Showing posts from December 26, 2014

‘ISLAMIC STATE’ – Seven Impressions Of A Difficult Journey

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[A good, brave, sensible piece by a German man who spent ten days as a guest of the Islamic State. Worth noting: Islamic State recognizes the "religions of the book" - Islam, Judaism, Christianity. They will kill all "moderate Muslims approving of democracy" for putting human laws above God’s laws. Jews and Christians will be tolerated if they pay a tax of "several hundred dollars a year." *RON*]
Juergen Todenhoefer, 22nd December 2014

Dear friends, we are slowly recovering from the stress the journey into the “Islamic State” has induced on us. Frederic, my son, has lost several pounds. Of course, I have been aware that both, meeting with ISIS and American and Syrian bomb attacks, could put me into high risk.
In Mosul, low-flying US aircraft circled over us numerous times. And our “apartment” in the Syrian town Raqqa was largely destroyed by a Syrian bomb while we were staying in Mosul, Iraq. Hence, our last night in …

S&P Is Reportedly Close To A Settlement On How It Rated Real-Estate Bond

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[Conveniently announced for maximal coverage on Christmas Day. More on the meaninglessness of the ratings services. They might as well get rid of them and state more truthfully that all investors are on their own - buyer beware indeed! *RON*]

Supriya Kurane, Reuters, 25 December 2014

(Reuters) - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services is nearing a settlement with regulators over their investigation of how the company graded real-estate bonds, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The proposed deal, which could be reached as early as next month, is a joint settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the newspaper reported. (

The settlement could involve a suspension of S&P for several months or even a year from rating some deals and a fine of at least $60 million, the Journ…

Stephen Roach Takes the Fed to the Woodshed

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[The Fed, by adamantly suppressing interest rates to fight imaginary inflation (as long as workers continue to be unemployed and making zilch when they are employed, inflation ain't gonna happen), is still helping to blow pretty bubbles. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, December 26, 2014

While the Fed appears to be getting nervous about increasing (and long overdue) criticism for its undue coziness with banks, it has for the most part ignored opponents of its aggressive monetary policies. And for good reason. Most of them have been fixated on the risk of inflation, which is not in the cards as long as labor bargaining power remains weak. There are other, more substantial grounds for taking issue with the central bank’s policies. For instance, gooding asset prices widens income and wealth inequality, which in the long term is a damper on growth. Moreover, one can argue that the sustained super-accommodative policy gave the impression tha…

'Some Sort of Hell': How One of the Wealthiest Cities in America Treats Its Homeless

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[More from the front lines of the class war. A trend of sorts: cities that refuse to provide affordable housing, yet won't tolerate people living outdoors. *RON*]

By Evelyn NievesAlterNet, 25 December 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif.—When San Jose dismantled the "Jungle," the nation’s largest homeless encampment, many of its residents with nowhere to go scattered. They found hiding places in the scores of small, less visible encampments within the city, where more than 5,000 people sleep unsheltered on a given night.

But one group of about three dozen evictees gathered what they could salvage in backpacks and trash bags, and crossed a bridge to a spot about a mile away. They found a clean patch of grass near Coyote Creek, the same creek that the Jungle abutted. There, they pitched tents donated by some concerned citizens, assigned themselves chores and hoped for the best.

Instead, they got marching orders. After weathering the hardest rains t…

Tuesday's Shooting in Missouri Reveals the Limitations of Police Dashboard Cameras

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[My naivete is showing - for police cameras to be effective, it is true that they need to be turned on. Even in Russia they are turned on 24/7. It is also true that cameras are only part of the solution. Read Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cops for about 50 more things that needs to be done. *RON*]
By Danny Vinik@dannyvinik

On Tuesday night, a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Antonio Martin after he allegedly pointed a gun at the officer outside a gas station in Berkeley, Missouri, just a few miles from Ferguson. The incident was captured on a surveillance camera at the gas station, although it’s still tough to see what happened in the video. But there was another camera much closer to the shooting—on the dashboard of the police cruiser, to be exact—that could have provided clearer evidence. However, that camera was off, a reminder that dashboard cams are only part of the solution to ensure greater police accountability.

When dashb…

My Favourite Bill Moyers & Company Shows from 2014

[The program descriptions are clipped from the Moyers web site. Happy viewing! *RON*]

What the 1% Don’t Want Us to Know
Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about a new book that’s the talk of academia and the media, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics. In it Piketty shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.

The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight
Mike Lofgren, a former GOP congressional staff member with the powerful House and Senate Budget Committees, joins Bill to talk about what he calls the Deep State, a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state, which is “out of control” and “unconstrained.” In it, Lofgren says, elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests. The Deep State’s heart l…