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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

Matt Taibbi: Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Apparently Can't Remember Anything

from Rolling Stone:

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Apparently Can't Remember Anything
POSTED: November 27, 12:55 PM ET

Thank God for Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. If you're a court junkie, or have the misfortune (as some of us poor reporters do) of being forced professionally to spend a lot of time reading legal documents, the just-released Moynihan deposition in MBIA v. Bank of America, Countrywide, and a Buttload of Other Shameless Mortgage Fraudsters will go down as one of the great Nixonian-stonewalling efforts ever, and one of the more entertaining reads of the year.

In this long-awaited interrogation – Bank of America has been fighting to keep Moynihan from being deposed in this case for some time – Moynihan does a full Star Trek special, boldly going where no deponent has ever gone before, breaking out the "I don't recall" line more often and perhaps more ridiculously than was previously thought possible. Moynihan seems to remember his own name, and perhaps his current job title, but beyond that, he'll have to get back to you.

The MBIA v. Bank of America case is one of the bigger and weightier lawsuits hovering over the financial world. Prior to the crash, MBIA was, along with a company called Ambac, one of the two largest and most reputable names in what's called the "monoline" insurance business.

The monolines sell a kind of investment insurance – if you invest in a municipal bond or in mortgage-backed securities backed or "wrapped" by a monoline, you have backing in case the investment goes south. If a municipality defaults on its bond payments, or homeowners in a mortgage-backed security default on their mortgage payments, the investors in those instruments can collect from the monoline insurer. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/no-evidence-he-was-stoned-but-bank-of-america-ceo-brian-moynihan-apparently-doesn-t-remember-much-of-the-last-four-years-20121127

Ignoring the Global Warming Reality

from Consortium News:

Ignoring the Global Warming Reality
November 28, 2012

Even as the science – and reality – of global warming becomes painfully clear, some of the U.S. political/media class pretends it’s all a myth and that the important thing is to “drill, baby, drill.” But that rejection of empirical data is being challenged by international groups and grassroots movements, notes William Boardman.

By William Boardman

Based on the same publicly available scientific information, the World Bank issues a report calling for prompt action to ward off global warming, a coalition of the world’s largest investors calls on governments to act promptly to ward off global warming, the United Nations reports that greenhouse gas levels reached a new record – and 18 United States senators (nine from each party) write a letter to President Obama calling on him to approve expanded fossil fuel exploitation without regard for global warming.

At the same time, students at Harvard are voting to divest from fossil fuels, and grassroots groups from British Columbia to Palm Beach, Florida, to London are demonstrating in solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas, where that two months long non-violent direct action is aimed at stopping construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that is designed to set off “the biggest carbon bombon the planet” (the Canadian tar sands), amplifying the catastrophic impact of global warming.

On Nov. 18, thousands of demonstrators paraded around the White House, calling on the President to block the Keystone XL pipeline, only to get more coverage from Canadian media than American media, where little was heard from the mainstream that was busy pursuing the possible departure of Twinkies. (CNN was an exception.)

The current focal point for all these activities is the TransCanada construction project in East Texas, where the Tar Sands Blockade has been stepping up its tactics to slow the pipeline’s progress – or as UPI reports it: “Protests mar Keystone XL build in Texas” over a story that makes no effort to sort out facts from claims. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/11/28/ignoring-the-global-warming-reality/

Ray McGovern: The Humiliation of Bradley Manning

from Consortium News:

The Humiliation of Bradley Manning
November 28, 2012

Exclusive: The pre-trial hearing on Pvt. Bradley Manning’s court martial for leaking classified documents about U.S. government wrongdoing has turned up evidence that even Manning’s Marine jailers were worried about the controversy over his degrading treatment in their custody, reports ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

It is a bitter irony that Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, whose conscience compelled him to leak evidence about the U.S. military brass ignoring evidence of torture in Iraq, was himself the victim of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment while other military officers privately took note but did nothing.

That was one of the revelations at Manning’s pre-trial hearing at Ft. Meade, Maryland, on Tuesday, as Manning’s defense counsel David Coombs used e-mail exchanges to show Marine officers grousing that the Marines had been left holding the bag on Manning’s detention at their base in Quantico, Virginia, though he was an Army soldier.

At Quantico, Manning, who is accused of giving hundreds of thousands of pages of classified material to WikiLeaks, was subjected to harsh treatment. He was locked in a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell for 23 hours a day and was kept naked for long periods. His incarceration led the UN Rapporteur for Torture to complain that Manning was being subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

According to the e-mail evidence, the controversy over the rough handling of Manning prompted Quantico commander, Marine Col. Daniel Choike, to complain bitterly that not one Army officer was in the chain of blame. Choike’s lament prompted an e-mail reply from his commander, Lt. Gen. George Flynn, offering assurances that Choike and Quantico would not be left “holding the bag.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/11/28/the-humiliation-of-bradley-manning/

Private Prison Company Used in Drug Raids at Public High School

PR Watch / By Beau Hodai

Private Prison Company Used in Drug Raids at Public High School
Corrections Corporation of America used in drug sweeps of public school students in Arizona.

November 28, 2012 |

In Arizona an unsettling trend appears to be underway: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.

Trick or Treat

At 9 a.m. on the morning of October 31, 2012, students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande were settling in to their daily routine when something unusual occurred. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/private-prison-company-used-drug-raids-public-high-school

Drought-Parched Mississippi River Is Halting Barges

(Bloomberg Businessweek) Mississippi River barge traffic is slowing as the worst drought in five decades combines with a seasonal dry period to push water levels to a near-record low, prompting shippers to seek alternatives.

River vessels are cutting loads on the nation’s busiest waterway while railroads sign up new business and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers draws criticism from lawmakers over its management of the river, which could be shut to cargo from companies including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) next month.

“Our shippers are looking at alternate modes of transportation,” said Marty Hettel, senior manager of bulk sales for AEP River Operations, the barge unit of American Electric Power Co. (AEP), a utility owner based in Columbus, Ohio. “If you’re shipping raw materials to a steel mill in Chicago, you’re trying to figure out if you can go to Cincinnati or Louisville, Kentucky, unload it out of the barge and rail it up to the steel mill.”

The worst U.S. drought since 1956, which dried farmland from Ohio to Nebraska, will last at least through February in most areas, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. Barges on the Mississippi handle about 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports entering the Gulf of Mexico through New Orleans, as well as 22 percent of its petroleum and 20 percent of its coal. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-27/drought-parched-mississippi-river-is-halting-barges

Toronto: TTC signs up for Presto fare card

from the Toronto Star:

TTC signs up for Presto fare card
Published on Wednesday November 28, 2012

Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

A Presto reader is displayed in one of the new streetcars that are currently in testing before their introduction onto downtown streets. Using the fare card eliminates the need to pass by a driver on entering the vehicle, making it possible for a crowd of passengers to board quickly using all four doors.[/font]

It’s the master agreement that hasn’t grabbed the headlines or divided Toronto City Council. But this one will have a more immediate impact on TTC riders.

Along with an agreement among the city, TTC and Metrolinx governing the construction of four new Toronto LRTs, city and provincial officials will sign another document Wednesday morning. This one binds the TTC to the provincial Presto fare card.

Putting Presto on the TTC was a condition of the province’s $8.4 billion in funding for the LRTs.

It has been long awaited by municipalities in the region who installed it in the hopes of providing their residents with a seamless commute across the boundaries that govern area transit systems. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/article/1294003--ttc-signs-up-for-presto-fare-card

Canada set to vote against UN recognition of Palestinian statehood

[font size="1"]Palestinians hold pictures of Prime Minister Stephen Harper superimposed with a face of a dog during a protest in Ramallah, Wednesday.[/font]

A bid for UN recognition of a state of Palestine is a last-ditch attempt to rescue troubled Mideast peace efforts, a Palestinian spokeswoman said Wednesday, rejecting Israel’s charge that it is an attempt to bypass negotiations.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, urged the U.S. to drop its opposition to the bid, dismissing Washington’s stance as “pathetic” and harmful to American interests in the region. The Palestinians have come under intense pressure from the U.S., Britain and others to modify the bid but “have not succumbed,” she said.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but still controls most access.

The Palestinians expect some two-thirds of the General Assembly’s 193 members will accept Palestine as a non-member observer state. The U.S., Israel, Canada and a few others are opposed. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1294290--canada-set-to-vote-against-un-recognition-of-palestinian-statehood

Starbucks Gone Wild !!!!

Would you pay $7 for a single cup of coffee? Starbucks is banking on it. The chain recently introduced its most expensive coffee ever, Costa Rica Finca Palmilera, in 48 of its U.S. stores. Half of those stores are in Seattle.

Costa Rica Finca Palmilera is made from a rare coffee variety called Geisha, which is found in Central America and is famously difficult to cultivate. In addition to the $7 cups, Starbucks offers eight-ounce bags for $40. Made with Clover brewing machines, the stuff is only available in stores (sorry, drive-through customers).

Leslie Wolford, a green coffee specialist for Starbucks, talked up the coffee at a tasting event at a Seattle location. She described the taste as having the following attributes: "A little bit of pineapple. Herbal complexity. Super-clean. Vibrant. Sparklingness. ... Lush, tropical, hints of white, not yellow, peach."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Seattle's Big Blog writes that the coffee, which is part of Starbucks' limited-edition, specialty "Reserve" line, is already proving popular. An online offering on Starbucks' website, although slightly different from the product sold in stores, sold out in 24 hours. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/starbucks-7-dollar-coffee_n_2204805.html

Keiser Report: God Hates Bankers

Published on Nov 27, 2012 by RussiaToday

In this episode, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the water and fire signalling the arrival of the paper apocalypse as ever more analysts warn of the debt and credit bubble as governments put their faith in share traders who, a new study shows, are more manipulative than psychopaths. In the second half, Max Keiser talks to professor and economist, Steve Keen, about the fiscal cliff and private sector deleveraging. They also discuss the possibility of a currency collapse in Japan.

Subprime Students: How Wall Street Profits from the College Loan Mess

from the American Prospect:

Subprime Students: How Wall Street Profits from the College Loan Mess

Tamara Draut
November 16, 2012

The entire student loan pipeline—now the largest source of “aid”—is fueled, serviced, and collected by Wall Street.

Five years after Wall Street crashed the economy by irresponsibly securitizing and peddling mortgage debt, the financial industry is coming under growing scrutiny for its shady involvement in student loan debt.

For a host of reasons, including a major decline in public dollars for higher education, going to college today means borrowing—and all that borrowing has resulted in a growing and heavy hand for Wall Street in the lending, packaging, buying, servicing, and collection of student loans. Now, with $1 trillion of student loans currently outstanding, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of the same problems found in the subprime mortgage market—rapacious and predatory lending practices, sloppy and inefficient customer service and aggressive debt collection practices—are also cropping up in the student loan industrial complex.

This similarity is especially striking in the market for private student loans—which currently make up $150 billion of the $1 trillion of existing student loans.

As detailed in a July 2012 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Department of Education, private student loans mushroomed over the last decade, fueled by the very same forces that drove subprime mortgages through the roof: Wall Street’s seemingly endless appetite for new ways to make profit. In this case, investor demand for student loan asset backed securities (SLABS) resulted in private student lenders—primarily Sallie Mae, Citi, Wells Fargo, and the other big banks—to relax lending standards and aggressively begin marketing these loans directly to students. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://prospect.org/article/subprime-students-how-wall-street-profits-college-loan-mess

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