are becoming as much or more a barrier to reform than is Congress. You can email them here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

It may be time to change the slogan from "Hope and Change" to "Despair and M.O.T.S.*" . . . .

* More of the Same

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Climate Action on Cambie Bridge . . . .

Vancouver turned out in force for climate action today.

Yours truly was there with thousands of others.

We looked for you, Lady Alison and RossK - Hope you made it.

Some pics in case you didn't make it:







How embarrassing!
For a moment there I thought I was
in Mississippi or Arkansas . . . .








Let's hope stevie harper is paying attention.

Bets, anyone ? ? ? ?


Friday, October 23, 2009

Step Right Up . . . .

Need more exercise?




Sweden and Volkswagen have an entertaining way to get it . . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

M & M . . . .



Matt and Michael are getting a bit impatient.





Is there a "movement" stirring?









One can only hope . . . .







Fire Up . . . .









Whoopee!





The torch has been ignited in Greece.




Let the "Owelympics" commence!















What do we have here? A prelude to the "72 Virgins" narrative, perhaps?
















Did anyone else get a visual of The Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland"?







OK.

Maybe it was just me.





Well, at least BC's LINO*s will have excellent seats for the big event.

We paid enough for them . . . .


*
Liberal in Name Only

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What a Guy . . . .


Pale at A Creative Revolution brought this 86 year old guy from Maine to my attention. He's speaking out on the right for gays and lesbians to marry:




Hard to believe he's a life-long repuglican, isn't it?

Let's take his membership card away.

He doesn't belong there . . . .


You can read the full transcript here.)


Friday, October 16, 2009

repuglican "Must Have" Aps . . . .

Circum(cised)stantial Evidence ? ? ? ?

And I thought all the whackos lived in Florida. Look what we've got right here in BC, via CBC News:

Home circumcision of 4-year-old ends in conviction

Friday, October 16, 2009 | CBC News


A Vancouver-area father has been found guilty of negligence causing bodily harm after botching a home-circumcision attempt on his four-year-old son as part of a spiritual quest to make things right with God.

The bizarre case centred on a battle over the religious freedoms of the former Jehovah's Witness, who was trying to follow a literal interpretation of the Bible after a series of misfortunes hit his family.

During the trial, the B.C. Supreme Court heard that after a bad motorcycle accident in 2002 left both the man and his wife with brain injuries, he began the religious quest that eventually led him to believe that both he and son needed to be circumcised to celebrate Passover.


_______________


I'll spare you the graphic details of the attempt as you can view them in the original piece should you be so inclined.


_______________

Religious freedom argued

In court, the man's lawyer, Douglas Christie, argued the man's desire to fulfil his religious duty negated any criminal intent.

And in her ruling issued on Wednesday, Judge Marion Allan found the man not guilty on charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, saying the man did not seriously harm the boy and the razor blade was not used as a weapon.

But the judge also ruled the child could not have consented to the operation and the father should have known he needed a trained professional to perform it — especially given his own first-hand experience — and found him guilty of negligence causing bodily harm.

"Indeed his motivations could be characterized as selfish or even deluded insofar as he believed that he was unable to live in his home at Passover with any uncircumcised male, including his four-year-old son," wrote the judge in her ruling.

The man's lawyer is reportedly considering an appeal on constitutional grounds, and a sentence has yet to be handed down.


Amazing.

Freakin' amazing . . . .


Monday, October 12, 2009

"Take Off the Pajamas," You Lefties . . . .


Ya'll got all excited 'bout the prez comin' to the HRC dinner and makin' promises, didn't ya'?


Well, since you're part of what one White House advisor refers to as the "internet left fringe" ya' might wanna put the champagne and noisemakers away for a bit:



Partial transcript of Harwood:

Sure but If you look at the polling, Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the “internet left fringe” Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

No word as to who the "White House advisor" is, but perhaps he also advises stevie harper on fringe groups . . . . .

Glenn Greenwald has more.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Squid TV Coming to Your Tube ? ? ? ?

Are there no depths Goldman Sachs - or as Matt Taibbi refers to them: "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money" - will not go in the pursuit of power and $$$?

Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge has the story of GS' involvement in CanWest via financial and programming decisions. Amazing, but true:

Why Is Goldman Advising CanWest On Its Programming Line Up?

_______________

(Quoting from a Globe and Mail article):


Goldman Sachs sees no reason to revisit its arrangement with CanWest, which has been blessed by Canadian regulators, according to several sources close to the investment dealer.


To date, Goldman executives have not been invited into restructuring talks, a subject of considerable frustration at the investment bank, sources say. Financiers working with Goldman said that over the past year, the investment bank put forward programming ideas for the TV networks, and offered strategic advice on restructuring, but was ignored by CanWest management and its creditors.

One concept that’s been tossed around, but couldn’t move forward until CanWest recapitalization was set, would see Goldman Sachs provide programming and financial support to the conventional television network as part of a larger deal that reworks the entire ownership structure to more closely align all the TV holdings.


_______________


Earmuff time: why the fuck is Goldman even considered to provide "programming ideas and support?" Granted this is a case where the firm obviously has extensive and deep tentacle reach, however it is the biggest Canadian media company. And if Goldman can act with impunity to determine what the channel line up and who can and who can't be on TV, does this not raise a huge ethical problem straight out of modern version of "1984"? Although CNBC anchors can rest assured that if the Comcast deal does work out and they all end up jobless, there will be a willing home for them to spin their propaganda.

Also if this is true for CanWest, just where else does Goldman Sachs provide "programming idea" advice? Granted, the gullible audience does not care as it is brainwashed into the next massive paradigm, be it securitization part 2, or "buy, buy, buy any stock on the dips," in fact max out your credit cards just so you can own the next pets.com for the short period of time before even that is worth zero. After all, those fine TV people said so, compliments of Goldman's TV station content line up brigade.


My hope is that the Canadian public will pay attention to this chilling development in broadcasting. A friend of mine here whom I respect greatly in "all things Canadian" (and you know who you are) told me: "
Unfortunately, Canadians have lived with media concentration for so long we take it for granted."

I hope that's not the case . . . .


H/T Joylene


Thursday, October 01, 2009

The More Things Change . . . .


Since there is not a whole lot of current television programming that is worth the time to watch, recently I've been checking out DVDs from the local Vancouver Public Library. Yes, one of those "Socialist" organizations - Horrors!

At any rate, this week I've been re-viewing Series #1 of "The West Wing" from 1999. Now that was television - not the crap that passes today. The following audio clip is from an episode entitled "Take Out the Trash Day" in which C.J. Craig - the White House press secretary - is talking to parents of a young gay man who died from a hate crimes attack. C.J. is attempting to enlist the parent's support and presence at President Bartlett's signing of hate crimes legislation.


video


Ten years later not a whole lot has changed . . . .