Saturday, October 31, 2009

Regarding complaints about why your child has failed his/her class

This is a real school answering machine in Queensland Australia. The parents and students were being held accountable for their classes and home work.

"Job Stats "Not 100 Percent Accurate"

Biden says: Job Stats "Not 100 Percent Accurate"

"We know this is not 100 percent accurate," he said. "Further updates and corrections are going to be needed."


No Kidding Sherlock, how long did it take you to discover that there is a discrepancy between the real world and Washington DC politics?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A dick who was VPOTUS

Whenever life has looked bleak and lately with the looming depression, Wall Street/Bankers' bonuses, Afghanistan and Iraq, this has scarcely been a pleasant autumn - there has been at least one notable consolation.

We are no longer obliged to turn on the news to be greeted by the crooked tooth sneers of Dick Cheney.

He is gone, finished, suffering death by a thousand ignores, or life imprisonment without possibility of remission on his huge ranch with secret service servants constantly at his side. Occasionally he is on parole to be the keynote speaker at chicken dinners in U.S. cities for enormous speaker fees and adulation from his Military/Industrial/Congressional (MIC) complex while he preaches to their choir.

There have been moments when you could almost pity the former VPOTUS, but we should not. Why you ask "should I not pity the poor crooked toothed torturer, failure and Traitor"? Because he gets a huge monthly check from his past employers, the American taxpayers and Halliburton Corp. Halliburton left and went to Dubai, Dick should too.

For whatever his failures and foibles as preeminent advisor to the Cheney/Bush regime and caretaker of America's future for 8 years, his influence is waning. It may seem possible to feel empathy for a traitor who will live long enough to see his failures and foibles bring America to it's knees. But he has no prospects except the adulation of his clueless daughter and wife until his next heart attack. Unfortunately we have seen him make making desperate attempts to download Afghanistan and Iraq onto America and call those bags of manure his patriotic duty. During the presidency of the elder Bush, he was labeled, "one of the crazies". Now he has nothing except his sound bite moments in the sun when promoted by the other right wing crazies on Faux News like Rush, Shawn, Glenn and Bill. (They will suck up to power for money, every time)

But this is where the SHTF. Lately we have discovered that those P.O.S. chicken dinners were his platform to launch attacks against the POTUS. So the nightmare of another Dick isn't over. Although America has had it's fill of the super hyped WMD's, Pat Tillam's fratricide, "successes" in Afghanistan, Iraq and the destruction of 9/11 the MIC complex hasn't. The fool master and former VPOTUS is front-runner to become the spokesperson for a lame and discredited MIC complex. He assumes a position created by the MIC complex which will destroy America's credit, credibility and moral preeminence in the world. His "us against them" was the fraud which prompted Wall Street and the Banksters to commit a heinous financial fraud. (All is fair in war and finance, right?)

Dick's self appointed role as speaker for the "loyal opposition" is another fraud. Elected by his peers he is the consummate fraudster and was elected without the time consuming process of a real popular election. His new preeminence as the right wings spokesman rests in the hands of Faux News, the MIC complex and the Banksters of America. In the months ahead, they will decide in backroom plots when to pull the plug on the middle class, if they haven't already.

The views of the MIC complex carried the seeds of destruction of America. President Obama may cut a sorry figures on the national stage, but Dick will make the enthusiasm for more war his "Casus belli". His personal vendetta is to destroy America for his commitment to self importance. America is his servant not the other way around.

Most logical people have reservations, but FAUX News, and right wing political gossip, columnists like Ann Coulter, the skinny anorexic joke on Faux News, suggest these may be overcome.

The problem for America is simple, the MIC complex has created a grand plan to inflate America's military and financial power they failed and now they need a spokes person with "patriotic" credentials. They have decided that Dick is "their patriot", and thereby they have identified a traitor as their "man" to do their job.

A simple cursory review of the list of rival candidates is short. This makes it a slam dunk to appoint Dick as their "man". From this point of view it is easy to understand why Dick is being hand picked and soft stroked with their political hole in the ground to lead their insane policies.

The Demoncrats can only offer the POTUS as their leader. Their titular head is Barak Obama,and he is just another figment of the public's imagination that either party actually has America's best interests at heart.

U.S. is losing Afghan war on two fronts

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington and at New York University's Center on Law and Security. His most recent book is "The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader."

(CNN) -- We are losing in Afghanistan, on two fronts. The most important center of gravity of the conflict -- as the Taliban well recognizes -- is the American public. And now, most Americans are opposed to the war.

For years, Afghanistan was "the forgotten war," and when Americans started paying attention again -- roughly around the time of President Obama's inauguration -- what they saw was not a pretty sight: a corrupt Afghan government, a world-class drug trade, a resurgent Taliban and steadily rising U.S. casualties.

Many surely thought: Didn't we win this war eight years ago?

Americans, of course, hate seeing the deaths of fellow citizens in combat, but even more they hate to see those deaths in the service of a war they believe they are either not winning or maybe even losing, which is one of the reasons why they largely turned against the Iraq war in 2006.

Within a couple of years, Iraq came back from the brink and started to turn around, after which the war there became largely a nonissue for most Americans. Similarly, the American public would be more likely to tolerate the losses of blood and treasure in Afghanistan if they saw real progress being made there. And right now, they don't.

The second front we're losing is the Afghans themselves, who are the United States' center of gravity in the Afghan war. Eight years into this conflict, America and its NATO allies -- who are still looked on favorably by a majority of Afghans -- are not providing large swaths of the Afghan population with the most basic public good, which is security.

It's time to table fancy counterinsurgency doctrines about "connecting the Afghan people to the government" -- Afghans have never had, and don't expect much, in the way of services from their government, and it's time now to focus on something much more basic: security.

The last government to provide Afghans with real security was ... the Taliban. When they ruled the country before 9/11, security came at a tremendous price: a brutal, theocratic regime that bankrupted the country and was a pariah on the world stage.

But in the context of Afghan history, the Taliban bringing security was decisively important, since what had immediately preceded their iron rule was a nightmarish civil war during which you could be robbed or killed at will by gangs of roving ethnic and tribal militias.

It is has been a staple of Western political theory since the mid-17th century, when Hobbes wrote "Leviathan," that if the state does not provide security to its people, life will be "nasty, brutish and short." Hobbes wrote "Leviathan" in the shadow of the English Civil War, deriving from that bloody conflict the idea that the most important political good the state can deliver is security.

The United States relearned this lesson in Iraq with some success starting in 2007. But the U.S. seems to have developed instant amnesia about this issue in Afghanistan, where around 40 percent of the country was controlled by the Taliban or was at high risk for attacks by insurgents, according to a private assessment prepared by the Afghan military in April, which was obtained by CNN.

A glaring symbol of the collapse of security in the country is the 300-mile Kabul-to-Kandahar highway, economically and politically the most important road in the country, which is now too dangerous to drive on.

Who will then provide security? The Afghan army is relatively small and generally ineffective. The police are worse. The plans to ramp up the size and efficacy of those forces are, of course, a key part of the American exit strategy from the country. But that training mission is going to take years. Nor are NATO allies going to add significantly more troops. Indeed, a number of NATO countries are already heading to the exits.

That means that it now falls to the United States to do the heavy lifting in Afghanistan, and if Obama is serious about securing the country and rolling back the Taliban, he really doesn't have much choice but to put significant numbers of more troops on the ground. That way, he can start winning the war: win back the American public, roll back the Taliban -- who have melded ideologically and tactically with al Qaeda -- and provide real security to the Afghan people.

Such a ramp-up will have an additional benefit. In the larger war on al Qaeda and its allies, the center of gravity is the Pakistani public, military and government because it is in Pakistan where al Qaeda and its Taliban allies are headquartered. And in one of the most important strategic shifts since 9/11, the Pakistani military and government are now getting serious about wiping out large elements of the Taliban and allied groups on their territory and, most importantly, are doing it with the support of their population.

No longer are Pakistani military operations against militants in Swat and Waziristan seen by Pakistanis as "America's war": they are now seen as being in the vital interests of the Pakistani state because the Pakistani Taliban and other jihadist groups have made major strategic errors since early 2009, including marching close to Islamabad, attacking Pakistan's equivalent of the Pentagon and killing hundreds of Pakistani soldiers and policemen.

This new development is vitally important. Over the years, U.S. military commanders have often talked about hammer and anvil operations in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan that would bring an American hammer down on the militants based along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, who would then in turn be caught on a Pakistani anvil.

In reality, the American hammer was never large and the Pakistani anvil was never strong.

But the ongoing Pakistani military incursion into Waziristan, which was preceded by months of "softening up" operations with air strikes and artillery as well as a ramped-up American drone program aimed at al Qaeda and Taliban leaders there, is today setting the conditions for a real anvil.

The hammer must now be applied.

Armed groups don't sue for peace when they believe they might have the upper hand, and right now, the Taliban feel that they are winning the war -- or at least not losing it, which for most insurgencies amounts to the same thing. If there is to be some kind of political reconciliation with elements of the Taliban, that will only come once they truly believe they have no prospect of military success.

At the same time, key roads, cities and towns in Afghanistan must also be secured. Without providing that security, as Hobbes wrote three and half centuries ago, governments of any kind will fail at their most basic task.

Unraveling the truth about Pat Tillman's death


General Stanley McChrystal was just one of three authors of the military Industrial Congressional complex (MIC) reports on Pat Tillman's death. He is living proof that liar Generals in Afghanistan, America and Iraq get promoted. If General Stanley McChrystal will not truthfully report fratricide how can we trust him to tell the truth about an entire war. We can't, his report is just another bag of manure from the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex. Lets all stand and salute the bag of manure. "All Hail Caesar"


By: Clint O'Connor
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Pat Tillman, the football star who enlisted in the Army following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, became a four-star tragedy.

Hailed for his unselfishness in a profession dominated by pampered prima donnas, Tillman, a hard-hitting safety for the Arizona Cardinals, left the cushy NFL life to become an Army Ranger. When he died in battle in eastern Afghanistan in 2004, he was 27. The White House and Pentagon went into PR overdrive selling Tillman as a hero slain by the Taliban in the global war on terror.

Then the facts started trickling in. Tillman was killed by members of his own unit. Horrible as that was, friendly-fire casualties are not rare. The real dagger to the denouement of Tillman's life was an elaborate, cynical cover-up that lasted years and racked up hundreds of lies.

Do not read "Where Men Win Glory" sitting near sharp objects. It can fill you with outrage: The soldiers who were with Tillman were instructed to lie; the soldiers who killed Tillman were told to lie; the autopsy was tainted; evidence was burned.

Jon Krakauer, the gifted writer who has tackled rugged individualists in "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air," deciphers the lies and the liars in his new book.

Although sluggish in the early chapters, it becomes a fascinating account of the betrayal of Tillman by the very people he was serving. Krakauer's extensive research paints a frightening picture of military hierarchy. Three separate investigations of the incident were riddled with falsehoods.

"It might be tempting to regard Tillman's resounding alpha maleness as his Achilles' heel, the trait that ultimately led to his death," Krakauer writes. But "the sad end he met in Afghanistan was more accurately a function of his stubborn idealism -- his insistence on trying to do the right thing."

Krakauer arrives at such insights through interviews with Tillman's widow, Marie, and access to the Ranger's diaries and computer entries.

Football provided Tillman many rewards -- a college degree, a high-paying job, an enviable life -- but he kept hearing a nagging inner voice. "These last few years, and especially after recent events, I've come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is," the California-raised Tillman wrote on the eve of enlisting.

He was hardly your typical jock. He loved to argue politics and philosophy. He loved to read. The one thing Tillman was not seeking from his Army experience was publicity; he turned down all interview requests and refused to become a media mannequin. He feared, however, that if he was killed in action, the Defense Department would exploit his death. He was right.

Tillman was caught in an ancient truism, notes Krakauer, succinctly stated by Aeschylus more than 2,500 years ago: "In war, truth is the first casualty."

O'Connor is the film critic of The Plain Dealer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Torture charged in L.A.-area mortgage rescue case

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As Los Angeles housing advocates launched a campaign warning of mortgage rescue scams, a couple hit by foreclosure are charged with torturing two loan-modification agents they suspected of fraud, authorities said on Monday.

The couple, Daniel Weston and Mary Ann Parmelee, and three other people are accused of luring their two victims to an office where the men were tied up, held for hours and beaten, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney said.

Police were called after one of the victims managed to escape, said the spokeswoman, Shiara Davila-Morales. The incident occurred on Wednesday in the town of Glendale, just north of Los Angeles.

Weston, Parmelee and the three other defendants each were charged with two counts of torture, two counts of false imprisonment by violence and two counts of second-degree robbery, according to a criminal complaint filed against them.

Weston, 52, and Parmelee, 51, both arrested last week and jailed on $1 million bond, shared a house in the suburb of La Canada-Flintridge that is in foreclosure, authorities said.

"The two allegedly sought loan modification assistance from the victims but believed that nothing was being done and wanted their money back," a statement from the district attorney's office said.

Davila-Morales added that the couple, according to investigators, believed they had been swindled.

Weston and another man, who previously served time for assault, are accused of carrying out the beatings in front of their three co-defendants, who prosecutors say had prior business ties with the two victims by having funneled loan-modification referrals to them.

Each count of felony torture, defined as inflicting "great bodily injury" for the purpose of "revenge, extortion, persuasion and for a sadistic purpose," carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Defense lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

The case became public as Los Angeles officials and community groups kicked off a national public-awareness effort urging homeowners to beware of bogus loan-modification programs and to report suspicious activity to authorities.

Los Angeles was selected to launch the campaign because the metropolitan region ranks among areas with the highest foreclosure rates nationwide, organizers said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Mohammad Zargham)

Capmark Files for Bankruptcy With $21 Billion in Debt

By Dawn McCarty

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Capmark Financial Group Inc., the lender owned by companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and KKR & Co., filed for bankruptcy protection after posting a second-quarter loss of about $1.6 billion.

The company listed consolidated debt of $21 billion and consolidated assets of $20.1 billion as of June 30, according to Chapter 11 documents filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Forty-three affiliates also sought protection.

Capmark, based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, is one of the largest U.S. commercial real estate finance companies, with more than $10 billion in originations, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The company, formerly known as GMAC Commercial Holding Corp., services more than $360 billion of debt. It has struggled as the default rate on commercial mortgages held by U.S. banks more than doubled to the highest since 1994.

“The Capmark bankruptcy reinforces that, in the case of institutions with large concentrations in commercial real estate, current disruptions to the market have the potential to impact their viability,” said Sam Chandan, president and chief economist of Real Estate Econometrics LLC, a commercial real estate consulting firm in Manhattan.

Capmark asked a bankruptcy judge to approve the sale of its loan-servicing and mortgage business to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Leucadia National Corp. for as much as $490 million. Higher bids would be sought at an auction. The deal was announced Sept. 2, the same day Capmark said it might file for bankruptcy.

‘Saved or Sold’

“All the businesses will be saved and continue with Capmark or will be sold as going concerns for full value,” attorney Martin Bienenstock, a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLC in New York, which is handling the bankruptcy case, said in an e- mail.

Capmark provides mortgage financing and portfolio management services for investors in apartment buildings, offices, industrial property, shopping centers and malls. Unlike real estate investment trusts, Capmark’s core business isn’t holding property, according to its Web site.

Capmark and its units owe $7.1 billion to the 30 largest creditors without collateral backing their claims, according to court documents.

The three biggest are Citibank NA, as administrative agent under the $5.5 billion credit agreement, with a claim of $4.6 billion; Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, as trustee for the 5.875 percent senior notes and the floating senior notes due 2010, with claims of $1.2 billion and $637.5 million, respectively; and Wilmington Trust FSB, as successor trustee for the 6.3 percent senior notes due 2017, with a claim of $500 million, according to court papers.

Late Payments

Capmark filed for bankruptcy following a drop in revenue from loan origination, servicing and its portfolio, said Chandan, who is also an adjunct professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

As of June 30, $4 billion in loans were late by 60 days or more, out of a total portfolio of $24.1 billion in securitized or owned mortgages, according to Capmark’s most recent quarterly report. That was up from late payments on $1.52 billion in loans out of a $26.9 billion portfolio as of Dec. 31.

Commercial property values in the U.S. have plunged since 2007 as employers cut jobs and the recession reduced demand for offices, retail space and rental apartments. The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Indices fell 3 percent in August from July, bringing the decline to almost 41 percent since October 2007, Moody’s Investors Service said Oct. 19.

Unleased Space

U.S. office vacancies are at a five-year high, apartment vacancies are at a 23-year record, and retail centers are showing the greatest share of empty store-fronts since 1992, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc. All that unleased space makes it harder for landlords to pay their mortgages to lenders such as Capmark.

Property investors including New York developer Harry Macklowe, whose trophies included Manhattan’s General Motors Building, and Tishman Speyer Properties LP, which controls the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, are being affected by plunging values and a dearth of credit.

Losses from commercial real-estate lending pose the biggest threat to U.S. banks as the loans deteriorate, leaders of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision told the Senate Banking Committee earlier this month.

Capmark had its senior unsecured ratings lowered to C from Caa1 by Moody’s Investors Service Inc. after the announcement of the potential sale, release of the operating results and restructuring efforts, according to a Sept. 9 credit opinion published by Moody’s.

‘Substantial Losses’

“Unsecured lenders and bondholders, either in a default or restructuring scenario, would experience substantial losses,” Moody’s said.

KKR, the New York-based private-equity company run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, wrote the investment in Capmark down to zero as of March 31 of this year, according to data provided by KKR’s publicly traded investment vehicle.

Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the status of her firm’s investment in Capmark.

The case is In re Capmark Financial Group Inc., 09-13684, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Fed Economist: "It Will Be Difficult for the Housing Market to Return to Normal"

By: Robert Wenzel
FROM the;

The government, for all practical purposes, now controls the entire housing mortgage market.

A senior economist at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, John Krainer, said in a report that that government sponsored enterprise intermediation of mortgage lending will make it difficult for the housing market to "return to normal."

Krainer said that GSEs such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae now guarantee over 80% of originations, while non-agency mortgage securitization and loans have pretty much dried up.Krainer wrote that the banking institution share of mortgage assets declined from 75 percent in the 1970s to 35 percent in 2008 due to the expansion of GSEs.

He added that the expansion of the GSEs has had a great impact on the type of borrowers receiving loans. Pointing to data in late 2006, at the end of the housing boom, Krainer said that about 20 percent of all mortgage originations were made up of subprime loans, and that by 2008, the subprime share was "effectively zero." This then yo-yo'd. The bankers moved out of this market, but the GSE's stepped in.

"Since then, increased FHA lending-identified here by Ginnie Mae's share-has revived this segment of the market," he added. "After plummeting in early 2008, the share of borrowers with FICO credit scores lower than 660 has returned to just higher than 20%, the same share as when subprime securitization peaked in 2006."

However, the collapse of nonconforming loan originations has had a particularly strong impact on the higher end of the market. The share of jumbo mortgages was nearly 9% at the peak in 2006. By the end of 2008, jumbo loans accounted for just 3% of new originations. Meanwhile, in another big shift, option ARMs made up about 6% of originations in the fourth quarter of 2006. By year-end 2008, option ARMs had vanished from the data set

Krainer concludes:

Mortgage originations have slowed considerably over the past two years. According to Federal Reserve flow of funds data, household net borrowing backed by home mortgages has fallen every quarter since the beginning of 2006, and is now negative for the first time since the 1970s. It is difficult to disentangle the role played by declining demand for mortgages from the declining supply of credit. Lender surveys, such as the Federal Reserve Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, have consistently reported that borrower demand has declined over the course of the recession. Credit supply problems, however, still appear to be a major problem affecting the housing market. With the vast majority of current mortgage lending now intermediated in some form by the GSEs, it will be difficult for the housing market to return to normal.
Bottom line: I am not sure what Krainer considers as normal, but the Fed isn't printing money, which obviously cuts into the supply side of credit. Plus banks are too spooked to be lending what funds they do have, especially when the Fed is paying them interest to simply keep their reserves, risk-free, with the Fed. Further, with a continued high demand told hold cash, no one is rushing out to buy a home. Keep an eye on the household net borrowing backed by home mortgages, the overall housing market won't strengthen in earnest until that number does.

DEFICIT SPENDING. The Treasury borrows money from the Federal Reserve, our government gives it to the banks and they lend it back to us AT INTEREST

2010 to 2016 Forecast

Our area has a Walmart store and a Walmart distribution center. The store isles are wider and the stacks lower than they were 2 years ago. The Distribution center is quiet, just before the holiday season. This is an unprecedented set of events.

New Jersey pays Goldman Sachs for swaps on non-existent bonds

While New Jersey replaced the debt with fixed-rate securities in 2008 after the $330 billion auction-rate bond market froze, the swap, in which two parties typically exchange fixed payments for ones based on floating interest rates, isn’t scheduled to expire until 2019.

New Jersey taxpayers are sending almost $1 million a month to a partnership run by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for protection against rising interest costs on bonds that the state redeemed more than a year ago.

The most-densely populated U.S. state is making the payments under an agreement made during the administration of former Governor James E. McGreevey in 2003, when New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund Authority sold $345 million in auction-rate bonds whose yields fluctuated with short-term interest costs. The agency finances road and rail projects.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall of the Republic

Watch the 14 part series about the Fall of the Republic.

Here are parts 1 through 14 of The Fall of the Republic

By the end of high school, all young adults are instructed to understand and apply the scientific method to match data with hypotheses to explain the data. Most adults report they are able to do this under realistic conditions; that is, they have rational explanations for reality on a day-to-day basis, and especially for important issues. Daily, more adults are focusing their competent intellects upon our largest political and economic issues. Daily, more adults are constructing hypotheses of intentional destruction of our American rights, values, and economy as the only rational explanation of such gross malfeasance with US government and economic policies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boycott the Big Banks

(1) Move your money to a community bank, regional bank or credit union

(2) Use cash, not credit cards. If your bank raises your CC rate tell them you will charge them an inconvenience fee , by declaring a bankruptcy or simply refusing to repay them. (ignore their calls) If you are maxed out, what difference does it make, your credit rating is better than their's anyway.

(3) Contact your Lawmakers

Tricking yourself into cherry picking.

15 October, 2009 (11:30) | Climate Sensitivity Written by: lucia

Did you know you can cherry pick without knowing it? It works like this:

You speculate there “some trees” are temperature proxies, but “other trees aren’t. (So far, you’re actually ok.)
Then, instead of trying to do a real calibration study to discover what sorts of trees are temperature proxies and which aren’t, you just take a bunch of cores and find which correlate “best” with the recent temperature record. You throw away all the rest of the cores as “not temperature proxies”.
This sort of sounds like it makes sense, right? After all, the trees that did not correlate with the current temperature record can’t be temperature proxies. So, the rest may be a little noise, but they “must” be temperature proxies, right?

Oddly, it appears that in comments, this notion
In comments, Layman Lurker shed some light into part of “the argument” between the Lorax and Hu M. Here’s what Layman relates:

IMO Lorax was a bit different. In one situation he asked something to the effect of why it would not be good practice to reject proxies which did not correlate with the insturmental record. Hu M. responded saying (paraphrasing from memory) that “the method you advocate on the surface this seems attractive” but that it would amount to cherry picking and would bias the analysis. Lorax took great offense and went off on Hu in a couple of follow up comments saying that Hu had stated that he (Lorax) advocated cherry picking. I don’t think anyone with any common sense would have interpreted Hu’s response to Lorax’s question that way.

Well… Hu is right. The method of simply rejecting the trees that fail to correlate does automatically bias a sample. Seems odd, but it’s true. So, even though the method seems reasonable, and the person doing it doesn’t intend to cherry pick, if they don’t do some very sophisticated things, rejecting trees that don’t correlate with the recent record biases an analysis. It encourages spurious results, and in the context of the whole “hockey stick” controversy, effectively imposes hockey sticks on the results.

I’m going to show a little back of the envelope analysis that highlights the point Hu was making.

Method of creating hockey stick reconstructions out of nothing
To create “hockey stick” reconstructions out of nothing, I’m going to do this:

Generate roughly 148 years worth of monthly “tree – ring” data using rand() in EXCEL. This corresponds to 1850-1998. I will impose autocorrelation with r=0.995. I’ll repeat this 154 times. (This number is chosen arbitrarily.) On the one hand, we know these functions don’t correlate with Hadley because they are synthetically generated. However, we are going to pretend we believe “some” are sensitive to temperature and see what sort of reconstruction we get.
To screen out the series that prove themselves insensitive to temperature, I’ll compute the autocorrelation, R, between Hadley monthly temperature data and the tree-ring data for each of the 154 series. To show this problem with this method, I will compute the correlation only over the years from 1960-1998. Then, I’ll keep all series that have autocorrelations with absolute values greater than 1.2* the standard deviation of the 154 autocorrelations R. I’ll assume the other randomly generated monthly series are “not sensitive” to temperature and ignore them. (Note: The series with negative values of R are the equivalent of “upside down” proxies. )
I’ll create a proxy by simply averaging over the “proxies” that passed the test just described. I’ll rebaseline so the average temperature and trends for the proxie and Hadley match between 1960-1998.
I’ll plot the average from the proxies and compare it to Hadley
The comparison from one (typical) case is shown below. The blue curve indicates is the “proxy reconstruction”; the yellow is the Hadley data (all data are 12-month smoothed.)

Notice that after 1960, the blue curve based on the average of “noise” that passed the test mimics the yellow observations. It looks good because I screened out all the noise that was “not sensitive to temperature”. (In reality, none is sensitive to temperature. I just picked the series that didn’t happen to fail. )

Because the “proxies” really are not sensitive to temperature, you will notice there is no correspondence between the blue “proxy reconstruction” and the yellow Hadley data prior to 1960. I could do this exercise a bajillion times and I’ll always get the same result. After 1960, there are always some “proxies” that by random chance correlate well with Hadley. If I throw away the other “proxies” and average over the “sensitive” ones, the series looks like Hadley after 1960. But before 1960? No dice.

Also notice that when I do this, the “blue proxie reconstruction” prior to 1960 is quite smooth. In fact, because the proxies are not sensitive, the past history prior to the “calibration” period looks unchanging. If the current period has an uptick, applying this method to red noise will make the current uptick look “unprecedented”. (The same would happen if the current period had a down turn, except we’d have unprecedented cooling. )

The red curve
Are you wondering what the red curve is? Well, after screening once, I screened again. This time, I looked at all the proxies making up the “blue” curve, and checked whether they correlated with Hadely during the periods from 1900-1960. If they did not, I threw them away. Then I averaged to get the red line. (I did not rebaseline again.)

The purpose of the second step is to “confirm” the temperature dependence.

Having done this, I get a curve that sort of looks sort of like Hadley from 1900-1960. That is: the wiggles sort of match. The “red proxy reconstructions” looks very much like Hadley after 1960: both the “wiggles” and the “absolute values” match. It’s also “noisier” than the blue curve–that’s because it contains fewer “proxies”.

But notice that aprior to 1900, the wiggles in the red proxy and the yellow hadley data don’t match. (Also, the red proxie wants to “revert to the mean.”)

Can I do this again? Sure. Here are the two plots created on the next two “refreshes” of the EXCEL spreadsheet:

I can keep doing this over and over. Some “reconstructions” look better; some look worse. But these don’t look too shabby when you consider that none of the “proxies” are sensitive to temperature at all. This is what you get if you screen red noise.

Naturally, if you use real proxies and that contain some signal, you should do better than this. But knowing you can get this close with nothing but noise should make you suspect that screening out based on a known temperature record can bias your answers to:

Make a “proxy reconstruction” based on nothing but noise match the thermometer record and Make the historical temperature variations looks flat and unvarying.
So, Hu is correct. If you screen out “bad” proxies based on a match to the current temperature record, you bias your answer. Given the appearance of the thermometer record during the 20th century, you bias toward hockey sticks!

Does this mean it’s impossible to make a reliable reconstruction? No. It means you need to think very carefully about how you select your proxies. Just screening to match the current record is not an appropriate method.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Foreclosures Are More Profitable Than Loan Modifications, According To New Report

By Shahien Nasiripour

Mortgage companies are more likely to foreclose on homeowners than modify their loans because they make more money off foreclosures, argues a new report by a consumer advocacy group.

While homeowners, lenders and investors typically lose money on a foreclosure, mortgage servicers do not, says report author Diane E. Thompson, of counsel at the National Consumer Law Center. Servicers are the companies that manage the mortgages and collect payments.

"Servicers may even make money on a foreclosure," she writes. "And, usually, a loan modification will cost the servicer something. A servicer deciding between a foreclosure and a loan modification faces the prospect of near certain loss if the loan is modified and no penalty, but potential profit, if the home is foreclosed."

Thompson attributes this to a system of perverse incentives created by lawmakers and rulemakers in the market, like credit rating agencies and bond issuers. The private rulemakers typically dictate how a servicer can account for potential losses and profits. They hold enormous sway over securitized mortgages, which are owned by investors. More than two-thirds of mortgages issued since 2005 have been securitized, notes the report, using data from the industry publication Inside Mortgage Finance.

In those cases, the servicer is empowered to handle virtually all aspects of the mortgage, from collecting the monthly payments to initiating foreclosure proceedings. While they're obligated to do what's best for the ultimate owners of the mortgage -- the investors -- servicers have some latitude in deciding what course of action to pursue, be it a foreclosure or loan modification.

When a homeowner is delinquent on a mortgage that's been securitized, the servicer must front the late payment to the investors. When a home is foreclosed, the servicer is typically first in line to recoup losses. But if a mortgage is modified, the servicer typically loses money that isn't necessarily recoverable.

"Servicers lose no money from foreclosures because they recover all of their expenses when a loan is foreclosed, before any of the investors get paid. The rules for recovery of expenses in a modification are much less clear and somewhat less generous," she said.

That's part of the reason why the Obama administration created a $75 billion program to limit foreclosures. The money is to be distributed to servicers who successfully modify home loans, with the hope that the incentives to modify outweigh the incentives to foreclose.

Thompson's report outlines eight specific steps to reverse this trend. They include mandating that servicers attempt to modify a loan before initiating foreclosure proceedings and reforming bankruptcy laws so judges can modify distressed mortgages.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cerberus; A dog with 3 heads buys a gun.


As many may remember Cerberus bought Chrysler for $7,400,000,000 in May 2007. Of course, Cerberus is sparing no expense to spare their investors any exposure. Together with Chrysler, it has spent $7 million to hire such high-rent lobbyists as Dan Quayle (who runs one of Cerberus' international units), former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and former Bush legislative liaison David Hobbs. Their goal: $7 billion from the auto industry bailout package Congress is working on now and another $8.5 billion in loans from the Energy Department that have already been authorized.

Now Cerberus is using our tax payer money for other neat investments. I wonder will the tax payers ever get smart?


After bad bets on cars and home loans, Cerberus Capital Management is turning to guns and bullets.

The private-equity firm is in advanced preparations for an initial public offering of Freedom Group Inc., said people familiar with the situation, hoping to sell shares in a little-known company it has built into a dominant player in the red-hot rifle-and-ammunition business.

Over a three-year span, Cerberus -- while under the spotlight for ill-fated acquisitions of auto maker Chrysler LLC and lender GMAC LLC -- has acquired at least seven U.S. gun-and-ammunition makers.

Those companies have been consolidated into a Madison, N.C.-based company ...

Naked short selling – redefining systemic risk

There is some evidence suggesting the federal government might be spending tens of billions of dollars to deal with the accumulation of failed trades caused by illegal naked short selling. What's most troubling is, it's probably true.

I'll take BRIBES for $250.00, Alex

President Obama has given the order, all seniors on Social Security will get another $250.00 around Christmas time. OK, I'm against unwarranted government spending but this is absolutly essential to My, uhmmm "America's" best interests so I'll take it. I hope everyone stops to reconsider their stand on anything, because they are always rooted in self, uhmmm "America's" interest

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Banks Are Not Alright

Published: October 18, 2009
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. O.K., maybe not literally the worst, but definitely bad. And the contrast between the immense good fortune of a few and the continuing suffering of all too many boded ill for the future.

The lucky few garnered most of the headlines, as many reacted with fury to the spectacle of Goldman Sachs making record profits and paying huge bonuses even as the rest of America, the victim of a slump made on Wall Street, continues to bleed jobs.

But it’s not a simple case of flourishing banks versus ailing workers: banks that are actually in the business of lending, as opposed to trading, are still in trouble. Most notably, Citigroup and Bank of America, which silenced talk of nationalization earlier this year by claiming that they had returned to profitability, are now — you guessed it — back to reporting losses.

Ask the people at Goldman, and they’ll tell you that it’s nobody’s business but their own how much they earn. But as one critic recently put it: “There is no financial institution that exists today that is not the direct or indirect beneficiary of trillions of dollars of taxpayer support for the financial system.” Indeed: Goldman has made a lot of money in its trading operations, but it was only able to stay in that game thanks to policies that put vast amounts of public money at risk, from the bailout of A.I.G. to the guarantees extended to many of Goldman’s bonds.

So who was this thundering bank critic? None other than Lawrence Summers, the Obama administration’s chief economist — and one of the architects of the administration’s bank policy, which up until now has been to go easy on financial institutions and hope that they mend themselves.

Why the change in tone? Administration officials are furious at the way the financial industry, just months after receiving a gigantic taxpayer bailout, is lobbying fiercely against serious reform. But you have to wonder what they expected to happen. They followed a softly, softly policy, providing aid with few strings, back when all of Wall Street was on the ropes; this left them with very little leverage over firms like Goldman that are now, once again, making a lot of money.

But there’s an even bigger problem: while the wheeler-dealer side of the financial industry, a k a trading operations, is highly profitable again, the part of banking that really matters — lending, which fuels investment and job creation — is not. Key banks remain financially weak, and their weakness is hurting the economy as a whole.

You may recall that earlier this year there was a big debate about how to get the banks lending again. Some analysts, myself included, argued that at least some major banks needed a large injection of capital from taxpayers, and that the only way to do this was to temporarily nationalize the most troubled banks. The debate faded out, however, after Citigroup and Bank of America, the banking system’s weakest links, announced surprise profits. All was well, we were told, now that the banks were profitable again.

But a funny thing happened on the way back to a sound banking system: last week both Citi and BofA announced losses in the third quarter. What happened?

Part of the answer is that those earlier profits were in part a figment of the accountants’ imaginations. More broadly, however, we’re looking at payback from the real economy. In the first phase of the crisis, Main Street was punished for Wall Street’s misdeeds; now broad economic distress, especially persistent high unemployment, is leading to big losses on mortgage loans and credit cards.

And here’s the thing: The continuing weakness of many banks is helping to perpetuate that economic distress. Banks remain reluctant to lend, and tight credit, especially for small businesses, stands in the way of the strong recovery we need.

So now what? Mr. Summers still insists that the administration did the right thing: more government provision of capital, he says, would not “have been an availing strategy for solving problems.” Whatever. In any case, as a political matter the moment for radical action on banks has clearly passed.

The main thing for the time being is probably to do as much as possible to support job growth. With luck, this will produce a virtuous circle in which an improving economy strengthens the banks, which then become more willing to lend.

Beyond that, we desperately need to pass effective financial reform. For if we don’t, bankers will soon be taking even bigger risks than they did in the run-up to this crisis. After all, the lesson from the last few months has been very clear: When bankers gamble with other people’s money, it’s heads they win, tails the rest of us lose.

Sign in to RecommendNext Article in Opinion (1 of 25) » A version of this article appeared in print on October 19, 2009, on page A27 of the New York edition.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

California Governor Schwarzenegger will sign ban on "Big Screen" TV's.


A 40" Sony TV uses 131 watts. The Governator drives a mil-spec. diesel Humvee that uses 152,930 watts. (205 HP, 1 HP = 746 watts.) Maybe he should ban the "Hummer" instead. Maria Shriver Schwarzennegger was ticketed for using a 3 watt cell phone (.004 hp) while driving a compact car with 61,172 watts (82 HP. x 746 watts per hp) Who says life is fair?


The influential lobby group Consumer Electronics Assn. is fighting what appears to be a losing battle to dissuade California regulators from passing the nation's first ban on energy-hungry big-screen televisions.

On Tuesday, executives and consultants for the Arlington, Va., trade group asked members of the California Energy Commission to instead let consumers use their wallets to decide whether they want to buy the most energy-saving new models of liquid-crystal display and plasma high-definition TVs.

"Voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations," said Doug Johnson, the association's senior director for technology policy. Too much government interference could hamstring industry innovation and prove expensive to manufacturers and consumers, he warned.

But those pleas didn't appear to elicit much support from commissioners at a public hearing on the proposed rules that would set maximum energy-consumption standards for televisions to be phased in over two years beginning in January 2011. A vote could come as early as Nov. 4.

The association's views weren't shared by everyone in the TV business. Representatives of some TV makers, including top-seller Vizio Inc. of Irvine, said they would have little trouble complying with tighter state standards without substantially increasing prices.

"We're comfortable with our ability to meet the proposed levels and implementation dates," said Kenneth R. Lowe, Vizio's co-founder and vice president.

Last month, the commission formally unveiled its proposal to require manufacturers to limit television energy consumption in a way that has been done with refrigerators, air conditioners and dozens of other products since the 1970s.

"We would not propose TV efficiency standards if we thought there was any evidence in the record that they will hurt the economy," said Commissioner Julia Levin, who has been in charge of the two-year rule-making procedure. "This will actually save consumers money and help the California economy grow and create new clean, sustainable jobs."

Tightening efficiency ratings by using new technology and materials should result in "zero increase in cost to consumers," said Harinder Singh, an Energy Commission staffer on the TV regulation project.

California's estimated 35 million TVs and related electronic devices account for about 10% of all household electricity consumption, the Energy Commission staff reported. But manufacturers quickly are coming up with new technologies that are making even 50-inch-screen models much more economical to operate.

New features, such as light-emitting diodes that consume tiny amounts of power, special reflective films and sensors that automatically adjust TV brightness to a room's viewing conditions, are driving down electricity consumption, experts said.

The payoff could be big for TV owners, said Ken Rider, a commission staff engineer. Average first-year savings from reduced electricity use would be an estimated $30 per set and $912 million statewide, he said.

If all TVs met state standards, Rider added, California could avoid the $600-million cost of building a natural-gas-fired power plant. Switching to more-efficient TVs could have an estimated net benefit to the state of $8.1 billion, the commission staff reported.

Consumer Electronics Assn. officials disputed that figure, arguing that it was based on out-of-date numbers that fail to account for recent industry innovations. "With voluntary compliance, manufacturers can meet the targets over time, managing the cost impact, yet not in any way impeding innovation," said Seth Greenstein, an association consultant.

Bailout Helps Fuel a New Era of Wall Street Wealth

Published: October 16, 2009

Even as the economy continues to struggle, much of Wall Street is minting money — and looking forward again to hefty bonuses.

Many Americans wonder how this can possibly be. How can some banks be prospering so soon after a financial collapse, even as legions of people worry about losing their jobs and their homes?

It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system — reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts — helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth.

Titans like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are making fortunes in hot areas like trading stocks and bonds, rather than in the ho-hum business of lending people money. They also are profiting by taking risks that weaker rivals are unable or unwilling to shoulder — a benefit of less competition after the failure of some investment firms last year.

So even as big banks fight efforts in Congress to subject their industry to greater regulation — and to impose some restrictions on executive pay — Wall Street has Washington to thank in part for its latest bonanza.

“All of this is facilitated by the Federal Reserve and the government, who really want financial institutions to get back to lending,” said Gary Richardson, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. “But we have just shown them that they can have the most frightening things happen to them, and we will throw trillions of dollars to protect them. I have big concerns about that.”

Not all banks are doing so well. Giants like Citigroup and Bank of America, whose fortunes are tied to the ups-and-downs of ordinary consumers, are struggling to turn themselves around, as are many regional banks.

But the decline of certain institutions, along with the outright collapse of once-vigorous competitors like Lehman Brothers, has consolidated the nation’s financial power in fewer hands. The strong are now able to wring more profits from the financial markets and charge higher fees for a wide range of banking services.

“They are able to charge more for all kinds of services because companies need banks and investment banks more now, and there are fewer strong ones to help them,” said Douglas J. Elliott of the Brookings Institution.

A year after the crisis struck, many of the industry’s behemoths — those institutions deemed too big to fail — are, in fact, getting bigger, not smaller. For many of them, it is business as usual. Over the last decade the financial sector was the fastest-growing part of the economy, with two-thirds of growth in gross domestic product attributable to incomes of workers in finance.

Now, the industry has new tools at its disposal, courtesy of the government.

With interest rates so low, banks can borrow money cheaply and put those funds to work in lucrative ways, whether using the money to make loans to companies at higher rates, or to speculate in the markets. Fixed-income trading — an area that includes bonds and currencies — has been particularly profitable.

“Robust trading results led the way,” said Howard Chen, a banking analyst at Credit Suisse, describing the latest profits.

To prevent a catastrophic financial collapse that would have sent shock waves through the economy, the government injected billions of dollars into banks. Some large institutions, like Goldman and Morgan, have since repaid their bailout money. But most of the industry still enjoys other forms of government support, which is helping to stoke profits.

Goldman Sachs and its perennial rival Morgan Stanley were allowed to transform themselves into old-fashioned bank holding companies. That switch gave them access to cheap funding from the Federal Reserve, which had been unavailable to them.

Those two banks and others like JPMorgan were also allowed to issue tens of billions of dollars of bonds that are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures bank deposits. With the F.D.I.C. standing behind them, the banks could borrow the money on highly advantageous terms. While some have since issued bonds on their own, they nonetheless enjoy the benefits of their cheap financing.

Granted, banks are also benefiting from a stabilizing economy. The fear that gripped the markets earlier this year, when doomsayers predicted a second Great Depression, has largely dissipated. Stocks, corporate bonds, even risky corporate i.o.u.’s — have all rallied from their bear market lows, some spectacularly so. The Dow Jones industrial average has soared 50 percent this year, and touched 10,000 this week for the first time since the crisis.

Banks that had marked down the value of the assets on their books during the dark days of the crisis are now enjoying a rebound in the value of many of those assets.

“Confidence has returned,” said Shubh Saumya, a financial services specialist at the Boston Consulting Group. “Some of the assets that bankers wrote down last year in the midst of the crisis, now they have got some of that back.”

As the number of banks has dwindled, the survivors are moving into the void left by rivals that are either dead or limping and unwilling to take risks.

A big reason for Goldman Sachs’s blowout profits this year has been the willingness of its traders to take big risks — they have put more money on the line while other banks that suffered last year have reined in such moves. Executives say there are big strategic gaps opening up between banks on Wall Street that are taking on more risks, and those that are treading a safer path.

Banks that have waded back into the markets have been able to exploit large gaps in the prices of various investments, a feature of the postcrisis financial markets. The so-called bid-ask spreads — the difference between the price at which banks are willing to buy things like bonds, and the price at which they are willing to sell — are roughly twice what they were two years ago.

Still, the newfound success is largely limited to the big securities houses on Wall Street. This week, Citigroup and Bank of America reported losses from credit card delinquencies and mortgage defaults — a sign of the lingering pain on Main Street.

Goldman Turns Into a Financial Frankenstein While the Fed Snoozes Away

By Raymond J. Learsy, 10.17.2009

Scholar and author, "Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil’s Grip on Our Future"

Before the financial crisis, before Goldman was the recipient of billions of Tarp funds, before the financial collapse of September 2008 when even the viability of Goldman was put into question, before the rescue of AIG and their derivative contracts comprising $13 billions that we know about -- that were held by Goldman and whose value had dropped to near zero, for which AIG, with bailout funds from the government, was able to pay Goldman 100 cents on the dollar in counter party settlements -- and before the myriad telephone calls at the height of the crisis between Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman of Goldman Sachs, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, ex-Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs was a tried and true investment bank active in proprietary trading and investments battling away in the world of you win some you lose some with their own money.

And then, at the height of the crisis, financial wizardry reached a new height of magical transformation. "Abracadabra!" The Federal Reserve, in consort with the Treasury, waved their magic wands and Goldman Sachs, almost overnight was magically transformed onto a bank holding company to ensure it had access to varied government lifelines during the heavy weather of what many feared was an incipient financial meltdown. It further sent a crystal clear signal to the world marketplace, that after the collapse of Lehman, that Goldman was too big to fail and the government wouldn't let it happen. At that moment of financial havoc, it was a priceless endorsement.

Now what does that mean? Goldman not only received the government's implied guarantee that it was too big to fail, essential to Goldman, given the financial turbulence at hand, but many other benefits, as well. For example, access to the Fed Window and dirt cheap money (less than 1% on borrowings), access to money from bank deposits that would now be guaranteed by the FDIC, myriad Fed programs in support of the banking system, and of course with the implied guarantee of being too big to fail, giving it license to swing for the bleachers.

The Financial Times, commenting on Citigroup's sale of its oil trading unit to Occidental Petroleum,made a fundamentally key observation that applies in spades to Goldman Sachs: "The divestment of Phibro ... enables the bank to redeploy billions in capital the unit needs but deprives it of a big profit engine." An even more accurate observation would have changed the text to read "a big profit/risk engine," because that is the nature of oil trading and virtually all proprietary trading -- be it bonds, currencies, financial derivatives and all manner of commodities from copper to soybeans. And here lies the core of the Financial Frankenstein that the Fed, our oversight agencies and our government, has created and continues to nurture.

You see, Goldman was not assisted by the government to become a voracious and even heftier investment bank. Rather, one can presume that the government's assistance was to prevent systemic failure and to enable Goldman and others to function as banks in order to assist in the restructuring of the American economy. One can presume that it was the Treasury's and the Fed's intent and expectation that, given the extraordinary assistance extended to Goldman, they would pitch in toward calming the nation's economic trauma by assuming many of the responsibilities attendant to being a bank -- helping the economy to get back on its feet by extending loans to businesses large and small, to homeowners, doing what banks do to help communities throughout the land. That they would have committed many of those billions, now swept up in Goldman's propriety trading, to desperately needed banking functions, helping the cash strapped economy with liquidity and thereby supporting the underpinnings of what is imperative to save jobs, create new ones, help people stay in their homes. One might have expected Goldman to redeploy a large measure of the government's largesse to the less profitable, less risky, but urgently needed retail banking, and to spur local economies.

Would it have been too much to ask that Goldman would do this out of a sense national obligation and perhaps an ounce of gratitude? Not simply siphoning probably hundreds of billions out of the economy for proprietary trading, gorging themselves on government funded programs with virtually the sole purpose of enhancing their bottom line with the result all too often of increased prices for the consumer. One can seriously ask, did Goldman's trading in oil play an important role in pushing the price of oil to $147/bbl helping to crush the economy?

It could be said that here is a gross misallocation of government funds and programs. It stands to reason that the purpose of Goldman's transformation from investment bank to bank holding company was not simply to enhance Goldman's ability to trade and profit, swallowing billions upon needed billions away from a cash starved economy to bloat the bonus pool of those with the know-how and connections to game the system together with the Fed's and Treasury's programs and largesse to advance their own interests. Written or not, there is a moral obligation here that goes far beyond pulling in the biggest buck!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Before the bank bailouts, the cost of a coke-fueled three-way with a couple of Russian prostitutes had hit rock bottom, but now it's through the roof

BY: Andy Borowitz

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) - The historic profits notched by the nation's biggest banks are starting to have a positive impact on the broader economy, with the cocaine and hooker sectors showing striking gains.

Almost as impressive are the price advances in limousines, hotel rooms, and expensive jewelry for mistresses.

"We've never seen a rally in prices like this," said Tracy Klugian, an equities analyst who tracks the coke and hooker industries for Merrill Lynch. "Before the bank bailouts, the cost of a coke-fueled three-way with a couple of Russian prostitutes had hit rock bottom, but now it's through the roof."

While the surge in bank profits has so far done little to create new jobs, Mr. Klugian noted, "it's meant a huge increase in blow jobs."

Read more at:

The Tooth Pick Revolution


Imagine all of the mischief one can do with a simple tooth pick. One could jimmy a lock, pick a lock, jam a lock, or just pick your teeth.

Imagine all the mischief a government can do with statistical analysis, they could jimmy a statistic, jam a statistic, pick a statistic or just present the raw data.


Medical research of flu vaccine: zero statistical difference in death rate, data cherry-picked

BY: Carl Herman of the LA County Nonpartisan Examiner

Sometimes I come across work that is so well written, so concise and powerful, I have no improvement I can imagine my writing can provide other than to simply pass it on to you. The following is the brilliant summary and analysis from Mike Adams of Natural News regarding the groundbreaking The Atlantic article “Does the Vaccine Matter?” by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer.

I also recommend the articles on vaccines from US Intelligence Examiner, Fred Burks. The following is Mike Adam’s work:

(The really good information begins after around a dozen bullet points, so be sure to keep reading…)
What follows is my point-by-point summary of this groundbreaking article by Shannon Brownlee, originally published in The Atlantic. My opinion statements are shown in brackets and italics.

Does the vaccine matter?
• Vaccination is the core strategy of the U.S. government’s plan to combat the swine flu.
• The U.S. government has spent roughly $3 billion stockpiling vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
• The CDC is recommending that 159 million Americans receive a swine flu vaccine injection (as soon as possible).
• What if vaccines don’t work? More and more researchers are skeptical about whether they do.
• Seasonal flu (that’s the regular flu) currently kills an estimated 36,000 people each year in the United States. [But most people who die are already suffering from existing diseases such as asthma.]
• Most “colds” aren’t really caused by the flu virus. As few as 7 or 8 percent (and at most, 50 percent) of colds have an influenza origin. There are more than 200 viruses and pathogens that can cause “influenza-like” illnesses (and therefore be easily mistaken for the flu).
• Viruses mutate with amazing speed, meaning that each year’s circulating influenza is genetically different from the previous year.
• The vaccine for each upcoming flu season is formulated by health experts taking a guess [a wild guess, at times] about what strain of influenza might be most likely to circulate in the future.
• The 1918 Spanish Flu infected roughly one-third of the world population and killed at least 40 million.
• In the U.S., the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicted that H1N1 influenza could infect up to one-half of the U.S. population and kill 90,000 Americans.
[Keep reading, the good part is coming...]
• Of those who have died from the Swine Flu in the U.S., roughly 70 percent were already diseased with some serious underlying condition such as asthma or AIDS.
• Public health officials consider vaccines to be their first and best weapon against influenza. Vaccines helped eradicate smallpox and polio. [I don't agree with that assessment. Vaccines did relatively little compared to improvements in public sanitation.]
• Each year, 100 million Americans get vaccinated, and vaccines remain “a staple” of public health policy in the United States.

Why the research is bogus
• Because researchers can’t exactly pin down who has influenza and who doesn’t, the research conducted on the effectiveness of vaccines simply calculates the death rate from all causes among those who take the vaccine vs. those who don’t. [This includes deaths from accidents, heart attacks, medications, car wrecks and everything.]
• These studies show a “dramatic difference” between the death rates of those who get the vaccines vs. those who don’t. People who get vaccinated have significantly lower death rates [from ALL causes, and herein lies the problem...].
• Flu shot propaganda cites these studies, telling people that if they get their flu shots every year, they will have a significantly reduced chance of dying. But this is extremely misleading…
• Critics question the logic of these studies: As it turns out, compared to the number of deaths from all causes, the number of people killed by influenza is quite small. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, deaths from influenza account for — at most — 10 percent of the total deaths during the flu season (and this includes all indirect deaths aggravated by the flu).
• This brings up a hugely important dilemma: If influenza only accounts for roughly 10 percent of all deaths during the flu season, how could an influenza vaccine reduce total deaths by 50 percent? (As is claimed by the vaccine manufacturers.) [It doesn't add up. Even if the vaccines were 100% effective, they should only reduce the total death rates by 10%, given that only 10% of the total deaths are caused by influenza.]
• Here’s a direct quote from the story: Tom Jefferson, a physician based in Rome and the head of the Vaccines Field at the Cochrane Collaboration, a highly respected international network of researchers who appraise medical evidence, says: “For a vaccine to reduce mortality by 50 percent and up to 90 percent in some studies means it has to prevent deaths not just from influenza, but also from falls, fires, heart disease, strokes, and car accidents. That’s not a vaccine, that’s a miracle.” [Emphasis added.]

The failure of cohort studies
• So how do the vaccine companies come up with this “50% reduction in death rate” statistic? Through cohort studies.
• Cohort studies compare the death rates of large groups of people who received the vaccine to large groups of people who did NOT receive the vaccine. But there’s a fatal flaw in this approach: People self-select for vaccinations. And what kind of people? As it turns out: People who take more precautions with their health!
• [Thus, you automatically have a situation where the more health-cautious people are getting the vaccines because they THINK it's good for them. Meanwhile all the masses of people who don't give a darn about their health tend to skip the seasonal flu vaccines. And these people tend to not take very good of their health in lots of other ways. In other words, in terms of the masses, people who get vaccines are more likely to avoid junk food and live a more health-cautious lifestyle. This explains the differences in the death rates between the two groups! It has nothing to do with the vaccine...]
• There is extreme “cult-like” peer pressure put on doctors and researchers to swallow the vaccine mythology without question. Quoted from the story: Lisa Jackson, a physician and senior investigator with the Group Health Research Center, in Seattle, began wondering aloud to colleagues if maybe something was amiss with the estimate of 50 percent mortality reduction for people who get flu vaccine, the response she got sounded more like doctrine than science. “People told me, ‘No good can come of [asking] this,’” she says. “‘Potentially a lot of bad could happen’ for me professionally by raising any criticism that might dissuade people from getting vaccinated, because of course, ‘We know that vaccine works.’ This was the prevailing wisdom.” [In other words, don't dare question the vaccine, and don't ask tough scientific questions because the vaccine industry runs on dogma, not science... and if you ask any questions, you might find yourself out of a job...].
[Here's where the really good part begins...]
• Lisa Jackson was not deterred. She and three other researchers began to study the widely-quoted vaccine statistics in an attempt to identify this “healthy user effect,” if any. They looked through eight years of medical data covering 72,000 people aged 65 or older and recorded who received flu shots and who didn’t. Then they compared the death rates for all causes outside the flu season.

The vaccine made no difference in mortality
• What she found blows a hole right through the vaccination industry: She found that even outside the flu season, the death rate was 60 percent higher among those who did not get vaccines than among those who do. [In other words, even when you take the flu season completely out of the equation, elderly people who don't get vaccines have other lifestyle factors that makes them far more likely to die from lots of other causes.]
• She also found that this so-called “healthy user effect” explains the entire apparent benefit that continues to be attributed to vaccines. This finding demonstrates that the flu vaccine may not have any beneficial effect whatsoever in reducing mortality.
• How well done were these particular studies? Quoted from the story: Jackson’s papers “are beautiful,” says Lone Simonsen, who is a professor of global health at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., and an internationally recognized expert in influenza and vaccine epidemiology. “They are classic studies in epidemiology, they are so carefully done.”
• Many pro-vaccine experts simply refused to believe the results of this study [because it conflicts with their existing belief in vaccine mythology]. The Journal of the American Medical Association refused to publish her research, even stating, “To accept these results would be to say that the earth is flat!” [Which just goes to show you how deeply ingrained the current vaccine mythology is in the minds of conventional medical practitioners. They simply cannot imagine that vaccines don't work, so they dismiss any evidence -- even GOOD evidence -- demonstrating that fact. This is what makes the vaccine industry a CULT rather than a science.]
• Jackson’s papers were finally published in 2006, in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
[And here's the really, really juicy part you can't miss...]

Vaccine shortage proves it never worked in the first place
• The history of the flu vaccine reveals some huge gaps in current vaccination mythology, essentially proving they don’t work:
• For example: In 2004, vaccine production was low and there was a shortage in vaccines (a 40 percent reduction in vaccinations). And yet mortality rates did not rise during the flu season. [Clearly, if vaccines actually worked, then a year when the vaccine wasn't even administered to 40% of the people who normally get it should have resulted in a huge and statistically significant increase in mortality. It should have spiked the death rates and filled the morgues... but it didn't. You know why? Because flu vaccines don't work in the first place.]
• In the history of flu vaccines, there were two years in which the formulated flu vaccine was a total mismatch to the widely-circulating influenza that made people sick. These years were 1968 and 1997. In both of these years, the vaccine was a completely mismatch for the circulating virus. In effect, nobody was vaccinated! [Knowing this, if the vaccine itself was effective at reducing death rates, then we should have once again seen a huge spike in the death rates during these two years, right? Seriously, if the vaccine reduces death rates by 50% as is claimed by vaccine manufacturers, then these two years in which the vaccine completely missed the mark should have seen huge spikes in the winter death rates, right? But what really happened was... nothing. Not a blip. Not a spike. Nothing. The death rates didn't rise at all.]
• If vaccines really worked to save lives, then the more people you vaccinate, the lower death rates you should see, right? But that’s not the case. Back in 1989, only 15 percent of over-65 people got vaccinated against the flu. But today, thanks to the big vaccine push, over 65 percent are vaccinated. And yet, amazingly, death rates among the elderly have not gone down during the flu season. In fact, they’ve gone up!
• When vaccine promoters (and CDC officials) are challenged about the “50 percent mortality reduction” myth, they invoke dogmatic language and attack the messenger. They are simply not willing to consider the possibility that flu vaccines simply don’t work.
• Scientists who question the vaccine mythology are routinely shunned by the medical establishment. Tom Jefferson from the Cochrane Collaboration is an epidemiologist who questions the claimed benefits of flu vaccines. “The reaction [against Jefferson] has been so dogmatic and even hysterical that you’d think he was advocating stealing babies” said a colleague (Majumdar).
• Jefferson is one of the world’s best-informed researchers on the flu vaccine. He leads a team of researchers who have examined hundreds of vaccine studies. To quote directly from the article: The vast majority of the studies were deeply flawed, says Jefferson. “Rubbish is not a scientific term, but I think it’s the term that applies [to these studies].”
[And here's the real kicker that demonstrates why flu vaccines are useless...]

Flu vaccines only “work” on people who don’t need them
• Vaccines supposedly “work” by introducing a weakened viral strain that causes the immune system to respond by building influenza antibodies. However, as Jefferson points out, only healthy people produce a good antibody response to the vaccine. And yet it is precisely the unhealthy people — the ones who have a poor immune response to the vaccine — who are most at risk of being harmed or killed by influenza. But the vaccines don’t work in them!
• [In other words -- get this -- flu vaccines only "work" in people who don't need them!]
• [At the same time, it's also accurate to say that vaccines don't work at all in the very people who theoretically could benefit from them. They only produce antibodies in people who already have such a strong immune response that they don't need the vaccine in the first place.]
• Jefferson has called for randomized, placebo-controlled studies of the vaccines. But vaccine pushers are resisting these clinical trials! They call the trials “unethical” [but, in reality, they know that a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study would reveal the complete failure of flu vaccines, and they will do anything to prevent such a trial from happening. Don't you find it amazing that drug pushers and vaccine advocates claim they have "science" on their side, but they won't submit their vaccines to any real science at all?]
• [No placebo-controlled studies have ever been conducted on flu vaccines because the industry says they would be "unethical." So where do these people get off claiming their vaccines work at all? The whole industry is based on fabricated statistics that are provably false... and the injections continue, year after year, with absolutely no benefit to public health whatsoever...]

Why anti-viral drugs don’t work either
• On the anti-viral drug front, hospitals are urged to hand out prescriptions for Tamiflu and Relenza to almost anyone who is symptomatic, whether they actually have swine flu or not. Concern is growing about the emergence of drug-resistant strains of swine flu. ” Flu can become resistant to Tamiflu in a matter of days…” says one researcher.
• In 2005, the U.S. government spent $1.8 billion to stockpile antiviral drugs for the military. This decision was made during the time when Donald Rumsfeld was Defense Secretary. Rumsfeld also held millions of dollars worth of stock in Gilead Sciences, the company that holds the patent on Tamiflu. That company saw its stock price rise 50 percent following the government’s stockpiling purchase of Tamiflu.
• The evidence supporting Tamiflu’s anti-viral benefits is flimsy at best. Even worse, as many as one in five children taking Tamiflu experience neuropsychiatric side effects including hallucinations and suicidal behavior. [In other words, your kid might be "tripping out" on some bad Tamiflu...]
• Tamiflu is already linked to 50 deaths of children in Japan. Cause of death? Heart failure.
• The evidence supporting Tamiflu is based on cohort studies, just like the vaccines, which may distort or exaggerate the apparent benefits of the drug.
• Even supporters of Tamiflu admit it’s never been proven to help. A CDC official says that randomized trials to determine the effectiveness of Tamiflu would be “unethical.”
• In all, neither vaccines nor anti-viral drugs have any reliable evidence that they work against influenza at all. Both are being promoted based entirely on pure wishful thinking, not hard science.
• The history of pharmaceutical medicine is littered with other examples of drugs that doctors “knew worked” but which later turned out to harm or kill patients. [All along, the proper scientific studies were avoided because, hey, if you already know everything, why bother conducting any actual science to prove anything?]
• The hype about vaccines provides a false sense of security, taking away attention from other things that really do work to prevent influenza deaths. That’s why, except for “hand washing,” virtually no advice has been offered to the public on preventing influenza beyond vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
• Concluding quote from the author: “By being afraid to do the proper studies now, we may be condemning ourselves to using treatments based on illusion and faith rather than sound science.”

A recap of these astonishing points
Let’s recap what we just learned here (because it’s just mind-boggling):
• There have been no placebo-controlled studies on flu vaccines because the vaccine pushers say such clinical trials would be “unethical.” Thus, there is actually no hard scientific evidence that they work at all.
• The “50 percent reduction in mortality” statistic that’s tossed around by vaccine pushers is a total fabrication based on “rubbish” studies (”cohort” studies).
• Scrutinizing the existing studies that claim to support vaccines reveals that flu vaccines simply don’t work. And when vaccines aren’t available or the formulation is wrong, there’s no spike in death rates, indicating quite conclusively that these vaccines offer no reduction in mortality.
• Flu vaccines only produce antibodies in people who don’t need vaccines. At the same time, they fail to produce antibodies in people who are most vulnerable to flu. Thus, vaccines only work in people who don’t need them.
• The entire flu vaccine industry is run like a cult, with dogma ruling over science. Anyone who asks tough, scientific questions is immediately branded a heretic. No one is allowed to question the status quo. (So much for “evidence-based medicine,” huh?)

As you can see from all this, the flu vaccine is pure quackery. Those who administer vaccines are, by inference, QUACKS. They claim to have scientific minds, and yet they are the most gullible of all: They will believe almost anything if it’s published in a medical journal, even if it’s complete quackery.

Today, countless doctors, nurses and pharmacists across North America and around the world are pushing a medically worthless, scientifically-fabricated chemical injection that offers absolutely no benefit to public health… and yet they’re convinced it’s highly effective! It just goes to show you how easy it is to brainwash people in the field of conventional medicine.

They’ve abandoned real science long ago, you know. Now the whole industry is just run on the momentum of dogmatic arrogance and the illusion of authority. From the CDC and FDA on down to the local pharmacist at the corner store, the American medical system is run by some seemingly smart people who have been brainwashed into become full-fledged members of the Cult of Pharmacology where vaccine mythology overrules real science.

The vaccine industry is perhaps the greatest medical scam ever pulled off in the history of the world. Don’t fall for it.

And don’t forget to read the full article in The Atlantic by Shannon Brownlee:…

Why people get vaccinated: Superstition
Reading everything you’ve read here, you might wonder: Why do people get vaccinated at all?

The reason is because no one knows whether they work or not, so people keep on taking them “just in case.” It’s exactly the kind of superstitious ritual that “science-minded skeptics” rail against on a regular basis… unless, of course, it involves their vaccines, in which case superstition is all okay.

People take vaccines for the same reason they rub a rabbit’s foot. It’s a good luck ritual that may or may not work, but no one really knows. And besides, what’s the harm in it? (They think…)

Personally, I’d rather get some vitamin D and have a healthy, functioning immune system. But for those who prefer to play the lotto, gamble in Vegas or bet their lives on medical superstitions, flu vaccines are readily available.

So what are you waiting for? Shoot up a few flu vaccines, rub your lucky rabbit’s foot, then spin around clockwise seven times and you, too, may be able to generate enough luck to avoid the flu this winter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Has the Military Mission in Afghanistan Become Lost?


Perhaps you have read about the "weapon malfunctions" during the last week. That's pure BS. NATO in Afghanaistan doesn't have any reliable land supply and re-distribution routes, they have virtually been cutoff from Pakistan and Kygeristan. All supplies have to be airlifted into Afghanistan. The troops were simply out of ammo. They are taking baths by using their bottled drinking water. NATO is surrounded in Afghanistan and the Taliban have the upper hand. If General McCrystal had said he needs 40,000 more American Troops to fight his way out of Afghanistan with a wholesale retreat, I would buy it.

It has always fascinated me how eagerly the Military Industrial complex is supported by the rightwing of the GOP and how often they proclaim "it is Obama's war". They know the war is unwinnable and they just want Obama to be their fall guy. I say screw you Military Industrial Complex, it's your war and you lost it under the Cheney/Bush Presidency, take ownership of your stupidity and lies.


By Senator Robert Byrd

Few subjects weigh more heavily upon a president than the decision to send our sons and daughters to war. Such a commitment demands the clearest of clear thinking, including a thoroughly dispassionate assessment of goals, risks, and strategies. This is difficult terrain for any American president, especially when faced with conflicting views from advisors, Congress, and the American public.

I have become deeply concerned that in the eight years since the September 11 attacks, the reason for the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan has become lost, consumed in some broader scheme of nation-building which has clouded our purpose and obscured our reasoning.

General McChrystal, our current military commander in Afghanistan, has requested 30,000-40,000 additional American troops to bolster the more than 65,000 American troops already there. I am not clear as to his reasons and I have many, many questions. What does General McChrystal actually aim to achieve?

So I am compelled to ask: does it really, really take 100,000 U.S. troops to find Osama bin Laden? If al Qaeda has moved to Pakistan what will these troops in Afghanistan add to the effort to defeat al Qaeda? What is really meant by the term defeat in the parlance of conventional military aims when facing a shadowy global terrorist network? And, what of this number 100,000? Does the number of 100,000 troops include support personnel? Does it include government civilians? Does it include defense and security contractors? How many contractors are already there in Afghanistan? How much more will all this cost? How much in dollars; how much in terms of American blood? Will the international community step up to the plate and bear a greater share of the burden?

Some in Congress talk about limiting the number of additional troops until we surge to train more Afghan defense forces. That sounds a lot like fence straddling to me. I suggest that we might better refocus our efforts on al Qaeda and reduce U.S. participation in nation building in Afghanistan. Given the lack of popularity and integrity of the current Afghan government, what guarantee is there that additional Afghan troops and equipment will not produce an even larger and better-armed hostile force? There ain't no guarantee. The lengthy presence of foreign troops in a sovereign country almost always creates resentment and resistance among the native population.

I am relieved to hear President Obama acknowledge "mission creep" and I am pleased to hear the president express skepticism about sending more troops into Afghanistan unless needed to achieve our primary goal of disrupting al Qaeda. I remain concerned that Congress may yet succumb to military and international agendas. General Petraeus and General McChrystal both seem to have bought into the nation-building mission. By supporting a nationwide counterinsurgency and nation-building strategy, I believe they have certainly lost sight of America's primary strategic objective -- namely to disrupt and de-fang al Qaeda and protect the American people from future attack.

President Obama and the Congress must reassess and refocus on our original and most important objective -- namely emasculating a terrorist network that has proved its ability to inflict harm on the United States. If more troops are required to support an international mission in Afghanistan, then the international community should step up and provide the additional forces and funding. The United States is already supplying a disproportionate number of combat assets for that purpose.

Rudy the Ex-Cuban Gynecologist ignites used car revolution

The Economic Parasites

Vladimir Yuri’s “Fractional Reserve Banking as Economic Parasitism: A Scientific, Mathematical & Historical Expose, Critique, and Manifesto” blends physics, biology and economics into understanding that fractional reserve banking both feeds the parasitic banking system while destroying value of our existing money through inflation. I have no information on Mr. Yuri; the name may be a pseudonym to protect other academic work from being de-funded.

The paper gives an overview of monetary history, application of mathematics and physics to understand the benefits of fractional reserve lending to the lenders and not to the public, how the banking system creates credit out of nothing and then enslaves humanity to endless debt by design in this monetary system, how capitalistic language masks our detection of the parasitism, examples of biological parasites and their methods, the possibility that we’re entering into a “cancerous stage” whereby the parasite destroys the host, including by economic warfare, failed past attempts to rid humanity of the parasite, and possible solutions if humanity can recognize its grave condition in time.