Member since: Tue May 13, 2008, 03:07 AM
Number of posts: 6,955
Number of posts: 6,955
Be careful Tweety.......you aren't too far away from a dipping sauce......................
MSNBC host Chris Matthews got a rise out of the crowd Thursday at Thinkfest, an event sponsored by Philadelphia Magazine, by suggesting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) wife gets "crushed" under the weight of her husband.
"Two days after election day, Chris Christie has crushed his opponent. Is he going to be the Republican nominee--" Philadelphia Magazine's Tom McGrath said while speaking with Matthews on stage.
"The one I feel for is his wife," Matthews interjected to laughter from the crowd.
"Why's that?" McGrath asked.
"Did you just say 'crush?' I mean, use your imagination," Matthews said.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ultimately dropped Christie from his list of potential vice presidential nominees because Christie failed to provide documentation on his medical history, according to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book "Double Down." Romney also made fun of Christie's weight, according to the book.
Christie was also the subject of a TIME cover this week that placed an image of the governor in profile under the headline "The Elephant In The Room."
Posted by Segami | Fri Nov 8, 2013, 01:47 PM (4 replies)
Now - not after the tar sands spigot is turned on - is the time to support the efforts of courageous Texas landowners who could stop Keystone XL's administration-approved southern leg in its tracks.
"...There are many possible roads to victory, but the surest path to defeat is to not even try..."
Twenty-five environmental leaders recently signed on to an open letter to President Obama urging him to avoid any "deal-making" with the Canadian government and to reject a presidential permit for Keystone XL's proposed northern leg. As the letter remarked: "Building Keystone XL will expand production in the tar sands, and that reality is not compatible with serious efforts to battle climate change." I share my colleagues' objection to any deals between the United States and Canada over Keystone's prospective northern leg, but what the open letter posted by 350.org ignored is the well-reported fact that the 485-mile southern leg of Keystone XL already is being built. Did the president engage in deal-making to facilitate this?
Regardless of what the president decides about the northern leg permit in 2014, Keystone XL's southern leg - which is now 95 percent built - is ready to begin pumping more than half a million barrels of climate-destroying tar sands daily from landlocked Alberta to Gulf Coast port refineries by as early as the end of this year. This "reality is not compatible with serious efforts to battle climate change." Last spring, Obama made a special trip to Cushing, Oklahoma, to hold a press conference directing his administration to "cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done." He said this about Keystone XL's southern leg only months after announcing he was postponing, until after the election, a decision on Keystone XL's northern leg.
This is classic bait-and-switch. By breaking Keystone XL into northern and southern legs, he was able to give his environmental base something it wanted (a "victory" to crow about), while giving TransCanada something it needed (access to port refineries). When Obama released his climate action plan in June, he said, "The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late. ... I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing." He cannot now stand idly by while Keystone XL's southern leg is completed and expect anyone to believe what he said. If the Obama administration could conjure up a way to fast-track construction of the Keystone pipeline, it should be able to conjure up a way to stop it.
Posted by Segami | Thu Nov 7, 2013, 08:12 PM (14 replies)
William C. Dudley, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, chats before an interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (Scott Eells/Bloomberg) | Getty
There needs to be covictions & substantial jail time for the actions of these criminals......anything less would be sending a message of ' business-as-usual ' for the privileged few.........simple as that!....
The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Thursday that some of America’s largest financial institutions appear to lack respect for the law, a potentially explosive charge against an industry already roiling from numerous government investigations into alleged wrongdoing. William Dudley, one of the nation’s top banking regulators whose organization helps oversee Wall Street banks including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, made the comment during a speech focused on the problems posed by banks perceived to be “too big to fail,” and possible solutions to correct them.
But in an abrupt turn, Dudley suggested that regulators may be stymied by "cultural" issues that have negatively affected the nation's biggest banks. “Collectively, these enhancements to our current regime may not solve another important problem evident within some large financial institutions -- the apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust," he said. “There is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions,” he continued. “Whether this is due to size and complexity, bad incentives, or some other issues is difficult to judge, but it is another critical problem that needs to be addressed.”
Dudley's comments come as the world’s biggest banks collectively face tens of billions of dollars in potential fines and government-driven settlements arising from alleged lawbreaking in markets ranging from home mortgages to interest rates and currencies. Authorities in North America, Europe and Asia have been probing more than a dozen large institutions for allegedly attempting to manipulate benchmark interest rates, the most popular of which is known as Libor, that affect hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans and securities. So far, Barclays, UBS, Rabobank and Royal Bank of Scotland collectively have agreed to pay nearly $4 billion to settle with government authorities. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant U.S.-backed mortgage financiers, also have sued many of these banks to recover alleged losses.
In addition, regulators around the world are investigating whether some big banks attempted to rig the foreign exchange market, where currency prices are set and more than $5 trillion is exchanged daily. Goldman Sachs on Thursday became the latest bank to disclose that it was under investigation, joining Barclays, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan, among others. JPMorgan is also among a group of banks facing U.S. demands for restitution and penalties for allegedly misleading investors when selling them home loans that had been bundled into securities. The bank recently agreed to pay the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, about $4 billion to settle claims it sold the mortgage financiers faulty home loan securities. A group of government agencies led by the Department of Justice has been negotiating with the bank to settle related claims that would call for billions more in cash and aid for distressed homeowners.
Posted by Segami | Thu Nov 7, 2013, 07:31 PM (5 replies)
From Climate Central's Andrew Freedman:
Super Typhoon Haiyan — which is one of the strongest storms in world history based on maximum windspeed — is about to plow through the Central Philippines, producing a potentially deadly storm surge and dumping heavy rainfall that could cause widespread flooding. The densely populated city of Manila, home to 12 million, is in the storm’s path, although it is predicted to escape the worst of the winds and storm surge. As of Thursday afternoon Eastern time, Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda, had estimated maximum sustained winds of 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph, which puts the storm in extraordinarily rare territory. Since 1969, only three storms have had sustained winds close to this magnitude — Hurricane Camille in 1969, Super Typhoon Tip in 1979, and Hurricane Allen in 1980. No storm in the Atlantic has ever been stronger than Haiyan, accoring to The Weather Channel.
Haiyan is capable of causing catastrophic damage in the central Philippines and its outer bands are already starting to affect the island nation.The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts that Haiyan will cross the Central Philippines as a Category 4 or 5 Super Typhoon, and then re-emerge over open water, before making landfall in Vietnam as a Category 3 typhoon on November 10. Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at WeatherBELL Analytics, said that Haiyan appears to be the strongest storm since Super Typhoon Tip in 1979. Maue said the storm has avoided the typical hiccups that other intense storms encounter, such as eyewall replacement cycles, during which a storm's inner core undergoes a reorganization. Such cycles can cause a Category 5 storm to weaken to a Category 3 or 4 storm, before re-strengthening. Instead of doing this, though, Haiyan has remained at peak strength for more than 24 hours, which is unusual, and even strengthened on Monday morning.
After hitting the Leyte province, the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology expects the storm to traverse the central Philippines from Biliran to Busuanga before passing into the West Philippine Sea. The Department is warning coastal residents to expect storm surges “which may reach up to 7-meter (23 feet) wave height,” along with flooding and mudslides. The storm poses an especially grave danger to the capital of Leyte, the city of Tacloban, which has about 220,000 people and lies along or just to the north of the storm's path where the most intense winds and storm surge will come ashore.
Posted by Segami | Thu Nov 7, 2013, 06:02 PM (23 replies)
Lets all move to Russia.......
Internet privacy relies heavily on the ability of tech companies to hide user content—such as your emails and bank information—behind a secure wall. But the Department of Justice is waging an unprecedented battle in court to win the power to seize the keys of US companies whenever the US government wants. Edward Snowden has shown that the government is already doing a great job at getting companies to hand over information, breaking down weak doors, and scooping up unlocked material. But if the Justice Department succeeds in this case, it will be far easier for it to do so, and—poof!—there will no longer be any guarantee of Internet privacy.
The case started this summer, when Lavabit—an alternative email provider that promised highly secure email—was handed a subpoena by the Department of Justice. The subpoena required that Lavabit supply the billing and subscriber information for one of its users, widely believed to be Edward Snowden. Lavabit supplied this information. Then, the government asked to install a device on Lavabit's servers that would allow it to monitor all of the metadata (time and email addresses) of the individual's account. But Lavabit encrypted all of this information, and the only way for the government to view it was to use Lavabit's private keys to break the encryption. Those keys weren't set up to access an individual account. Instead, they broke the encryption of 400,000 Lavabit email users and would allow the government to rifle through all of that content.
Lavabit offered to record the individual's information that the government requested and hand it over on a regular basis, for a fee of at least $2000—but it refused to give up its keys. As Ladar Levison, Lavabit's 32-year-old founder, told Mother Jones in August, "What I'm against, at least on a philosophical level...is the bulk collection of information, or the violation of the privacy of an entire user base just to conduct the investigation into a handful of individuals."
The government obtained a warrant demanding that Lavabit give up the keys anyway. When the company refused (at one point, Levison turned over the keys in 11 pages of 4-point type that no one could read) it was held in contempt of court and slapped with a $5,000-a-day fine. The government prosecutor in that closed-door hearing argued that "there’s no agents looking through the 400,000 other bits of information, customers, whatever... No one looks at that, no one stores it, no one has access to it.” The judge presiding over the case said that sounded "reasonable." Lavabit handed over the keys right before shutting down the entire company. On October 10, it filed its appeal of the contempt charge in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a case that civil liberties groups say is the first of its kind (A Justice Department spokesman says it does not comment on pending litigation. The department is scheduled to file a brief in response to Lavabit by November 12.)
Posted by Segami | Thu Nov 7, 2013, 09:44 AM (5 replies)
"..Just trust them. It's for your own good.."
The way to protect American's privacy rights, Obama administration officials are now arguing, is through the bulk collection of their phone data into a massive database. Therefore, they argue, Congress must reject bipartisan efforts in new legislation to end the mass collection and storage of data and support Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bulk collection protection bill. Because it's for our own good and for our privacy protection. Yep, they actually argue that.
The NSA has previously argued that it was allowed by section 215 of the Patriot Act to store millions of phone records of Americans in order to find potential terrorists and their connections inside the United States. A court found that NSA could hold onto the data on the grounds that it was relevant to terrorism inquiries. In theory, storing the data with the companies, instead of at the NSA, would allow the telcos to serve as a kind of privacy watchdog. They'd be in a position to examine the government's requests for information about their customers and possibly to object to them in court.
But the intelligence lawyers warned that Americans' would be subject to even greater privacy incursions if their personal information were stripped from NSA's control.
Patrick Kelley, the acting general counsel of the FBI, said the phone company data could be made available to "other levels of law enforcement enforcement from local, state and federal who want it for whatever law enforcement purposes they're authorized to obtain it." He also raised a frightening prospect: "Civil litigation could also seek to obtain it for such things as relatively mundane as divorce actions," he said. "Who's calling who with your spouse ... So if the data is kept only by the companies than I think the privacy considerations certainly warrants scrutiny."
Yes, people, the only way to make sure that your metadata doesn't make it into your divorce proceedings is to let the NSA squirrel it away. But there's just a few problems with that argument. For example, other levels of law enforcement are required to get a warrant in order to obtain and use that data. It's only the NSA that gets to troll around in the information about spouses or significant others to find out who they're talking to without a warrant, without getting permission from any legal authority to do it. Of course, Congress could also write into the legislation protections for the data, restricting access to it to national security. So, in a word, bullshit.
There's also this, a point made by Marcy Wheeler in a fantastic profile of her work in Newsweek: "The next terrorist attack will come from a group that stays offline, she said, 'and we’re going to be hit bad by it because we have this hubris about the degree to which all people live online.'" While the NSA is collecting masses of information on all of us just because it can, the real terrorists are organizing off-line, off the phone, beyond the reach of the NSA's collection ability.
Posted by Segami | Wed Nov 6, 2013, 08:30 PM (7 replies)
"..Email might be on the verge of a radical makeover. And the NSA is not going to like it..."
On Wednesday, two American companies with a track record of offering encrypted private communications are set to join forces in an unprecedented bid to counter dragnet Internet spying. Some of the world’s top cryptographers are behind the secure communications provider Silent Circle, and they’ve teamed up with the founder of Lavabit, the email provider used by Edward Snowden, which recently shut down in a bid to resist surveillance. They’re calling it the “Dark Mail Alliance.” For months, the team has been quietly working on rebuilding email as we know it—and they claim to have had a breakthrough.
The newly developed technology has been designed to look just like ordinary email, with an interface that includes all the usual folders—inbox, sent mail, and drafts. But where it differs is that it will automatically deploy peer-to-peer encryption, so that users of the Dark Mail technology will be able to communicate securely. The encryption, based on a Silent Circle instant messaging protocol called SCIMP, will apply to both content and metadata of the message and attachments. And the secret keys generated to encrypt the communications will be ephemeral, meaning they are deleted after each exchange of messages.
For the NSA and similar surveillance agencies across the world, it will sound like a nightmare. The technology will thwart attempts to sift emails directly from Internet cables as part of so-called “upstream” collection programs and limit the ability to collect messages directly from Internet companies through court orders. Covertly monitoring encrypted Dark Mail emails would likely have to be done by deploying Trojan spyware on a targeted individual's computer. If every email provider in the world adopted this technology for all their users, it would render dragnet interception of email messages and email metadata virtually impossible.
Existing forms of email encryption, like PGP, can be used to encrypt the content of an email. But PGP cannot encrypt the “subject” header or metadata like the “to” and “from” fields, and the average user can find it too complicated to use. Dark Mail promises to address both of these issues in the form of an easy-to-use iOS app and an Android app. There will also be desktop versions for Mac and Windows users. People using the technology will still be able to send emails to friends or colleagues using Gmail and Hotmail—but when sending messages to non-Dark Mail users, a warning will be displayed, making it clear that the communication could be intercepted. Silent Circle and Lavabit don’t plan to offer the technology exclusively. On the contrary, the source code of the software will be made public for anyone to scrutinize and audit, and the team is hoping that other email providers will be willing to join the Dark Mail Alliance. The more companies that do, the more secure email will become.
“Our vision is three or four years from now that this will become email 3.0—the way the majority of Internet users email,” says Mike Janke, Silent Circle’s CEO. The 45-year-old, a former Navy SEAL sniper, acknowledges that the launch of the service is going to be “politically hot.” Major companies like Google and Microsoft may be unwilling to adopt it because of how controversial it could be, with governments potentially furious that the technology could thwart their attempts to monitor communications and track criminals. But surveillance has become “completely out of hand,” Janke says, and he believes it’s time to readdress the balance between security and privacy.
Posted by Segami | Wed Nov 6, 2013, 04:38 PM (5 replies)
Here's Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi with a financial fraud story that involves the international banking system. Regulators on multiple continents are investigating the possibility that four of more banks were involved in widespread, Libor-style currency manipulation that went on for years:
Here at home, virtually simultaneous to the Rabobank settlement, Fannie Mae filed a suit against nine banks – including Barclays Plc (BARC), UBS AG (UBSN), Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan – for manipulating Libor, claiming that the mortgage-financing behemoth lost over $800 million due to manipulation of the benchmark rate by the banks.
There's no way to do a slap on the wrist in these cases. If they're guilty, they're done.
And virtually simultaneous to that, JP Morgan Chase disclosed that it is currently the target of no fewer than eight federal investigations, for activities ranging from possible bribery of foreign officials in Asia to allegations of improper mortgage-bond sales to . . . the Libor mess.
"The scope and breadth of risky practices at JPMorgan are mind-boggling," Mark Williams, a former Federal Reserve bank examiner, told Bloomberg.
The point of all of this is that any thought that the potential Chase settlement might begin a period of regulatory healing for it and other Wall Street banks appears to be wildly mistaken. If anything, the scope of potential liability for all the major banks, particularly in these market-rigging furors, appears to be growing in all directions.
A half-year ago, it looked like the chief villains in the Libor mess at least were going to get away with writing relatively small checks. Back in March, a major private class-action suit filed by a gaggle of plaintiffs against the banks for Libor manipulation was tossed by a federal judge here in the southern District of New York on the seemingly preposterous grounds that a bunch of banks getting together to monkey with the value of world interest rates in this biggest-in-history financial collusion case was somehow now an antitrust issue.
The banks in that case humorously implied that the victims might have done better to sue for fraud instead of manipulation ("The plaintiffs, I believe, are confusing a claim of being perhaps deceived," one bank lawyer put it, "with a claim for harm to competition"), and the judge seemed to agree.
Moreover, when the plaintiffs' lawyers tried to make a point about the seemingly key fact that a series of governments had already concluded settlements with the banks for manipulating Libor, the judge – the Hon. Naomi Rice Buchwald – mocked the plaintiffs' lawyers for trying to ride to civil victory on a wave of government settlements:
Wait a second. Your job here, as plaintiffs' counsel, looking for whopping legal fees, is not to piggyback on the government. Indeed, the reason that there are statutes that provide plaintiffs' counsel with attorney's fees is a recognition that the government has limited resources.
The banks must have thought they'd hit the lottery, with this potentially deadly Libor suit suddenly stopped dead in its tracks by a grumpy federal judge with an apparent distaste for plaintiff lawyers who collect "whopping" legal fees. So the victims tried to take a different tack, appealing to a federal panel in an attempt to allow them to file their suits against the banks on a state-by-state level.
But then, in a seemingly fatal blow to the private claims, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled in favor of the banks, sending the case right back into the courtroom of the same judge who'd dumped on the plaintiffs' lawyers and their "whopping fees."
Posted by Segami | Wed Nov 6, 2013, 01:42 PM (21 replies)
By now you’ve probably heard horror stories about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, has forced so many people to lose their insurance policies. You’ve heard that affordable health insurance policies are being canceled and replaced with policies that are far more expensive than the canceled policies. But have you heard that across the country, insurance regulators are cracking down on the private insurance companies, because of the scam they are running on their customers? Probably not.
Insurance companies, what’s going on?
What’s going on? Diane Barrette is a good example of what’s going on. Barrette, a 56 year old woman from Florida, who claimed on CBS News that her $54 life insurance policy was going to cost $591 a month because of Obamacare, was a victim of exactly the kind of scam that these state agencies are dealing with. Barrette had received a letter from one of the private insurance companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, telling her that her old policy was canceled. The letter went on to say that the company would be replacing it with the new policy, and quoted a price that was ten times the cost of the old policy. CBS highlighted Barrette’s story as if she were the victim of Obamacare. She wasn’t. She was the victim of another private insurance industry scam. If CBS had been doing their job and acting as reporters and not right wing spokespeople, they would have known it, too.
Here’s how this scam works.
How this scam works is that private insurance companies send out letters notifying existing customers that their current policy has been canceled, because of the ACA’s new requirements. They then offer customers a new, ACA compliant policy at far higher rates than what the customer would pay if he went through the ACA marketplace. In most cases the insurance companies do not tell their customers what other options are available or even let them know they have a choice under the new law. Some insurance companies have pressed their customers to sign up for the new policies by a certain date, saying if they don’t, their health coverage will be lost.
Consumer Reports found her a policy for $165.00.
On the program, Barrette tells CBS that she has to hurry and make up her mind by November 1st or she will lose out on her chance to buy in. CBS offered her no explanation of her alternatives, but Consumer Reports examined Barrette’s story shortly after it aired. They easily found her a policy in the Marketplace for $165.00, not the $591 Blue Cross Blue Shield was shamelessly going to charge her. What’s more, Consumer Reports also looked at her old policy, the one she was paying $54 a month for. They determined that it was “junk.” In essence, Barrette had been paying one of these corrupt private insurance companies nearly $650 per year, to have almost no real medical coverage, under her previous Blue Cross Blue Shield policy.
Posted by Segami | Tue Nov 5, 2013, 11:02 AM (4 replies)