Blog Archives

Adverts tells NASCAR fans to buy hangover-free, lo-cal marijuana not beer


PA-13485525

MARIJUANA has gone mainstream. We’ve yet to see weed adverts on the side of F1 vehicles, as we have for cigarettes and booze, but NASCAR fans heading to the 2013 Brickyard 400 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will get to see a TV advert hailing cannabis.

Created by the Marijuana Policy Project, the message is that marijuana is the new, lo-cal, hangover-free, wife-beating-negative beer.

It will, however, not improve your driving:

Photo: Bobby Allison poses at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel with the Winston Cup trophy, Dec. 8, 1983. Allison, winning his first Winston Cup will receive $150,000 from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which sponsors the NASCAR series.

 

via Anorak | Adverts tells NASCAR fans to buy hangover-free, lo-cal marijuana not beer.

George Carlin – Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life


George CarlinPro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own”

Why, why, why, why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place, huh? Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.

Conservatives don’t give a shit about you until you reach “military age”. Then they think you are just fine. Just what they’ve been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life… pro-life… These people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? What, they’ll do anything they can to save a fetus but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it?They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women.They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.

Pro-life… You don’t see many of these white anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uterus’s, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do. And, you won’t see a lot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, morally committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a goddamn demonstration, didn’t they?! They knew how to put on a fucking protest. Light yourself on FIRE!! C’mon, you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke. To match that fire in your belly.

Here’s another question I have: how come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelet? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden? When did this happen, that we passed chickens in goodness? Name six ways we’re better than chickens… See, nobody can do it! You know why? ‘Cuz chickens are decent people. You don’t see chickens hanging around in drug gangs, do you? No, you don’t see a chicken strapping some guy to a chair and hooking up his nuts to a car battery, do you? When’s the last chicken you heard about came home from work and beat the shit out of his hen, huh? Doesn’t happen. ‘Cuz chickens are decent people.

But let’s get back to this abortion shit. Now, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say “we have two children and one on the way” instead of saying “we have three children?” People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along. Rolling, rolling, rolling along.

And say you know something? Listen, you can go back further than that. What about the carbon atoms? Hah? Human life could not exist without carbon. So is it just possible that maybe we shouldn’t be burning all this coal? Just looking for a little consistency here in these anti-abortion arguments. See the really hardcore people will tell you life begins at fertilization. Fertilization, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Which is usually a few moments after the man says “Gee, honey, I was going to pull out but the phone rang and it startled me.” Fertilization. Source: LYBIO.net

But even after the egg is fertilized, it’s still six or seven days before it reaches the uterus and pregnancy begins, and not every egg makes it that far. Eighty percent of a woman’s fertilized eggs are rinsed and flushed out of her body once a month during those delightful few days she has. They wind up on sanitary napkins, and yet they are fertilized eggs. So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who’s had more than more than one period is a serial killer! Consistency. Consistency. Hey, hey, if they really want to get serious, what about all the sperm that are wasted when the state executes a condemned man, one of these pro-life guys who’s watching cums in his pants, huh? Here’s a guy standing over there with his jockey shorts full of little Vinnies and Debbies, and nobody’s saying a word to the guy. Not every ejaculation deserves a name.

On LYBIO.net you can find – The Largest community of text-script-video blogging service. http://www.lybio.net

Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason, Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals?! Leave these fucking people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion! And the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion. And speaking of my friends the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Enlightening, too. But, in the meantime what they ought to be doing is telling these priests who took a vow of chastity to keep their hands off the altar boys! Keep your hands to yourself, Father! You know? When Jesus said “Suffer the little children come unto me”, that’s not what he was talking about!

So you know what I tell these anti-abortion people? I say “Hey. Hey. If you think a fetus is more important that a woman, try getting a fetus to wash the shit stains out of your underwear. For no pay and no pension.” I tell them “Think of an abortion as term limits. That’s all it is. Biological term limits.

But you know, the longer you listen to this abortion debate, the more you hear this phrase “sanctity of life”. You’ve heard that. Sanctity of life. You believe in it? Personally, I think it’s a bunch of shit. Well, I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey, if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death. Has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians all taking turns killing each other ‘cuz God told them it was a good idea. The sword of God, the blood of the land, vengeance is mine. Millions of dead motherfuckers. Millions of dead motherfuckers all because they gave the wrong answer to the God question. “You believe in God?” “No.” *Pdoom*. Dead. “You believe in God?” “Yes.” “You believe in my God? “No.” *Poom*. Dead. “My God has a bigger dick than your God!” Thousands of years. Thousands of years, and all the best wars, too. The bloodiest, most brutal wars fought, all based on religious hatred. Which is fine with me. Hey, any time a bunch of holy people want to kill each other I’m a happy guy.

But don’t be giving me all this shit about the sanctity of life. I mean, even if there were such a thing, I don’t think it’s something you can blame on God. No, you know where the sanctity of life came from? We made it up. You know why? ‘Cuz we’re alive. Self-interest. Living people have a strong interest in promoting the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don’t see Abbott and Costello running around, talking about this shit, do you? We’re not hearing a whole lot from Mussolini on the subject. What’s the latest from JFK? Not a goddamn thing. ‘Cuz JFK, Mussolini and Abbott and Costello are fucking dead. They’re fucking dead. And dead people give less than a shit about the sanctity of life. Only living people care about it so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It’s a self serving, man-made bullshit story.

It’s one of these things we tell ourselves so we’ll feel noble. Life is sacred. Makes you feel noble. Well let me ask you this: if everything that ever lived is dead, and everything alive is gonna die, where does the sacred part come in? I’m having trouble with that. ‘Cuz, I mean, even with all this stuff we preach about the sanctity of life, we don’t practice it. We don’t practice it. Look at what we’d kill: Mosquitoes and flies. ‘Cuz they’re pests. Lions and tigers. ‘Cuz it’s fun! Chickens and pigs. ‘Cuz we’re hungry. Pheasants and quails. ‘Cuz it’s fun. And we’re hungry. And people. We kill people… ‘Cuz they’re pests. And it’s fun!

And you might have noticed something else. The sanctity of life doesn’t seem to apply to cancer cells, does it? You rarely see a bumper sticker that says “Save the tumors.”. Or “I brake for advanced melanoma.”. No, viruses, mold, mildew, maggots, fungus, weeds, E. Coli bacteria, the crabs. Nothing sacred about those things. So at best the sanctity of life is kind of a selective thing. We get to choose which forms of life we feel are sacred, and we get to kill the rest. Pretty neat deal, huh? You know how we got it? We made the whole fucking thing up! Made it up! The same way… Thank you.

George Carlin – Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.

via George Carlin – Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life.

Letter #4 to Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein


Letter #4 to Goldman Sachs‘s Lloyd Blankfein

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 07:18 AM PDT

In this book of letters written by ordinary people affected by the fallout from the financial crisis is a chapter devoted to Goldman Sachs starting on page 91.

The fourth letter is from page 95 in The Trouble is the Banks:  Letters to Wall Street, edited by Mark Greif, Dayna Tortorici, Kathleen French, Emma Janaskie and Nick Werle, printed in paperback edition by n +1 Research Branch Small Books Series #4, 2012, New York, NY.

Here is letter #4:

An Opportunity

To:  Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman Sachs

Dear Mr. Blankfein,

We are writing to you to interest you in a fantastic new opportunity for you and your loved ones.  We are offering you the once in a lifetime opportunity to refinance all of your many homes and/or jets for the wealth–oops, did I say wealth–equity that you are holding in them.

Did you know that the property you bought for millions is actually worth gazillions of dollars under this plan?  Yes!  Gazillions!  With our excellent and trustworthy panel of advisors we can help you truly capitalize on your investments and really make the most of what life has to offer.

What we do is:  take the money you “earned” during those fantastic boom years, and invest it in schools, hospitals, housing and jobs for the poor, educate feed and clothe people before their brief yet worthy lives extinguish.

There really is nothing to lose from your side:  just take the money backed by the assets of the houses, jets, boats and jewelry, sign your name, and we can provide you with short-term aspirations!  It really is that simple.  And don’t take our word for it, talk to many of our other customers in the 1% base range.  Plenty of satisfaction all round!

With Such Sincerely Tepid Regards,

OWS Refinancing

 

Letter #3 to Goldman Sachs’s Edith W. Cooper


In this book of letters written by ordinary people affected by the fallout from the financial crisis is a chapter devoted to Goldman Sachs starting on page 91.

The third letter is from page 94 in The Trouble is the Banks:  Letters to Wall Street, edited by Mark Greif, Dayna Tortorici, Kathleen French, Emma Janaskie and Nick Werle, printed in paperback edition by n +1 Research Branch Small Books Series #4, 2012, New York, NY.

Here is letter #3

Hello Edith–Wow, Now I Know a 1 Percenter!

To:  Edith W. Cooper*, Goldman Sachs

Greetings Edith,

I hope this message finds you well.  Gosh, I am thrilled to meet you, even though we haven’t met face-to-face…yet!

I mean, wow, I actually know a 1 percenter now!  How cool is this?

Of course, you probably don’t have much to worry about even if you’re not feeling well, because I trust that you have great health insurance–thanks to me helping pay for it.

Wow, Edith, how great is that! 🙂

Since I hope we get to know one another better, here’s a little bit of info about me:  I have a degree in journalism and my hubby has a double Master’s in music, but since we’re over 50 years old, our premiums climbed, so we were faced with a slippery slope choice…Do we eat, or do we pay for health insurance?  It was a toss-up, but we decided that food was more important.

Oh wait–you haven’t heard about our foreclosure?  Law enforcement came to our door and gave us one hour to vacate!  Oh, that morning was so much fun–I wish you could have been there!  Yes, we were in that first wave in ’08, after putting down a down payment of…wait for it…$300,000.

We totally qualified, you see…hubby had a great business, until his clients could no longer pay him…Our lender told us “don’t worry, we want to work with you!  We can see you have never been in trouble before!”–and well, it’s a long story.

I’ll save the rest of this story for next time, because I am so looking forward to writing back again..very, very soon.

Your new pen pal,

Hilary Grant

Los Osos, CA 93402

P.S.  I can’t wait to hear about the beautiful clothes you must wear.  I buy all of my clothes these days at thrift stores, but maybe we can compare notes?

*Edith W. Cooper is Executive Vice President and Global Head of Human Capital Management for Goldman Sachs

via Goldman Sachs: Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts: Letter #3 to Goldman Sachs’s Edith W. Cooper.

Letter #2 to Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein


Letter #2 to Goldman Sachs‘s Lloyd Blankfein In this book of letters written by ordinary people affected by the fallout from the financial crisis is a chapter devoted to Goldman Sachs starting on page 91. The second letter is from page 93 in The Trouble is the Banks:  Letters to Wall Street, edited by Mark Greif, Dayna Tortorici, Kathleen French, Emma Janaskie and Nick Werle, printed in paperback edition by n +1 Research Branch Small Books Series #4, 2012, New York, NY.

download (5)

Here is letter #2: $9,165 an hour–Wow Lloyd, You’re a Big Earner To:  Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman Sachs

Hi Lloyd,

So I just read online that your salary in 2010–including all of those delightful perks that just put a smile on one’s face–is $19.06 million. And your hourly wage is $9,165.  That’s great!  Do you even collect that much when you take lunch? Do you realize that by working a mere two hours you earn as much as someone who works full-time at minimum wage earns in a year? Wondering  if I could have your job for say, three hours a week.  Would that be too much to ask? You can leave the stuff that you don’t like about your job to me:  talking to the press about Occupy Wall Street, testifying at hearings about board members who are charged with insider trading.  You know, all that icky stuff. You can still wheel-and-deal and be your macho master-of-the-universe self.  I’ll just do the three hours of grunt work you don’t like each week. What do you say, Lloyd?  Deal?

Susie Meriden, CT

via Goldman Sachs: Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts: Letter #2 to Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein.

Judge rejects journalists’ demand for more openness in Manning trial


As City Paper reported this week, the case in which the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), joined by media organizations, including Wikileaks, The Nation, and Democracy Now!, asked for a court order to end pervasive secrecy surrounding the court-martial proceedings against U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, landed in Maryland federal court on Monday.

Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander ruled that the group’s claims of unconstitutional secrecy do not merit her intervening in the trial of Manning (who in 2010 released a trove of classified material to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks) with an order governing public disclosure of court documents.

“In light of the actions taken by defendants after this case was filed—to release documents, to commit to expedited release of documents going forward, and to permit unofficial transcription of proceedings by privately retained stenographers—I do not see a substantial likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction,” Hollander wrote in a 42-page opinion, docketed two days after the June 17 oral arguments in the lawsuit.

“I am mindful of the keen public interest in the court-martial, the right of public access to such proceedings, as well as the extraordinary nature of the relief plaintiffs seek,” Hollander continued. But the plaintiffs – New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), along with several journalists and media organizations, including Wikileaks, The Nation, and Democracy Now! – “ask this Court to intervene collaterally in an ongoing court-martial and issue dictates to the military judge conducting the proceedings, in regard to the management of public disclosures. In light of the measures that defendants have taken to provide the press and the public with access to the ongoing court-martial proceedings, such preliminary, equitable relief is not warranted here.”

The defendants – military leaders in charge of the proceedings against Manning – had cautioned Hollander against intervening in the Manning court martial, questioning whether a U.S. District Court judge had jurisdiction over a military tribunal. Hollander disagreed with that notion.

While the federal court “is obliged to tread gingerly” when reviewing a military tribunal’s rulings, Hollander wrote, “it cannot ignore its responsibilities to uphold federal rights,” which in this case involve “fundamental constitutional values of openness of court proceedings.” She added that “such access is vital in our democracy, and helps to inspire public confidence in the integrity of such proceedings,” but in rejecting the plaintiff’s case, decided that sufficient public access to the Manning court martial is currently in place, even if it may not have been when the lawsuit was filed on May 22.

via UPDATE: Judge rejects journalists’ demand for more openness in Manning trial | Citypaper Blogs.

Goldman Sachs Wins Even When Muzzled by the Feds


Almost three years ago, when Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) paid $550 million to settle fraud accusations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the claims was that Goldman misled the bond-insurer ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. in a horribly complex deal named Abacus.

Goldman settled without admitting to the accusations. The terms also prohibited Goldman from denying the SEC’s allegations in its public statements. Then, this week, a funny thing happened. A New York state appeals court, in a 3-2 ruling, dismissed ACA’s lawsuit against Goldman. ACA said Goldman misled it. The court said the insurer’s claims didn’t hold up.

The case captures perfectly why much of the public detests “neither admit nor deny” regulatory settlements. We don’t know whose facts to believe. Without trials or admissions of liability, the government’s allegations remain unproven. Sure, Goldman paid a big fine. That doesn’t establish anything. For all we know it paid the money just to make the SEC go away.

The result is surreal: Goldman still isn’t allowed to deny the agency’s claims that it misled ACA. However, a court has thrown out ACA’s claims that Goldman did, in fact, mislead it.

To make matters more confusing, there may not be anything factually inconsistent between this week’s court ruling and the SEC’s earlier allegations. To win a fraud suit as a private litigant, ACA needed to show that it justifiably relied on Goldman’s misrepresentations. (The court said the insurer failed this test.) The SEC, by contrast, doesn’t have to prove that an investor relied on a defendant’s misstatements. Plus, the SEC said Goldman defrauded multiple parties, not just ACA.

SEC Accusations

Let’s back up a bit. Abacus was a financial product known as a synthetic collateralized debt obligation. The SEC’s suit accused Goldman and a junior executive, Fabrice Tourre, of making false and misleading statements to investors about the deal, which the SEC said was designed to fail.

Goldman’s main offense, allegedly, was telling a German bank that ACA had picked the mortgage-related investments underlying the deal — when actually the selection process was heavily influenced by a hedge fund, Paulson & Co., which later made $1 billion betting against Abacus. As part of its SEC accord, Goldman said it was “a mistake” not to disclose Paulson’s role, but it didn’t admit violating the law.

Echoing the agency’s allegations, ACA accused Goldman of misleading it into believing that Paulson would take a long, or bullish, position in the equity portion of Abacus, aligning it with ACA’s interests. In its majority opinion, the appeals court said it dismissed ACA’s claims because “such misrepresentations were specifically contradicted by the offering circular’s disclosure that no such equity position was being taken.”

In other words, ACA should have known Paulson wasn’t long when the insurer sold credit protection on a $909 million slice of the deal in 2007. ACA had acknowledged in writing that it wasn’t relying on any representations other than those in the circular and in written agreements, the court said. ACA said it will appeal this week’s ruling. The company is being wound down and isn’t writing new policies.

Although Goldman settled with the SEC, Tourre, 34, is still fighting the agency. He’s now pursuing a doctorate in economics at the University of Chicago. Should his case ever go to trial, we may find out what really happened here.

The usual criticism of “no admit” settlements is that they suggest the government is soft on corporate crooks. No doubt this is often true. But there is also a flip side. Settling without admissions of liability may tempt regulators to pursue weak cases, knowing that some defendants would rather write a check than spend years battling in court.

Warren’s Query

This week, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked this question in a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Attorney General Eric Holder: “Have you conducted any internal research or analysis on trade-offs to the public between settling an enforcement action without admission of guilt and going forward with litigation as necessary to obtain such admission and, if so, can you provide that analysis to my office?”

Back in February, Warren put the same question to Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry. His agency, which regulates the country’s largest banks, replied last week that it had no such research or analysis.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and former Harvard Law School professor, wrote in her May 14 letter: “I believe strongly that if a regulator reveals itself to be unwilling to take large financial institutions all the way to trial — either because it is too timid or because it lacks resources — the regulator has a lot less leverage in settlement negotiations and will be forced to settle on terms that are much more favorable to the wrongdoer.”

Perhaps, too, the regulator would try harder to make sure it brings only strong cases if its goal were to actually prove its allegations. As for the SEC’s claims in the Abacus suit, we can only wonder. Did Goldman rip off ACA? This week a court ruled no.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Jonathan Weil in New York at jweil6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net.

via Goldman Sachs Wins Even When Muzzled by the Feds – Bloomberg.

via Goldman Sachs Wins Even When Muzzled by the Feds – Bloomberg.

Goldman Sachs must face fraud claims from insurer – New York court – The West Australian


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc must face fraud claims brought by CIFG Assurance North America over insurance it provided for $275 million (177 million pounds) in mortgage-backed securities, a New York state appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

ktun110l

CIFG claimed in a 2011 lawsuit that the investment bank fraudulently induced it to provide insurance for a portfolio of more than 6,000 subprime residential mortgages by concealing the shoddy quality of the loans.

A trial judge in Manhattan threw out that claim last year, ruling that CIFG would have uncovered the alleged misrepresentations had it performed proper due diligence.

The New York State Supreme Court‘s Appellate Division, First Department, reversed on Tuesday, finding that CIFG had done enough by having an outside consultant analyze the loans.

“There is a question of fact as to whether plaintiff reasonably relied on defendants’ representations,” a five-judge panel wrote in a unanimous decision.

Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman, declined to comment.

The ruling also revived fraud claims against M&T Bank Corp , one of several originators that sold the loans to Goldman. An M&T Bank spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The decision could have implications for similar lawsuits brought by monoline insurers against banks, including one filed by Assured Guaranty Ltd against JPMorgan Chase & Co in 2012.

In that case, JPMorgan had asked a New York judge to dismiss similar fraud claims but agreed to hold off until the First Department ruled in the CIFG case.

Other insurers, including Ambac Financial Group Inc and MBIA Inc , have also filed lawsuits claiming banks misled them into insuring toxic mortgage-backed securities before the housing market meltdown by concealing major risk in the underlying loans.

Tuesday’s ruling also let stand breach of contract claims against Goldman.

CIFG is seeking compensation for claims as well as buy-backs of defective loans.

“We’re very pleased with the decision, and we look forward to proving our case,” Michael Vogel, a lawyer for CIFG, said.

The case is CIFG Assurance North America, Inc., v. Goldman Sachs & Co., New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652286/2011.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Noeleen Walder and Alden Bentley)

via Goldman Sachs must face fraud claims from insurer – New York court – The West Australian.

via Goldman Sachs must face fraud claims from insurer – New York court – The West Australian.

Argentina Takes on Vulture Funds in “Debt Trial of the Century”


For years, “vulture funds” have preyed on struggling nations by purchasing their debt for a pittance. Could an upcoming U.S. court decision put an end to the extortion of poor countries?

Last October, soldiers from the West African nation of Ghana boarded an Argentine naval ship called the Libertad. They overtook the crew and brought the ship to port in the town of Tema. This was not an act of piracy, at least not in the sense we normally understand it. The detaining of the Libertad took place after hedge fund NML Capital convinced a Ghanaian court that the ship, which was sailing in Ghanaian jurisdiction, should be held ransom for a debt the hedge funds claimed Argentina owed them.

The saga began in 2001, when Argentina was thrown into economic crisis and defaulted on its loans. Hedge funds swooped in and bought Argentine debt for almost nothing and circled until the country was in recovery to collect the debt in full.

The case is set to be decided in the coming days in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court, the jurisdiction in which the original loans were contracted. The decision will impact whether certain hedge funds commonly known as “vulture funds”—funds that buy a struggling country’s debt for pennies on the dollar and then sue for the full amount when a country is in recovery—will continue to extort poor countries.

The long 2nd Circuit Court proceedings between Argentina and hedge funds NML Capital and Aurelius has propelled the international debt crisis into the spotlight. It’s been called the “debt trial of the century,” and the proceedings could have the most far-reaching impacts on global poverty in our lifetime.

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court is the case’s last stop before the U.S. Supreme Court, and if the vulture funds win, it will mean these funds will be allowed to more aggressively target poor countries in financial recovery. Argentina would possibly default. But if Argentina wins, it will be much harder for these types of hedge funds to exploit poor countries in the future, destabilize emerging economies, and target assets that should be improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Because the U.S. government acknowledges that this behavior hurts legitimate investors and poor people, the Obama Administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief that argued that a ruling against Argentina could make it much harder for poor countries or countries in financial recovery to access credit and restructure debts. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are similarly critical of vulture funds.

How they work

Vulture funds create an international version of a situation that often takes place on the individual level: You lose your job and you can’t pay your debts. You file for bankruptcy and restructure your debts, but the owners of your hospital debt and credit card debt refuse to negotiate. Instead, these debts are sold for almost nothing to collection agencies when it could have been resolved directly with you. The collection agencies hover while you are trying to get back on your feet. When they find out a relative gave you 200 hundred dollars to take your daughter to the dentist, the collection agencies seize the money.

The equivalent impacts on a poor country just getting on the other side of a financial crisis are devastating. In 1999, a vulture fund called Donegal International bought a debt owed by Zambia for a knock-down price of $3.3 million. Most of Zambia’s debt was canceled and the country began saving $40 million a year when they stopped repaying loans to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. After Zambia received this debt relief, Donegal sued the African nation for $55 million and in April 2007, the court ruled that Zambia must pay $15.4 million—roughly 65 percent of the debt relief that was specifically directed for development projects. A huge profit for the vulture fund and a theft from the poorest Zambians.

Typically, vulture funds refuse to negotiate with countries who are indebted to them. They often make 400 percent profits with their legal proceedings, which often take place in New York or London courts where previous contracts on the loans were signed. “These funds are among the very worst actors in our international financial system,” notes Dr. Collins Magalasi, executive director of the Zimbabwe-based African Forum and Network on Debt and Development. “They are aggressive, selfish, and greedy. In fact, they are so egregious that most legitimate investors won’t stand in the same room with them.”

And those running the funds continue to lobby for even greater powers.

Last June, the organization I work for, Jubilee USA Network, along with our partners at American Jewish World Service, put enough pressure on New York legislative bodies to stop proposed legislation that would allow vulture funds to sue a struggling country, even after a court had rejected their claims.

Then in November, Argentina’s case was brought to the U.S. District Court, which ruled in favor of the hedge funds. Argentina was ordered to pay $1.3 billion to NML Capital and other creditors it represented. When Argentina appealed, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals froze the payout to hear new arguments from both sides.

In February, the federal appeals court heard the arguments and ultimately asked Argentina to outline a payment plan. The plan the country laid out would essentially give the holdout creditors the same deal as 92 percent of the creditors that had previously restructured after Argentina’s default. It still offered a significant profit to the “vulture” funds.

The hedge funds rejected this plan; now we wait for the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court to issue a final ruling.

Last October, the Libertad was returned to Argentine waters by Ghana. We hope to see a similar outcome in the case of NML Capital LTD, v. The Republic of Argentina. The legal outcome will either offer more devastation or greater protections for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

via Argentina Takes on Vulture Funds in “Debt Trial of the Century”.

via Argentina Takes on Vulture Funds in “Debt Trial of the Century”.

‘Less-than-lethal rounds’ shot at Gitmo inmates resisting transfer to solitary


The US military says guards have clashed with prisoners at Guantanamo as officers were moving detainees from communal to single cells in attempt to end a hunger strike that started in February.

The detainees used self-made weapons to resist the transfer, thus forcing guards to fire, the US military said in a statement.

“Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired,” Navy Captain Robert Durand said in a news release.

Officials say no guards or detainees have been seriously injured.

The reason for the move was explained because the detainees covered surveillance cameras, windows and partitions, preventing guards from observing them during a hunger strike that has been continuing for more than two months.

Round-the-clock monitoring is necessary to ensure security, order, and safety as detainees continued a prolonged hunger strike by refusing regular camp-provided meals,” Durand said.

Over the years Guantanamo detainees participated in various forms of protests, Durand explained to RT, adding that this new coordinated effort has created an “unsafe situation.”

“We made the decision to move detainees into individual cells based on the detainees’ continued efforts to block observation,” Durand stressed. “We recently determined that the risk to the health and security of certain detainees had reached an unacceptable level due to non-compliant behavior.”

Each detainee’s physical and mental health has been evaluated after the sweep.

“Detainees may continue to hunger strike as a form of protest,” Durand said,  also adding that moving them into individual cells has allowed JTF to “ensure that detainees are not being coerced by other detainees to participate in the hunger strike.”

Although Guantanamo authorities claim the detainees were resisting with “improvised weapons,” Cindy Panuco, a lawyer representing one of them told RT that the truth is still to be determined as “there is no way they could have any sort of weapons.”

“That is interesting to find out they have makeshift weapons,” Panuco said. “Whenever we have gone down to visit our clients the only thing they are allowed are small ball-point inserts of a pen… almost like straws. That is pretty much all they are allowed. So I don’t see, especially given the invasive searches that were conducted in February, what kind of makeshift weapons the government is referring to.”

She believes that isolation is just another effort to undermine solidarity among the prison population.

“If they are together, if they are in a communal living space they can communicate and at least support each other and now that they are being isolated, it is another form of torment. To be taken away from your friends and comrades, who were there with you, makes it much more difficult to endure what is already a very difficult situation.”

People dress in orange jumpsuits and black hoods as activists demand the closing of the US military’s detention facility in Guantanamo during a protest, part of the Nationwide for Guantanamo Day of Action, April 11, 2013 in New York‘s Times Square. (AFP Photo/Stan Honda)

The detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba holds 166 men, most of them captured more than a decade ago in different counter-terrorism operations.

Saturday’s early-morning sweep took place in Camp 6, a medium-security building where 80 to 100 detainees lived in cells that open into communal bays where they could eat, pray and watch television together. As part of the hunger strike, prisoners have been refusing to let food carts enter some of the bays.

Lawyers say most of Gitmo inmates are currently participating in the hunger strike. The US administration, however, is only acknowledging 43 cases, including 11 people who are being force-fed liquid nutrients through tubes inserted into their noses and down to their stomachs.

The hunger strike began in February in protest to the seizure of personal items from detainees’ cells. Some prisoners told their lawyers that their Qurans had been mistreated during the cell searches, which the US military denied.

Lawyers say the hunger strike is caused by the fact that most detainees are held there without being charged, overwhelmed by the depressing feeling they may never leave the prison.

Obama pledged to close the facility at the start of his first term, but has failed to do it so far.

via ‘Less-than-lethal rounds’ shot at Gitmo inmates resisting transfer to solitary — RT News.

via ‘Less-than-lethal rounds’ shot at Gitmo inmates resisting transfer to solitary — RT News.

Goldman Sachs and Friends Looking to Privatize Water


Goldman Sachs and Friends Looking to Privatize Water

download (1)

We have already seen what happens when banking becomes globalized and seeks to off put risks onto the public taxpayer.  Globalization was, and still is, a financial disaster which we will be living through for some time to come.  The main effect of globalization of the financial system is great wealth inequality.

What do you think would happen if water sources and distribution systems were similarly privatized through globalization?  Goldman Sachs and other large companies are fully aware of the profit-making potential in controlling access to water supplies and are preparing for this next big profit-making scheme.

Goldman Sachs , GE and World Resources Institute (WRI) held a summit in February 2013 to discuss the US “deficit” in their water infrastructure.  These discussions included public-private partnerships, water rights, private activity bonds (which are tax-exempt), pricing, water efficiency, decentralized systems, fracking, etc.  The areas focused on were Southern Nevada, New York and Southern California.  The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas was presented at the summit.  “Aqueduct will assist companies to think about water risks related to supply chain, manufacturing and investment.”  The shared-risk model looks a lot like the financial risk model and we know how that turned out!

goldman-sachs-europa

Supreme Court Rejects Goldman Sachs Appeal in Mortgage-Backed Securities Case |


Here’s a bit of positive news for a class-action lawsuit against Goldman Sachs:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) that sought to derail a class-action lawsuit alleging the company provided false and misleading information about mortgage-backed securities it underwrote and issued.

Institutional investor NECA-IBEW Health & Welfare Fund alleged Goldman Sachs’ investment materials for 17 offerings of mortgage-backed certificates provided a variety of misleading information, including on the practices of mortgage lenders and the appraisals of the properties backing the securities.

Goldman Sachs argued that NECA didn’t have the right to bring legal claims on all 17 offerings because it made an investment in only two of them.

Last year, the New York-based Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that NECA had legal standing to bring a class action against Goldman Sachs on several of the other 15 offerings even though it didn’t invest in them.

The appeals court noted that several of the Goldman Sachs’ offerings had attributes common to the ones NECA purchased.

The Supreme Court, in a short written order, let that ruling stand and rejected Goldman Sachs’ appeal without comment.

via Supreme Court Rejects Goldman Sachs Appeal in Mortgage-Backed Securities Case | Fox Business.

via Supreme Court Rejects Goldman Sachs Appeal in Mortgage-Backed Securities Case | Fox Business.

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

OLD HOLLYWOOD IN COLOR

...because it was never black & white

LEANNE COLE

Art and Practice

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

FilmBunker

Saving you from one cinematic disaster at a time.

From 1 Blogger 2 Another

Sharing Great Blog Posts

Wonders in the Dark

Cinema, music, opera, books, television, theater

Just Reviews

Just another WordPress.com site

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

conradbrunstrom

Things I never thunk before.

News from the San Diego Becks

The life and times of Erik, Veronica and Thomas

The Silent Film Quarterly

The Only Magazine Dedicated To Silent Cinema

Leaden Circles

First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.

My Archives

because the internet is not forever

CineSocialUK

Up to the minute, fair, balanced, informed film reviews.

PUZZLED PAGAN PRESENTS

A Shrine to Pop Culture Obsessiveness. With Lots of Spoilers

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be” – Peter DeVries

thedullwoodexperiment

Viewing movies in a different light

Twenty Four Frames

Notes on Film by John Greco

Suzanne's Mom's Blog

Arts, Nature, Family, Good Works, Luna & Stella Birthstone Jewelry

It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

... it just has to sound plausible

NJ Corporate Portrait Photographer Blog

The life of a corporate portrait photographer who likes to shoot just about anything.

arwenaragornstar

A French girl's musings...

Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)

Australian movie blog - like Margaret and David, just a little younger

Octopus Films

A place for new perspectives on films, TV, media and entertainment.

scifist 2.0

A sci-fi movie history in reviews

The Reviewer's Corner

The Sometimes Serious Corner of the Internet for Anime, Manga, and Comic Reviews

Ready Steady Cut

Your favorite pop-culture site's favorite pop-culture site

First Impressions

Notes on Films and Culture

1,001 Movies Reviewed Before You Die

Where I Review One of the 1,001 Movies You Should Watch Before you Die Every Day

Movies Galore of Milwaukee

Movie Galore takes a look at Silent films on up to current in development projects and gives their own opinion on what really does happen in film!

The Catwing Has Landed

A Writer's Blog About Life and Random Things

mibih.wordpress.com/

Anime - Movies - Wrestling

Gabriel Diego Valdez

Movies and how they change you.

The Horror Incorporated Project

Lurking among the corpses are the body snatchers....plotting their next venture into the graveyard....the blood in your veins will run cold, your spine tingle, as you look into the terror of death in tonight's feature....come along with me into the chamber of horrors, for an excursion through.... Horror Incorporated!

Relatos desde mi ventana

Sentimientos, emociones y reflexiones

Teri again

Finding Me; A site about my life before and after a divorce

unveiled rhythms

Life In Verses

Gareth Roberts

Unorthodox Marketing & Strategy

leeg schrift

Taalarmen

100 Films in a Year

12 months. 100 films. Hopefully.

%d bloggers like this: