Month: July 2016

IMF Internal Report Says That the Screwed the Pooch in Greece

An internal report reveals that IMF staff gave engaged in favoritism toward the EU and the Euro in the handling of the ongoing Greek financial crisis:

The International Monetary Fund’s top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory.

This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF’s top watchdog on the fund’s tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.

It describes a “culture of complacency”, prone to “superficial and mechanistic” analysis, and traces a shocking breakdown in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation.

The report by the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way European Union insiders used the fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system.


In an astonishing admission, the report said its own investigators were unable to obtain key records or penetrate the activities of secretive “ad-hoc task forces”. Mrs Lagarde herself is not accused of obstruction.

“Many documents were prepared outside the regular established channels; written documentation on some sensitive matters could not be located. The IEO in some instances has not been able to determine who made certain decisions or what information was available, nor has it been able to assess the relative roles of management and staff,” it said.

The report said the whole approach to the eurozone was characterised by “groupthink” and intellectual capture. They had no fall-back plans on how to tackle a systemic crisis in the eurozone – or how to deal with the politics of a multinational currency union – because they had ruled out any possibility that it could happen.


This pro-EMU bias continued to corrupt their thinking for years. “The IMF remained upbeat about the soundness of the European banking system and the quality of banking supervision in euro-area countries until after the start of the global financial crisis in mid-2007. This lapse was largely due to the IMF’s readiness to take the reassurances of national and euro area authorities at face value,” it said.


In Greece, the IMF violated its own cardinal rule by signing off on a bailout in 2010 even though it could offer no assurance that the package would bring the country’s debts under control or clear the way for recovery, and many suspected from the start that it was doomed.

The organisation got around this by slipping through a radical change in IMF rescue policy, allowing an exemption (since abolished) if there was a risk of systemic contagion. “The board was not consulted or informed,” it said. The directors discovered the bombshell “tucked into the text” of the Greek package, but by then it was a fait accompli.


The injustice is that the cost of the bailouts was switched to ordinary Greek citizens – the least able to support the burden – and it was never acknowledged that the true motive of EU-IMF Troika policy was to protect monetary union. Indeed, the Greeks were repeatedly blamed for failures that stemmed from the policy itself. This unfairness – the root of so much bitterness in Greece – is finally recognised in the report.

“If preventing international contagion was an essential concern, the cost of its prevention should have been borne – at least in part – by the international community as the prime beneficiary,” it said.

So, even with institutions in the tank for the Euro, the currency continues to fail.

I still say that the solution is to get the Germans out of the Euro, sooner, rather than later.

What About the Higher Ups?

6 low level employees have been charged for allegedly falsifying reports in the Flint, Michigan lead tainted water crisis:

A special investigator for the Michigan Attorney General’s office said six state employees who were criminally charged today hid and manipulated data last summer that showed a change in drinking-water sources was poisoning people here.

Liane Shekter-Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook worked for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott worked for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services last summer and are charged in the case filed this morning in Flint District court.

The Health and Human Services employees “effectively buried” research indicating high lead levels in children’s blood from July through September 2014 could be connected to the switch in water sources and needed further research, Seipenko said.

The epidemiologist researching the tests wasn’t yet finished with her report when Peeler and Scott “worked together to produce a graph of elevated blood levels without applying any statistical method. Peeler, relying on this unscientific graph, drafted and sent (an) unfounded email to MDHHS management (that) inappropriately concluded that the switch of water sources was not the cause of elevated blood levels within the children,” Seipenko said.

Peeler was manager of the Early Childhood Health section of MDHHS, and Scott is acting coordinator and data manager for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program at the MDHHS. Miller was director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention at MDHHS, Seipenko said.


Smith faces charges of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Cook is charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to engage in misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Rosenthal is charged with misconduct office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence or engage in misconduct in office, and tampering with evidence as a public officer engaged in a willful neglect of his duty.

Peeler, Miller and Scott are charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.

These do not appear to particularly high level employees.

Ignoring these results was clearly a directive made at a more senior level, probably at the level of Governor Rick Snyder’s cabinet, but I see no evidence of a higher level investigation so far.

It’s pretty clear that his office had to be involved in authorizing the cover up.

I Have This Strange Urge to Be Taken into Custody in Sweden

In Sweden, a police officer was out sun bathing with friends, when she discovered that a friend’s cell phone had been stolen.

She went into action in a thoroughly nontraditional uniform:

The Swedish off-duty police officer has told The Local about the story behind this viral picture [not posting it here, it’s at the link] capturing the moment she wrestled a brazen criminal to the ground – while wearing a bikini.

Mikaela Kellner and her friends were sunbathing in the Rålambshov park in Stockholm when a man walked up to them pretending to sell magazines for homeless people. When he refused to take no for an answer, but instead lingered around their blankets, she started suspecting that something was wrong.

“I told my friends to keep an eye on their things. But as soon as he left one of my friends said ‘where did my mobile phone go?'” Kellner told The Local on Thursday.

She explained that the man had used his magazines to cover the mobile phone, picking it up without anyone noticing when he left. Let’s just say this was a decision he would soon come to regret.

“There was no time, so I ran after him, maybe 15 metres or so. One of my friends is also a police officer, so we got hold of him. He tried to get away so we held onto him harder,” she said.

They called their colleagues on duty who were able to get there to arrest him.

Kellner has been a police officer for 11 years, but it is the first time she has nabbed a suspect while wearing a bikini. She said a picture she posted on Instagram quickly went viral after Aftonbladet wrote about it.

I’m kind of surprised that this hasn’t hit the late night talk shows, it seems ready made for them.

North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down

Most importantly, the court found that the law was specifically and deliberately discriminatory:

Most damming, [sic] The appeals court — citing a lower court’s findings — noted that North Carolina legislators not only sought data breaking down voting practices by race, but then crated the law’s new provisions to single out practices disproportionately popular among African Americans, like early voting and provisional ballots.

This means that the court may place the state of North Carolina under the preclearance requirement of Section 3 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  (It was Section 4(b) that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), because there was a finding of deliberate discrimination.

My Heart Bleeds Borscht for These Rat F%$#S

What a surprise, since the US Treasury has started to require more disclosure in cash only real estate purchases in the United States, this market has imploded.

Seriously, there is no way that everyone involved in the process didn’t know that it wasn’t money laundering, and as the saying goes, “You f%$# with the bull, you get the horns.”

More of this:

Cash sales of homes – mostly the domain of foreign and affluent buyers – fell to 32% of total home sales in April, down 2.8 percentage points from a year ago, according to a new report from CoreLogic. For the first four months, cash sales dropped to 34%, the lowest since 2008.

In Florida, the number one destination for foreign homebuyers, cash sales accounted for 46% of sales, and in New York, for 44%, both decreasing as well. The “strong dollar” and “global uncertainty” were blamed.

In Manhattan and Miami, the luxury condo markets are already getting mauled. For example, we reported that in Manhattan, condo prices plunged 14% in just three months.

We also reported that foreign investors were pulling back, particularly Chinese investors, the most prolific of all foreign buyers. The number of homes they purchased over the 12-month period had plunged 15%.

So is it just the “strong dollar” and “global uncertainty?” Or could there be more to the story?

Today, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that it would expand a program it had kicked off in January to identify and track secret homebuyers who hide behind shell companies.

The expanded program will “temporarily require US title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used to pay ‘all cash’ for high-end residential real estate in six major metropolitan areas,” up from the two areas designated in January, Manhattan and Miami, among the biggest destinations of global wealth:

FinCEN remains concerned that all-cash purchases (i.e., those without bank financing) may be conducted by individuals attempting to hide their assets and identity by purchasing residential properties through limited liability companies or other opaque structures.

Real estate purchases in the US have been a perfectly good way to launder large amounts of money, no questions asked. Brokers and banks and other industry professionals have played along. Everyone in the world knew it. And they came to launder their cash.

These folks don’t mind paying a little extra. So as an industry-pleasing side effect of this influx of opaque money, luxury home prices soared, from where they trickled down to the rest of the market.

The criminal activity in the real estate market is increasingly pricing ordinary people out of homes, so it’s nice that the T-men are doing this.

Economy Grew at Less Than ½ of Forecasts in Q2

Forecasts were generally at a 2.5% annual rate, and the actual rate was 1.2%:

The U.S. economy expanded less than forecast in the second quarter after a weaker start to the year than previously estimated as companies slimmed down inventories and remained wary of investing amid shaky global demand.

Gross domestic product rose at a 1.2 percent annualized rate after a 0.8 percent advance the prior quarter, Commerce Department figures showed Friday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2.5 percent second-quarter increase.

The report raises the risk to the outlook at a time Federal Reserve policy makers are looking for sustained improvement. While consumers were resilient last quarter, businesses were cautious — cutting back on investment and aggressively reducing stockpiles amid weak global markets, heightened uncertainty and the lingering drag from a stronger dollar.

So it’s 3 months until the general election, and the economy is slowing down.


Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty We Are Free at Last!

Today, the Windows 10 free upgrade offer and its associated nagware ends. I am so ready to be done with this crap:

Microsoft has offered its free upgrade to Windows 10 for one year to the day now. Although most users interested in the upgrade have probably already taken it, anyone who has been putting off the move to Windows 10 has mere hours left to install the new OS.

The free upgrade to Windows 10 officially ends July 29 11:59 PM UTC-10. That translates to 2:59 AM PDT and 5:59 AM EST July 30. According to a Microsoft representative, all upgrades must be completely finished prior to this time.

BTW, if you are interested, there are a number of law suits suits against Microflaccid’s remarkably persistent and deceptive attempts to force an upgrade on unsuspecting users.


This is f%$#ing mind boggling: (H/t Charlie for finding it)


Google™ Adsense™ F%$#s it Up Again

I don’t live in Pennsylvania.

I’m well on the pink side of the Democratic Party.

And still Google™ Adsense™, somehow figures that I need to have ads from Republicans on my site.

Oh well, I suppose that it’s better that they spend their money here, as opposed to somewhere useful.

My standard disclaimer on any post about the aforementioned service applies:

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense.

So Not a Surprise

Research has found that gun fondling (the ammosexual life style) is closely associated with bigoted attitudes:

In America, support for some gun control policies, such as universal background checks, is above 90% percent, and yet mass shooting after mass shooting fails to incite action from politicians.

The popular explanation for this failure to act, so well evoked by commentators like Igor Volsky, is that the NRA has bought and paid for many politicians, who refuse to vote against their paymasters to support common sense gun control measures. And it’s true that the NRA has used its leverage and war chest to apply pressure to politicians and beat back gun control efforts

However, this NRA-centric narrative is inadequate to explain why efforts to control America’s gun violence epidemic keep failing.

Recently, we analyzed two separate data sources about Americans’ attitudes toward guns and gun control, and found that there is major, less-examined factor that influences the gun control debate: the racial identity and racial attitudes of gun owners, and those who support or oppose gun control legislation.

Put simply, America’s gun problem is a white supremacy problem in disguise.

This is not a surprise.

The modern history of gun control begins with restrictive gun legislation signed into law in California in the 1960s by Ronald Reagan.

It was in response to the open carry activism of the Black Panthers, which culminated with them walking into the state legislature packing heat.

The rather tepid Gun Control Act of 1968, followed California’s law, and this, along with white panic over the perceived threat of Black radicals led to the NRA going batsh%$ insane, and now we have a significant portion of our political process driven by the paranoid ammosexual movement.

Debbie Wasserman Thrown Under Bus

Then they backed up the bus, ran her over again, then broke out the steamroller, then got some kerosene and set fire to the remains, and finally sprinkled holy water over the ashes to ensure that she would never rise again.

This Politico article is as nasty a hit job I’ve seen on anyone in the media,

Among other revelations:

  • Ignoring a DNC fund raising need to raise funds for her own campaign from Joe Biden.
  • She also ignored another DNC need at the same meeting to ask Biden to show up to her daughter’s bat Mitzvah.
  •  Described her as, “An increasingly imperious and politically tone-deaf chair who often put her own interests ahead of party functions..”
  • Hassled Obama staffers seats at an event, allegedly for her big donors, and then gave those seats to her family.

Read the rest:  It’s brutal.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz may very well be more loathed by her fellow party members than Ted Cruz is loathed by his.

I cannot help but think that they actually want her to lose the primary to Tim Canova this August.

h/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

This is an Insanely Good Idea

The Labour party should set up a fund to help people on low incomes become MPs, the frontrunner for the party’s leadership has said.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour’s members of parliament needed to be drawn from people who were facing the brunt of government policy so that they would understand what was at stake.

The diversity fund would help party members in the top 100 target seats from working class backgrounds with selection costs, which the Corbyn campaign says can amount to as much as £4,500.

“If the party is to win back the five million predominantly working-class voters lost since 1997, then we must reflect those we seek to represent. It is not enough to be for working people – we have to be of working people as well,” the candidate argued.

“Because if at the next election we as a party have hardly any candidates from the frontline of Tory cuts then it will be very hard to be heard by voters we need to win back.

I think that this should be considered in the United States as well..

Who Needs Legal Ethics?

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are requesting that the organization’s “White Shoe” law firm, Perkins Coie, be removed from the case for gross conflicts of interest:

A high profile law firm is now caught up in the DNC WikiLeaks mess. A group of Bernie Sanders supporters filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, and the now-former chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. In a letter sent Monday, they are demanding that attorneys from Perkins Coie LLP be removed from the case due to a conflict of interest. New emails discovered through the WikiLeaks dump show that attorneys from the law firm have given strategy advice to hurt Sanders, well before he dropped out. To add fuel to their claim, they’ve now discovered that attorneys from Perkins Coie are representing both the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign.


Internal emails discovered through WikiLeaks show that Perkins Coie attorneys advised the DNC on how to fight allegations from Bernie Sanders. This spring, the Sanders campaign accused Hillary Clinton of ‘laundering’ money through the Clinton Victory Fund. Marc Elias, who serves as the Clinton campaign’s general counsel and also a partner at Perkins Coie, fired off an email to DNC staff stating:

My suggestion is that the DNC put out a statement saying that the accusations the Sanders campaign are not true. The fact that CNN notes that you aren’t getting between the two campaigns is the problem. Here, Sanders is attacking the DNC and its current practice, its past practice with the POTUS and with Sec Kerry. Just as the RNC pushes back directly on Trump over “rigged system”, the DNC should push back DIRECTLY at Sanders and say that what he is saying is false and harmful the Democratic party. [emphasis added]


However, attorneys for Bernie Sanders supporters contend that the federal court rules bar Perkins Coie lawyers from representing the DNC as defense counsel in the case. They say that the Perkins Coie attorneys may become “potential material witnesses” or “defendants” in the case and should be disqualified. They plan to file an official motion in court.

Seriously, what is up with this?

Some of the partners, i.e. the bosses at the firms, are working for a political campaign, and are likely to be called as witnesses, and they are still representing the DNC?

This is f%$#ed up.

And No One Goes to Jail for Killing Freddie Gray

I am so voting for Marilyn Mosby next time she runs

Following repeated setbacks in court, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped charges against the remaining Freddie Gray defendants:

The criminal case in the death of Freddie Gray has ended with the top prosecutor failing to convict any of the six police officers involved in the arrest last year that sparked riots in the city and fueled nationwide debate over fatal police encounters involving black men.

Facing a judge who repeatedly said there was insufficient evidence in the cases, the Baltimore state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, on Wednesday dropped criminal charges against three officers still awaiting trial. A judge found three other officers not guilty after separate trials in May, June and July.

After a brief court hearing, Mosby spoke in the West Baltimore neighborhood where Gray had been arrested and described her decision to drop the charges as “agonizing.”

The prosecutor conceded that Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry G. Williams “does not agree” with the state’s argument that officers committed crimes by failing to buckle Gray in the back of a police van in which he later fell and broke his neck. If the government continued with more trials, she said, prosecutors faced a “dismal likelihood of conviction.”

On the way out, she explicitly accused elements of the Baltimore PD of conspiring to sabotage the investigation, which they clearly did:

Mosby also accused police of undermining — and in some cases impeding — the investigation by refusing to serve search warrants against fellow officers and making up memos to impugn key witnesses. The city’s police commissioner issued a statement defending the integrity of the investigation, saying 30 seasoned detectives “worked the case tirelessly to uncover facts.”

Attorneys and other advocates for the officers have defended the pursuit of Gray, a frequent target of arrests who ran from a high-crime area when he saw an officer.

One of the lessons here is that you cannot allow a police department to investigate its own members ……… ever.

He’s just F%$#ing with Us Now

If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016

This is an epic troll

At a press conference, Donald Trump just called for Russia to hack Hillary’s emails:

Donald Trump appeared to incite Russia to hack into and publish Hillary Clinton’s private emails, as her campaign sounded “alarm” at growing evidence of a foreign power “interfering in an American election”.


Trump, meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Florida, raised the stakes again, as he urged Russia to hack into and release Clinton’s emails from the personal server she used while she was secretary of state.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said.

“I think you you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”

The Republican nominee added: “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted … I hope they do … because you’d see some beauties there.”

Trump has since stated that he was being sarcastic, which is no surprise.

Over the past week, we’ve seen what can only be described as a campaign of Red baiting by the Clinton campaign (seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?), I would be inclined to be sarcastic as well:

Donald Trump says he was “being sarcastic” when he suggested Wednesday that Russia should find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

“Of course I’m being sarcastic. And they don’t even know frankly if it’s Russia,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade set to air in full Thursday morning.

Even by the standards of the the crazy season that is a Presidential campaign, this season is completely batsh%$ insane.

Sean Hannity: Turd of the Day

It appears that Sean Hannity went into a Wawa in Philadelphia, tried to cut in line for a sandwich, did not know how to use their ordering system, and then blamed Black Lives Matter for the fact that people did not appreciate his rudeness.

He had two bodyguards with him, which probably explains why he thought that he was safe trying to cut in a hoagie line.

Do not get in between a Philadelphian and their sammich, capiche?

Conservative radio pundit and Fox News host Sean Hannity came to Philadelphia presumably to stain the Democratic National Convention.

Instead, he seems to have disrespected the region’s favorite convenience store and gratuitously insulted African-Americans, thereby staining his own reputation.

At least that’s the story according to a few different sources, led by Twitter satirist E. Mo Black.

There’s documented proof that Hannity was at the Wawa on Broad and Walnut streets in Center City at some point on Monday night.
Unfortunately, the man who took this picture left before Hannity allegedly lost his composure and demanded service ahead of everyone else.

That account of what happened was shared by E. Mo Black in a series of glorious tweets you can read in full here. Below is the abridged version.

The wilful display of elitist bigotry depicted here, followed by such a laudable show of nonviolent vigilante justice, is so becoming of the universe that we all sort of want it to be the truth.

Two of the tweets:

Hannity told him he was in a hurry, he had a very important job to get back to & to let Tanikqua fix his sandwich so he can get back to work

— Emo 1 Guy (@EmoNegro1) July 26, 2016

The Wawa worker's name was Ashley.

— Emo 1 Guy (@EmoNegro1) July 26, 2016

People of Philadelphia, I salute you.

Ha Ha!

Notwithstanding the fact that the his Blairite opposition has settled on a single competitor to run against Jeremy Corbyn to head labour, but the current Labour leader still has a strong majority in polls:

Jeremy Corbyn is the overwhelming favourite to win the Labour leadership contest, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll, which shows he has more than twice the level of support among party supporters as his challenger, Owen Smith.

The online poll finds that among those who say they back Labour, 54% support Corbyn against just 22% who would prefer Smith. Some 20% say they are undecided and 4% say they do not intend to vote.

The findings offer further proof that grassroots support for Corbyn remains firm despite weeks of bitter conflict between the leader and Labour MPs at Westminster, a large majority of whom backed a vote of no confidence in him after the EU referendum.

This is not a surprise.

What is also not a surprise is that Labour is not polling well, because they managed to appear more f%$#d up than the Tories, which is no small thing, considering that they just made Boris f%$#ing Johnson their foreign minister.

The Blairites are more than willing to destroy Labour to maintain their positions within the party.