Thursday, August 30, 2007


Nearly a month of 110 or more in Phoenix - Yahoo! News: "Phoenix reached a shoe-melting, spirit-crushing milestone Wednesday: 29 days of temperatures 110 degrees or higher in a single year. The previous record of 28 days was set in 1970 and matched in 2002, according to the National Weather Service. The streak is enough to vaporize any humor left in the phrase 'It's a dry heat.' The average number of days 110 or higher in a given year is 10. 'It's a dry heat because we're in a desert!' Ollie Lewis said as she walked to a bus stop in downtown Phoenix. Austin Jamison, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said an oven produces dry heat, too. 'You can put your head in the oven, but that's not comfortable.'"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daily Kos: Obama's radical proposals on mortgages

Daily Kos: Obama's radical proposals on mortgages: "The intro pulls no punches, and is very heartening to me - not because it's good news that a 'devastating' financial crisis is likely, but because it is, as far as I can tell, the first acknowledgement by a senior politician anywhere of the gravity of what's unfolding. If you read my diaries, you may have noted that I personally think that the financial crisis will be massive, and I also note how important it is that Democrats put the blame properly where it belongs, i.e. in the feudalistic, class warfare economic policies of the right, which use massive debt (borne by the poor) to hide the capture of an increasingly large share of the economic pie by the ultra rich. The first step is to not deny the economic realities, and to speak up against that wall of debt, and it is good to see Obama making that step clearly."

Monday, August 27, 2007


Broadsheet: Women's Articles, Women's Stories, Women's Blog - "Police: Woman raped, witnesses do nothing Minnesota police report that a security camera caught a 26-year-old woman being beaten and raped for over an hour in the hallway of an apartment building. What's more, the security footage shows at least 10 neighbors peeking out of their apartments and venturing down the hallway to investigate the commotion -- but no one intervened. The police were finally called nearly 90 minutes into the attack, reports the Star Tribune. (One man claims to have called the police when the alleged victim knocked on his door, asking for help; they have no record of his call.) When police arrived, they found Rage Ibrahim, 26, lying in the hallway with the alleged victim. By then the woman was unconscious and had scratches on her face and blood on her thigh."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Whistleblowers on Fraud Facing Penalties -

Whistleblowers on Fraud Facing Penalties -
"Most of the lawsuits are brought by former employees of giant firms. Some plaintiffs have testified before members of Congress, providing examples of fraud they say they witnessed and the retaliation they experienced after speaking up.
Julie McBride testified last year that as a 'morale, welfare and recreation coordinator' at Camp Fallujah, she saw KBR exaggerate costs by double- and triple-counting the number of soldiers who used recreational facilities. She also said the company took supplies destined for a Super Bowl party for U.S. troops and instead used them to stage a celebration for themselves.
'After I voiced my concerns about what I believed to be accounting fraud, Halliburton placed me under guard and kept me in seclusion,' she told the committee. 'My property was searched, and I was specifically told that I was not allowed to speak to any member of the U.S. military. I remained under guard until I was flown out of the country.'"

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Now we know who and why

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Now we know who and why: "In a clear sign that the credit crunch is still affecting the nation's largest financial institutions, the Federal Reserve agreed this week to bend key banking regulations to help out Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC), according to documents posted Friday on the Fed's web site.

The Aug. 20 letters from the Fed to Citigroup and Bank of America state that the Fed, which regulates large parts of the U.S. financial system, has agreed to exempt both banks from rules that effectively limit the amount of lending that their federally-insured banks can do with their brokerage affiliates. The exemption, which is temporary, means, for example, that Citigroup's Citibank entity can substantially increase funding to Citigroup Global Markets, its brokerage subsidiary. Citigroup and Bank of America requested the exemptions, according to the letters, to provide liquidity to those holding mortgage loans, mortgage-backed securities, and other securities.

So, how serious is this rule-bending? Very. One of the central tenets of banking regulation is that banks with federally insured deposits should never be over-exposed to brokerage subsidiaries; indeed, for decades financial institutions were legally required to keep the two units completely separate. This move by the Fed eats away at the principle."

Top Swiss banker attacks US lending standards as 'unbelievable' - Telegraph

Top Swiss banker attacks US lending standards as 'unbelievable' - Telegraph: "Switzerland's top banker has warned of massive losses from the unfolding credit crisis, describing the collapse in US lending standards as 'unbelievable'. Jean-Pierre Roth, president of the Swiss National Bank, said market turmoil was far from over as tremors from the sub-prime debacle continued to rock the world. 'We're certainly not at the end of the story. There are question marks surrounding the development of the American economy,' he said. 'Something unbelievable happened. People who had neither income nor capital got credit with very attractive conditions. Now reality is striking back,' he said."

Truth is disturbing

Daily Kos: Rolling Stone: an article that could end the war: "What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Innovating stupidity

Tougher US immigration leading to 'reverse brain-drain': study - Yahoo! News: "'The United States benefits from having foreign-born innovators create their ideas in this country,' said Vivek Wadhwa, a Harvard Law School fellow and co-author of the report. 'Their departures would be detrimental to US economic well-being.' The study by researchers at Duke, New York and Harvard universities is the third in a series of studies focusing on immigrants' contributions to the US economy. In this study, 'Intellectual Property, the Immigration Backlog, and a Reverse Brain-Drain,' the researchers concluded that the number of skilled workers waiting for visas is significantly larger than the number that can be admitted to the United States. 'This imbalance creates the potential for a sizeable reverse brain-drain from the United States to the skilled workers' home countries,' the foundation said. The report said a majority of immigrant company founders, including many in the tech sector, came to the United States as students. Many ended up staying in the United States after graduation, with a number founding new companies. It said 31 percent of the startups in tech centers had an immigrant key founder, including 52.4 percent in California's Silicon Valley. The researchers said Indian immigrants founded more companies than those from the"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

no shit sherlock

Poll: Family ties key to youth happiness - Yahoo! News: "Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey — more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24 — conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America's young people. Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Unlucky in Love

still to come,
the worst part and you know it,
there is a numbness,
in your heart and it's growing,
with burnt sage and a forest of bygones,
i click my heels,
get the devils in line,
a list of things i could lay the blame on,
might give me a way out,

but with each turn,
it's this front and center,
like a dart stuck square in your eye,
every post you can hitch your faith on,
is a pie in the sky,
chock full of lies,
a tool we devise,
to make sinking stones fly,

and still to come,
the worst part and you know it,
there is a numbness,
in your heart and it's growing.

To call it a rough week is kind. There are all sorts of things you should learn from experience. To be specific, I know that if I drink more than 3 cosmos in a night, I will regret said action in the morning. Most of the time I adhere quite easily to this known fact, but still at this late stage in my life I will occasionally down a volume of cosmos that render me utterly useless.

Then there is the stuff you really don't know. Why do some people end up Paris Hilton and others child soldiers in a war over resources? Now neither of these are appealing obviously, but the question plagues me. I've tried so many ways to approach the issue: Acceptance, Defiance, Inquisition etc. I've wrestled with the relative value of struggle, the reality that humans with control of vast resources are nearly always incapable of wielding said resources effectively. I mean fucking Oprah is now telling herself that her largess is as a result of positive thinking. Oh Oprah, how you have betrayed us, but I understand. The idea that your life, existence, the universe is in anyway attributable to luck is depressing. Luck is not only completely beyond our control, it is also a complete mystery. No one even has a theory on how luck gets doled out. Similarly, there is no quota for the suffering any one person needs to bear. Now, you may argue that my pessimism is in fact "creating" bad luck. My response to that lovely cop out, is fuck you and the bullshit you rode in on.

I may not be able to penetrate the mysteries of the universe with any particularly useful insight, but I have read others much more reasoned insights and I feel that it is safe to conclude that no one has any notion of why things work out the way they do. I mean you are just as likely to find your bliss in crystals as you are in the pursuit of power.

So yes I think I am unlucky in love and if there was a way for me to give an offering to the gods that would change my luck, I would gladly oblige.

Daily Kos: UPDATED - McClatchy: Huge Fed Doleouts Followed Pro-GOP Agency Briefings

Daily Kos: UPDATED - McClatchy: Huge Fed Doleouts Followed Pro-GOP Agency Briefings:
"But, you know, it isn't just the power point parades or the pep rallies or the largesse being doled out to GOP candidates in trouble that's being investigated for Hatch Act violations. There's this, and if it has traction, it could open up a very interesting avenue into the big crimes: ...fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias revealed key new details about the Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) probe into Karl Rove and other White House officials reported today by the Los Angeles Times. Iglesias said that on April 3, he filed a Hatch Act complaint with the OSC, charging that Karl Rove and others may have violated the law by firing him over his failure to initiate partisan-motivated prosecutions. These Hatch act investigations may end up being more potent than anybody realizes. Remember, Watergate started out as a third rate burglary."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus - New York Times

Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus - New York Times: "Until this year, only pregnant women 35 and older were routinely tested to see if their fetuses had the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. As a result many couples were given the diagnosis only at birth. But under a new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have begun to offer a new, safer screening procedure to all pregnant women, regardless of age. About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion. Convinced that more couples would choose to continue their pregnancies if they better appreciated what it meant to raise a child with Down syndrome, a growing group of parents is seeking to insert their own positive perspectives into a decision often dominated by daunting medical statistics and doctors who feel obligated to describe the difficulties of life with a disabled child."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

They really are watching you....

U.S. to Expand Domestic Use Of Spy Satellites - "Access to the high-tech surveillance tools would, for the first time, allow Homeland Security and law-enforcement officials to see real-time, high-resolution images and data, which would allow them, for example, to identify smuggler staging areas, a gang safehouse, or possibly even a building being used by would-be terrorists to manufacture chemical weapons."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/08/2007 | Hedge funds may pose a risk to U.S. economy

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/08/2007 | Hedge funds may pose a risk to U.S. economy: "The funds — managed pools of investors' money, often supplemented with huge borrowings from banks — often bet on highly speculative and exotic financial derivatives, such as 'options,' which more regulated mutual funds aren't allowed to buy, and that poses risks to all the U.S. financial institutions that are tied to them, as much of Wall Street is. It poses risks to the broader economy as well, and those risks are impossible to measure because no one knows how risky hedge fund assets are. The big systemic risk is that 'people don't know anything about (hedge fund) activities,' said Steven Brown, a finance expert at New York University's Stern Business School. 'When you have a complete lack of disclosure, everybody is locked in the same category, and the sins of the few are visited on the many.'"

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/14/2007 | Study: Half of nation's poor don't get food stamps

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/14/2007 | Study: Half of nation's poor don't get food stamps: "The study found that a significant number of counties, 13.2 percent, had below-average percentages of low-income people participating in the program, even though they had above-average poverty rates. The authors cited many reasons for the disparities, including the stigma of government benefits, eligibility rules and lack of information about the benefits. Under the food-stamp program, a family is eligible for aid if its income is 130 percent of the poverty level. Nearly all of the states followed a national trend of increasing the number and percentage of low-income people participating in the food-stamp program in recent years. The study said that much of the increase was the result of changes in eligibility rules that took effect in 2002. And since 2004, all states are now using electronic benefits transfer systems, which allow food-stamp beneficiaries to appear to be using debit cards."

oh it gets worse

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/14/2007 | Prices for key foods are rising sharply: "MIDLAND, Va. — The Labor Department’s most recent inflation data showed that U.S. food prices rose by 4.1 percent for the 12 months ending in June, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that the price of milk, eggs and other essentials in the American diet are actually rising by double digits. Already stung by a two-year rise in gasoline prices, American consumers now face sharply higher prices for foods they can’t do without. This little-known fact may go a long way to explaining why, despite healthy job statistics, Americans remain glum about the economy."


I hate the world today. The financial markets are imploding. People are making me insane and all I want to do is escape.

Monday, August 13, 2007

it all falls apart

Subprime News:
"Subprime US news (most relevant) * Federal Reserve finds US banks tightening standards on subprime ...
- International Herald Tribune - Aug 13, 2007
* The end of risk as we knew it - Economic Times - Aug 12, 2007
* When subprime debt's price falls, confidence will rise - Globe and Mail - Aug 13, 2007
* Milan shares rebound midday; subprime uncertainty persists - Forbes - Aug 13, 2007
* Easing subprime worries boost Toronto stocks - Reuters Canada - Aug 13, 2007"

It'll be us sucking wind not the rich assholes who did this.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

US given sexual orientation information on travellers- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News

US given sexual orientation information on travellers- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News: "The European Commission quietly approved an agreement this Monday which gives the US Department of Homeland Security unprecedented access to the personal information of anyone on a transatlantic flight, including details of their sexual orientation.

The DHS insists on the right to use the information for disease control, and there are fears that gay passengers may be singled out as possible HIV risks.

The plans involve upgrading information which is already sent by airlines to the DHS on the 4-million-plus Britons who visit the US every year, including payment details, home address and the passengers in-flight meal choice.

The agreement adds 19 possible new categories, including information on ethnic origin, political and philosophical opinions, credit card numbers, trade union membership, sex life and details of the passengers' health.

The information will be provided by passengers when making bookings.

The US is not required to provide this information about its citizens."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

U.S. credit squeeze frays world financial markets | Reuters

U.S. credit squeeze frays world financial markets | Reuters: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - The unraveling U.S. subprime mortgage market is causing other markets to fray around the edges faster than anyone expected.

As the Federal Reserve convenes for its latest meeting on Tuesday, the corporate credit markets are grinding to a halt. About $90 billion of bonds and nearly $250 billion of loans are still awaiting buyers, several high-profile hedge funds from the U.S. East Coast to Australia have failed, and a major U.S. mortgage lender this week closed its doors.

'All these people saying there is no credit crunch and no economic impact - 'Are you kidding me?'', said Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer at TCW Group in Los Angeles, which manages assets worth $160 billion.

'Ask Goldman if there is no credit crunch, ask Bear Stearns if there is no credit crunch, call up American Home Mortgage and ask them if there is no credit crunch. Come on! It is staring you in the face,' Gundlach added."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

My weekend

I spent the weekend in Chicago at YearlyKos. It was not the nirvana I had hoped. It was still fabulous. I love Chicago. It is beautiful and walkable. I went to the break out session with Hillary Clinton and was far more impressed than I expected to be. She is infinitely more dynamic, compelling and human in person than she seems on TV. I also went to a panel on foreign policy that was brilliant and fascinating. It gave me hope that there are people in the smoky insider rooms who think critically and accurately about the world we live in. I'm not saying get optimistic, I'm just saying there is room for optimism amongst the depressing realism.

Democrats court liberal bloggers - Yahoo! News: "The Kos convention is a sign of the times.

Gone are the days when candidates and political parties could talk to passive voters through mass media, largely controlling what messages were distributed, how the messages went out and who heard them. The Internet has helped create millions of media outlets and given anyone the power to express an opinion or disseminate information in a global forum, and connect with others who have similar interests.

Clinton is viewed skeptically by the the blogging community, mainly for her history of hawkish views on Iraq. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of Daily Kos and spiritual leader of the convention, said Clinton still might be able to mitigate her problems.

'We may decide she's not our first choice, but she's not a bad choice,' he said.

Appearing solo at a session of bloggers before the debate, Clinton was warmly received, especially when she jokingly blamed a microphone malfunction on the 'vast right-wing conspiracy.'

One thing most bloggers have in common — regardless of their political leanings — is an intense frustration with the political establishment. And so it was a convention dripping in irony when liberal bloggers welcomed the living symbols of the Democratic status quo — seven presidential candidates."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

As U.S. income stagnates, Democrats reject free trade - Yahoo! News

As U.S. income stagnates, Democrats reject free trade - Yahoo! News: "'For decades we took for granted that everyone agreed with us economists that free trade is good, protectionism is bad. Somewhere along the way, that stopped being the conventional wisdom,' acknowledged U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab , in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers . 'And whereas the default vote on a trade bill in Congress used to be a 'yes' vote, the default vote on a trade bill now in Congress is a 'no' vote.'

Why? Because lots of people are no longer convinced that a rising tide of trade lifts all boats— and there's evidence to back them up.

For three decades, the richest 10 percent of Americans have been growing even richer much faster than everyone else. Over the past five years, real wages for all the rest of American workers have been almost flat. Many blame globalization.

During a mid-July congressional hearing, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke contended that education levels largely determine income inequality. But he was angrily interrupted by Rep. Barney Frank , D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who declared, 'Mr. Bernanke, that's simply not true.'

Frank said that the 29 percent of Americans who have bachelor's and even master's degrees haven't seen real income growth, on average, over the past five years. That's what Democrats in Congress are focused on, he said.

Daily Kos: Realigning For Revolution

Daily Kos: Realigning For Revolution: "First, we need to understand what's going on, and that may be boiled down to one word: 'globalization.' We are now, and have been, in an era of 'post-modern politics.' 'Modern' politics was centered on the nation-state, as indeed was the basic economic system we call 'capitalism.' National capitalist economies of the so-called 'core' nations spread over the world in a competition for control over colonies -- where resources were exploited for the benefit of core nation elites. Gradually, since the end of World War II, capitalist elites have become internationalized -- first among the 'core nations' and now among elites in the formerly colonial periphery. A recent kos diary, for example, revealed that Saudi princes own a sizable chunk of stock in Murdoch's Fox empire.

With a globalized capitalist elite comes a global economic order, enforced by a global political order. That global political order has one central requirement, namely, integration into the global economic order. The catch is that such integration must be on terms acceptable to the global capitalist elite -- which winds up meaning, on terms dictated by the global capitalist elite. This is the great sin of such regimes as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and of course, Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion. Everybody asks why some authoritarian regimes like Saddam Hussein's, must be "changed," while others like the dictatorships still found in Central America or sub-Saharan Africa excite no particular concern. The reason is that some dictatorships benefit global corporate elites, while others do not. If Hugo Chavez permitted the continued exploitation of his nation's oil wealth on terms dictated by international oil companies, no one would have the least concern for any "tyranny" found within his borders.

As for the American working class, In the "good old days" of American affluence -- that would be the '50's and '60's -- the traditional division of the world between the "core" and the "periphery" permitted US elites to spread the wealth to American wage earners. This is classic imperialist theory, where national elites essentially buy off their own working classes. As national elites have gradually fused into one international corporate elite, the basic deal between elites and certain preferred elements of the working class has broken down.


Why people have sex: It feels good - Yahoo! News: "'It's refuted a lot of gender stereotypes ... that men only want sex for the physical pleasure and women want love,' said University of Texas clinical psychology professor Cindy Meston, the study's co-author. 'That's not what I came up with in my findings.'

Forget thinking that men are from Mars and women from Venus, 'the more we look, the more we find similarity,' said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego. Goldstein, who wasn't part of Meston's study, said the Texas research made a lot of sense and adds to growing evidence that the vaunted differences in the genders may only be among people with sexual problems."