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Archive for December 23rd, 2008

Conspiracy Alert: Web Expert’s Plane Crash Probed

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:41 am by HL

Conspiracy Alert: Web Expert’s Plane Crash Probed

Connell crash

In September, Republican Internet whiz Michael Connell was subpoenaed in conjunction with a case of alleged vote-tampering in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. Last Friday, the 45-year-old IT consultant and Web designer was killed when his plane hit an empty house near Akron.?

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From ‘Mission Accomplished’ to ‘So What?’

The history-be-my-judge interviews that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been giving recently help me understand their choices—but also reinforce my confident belief, and my fervent hope, that history will throw the book at them.

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Regulator Gave Blessing to IndyMac Shenanigans

The Treasury Department’s inspector general has been looking into the failure of IndyMac, which set the taxpayers back $8.9 billion, and what he found isn’t pretty. It seems a certain regulator let the bank present itself as “well-capitalized” when the truth was something entirely different.


New York Times:

The Office of Thrift Supervision’s western regional director, Darrel W. Dochow, allowed IndyMac Bank to receive $18 million from its parent company on May 9 but to book the money as having arrived on March 31, according to the Treasury Department’s inspector general, Eric M. Thorson. The backdated capital infusion allowed IndyMac to plug a hole that its auditors had belatedly found in the bank’s financial results for the first quarter. If IndyMac had not been able to plug that hole retroactively, its reserves would have slipped below the minimum level that regulators require for classifying banks as well capitalized.

Though the $18 million transaction was minuscule in comparison to IndyMac’s $32 billion in assets, it had tremendous significance. If IndyMac had lost its well-capitalized status it would not have been allowed to accept “brokered deposits” from other financial institutions. Brokered deposits are typically high-yielding certificates of deposit arranged by brokers and sold to savings and loans. IndyMac relied heavily on brokered deposits, which amounted to $6.8 billion or 37 percent of its total deposits last spring.

“This is very significant in terms of whether IndyMac was over or under the O.T.S.’s thresholds for capital,” said Bert Ely, a veteran banking analysts in Alexandria, Va. “But what’s really troubling is that it seems to have been going on elsewhere.”

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Chris Weigant: Make Wall Street Take The Same Deal The Autoworkers Get

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:40 am by HL

Chris Weigant: Make Wall Street Take The Same Deal The Autoworkers Get
Comparison shopping is big this time of year. As a consumer, you want the best value for your money, so you tend to compare different…

Emma Ruby-Sachs: A Response to Melissa Etheridge
I am willing to agree that Rev. Warren is a good guy who said some bad things. I, like you, do trust that communication and cooperation will lead to increased tolerance and progress. I can’t forgive Obama, though.

FBI Forced To Divert Antiterrorism Agents To Help Untangle $50 Billion Madoff Swindle
The FBI has engaged in “triage,” taking agents off terror and other crimes to respond to a cascade of financial frauds such as the alleged…

Stephen Elliott: As Long As We’re Talking About Rick Warren, Did You Know Rush Limbaugh Is A Drug Addict?
I shouldn’t have to say this first, but I will, I’m not defending Rick Warren. But if the worst thing that happens during the Obama…


Those Crucial Central Bankers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:39 am by HL

Those Crucial Central Bankers
WASHINGTON — They’re technocrats, schooled in subjects that bore most people. They are appointed — not elected — to top government jobs, and what they do is not well understood. But they are enormously powerful, and in 2009, they may determine whether the global economy avoids calamity. “They” are central bankers: Ben Bernanke of the U.S. Federal Reserve; Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank (ECB); Masaaki Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan; and their counterparts in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere. Not since the early 1980s, when high inflation plagued many advanced economies, or perhaps the 1930s has their role been so crucial. Global economic expansion is slowing to a standstill. Economists at Deutsche Bank forecast meager 0.2 percent growth in 2009 — the worst year since at least 1980. In 2007, world growth was almost 5 percent. Without stronger growth, the slump might feed on itself and fuel economic nationalism.


Safavian Jury Reaches Verdict

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:38 am by HL

Safavian Jury Reaches Verdict
The jury in the corruption trial of Abramoff crony David Safavian has reached a verdict. We’ll learn later today what it is, reports the Associated Press. Safavian, who served as the White House’s chief procurement officer, is on trial for…





The Daily Muck
A report from the SEC’s inspector general has found evidence not only of an employee bypassing computer controls to download pornography, but also tells of employees operating “private photography businesses” out of their offices and one senior level employee abusing…


Obama Will Use Lincoln Bible

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:34 am by HL

Obama Will Use Lincoln Bible
President-elect Obama will take the oath of office using the same Bible upon which President Lincoln was sworn in at his first inauguration, according to the Inaugural Committee.

Though there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible during the swearing-in, Presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance. President-elect Obama will be the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.


If Obama Is Pro-Science and Honest, He’ll Put the Kibosh on the Drug War

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:33 am by HL

If Obama Is Pro-Science and Honest, He’ll Put the Kibosh on the Drug War
Obama was frank about his own drug use, so why isn’t he more honest about what a disaster war on drugs has been?

Obama’s Most Hawkish Advisor
It’s hard to imagine a less likely choice to be Obama’s go-to guy on foreign policy than James L. Jones.

Breaking the Consumption Addiction: Can You Be Clever?
Forced to pinch pennies, Americans are finding clever ways to cut back. A break in the consumption cycle may be a good thing in the long run.

Krugman: We’re in for a Year of ‘Economic Hell’
Whatever the new administration does, we’re in for months, perhaps even a year, of economic hell. After that, things should get better.

Water: Ethanol’s Achilles Heel
While many of ethanol’s problems (energy inputs, land use, food prices) have been discussed, we have overlooked its true Achilles heel: water.


A Final Note

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:32 am by HL

A Final Note
Wow — what an amazing discussion. What I take from all this is that while fast action is the first priority, we need to be thinking, hard, about what comes next. We want to do better than FDR at…





Hebron Agonistes: Too Much For Israel
It has been common for educated Israelis to think, and Israeli diplomats and American Jewish leaders to present, the settler community of Hebron as a kind of radical nuisance. Presumably, the settlers are a side-show of a defensive strategic policy,…

Talk is Fine, But Rules are Needed Too
Dean Baker says that Alan Greenspan should have used his public appearances to warn people about the stock and housing bubbles, and if he had, the bubbles would not have inflated to such dangerous levels. I don’t have any…






Families of Americans Killed in 1989 Bombing See Victory Over Libya Nullified

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 23rd, 2008 5:31 am by HL

Families of Americans Killed in 1989 Bombing See Victory Over Libya Nullified
As the State Department reviews hundreds of claims from people who lost family members in Libyan-sponsored terrorist attacks, controversy is building over a case that is so low-profile it is sometimes called “the forgotten flight.”

Regulator Let IndyMac Bank Falsify Report
A senior federal banking regulator approved a plan by IndyMac Bank to exaggerate its financial health in a May federal filing, allowing the California company to avoid regulatory restrictions only two months before it collapsed, a federal inquiry has found.

D.C. Residents Hope Obama Administration Will Bring Improvements to City
On the campaign trail, he was all about changing Washington. But for the most part, Barack Obama was using the symbolic shorthand that “Washington” has come to evoke: a place where powerbrokers prevail, lousy laws are made and the little people don’t really stand a chance.

European Nations Discussing Accepting Guantanamo Detainees
European nations have begun intensive discussions both within and among their governments on whether to resettle detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a significant overture to the incoming Obama administration, according to senior European officials and U.S. diplomats.