Month: March 2012

I Can Haz Prosecushions?

We now have a smoking gun in the matter of MF Global, an email detailing how John Corzine ordered customer funds transferred to JP Morgan Chase, and the fact that JP Morgan asked for, and never got a statement that they weren’t customer funds:

Jon S. Corzine, MF Global Holding Ltd.’s chief executive officer, gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators.

Edith O’Brien, a treasurer for the firm, said in an e-mail quoted in the memo that the transfer was “Per JC’s direct instructions,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The e-mail, dated Oct. 28, was sent three days before the company collapsed, the memo says. The memo does not indicate whether that phrase was the full text of the e-mail or an excerpt.


arry Zubrow, JPMorgan’s chief risk officer, called Corzine to seek assurances that the funds belonged to MF Global and not customers. JPMorgan drafted a letter to be signed by O’Brien to ensure that MF Global was complying with rules requiring customers’ collateral to be segregated. The letter was not returned to JPMorgan, the memo said.

The money transferred came from a segregated customer account, according to congressional investigators. Segregated accounts can include customer money and excess company funds.

So Corzine ordered the illegal transfer of customer funds, and JP Morgan was worried about this that they demanded a letter saying that they were not doing this, but never followed up on their demand.

I think that the bigger story here is JP Morgan. We already knew that Corzine was hip deep in stealing customer funds, what we didn’t know that JP Morgan knew, but took the money anyway.

These folks need to be frog-marched out of their offices in handcuffs.

They need to be tried under RICO and if they go to jail it should not be a white-collar resort prison, they should go to a federal POUND ME IN THE ASS prison.

FCC Takes a Bite Out of Clear Channel and Its Ilk

It looks like the FCC is finally moving on low power local radio, and in so doing, they are going to be kneecapping crappy mass market radio, which includes a lot of the right wing talkers:

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision issued Monday (PDF) will clear the runway for hundreds of new community radio stations that broadcast on low-power FM signals, bringing progressive, community voices to urban areas that have for decades only known what’s being broadcast by major corporations and America’s political right.

In other words, the dismantling of Rush Limbaugh was just the beginning, and the whole FM dial is next.

The FCC’s decision on Monday wipes away a massive backlog of applications for FM repeater stations, which are transmitters that repeat signals broadcast by corporate and religious radio operators — many of which rake in big listening audiences for right-wing syndicated talk shows.

“So, what a lot of right-wing, conservative radio stations have been able to do is expand their reach out in communities by just having these translators out in the wild, which is why Rush Limbaugh gets the type of audience that he has — because the networks take one signal and repeat it over and over and over across the dial all over the country,” Steven Renderos, national organizer with the Center for Media Justice, told Raw Story on Tuesday. “They’re constantly looking for opportunities to expand that, so there were a slew of these applications pending at the FCC.”


Instead of slowly grinding down thousands of repeater station applications that leave no room for community radio, the FCC essentially threw most of those applications away by limiting who can apply, how many filings a single entity can make, and which markets can consider new repeaters — all of which frees up the regulatory body to examine applications for new community stations. The regulatory agency still gave some deference to corporate broadcasters, however, by allowing them one shot at revising their applications to fit the new guidelines.


The FCC’s move Monday was the first step on a path laid out by the Local Community Radio Act, signed by President Barack Obama at the start of 2011, which represented the first real victory in activists’ long fight against the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) the radio industry’s biggest lobbying group. The bill freed up portions of the radio spectrum that had otherwise been kept empty by the larger broadcasters, who had long insisted upon four clicks of blank space on the FM dial to prevent interference. It also stipulated that new space on the dial must be reserved for community stations in urban areas where there might otherwise be none.

The radio stations that they are clearing the deck are limited to non profits, and each one has to be independently owned.

So, we’ll see more diversity on radio, and we’ll have better radio.

The Banksters Acts Exceed My Cynicism

When a mortgage firm sues their servicer because for being too cooperative with the people that they cheated:

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in mortgage-backed securities litigation, along comes the likes of Sand Canyon to prove you wrong.

The onetime California mortgage lender, which stopped originating loans in late 2007 and sold its servicing business to American Home Mortgage Servicing in 2008, has filed a complaint in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan that accuses American Home of making it too easy for MBS trustees and insurers to get hold of underlying loan files. In essence, Sand Canyon’s lawyers at Cahill Gordon & Reindel are arguing that the servicer should be helping it thwart claims that it breached representations and warranties about the mortgages it sold to MBS issuers, not smoothing the way for put-back demands.
Sand Canyon’s 26-page complaint, filed last month, asserts that American Home pledged to act as an ally when it bought the servicing business in 2008. “Sand Canyon bargained for and obtained (American Home’s) cooperation in connection with Sand Canyon’s defense,” the complaint said. Under their agreement, according to the complaint, American Home was supposed to “refrain from disclosing confidential loan information to third parties except as required by law.”
Most pooling and servicing agreements permitted MBS trustees and insurers to see underlying loan files only during regular business hours and at the servicer’s offices, according to the Sand Canyon complaint. But American Home, the suit alleged, has provided electronic records in response to demands from trustees and insurers.

Until we start putting these f%$#s in prison, and we seize every penny that they have through RICO and asset forfeiture, they aren’t going to stop.

We need to put some of them in jail for the rest of their lives, and when they die, we need to take their fillings.

Greece is Imploding

I’m serious. It looks like local scrip is breaking out all over the country as an alternative to the Euro:

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy: beware), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work – repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light – for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people’s accounts.

“It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” said Bernhardt Koppold, a German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist in Volos who is an active member of the network. “It’s also a way of showing practical solidarity – of building relationships.”

Basically, we are seeing a wholesale flight from the regular economy, and the concept of the Greek nation state. (It’s also a repudiation of the EU, since it sets up a system where it’s impossible to purchase non-local products)

The Guardian presents this positively, but I see it as a step toward Greece, a barely function nation to begin with, moving in the direction of Somalia.

I’m increasingly coming to believe that the Euro currency experiment, and in particular German domination of this process will lead to another war in Europe (hopefully cold, and not hot) in the next decade, as my brother (Bear who swims) has predicted, .

Mixed Emotions

In the Illinois primary, we had a closely watched Democratic Primary in Illinois 10thIlya Sheyman.

Sheyman is younger (25) and more liberal than Brad Schneider, Steny Hoyer supporter Schneider, and the district currently is served by a Teabagger republican who was elected in the 2010 blow-out, but definitely trending blue, even with redistricting.

Sherman won , and I have mixed emotions about this.

I’m uncomfortable with his attempting to appropriate the occupy movement for his campaign, and I think that the real source of his support is that he is a FOB (Friend of Barack).  He worked on his initial Senate campaign and was later one of his staffers.

We had another FOB running in 2010, Alexi Giannoulias, who also ran a failed bank, in the Illinois
Senate race, so I’m dubious of his ability to run a good race.

A bigger issue is a matter of policy, specifically Social Security.

I have concerns that Sheyman would salute anything that Obama would send up the flag pole, including cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while I think that with Schneider is LESS likely to support Obama if he were to propose such a policy out of a sense of political self preservation.

We’ve already had a number of near misses with these programs, where Obama has tried to trade them to the Republicans in the name of comity, and so I have included that this is what he really wants, because it’s “transformative”.

It’s ironic that a President Obama is more likely to make major cuts to the jewels of the New Deal and Great Society than a President Romney would.

Romney Crushes Santorum

It appears that Santorum won the Talibaptist vote, but that’s not enough in Illinois, where Romney crushed him.

I expect this to continue for a while because:

  • The press hates Romney now almost as much as they hated Gore in 2000.
  • The states with high numbers of insane religious zealots, otherwise known as the Republican base, will continue to vote for the “Not the Mormon.”

But Romney got almost half the (admittedly anemic) votes cast, and Santorum did not manage to field a full slate of delegates, and it’s Illinois, which like Ohio, needs to be in play for any Republican to win, so I think that it’s game over, though I the clown show to continue.

I Don’t Know Whether to be Heartened or Depressed

I am talking about the murder of Trayvon Martin, where both the Feds and the DA are opening investigations of what is clearly a murder. I guess that a few days of international condemnation got them moving:

Seven years after Florida adopted its sweeping self-defense law, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, has put that law at the center of an increasingly angry debate over how he was killed and whether law enforcement has the authority to charge the man who killed him.

The law, called Stand Your Ground, is one of 21 such laws around the country, many of them passed within the last few years. In Florida, it was pushed heavily by the National Rifle Association but opposed vigorously by law enforcement.

It gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws. In Florida, if people feel they are in imminent danger from being killed or badly injured, they do not have to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so. They have the right to “stand their ground” and protect themselves.

That is precisely the question in the case: Was the gunman, George Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic crime watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., in imminent danger and acting in self-defense during his encounter with Trayvon Martin, as he asserts?

In the three weeks since Trayvon, 17, a well-liked high school student from Miami with no criminal record, was killed, public protests have grown larger and louder, and so have calls for Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest. The Police Department in Sanford, near Orlando, said that under the law, it had no call to bring charges.

But late Monday, the Department of Justice said it had opened an inquiry into the shooting. It will run parallel with one announced on Tuesday by the state attorney in Seminole County, who said a grand jury would be convened. State attorneys use grand juries in cases when they cannot make a clear independent call, or when a case is explosive.

(emphasis mine)

Let’s be clear what happened: A white, self appointed “neighborhood watch” with a history of harassment in the neighborhood, chased a black child down down, and shot him, and the police said that they were sorry, but there was nothing that they could do.

It was only after this blew up that the DA decided to convene a grand jury, because, it became too embarrassing.

If this hadn’t made the news, it would just be one more dead black person, in a town with a long and notorious history of law enforcement racism and corruption, and it would have been “nothing to see here, move along.”

So, it looks like there might actually be an investigation (good) but only because there was an international outcry (not good).

Me, I’m a glass half empty kind of guy.

The Supreme Court Pushes Back on Patents Again

They just struck down two patents on a drug dosage calibration method:

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a unanimous blow to Prometheus Laboratories by saying that its methods of dosage calibration for thiopurine drugs for gastrointestinal and nongastrointestinal autoimmune diseases are ineligible for patenting. In a decision written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the high court overturned the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last December. The Federal Circuit had upheld the two diagnostic method patents, which covered the methods designed to take into account the context of a treatment regime based on the individual patient’s metabolism.

“To transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent­ eligible application of such a law, a patent must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words ‘apply it,’” the court stated. “It must limit its reach to a particular, inventive application of the law.”

Prometheus’ patents failed that test, according to the court: “We conclude that the patent claims at issue here effectively claim the underlying laws of nature themselves. The claims are consequently invalid.”

Through the ruling, Breyer answered the question he posed to attorneys for both sides during oral arguments in December: “What has to be added to a law of nature to make it a patentable process?”

Basically the “method” was to measure the metabolite levels of a drug in order to determine appropriate dosages.

Yeah, that’s something that a medical intern has learned in his first year, or in med school, for the past 50+ years, but they took out a patent.

Prometheus claimed that the human body was the machine conducted the transformation.

It’s another in a streak of brush-backs to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit, aka the Patent Court, which expanded the reach of patents since its creation over the past 30 years.

The patent system long ago went from a system to encourage innovation to one that strangles it.

At Least, there is Symmetry

The good folks at Westover “G-d Hates F*gs” Baptist are now looking to support Rush Limbaugh by purchasing ads on his show:

There’s something so deliciously ironic, so perfectly just in this. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Rush Limbaugh has a new sponsor anxious to buy up lots of ad space on his show: Westboro Baptist Church. Is there anything more delicious than the idea of the haters advertising on the hater’s show?

Premiere Networks has released a statement saying they will not accept any ads from the group. Who knew they had standards of what Limbaugh maligns as “political correctness.”

I don’t understand why they won’t take the ads, it’s a match made in heathen heaven.

House of Saud Takes Steps to Ensure Sunni Hegemony in Syria

There are reports that the house of Saud is arming the rebels in Syria:

Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a top Arab diplomat said on March 17.

“Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“This is a Saudi initiative to stop the massacres in Syria,” he added, saying that further “details will follow at a later time.”

The announcement came two days after the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom said it had shut down its embassy in Syria and withdrawn all its staff.

It also followed a brief meeting on the Syrian crisis last week between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Saudi monarch King Abdullah in Riyadh.

There was no official reaction to the statement from the Saudi capital, but Jordan flatly rejected the report.

“Jordan categorically denies the report,” government spokesman and information minister Rakan Majali told AFP.

What we need to understand is that the actions of the Arab league are being driven by the House of Saud, and their goal is to take down the more secular regimes, and to ensure Sunni control of societies wherever possible.

They see this as an essential action for preserving their (completely corrupt and dysfunctional) regime.

They need to play up sectarian conflict, and they need to take down regimes like Qaddafi’s and Assad’s, because they have largely pushed religion out of the public sphere in order to distract their population. 

That’s why they are continuing to support (occupy, really) Bahrain, even though the crack-down there is so bad that the US is delaying weapons sales.

While our relationship with the House of Saud is good for the defense industry they are allies much in the same sense as the Pakistanis are.