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Former Pres. Carter should Escort Snowden to Safety

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Friday July 19, 2013 5:32 pm

A previous post noted that Pres. Carter said that the US does not have a functioning democracy, and in the same Der Spiegel article he defended Snowden.  With the help of some rich non-US person sympathetic to Snowden to supply the jet, we can test our democracy’s functionality and adherence to laws, including international ones, by having the former President help escort Mr. Snowden to South America.  Then when he returns to the US, Mr. Carter promptly turns himself in to the FBI to see what happens after having aided a wanted felon.

 

Judge also quite sick of administration’s foot-dragging on Plan-B

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Wednesday May 8, 2013 1:07 am

Sigh.

One can only imagine that the Justice Dept.’s lawyer who was making the administration’s “argument” in court drew the short straw in getting assigned to this case.

Thanks for nothing (again) Russia

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Saturday April 20, 2013 7:41 pm

I have a feeling that intergovermental relations between the US and Russia are going to cool quite soon, based upon Occam-razor-based speculation:

1) One striking thing about the Boston Marathon bombing was that both bombs worked, and worked quite well – they were compact, highly effective, and detonated with great timing.  Someone really knew what they were doing in that sense and apparently it isn’t easy to make a good bomb like that – you either have to have experience or good training/instructions.

2) When the news reports came out that the suspects were immigrants who were ethnically Chechen – that made sense given how good some Chechens became at making bombs aimed at Russia in the past 2+decades.

3) Turns out that the older brother Tsarnaev travelled to the Russian Chechen area in 2010, and even before he left, Russian intelligence asked the FBI to question him about “underground groups” and “radical islam”:

The FBI also said that it requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government.

4) Now ask yourself: which Chechens do the Russian FSB track so closely that they can figure out the going-on of some random guy living in America – people who dig “radical islam”?  Maybe, but my guess is that they care most about anyone remotely associated with the insurgency who know, e.g., how to build bombs like those in the wave of bombing that hit Russia in the recent past.

5) Given what they knew and when, surely the FSB kept tabs on him while in Russia and who he hung out with.  And since it appears like he knew how to build a darn good bomb (without otherwise appearing to be criminal mastermind), that implies he hung out/intensively communicated with people who knew about those things!  The FSB must have known something was wrong, (either that or Russia may be in for a big surprise in the near future).

6) I suppose that the FBI could be lying about this, but I can’t imagine that in 2010/2011 that if the FBI had any inkling that Tsarnaev might be building a bomb, that they wouldn’t follow him and make an arrest after he started buying substantial quantities of black powder – this should have all been over in 2012.

But instead we get mayhem and resulting idiot politician wanting to torture 19-year olds.

I don’t have to be politic as this erudite fellow; so here’s a one-fingered salute to you, Russian FSB!

Wall Street Guys Inside Public Institutions

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Tuesday November 13, 2012 8:49 am

University of California at Berkeley

A new internal report from the University of California shows that UC, like many public entities (cities, counties, museums, etc) engaged in risky, complicated credit swaps with Wall Street Banks:

Over the last decade, the UC Board of Regents has engaged in risky deals with Wall Street banks called interest rate swaps. Banks sold swaps to the university and other public institutions as insurance against rising interest rates on variable rate bonds. Under a swap agreement, borrowers such as the university paid a fixed rate to the bank in exchange for the bank paying the university a variable rate based on the markets’ interest rates for borrowing.

Now these swaps have turned out to be losing bets. UC is taking huge losses because interest rates plummeted following the financial crisis of 2008 – allegedly in part because of illegal manipulation by the same banks that sold the swaps – and have stayed at record lows. Swap deals already have cost UC nearly $57 million, with $200 million more in losses anticipated. Of the $250 million UC expects to receive from Prop. 30, some $10 million a year will go to swaps payments unless the deals are ended.

OK, but nothing new here, right?  Just that great sucking sound all over America.  But this one has a neat wrinkle:

These swap deals are part of a dramatic change in UC’s relationship with Wall Street. In 1990, none of UC’s top management or regents had direct ties to the major Wall Street banks. Today, those banks have a growing foothold among top UC management with direct oversight over UC’s finances.

For instance, the chief financial officer, Peter Taylor, came to UC from Lehman Bros., where he was managing director for public finance until Lehman collapsed in the largest bankruptcy in American history. While Taylor was at Lehman, the company was hired to help expand UC’s debt load. Lehman ultimately was party to one of UC’s interest rate swaps – a bad deal that has already cost the university more than $23 million.

Great hire UC.  Combining public underfunding of education with complicated wall street horsecrap.  Surely this must be going on more boards of directors and financial offices all over the country – it’s not just financial trustees being bamboozled by Wall Street, it’s basically internal plants making the deals (I wouldn’t be surprised if this is part of a new revolving door situation: go forth and screw over public institutions and then come back for your big Wall St payday).

Photo: gku on Wikimedia Commons

Wrongful Gun Death Compensation Fund

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Sunday April 1, 2012 8:48 pm

Cases like the tragic death of Trayvon Martin really highlight the need for something to be done about the extraordinary number of gun related deaths in this country.  Given how awash the country is in guns and the political impotence there is in putting controls on them, we need alternative strategies at dealing with this problem.  I think that one way to make progress would be to set up a compensation fund, funded by taxes on all gun (+ammo?) purchases, for people and their relatives of wrongful shootings. So for $5 (or whatever it takes) per gun, there would be be a pool of money that could be used to compensate people who are legally recognized (civil or criminal) victims of wrongful gun violence [domestic, criminal, idiot vigilantes, police, ....].  Hopefully these awards would be big $$ for serious harm and deaths (e.g. 5 or 6 figures) – that would have the side benefit of making news and keeping the issue in the spotlight.

The reason it might be a politically possible way to proceed is that this way people can still acquire firearms: we can focus on the innocent victims of gun violence and how unfair it is to them.

Gun rights people might (oh, who am I kidding, of course they would) whine and moan about how this is taking away their freedoms, but taxes aimed at compensation/harm reduction are well established and legitimate tools (uninsured drivers, alcohol, tobacco, hopefully other drugs…) .  I assume that even this supreme court would not be so brazen as to strike down a reasonable amount of tax on firearms as a violation of the 2nd amendment (one can always hope, anyway).

Has any state tried this or has any other country had success with this kind of mechanism?

 

Uninformed Individuals Promote Democratic Consensus in Animal Groups

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Monday January 30, 2012 10:38 pm

Ah, the story of Congress, summed up in a scientific experiment.

Actually, they did this experiment with fish – so let me apologize to the fish.

Light Amusement

By: YesIllKeepMyDayJob Monday January 9, 2012 10:13 pm

I thought some might enjoy a parody of a republican debate.  Of course, most of it isn’t all that funny as the real candidates already provide self-parody.  But Mike Tyson (!) as Herman Cain and Obama’s debate response are worth viewing.