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DSC04740
Longwood Gardens, February, 2012, Photo credit: joanneleon
Vietnam was a lie but at least there was a political agenda. It was the domino theory. Iraq is about nothing but George Bush's ego laced with imperialist ambitions. And it was helped by your government.

    -- Donald Sutherland  



News



Harry Reid put his foot down and insisted on a vote for federal judges before this JOBS bill could go to the Senate floor.  The Republicans promised they would let Obama have some judges.  So Charlie Brown Harry said okay, you can go first then.  And this is the wonderful bill that our president supports.  Pro Publica:

Congress’s Genius Jobs Plan—for Fraudsters, Shills, and Wall St. Analysts

John Coffee, a Columbia Law professor, has hailed the bill as "the boiler room legalization act." And rightly so. Boiler room operations were one of the unsung job creators of the 1990s, producing some of America's greatest penny stocks and boom times for yacht makers and coke dealers.

[ ... ]

Ever since the cleanup back then by the New York State attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, analysts have lost some luster. With JOBS enacted, Wall Street analysts will once again be able to shill for the companies that their own investment banks are shepherding through the initial public offering process.

[ ... ]

After they blew up by the boatload, the S.E.C. cracked down and tightened its rules.

Since then, short-sellers' pickings have been slim. By allowing newly public small companies to not disclose financial information for years, the bill will provide new targets for short-selling hedge funds.

Taliban suspends US peace talks

The Taliban has broke off confidence-building talks with the Americans and the Afghan president has ordered US troops out of villages, demanding a transition of security from NATO control in 2013.

[ ... ]

The Taliban made no mention of the killings as it announced the suspension of contacts with US officials in Qatar over a prisoner swap - talks that had built up hopes of a political solution to the war in Afghanistan before US troops leave in 2014.

The Taliban blamed the "shaky, erratic and vague" US position.

New details emerge about soldier accused in Afghan killings
"We have been informed at this small base that he was at, somebody was gravely injured the day before the alleged incident ... which affected all of the soldiers," said John Henry Browne, who told CNN on Thursday he was representing the accused soldier.

[ ... ]

The soldier suffered the brain injury in a vehicle rollover caused by a roadside bombing in 2010, Browne said. He also injured his foot in an earlier Iraq deployment, resulting in a partial amputation, he said.

[ ... ]

According to conversations he has had with the family in recent days, the attorney said the soldier did not want to deploy to Afghanistan.

"He was told that he was not going to be redeployed. The family was counting on him not being redeployed. So he and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over, and then literally overnight that changed," he said.

Soldier was drinking on night of Afghanistan massacre
SEATTLE - The day before the rampage that killed 16 Afghan villagers, the U.S. soldier accused of the mass killings saw his friend's leg blown off, his lawyer said.

[ ... ]

Also Friday: The New York Times quoted a senior American official as saying the sergeant had been drinking alcohol (in violation of military rules for combat zones) and suffering from the stress of his tour on the night of the massacre.

"When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues - he just snapped," said the official, who was not named in the Times report.

Seattle lawyer to defend soldier in Afghan massacre

John Henry Browne, who represented notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, told Reuters he will represent the soldier, who has not yet been named. It is not known where he will be tried.

Little is known about the soldier, a staff sergeant in the 2-3 Infantry, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which is housed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, just south of Seattle.

New York passes pension overhaul
(Reuters) - New York State lawmakers have passed a sweeping pension reform measure aimed at reducing future public worker retiree benefit costs by some $80 billion over 30 years, the governor said Thursday.

The legislation was tied to a clutch of bills, including measures to expand casino gambling and the state's criminal DNA database, for which Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a first-term Democrat, struck deals with legislative leaders late Wednesday.

Fines are a cost of doing business at Goldman.  These are the kinds of things people are talking about when they object to the fact that the Wall Street firms get fined by do not have to admit to any real wrongdoings.  So they just do the same kinds of things over and over again, and they figure the fines into their fees and costs of doing business.  I guess the "muppet" (British term for "stupid people") clients pay for it in the end, and of course, the American taxpayers.
13 Reasons Goldman’s Quitting Exec May Have a Point

There have obviously been plenty of unflattering headlines about Goldman in the past few years. We decided to look at just one aspect of their record: SEC charges levied against Goldman and its employees over the past decade.

UK's leading bank regulator wants to crack down.  We in the US are going in the opposite direction.  Also, there is a lot of talk about money-market funds. Remember when we "broke the buck" in late 2008?  That hasn't really been fixed yet.
Regulators Must Rein In $47 Trillion Shadow Banks, Turner Says
Global financial supervisors must act to contain the $47 trillion shadow-banking industry, Adair Turner, chairman of the U.K. Financial Services Authority, said in a speech in London.

Shadow banking, which encompasses financial activities that take place outside the regulated banking system, is “potentially very unstable,” and vulnerable to liquidity shocks, Turner said. The shadow banking industry in Europe is worth $22 trillion, and $25 trillion in the U.S., by some estimates, he said.

[ ... ]

“Our regulatory response should therefore entail a bias to prudence,” Turner, 56, said in the speech at the Cass Business School yesterday. Supervisors shouldn’t allow “complex interconnectivity” and “high leverage to develop in unregulated institutions or markets.”

The Real 2012 Race: President Obama Vs. Candidate Obama (Video)
So instead of simply asking President Obama to respond to the most extreme or bizarre Republican statements, how about asking him instead to respond to the boldest and most ambitious statements from... Barack Obama?


The Onion:
Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America's Reputation Worldwide
Boing-Boing:
TOM THE DANCING BUG: "Hello! You've Been Targeted For a Drone Assassination!" Helpful Info From Your U.S. Government
Philip Pilkington: The Irish Begin to Wake Up to the Fact That They are Repaying Money That is Then Burned
By Philip Pilkington, a writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

Recent discussions over interest payments on these promissory notes have brought this point of discussion out into the open in Irish policymaking circles. Politicians and commentators are beginning to see the patent absurdity that, while the country is scrounging for cash to pay for public services, it is making interest payments to the central bank that are effectively being destroyed. This has already raised a debate in Ireland about these interest repayments.

The underlying point that all these payments, including paying down the debt itself, are just going into the proverbial incinerator is beginning to gain sway, however. Yesterday an Irish economic think tank released a video (below) which explains the situation while clearly making the case that the Irish government are raising vast amounts of money that are then being forked over to be effectively burned. And all this is taking place while spending within the economy itself is so low that the unemployment rate is around the 14.5% mark.

China's leadership shakeup: Bo Xilai and 4 other names to watch

At its 18th  Party Congress next autumn, the ruling Chinese Communist Party will choose the nine men (and they will almost certainly all be men) who will lead the country for the next decade. Infighting among candidates is fierce, under the table, and the identities of the winners will be a closely guarded secret until the moment they walk onto a stage in the Great Hall of the People at the end of the Congress.

In the meantime, here are five names to keep an eye on as China prepares for a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

Originally posted to joanneleon on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 05:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH and DKOMA.

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